Reggae pioneer Desmond Dekker dies, aged 64

Guardian Unlimited Arts | Arts news | Reggae pioneer Desmond Dekker dies, aged 64

Ska legend Desmond Dekker has died suddenly from a heart attack, his manager said today.

The 64-year-old Jamaican, best known for his 1969 smash hit Israelites, collapsed at his home in Surrey yesterday morning.

Some of my favorite Desmond Dekker tunes include 007 (Shanty Town), Licking Stick, and Nincompoop.

There is a great Dekker 2 CD Anthology that spans 1963-1999. You can hear the history of what became reggae in his work. The first cut “Honour Your Mother and Father” isn’t very far removed from New Orleans R&B. Think Shirley and Lee with added skank guitar. As the discs progress you can hear the development from ska to rock steady to modern reggae.

Desmond Dekker was one of the foundations of the great Jamaican music of the last half of the 20th century. RIP.

Fortune Cookie

I often quote my favorite Yoda line to my students, and my kids too for that matter, when they tell me they will try to do some particular thing. The quote is usually accompanied by a bad impression. I do this so often that now I just have to say, “don’t make me bust out Yoda on you.”

Imagine my pleasure when I opened my fortune cookie tonight to see this:


Surviving The Hurricane: Katrina’s Impact On New Orleans Art

Contemporary Arts Center | New Orleans: Visual Arts: What’s Showing

This is a great exhibit that is currently installed at The Contemporary Arts Center in New Orleans. It consists of pieces that were in storm or flood damaged studios along the Gulf Coast. Many of the paintings have been cleaned up to near pre-strom condition, but you can see the subtle effects.

I couldn’t help but draw the parallel to our city and culture. Even though it can get cleaned up and fixed, and pretty much look like it did before, it’s still not really the same.

My favotire piece in the exhibit was a small statue that had been broken into a dozen or so pieces. There was a picture of it, intact before the storm, next to the pieces laid in a pile. It was striking. The same molecules of plaster now held a different shape and a different emotional impact…yet it was the same plaster.

I know the feeling.

Engine Records: Just Say No to Dumbass Music

Engine Records: Just Say No to Dumbass Music

The right set-up is having your own studio in a place where you don’t have to pay a lot, and to be able to make high quality recordings without paying a ton of money because this jazz is not going to produce a lot of money. So if you are beneficent then you can choose to make the music that smaller amounts of people like because you’re not going broke doing it. A lot of much larger labels are bloated with costs and spend money on stupid things in my opinion.

Engine Records founder Steven Walcott gives an accurate and down to earth presentation of the issues facing producers of left of mainstream music in this AAJ interview.

Martin Krusche’s Magnetic Ear

There is a new Tuesday night adventure jazz hang in New Orleans at King Bolden’s Bar, 820 N. Rampart St. On May 16, I caught the second set by Martin Krusche’s Magnetic Ear. Martin is a tenor saxophonist and composer, who is originally from Germany, but has lived in New Orleans for quite some time (with a Brooklyn detour in there).

The band Tuesday night was Martin on acoustic and electric tenor sax, Dan Oestricher on bari sax, John Gross on electric sousaphone, Endres Landsnes on drum set and Anthony Cuccia on percussion and sampler. It was slammin’. Original tunes mixed with jazz classics, all with interesting grooves and an open minded attitude. The electronic compents lended an ambient vibe, but solid grooves and reaching improvisations were the real heart of the music.

If you are in New Orleans on a Tuesday, check out King Bolden’s. My band will be there June 6, 2006, and the plan is to have some interesting jazz/improvising group there every Tuesday.

Stephen Flinn and hustle

I had the pleaure of sharing a show with Stephen Flinn this past Tuesday at The Big Top. He is a great guy as well as musician. After his solo set, he joined my Improvides Music Trio for a couple of episodes, and we had a blast.

Stephen also has his hustle totally together. He booked an entire San Fransisco to NY solo percussion tour, called it Bald Ambition (based on his chosen hair style, or lack of hair style), THEN got the whole thing sponsored by head shaving product company HeadBlade, of which he is a customer. Way to go Stephen! He got an open minded company to help get some open minded music made. Very cool.

Go here to see his HeadBlade wrapped Honda Element. (Stephen is the May 2006 user of the month).

Dragon’s Den

Good news on the New Orleans venue front! I heard from a fairly reliable source that the Dragon’s Den, once a central venue in the New Orleans adventurous music scene, will re-open in June sometime. The even better part of the rumor is that they fixed the A/C.