João Gilberto: The Shy, Quiet Genius Behind Bossa Nova

Monday, 08 July 2019 14:57 Charles Waring E-mailPrintPDF



The late singer, guitarist and songwriter helped to ignite bossa nova's quiet revolution in the 1960s.

João Gilberto was catapulted to international fame in the early 1960s as one of the principal architects of Brazil's popular bossa nova style. He patented a unique musical language, which with its sensuous intimacy, caressing melodies and gentle but insistent rhythms was both hypnotic and hauntingly beautiful. His death at the age of 88 on Saturday July 6th, which was announced via social media platforms by his family, brings the curtain down on the distinguished career of one of Brazil's most admired musicians.

Gilberto was born João Gilberto Do Prado Pereira De Oliveira in a small town in Brazil’s northern Bahia region called Juazeiro on 10th June 1931. He was given his first guitar by a relative when he was fourteen and quickly sought to master the instrument and become a singer. He moved to Bahia's capital city, Salvador, endeavouring to establish himself as a resident crooner for local radio stations, though without much success. In 1950 he went to Rio de Janeiro, ostensibly to join a vocal harmony group called Garotas Da Lua, though he was later fired for unreliability and tardiness. Even so, he cut a couple of 78 rpm singles in 1951 though they failed to launch his fledgling music career. He then left Rio and for several years afterwards, his life seemed to drift aimlessly along, much to the dismay of his father,  who genuinely thought his seemingly work-shy son needed psychological evaluation and got him admitted to a mental hospital. Gilberto stayed there a week for tests and was then released without further investigation.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 09 July 2019 07:25


Protest Songs - Keb' Mo' On Immigration, Donald Trump, and Glastonbury

Wednesday, 26 June 2019 08:32 Charles Waring E-mailPrintPDF

        altThough he comes across as a softly-spoken man who laughs a lot, is self-effacing,  and knows the value of humility,  there's a core of inner steel that gives folk-blues troubadour Keb' Mo' a toughness that seems at odds with the gentle demeanour he projects. He's a strong believer in fighting for just causes and during a career that began in 1994 and which to date has yielded seventeen albums,  Mo' has tackled many different and difficult social, political and  environmental issues. Though he's been described as a protest singer, the 67-year-old Californian - who now lives in Nashville - doesn't express himself using cheap or catchy slogans; nor does he adopt a blinkered, dogmatic approach to his subject matter - rather, he convinces us his cause's worthiness by dint of his common-sense-reasoning combined with simple eloquence and the gentle art of persuasion.   

On his latest album, 'Oklahoma,' the quadruple-Grammy-winning singer/songwriter focuses upon two hot topics that are igniting debate all over the world - immigration and plastic pollution. But there are also heartfelt love songs ('Beautiful Music') as well as perspectives on feminism (the anthemic 'Put A Woman In Charge') and songs about persevering to overcome and heal personal troubles ('The Way I'). There are guest spots for the blues elder statesman Taj Mahal, who appears on two cuts, as well as a telling cameo from lap steel guitar virtuoso, Robert Randolph. They're joined by Mo's wife, Robbie Brooks Moore, country music doyenne Rosanne Cash, and award-winning Latin gospel singer Jaci Velasquez.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 26 June 2019 19:52


Shining Star: Philip Bailey On His New Solo Album, Earth, Wind & Fire, And Playing Golf.

Thursday, 13 June 2019 09:40 Charles Waring E-mailPrintPDF

      altSonically unique, Philip Bailey's celestial falsetto voice, with its unmistakable haunting quality has been a key component of Earth, Wind & Fire's sound for  47 years now. For a long time it was the yin to the yang of the late Maurice White's smooth baritone and helped define some of the R&B supergroup's biggest hits, including 'Fantasy,' 'Reasons' and 'After The Love Has Gone.' From time to time, though, Bailey has expressed himself as a solo artist away from the group. He first recorded on his own in 1983, when he released his debut LP 'Continuation,'  and up until 2002, when he released his ninth solo LP, 'Soul On Jazz,' he was recording solo albums on a fairly regular basis. Since that album, though, he's been silent for 17 years. Now, though, the Colorado-born singer and percussionist returns with a brand new solo offering called 'Love Will Find A Way,' which was initially a self-funded project but is now being released by Verve Records on June 21st. 

