“Magnetic” Terence Blanchard Live in the KPLU Studios

“Magnetic” is the title track of Terence Blanchard’s album that bears the same name. This March 2014 studio session features Blanchard on trumpet with pianist Fabian Almazan, tenor saxophonist Brice Winston, and Joshua Crumbly on bass. I can’t identify the drummer.


To listen to the full KPLU interview and performance click here.


Happy Birthday Astro Black

Sun Ra (May 22, 1914 – May 30, 1993)

Sun Ra came from the planet Saturn and landed in Birmingham, Alabama, where, by the age of eleven, he was already demonstrating his prodigious skills as a pianist and composer. In Birmingham he also encountered Fletcher Henderson, Duke Ellington, Fats Waller and other musical greats who came to the city on tour. They influenced his musical development, while he influenced a generation of musicians who emerged during the swing and bebop eras. Sun Ra’s massive contributions to jazz include pioneering the use of the electric piano, the Moog synthesizer, and the electric bass. He also recorded over 200 albums, some of which were released on his own independent label.

In honor of Sonny’s Earth-day (the actual date of which remained a mystery throughout most of his life) I’ve posted below “Space is the Place,” a full-length film that features the music and cosmology of Sun Ra and his Arkestra. Upon its release it became an instant cult classic to legions of his fans across the globe.



Sun Ra Quotes:

“My name’s always been Sun, my mama called me son.”

“I’m not a prophet. I’m a destiny-changer. It’s all right to prophesy, but the best thing to do is change things, if you’ve got the power.”

“If death is the absence of life, then death’s death is life.”

“Space is not only high, it’s low. It’s a bottomless pit.”

“I’m sittin in front of the White House, and I’m lookin across the street,
and I don’t see the Black House.”

“What I’m dealing with is so vast and so great that it can’t be called the truth. It’s above the truth.”

“I’m playing dark history. It’s beyond black. I’m dealing with the dark things of the cosmos.”

“It’s AFTER the end of the world. Don’t you know that yet?”


Click here for the official site of the Sun Ra Arkestra.

Click here for the complete Sun Ra Discography.

Here’s a link to the Wiki page for Sun Ra.

And check out this article by Mike Welsh for more information about the genius known as Sun Ra.

Esperanza Spalding – Black Gold

“It has not taken Esperanza Spalding long to emerge as one of the brightest lights in the musical world. Listeners familiar with her stunning 2008 Heads Up International debut, Esperanza, and her best-selling 2010 release Chamber Music Society, were well aware that the young bassist, vocalist and composer from Portland, Oregon was the real deal, with a unique and style-spanning presence, deeply rooted in jazz yet destined to make her mark far beyond the jazz realm. That judgment was confirmed on February 13, 2011, when Spalding became the first jazz musician to receive the GRAMMY® Award for Best New Artist. On March 20th, 2012, Heads Up International, a division of Concord Music Group, gives us Spalding’s latest release, Radio Music Society, her most diverse, ambitious and masterful recital yet. 11 songs are accompanied by conceptual short films, which further express Esperanza’s inspiration and story behind each track. Shot in various locations including New York City; Barcelona, Spain; and Portland, Oregon; all videos will be available to purchasers of Radio Music Society as a digital download or a DVD on the deluxe version.”


Etta James: the immortal diva

Sadly, it often takes someone’s death before their genius and talent can be fully appreciated. A lot of this obviously has to do with all the retrospection that takes place on such occasions, and, in the case of famous musicians, the reflex action of pulling out their greatest hits for the inevitable bittersweet musical journey down memory lane. Looking back in the rear view mirror at the career of Etta James through the outpouring of tributes in the media has revealed in vivid detail the undeniable majesty of the woman and her signal contribution to American music. I have listed below a few of the remembrances I have seen since the announcement of her death yesterday. They each remind us how much joy and pleasure she gave us during her tumultuous career.

Richard Williams at The Guardian provides a list of ten of his personal favorites: Etta James: 10 classic performances | Music | guardian.co.uk.

Ben Greenman over at the New Yorker offers a similar compilation of James’ hits and a brief recap of her life and struggles.

1997 Rolling Stone “Women of Rock” interview with Etta James by Katherine Dieckman.

See also Peter Keepnews on Etta James in the NYT.