"It was actually sparked by my working with my 'night gig' a few years ago," reveals Bailey, whose natural talking voice is surprisingly much deeper than his high-pitched singing tone. "I call Earth, Wind & Fire my day gig," he laughs, then adding:  "I was doing stuff with (jazz keyboardist) Ramsey Lewis, and later on I decided I wanted to do some recording of that kind of music. So my daughter and my son plus my art director came up with a concept to work with using people who I had already established relationships with, such as (pianist) Chick Corea and (bassist) Christian McBride."

Last Updated on Friday, 14 June 2019 14:51


Blow By Blow - Maceo Parker on James Brown, George Clinton, And Love

Friday, 24 May 2019 07:38 Charles Waring E-mailPrintPDF


     alt"It's kind of like spin the bottle," laughs veteran funk saxophonist Maceo Parker, "and wherever it lands, it lands." He's attempting to describe how he decides what to serve up in terms of music and entertainment for the British public when arrives in London's Roundhouse venue on Friday July 5th as part of the UK capital's Innervisions Festival. "It will be a little bit of this, a little bit of that, like I do always when I perform. And maybe some surprises, too... but it will all be Maceo."

Originally from a small town called Kinston in North Carolina, Maceo Parker is 76 now (he was born on February 14th 1943) but talks with the energy and enthusiasm of a much younger man. "I was born into music," he says, casting his mind back to his formative years back in the 1950s. "We had a piano at home and because of that, the adults - my mother and father, and friends in the choir - would come and have rehearsals, which as little kids we'd stand around and listen to."

It also turned out that his mom's brother, his Uncle Bobby, led a professional big band called Bobby Butler's Mighty Blue Notes. "We would go to their rehearsals and see all the music stands and different instruments like the trombone, trumpet and guitar," he says. Inspired by seeing their uncle's band  in action up close, Maceo took up the saxophone while his older brother, Kellis, opted for the trombone. Younger brother, Melvin, was drawn to the drums. They joined forces and formed their own rhythm  and blues group as youngsters in high school.  "We called ourselves the Junior Blue Notes, trying to pattern ourselves after my Uncle's band," says Maceo, who also reveals that the siblings were earning money doing gigs while still in school.  "We gave the bulk of the money to mom, but then we would keep a little bit and would buy albums and 45s that we liked that we heard on the radio."

Last Updated on Friday, 24 May 2019 18:26


Forever Hip - Tower Of Power's Emilio Castillo Talks Teamwork, Family Values And The Power Of Prayer Ahead Of The Band's Imminent UK Tour

Friday, 26 April 2019 13:43 Charles Waring E-mailPrintPDF

     altEmilio Castillo, co-founder of the long-running funk institution, Tower Of Power, clearly recalls the band's maiden trip to the United Kingdom. "In 1974 we went over there with the Warner Brothers music show," reveals the 68-year-old tenor saxophonist who co-founded the band in 1968. "I remember Keith Richards and Elton John came to see us. It was exciting. We were young and the band was hitting really hard. We were playing with Little Feat, Graham Central Station,  Doobie Brothers, Montrose, and a little band called Kimberley. Every night, each band was trying to outdo the others and some nights we won, and other nights, someone else won. It was just really a great time."

Fast forward to 2019 and the long-running soul and funk institution originally from Oakland California, are about to return to the UK to embark on a three-date tour  at the end of May (with dates in Birmingham, Manchester, and London) as part of the 10-piece band's ongoing 50th anniversary celebrations. "In the past, we usually just came to do one gig in London," says Castillo, "but we've always been baffled because we haven't been able to play other cities in the UK. Then in the last couple of years, we hooked up with this agent and told him in no uncertain terms, we want to play other cities in the UK. So by God's grace, we've started to do that. And everywhere we go we get a large, excited crowd, and a great response. So we just love it."

Given the band's huge back catalogue - eighteen studio and six live albums, not forgetting numerous compilations - it must be difficult to decide what songs to include and what to leave out. Emilio Castillo's solution is to vary the set gig-by-gig so that he keeps the fans happy - by including the hits and classic songs - but also makes it interesting for the band. "I try to keep three 90-minute sets that we revolve," he explains. "There are a few songs in there that we have to repeat in all the sets but for the most part, the bulk of the set is different each night. It makes it fresh and a little more challenging too. It's an exciting show, like a James Brown or Prince kind of show in terms of audience excitement. You should leave tired and sweaty."

Last Updated on Friday, 26 April 2019 18:06


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