November 8, 2013 |
VOCAL WIZARD Bobby McFerrin likes to plan ahead to make each album and tour a special event. But, arguably, no project has been longer in gestation than "spirityouall," his fresh, frisky take on spirituals, which the world-hopping (Roxborough-based) artist issued recently in recorded form and performs live Sunday at the Kimmel Center. It's a creative venture that has taken most of his 63 years to bring to the table. "The template is 'Deep River,' an album of spirituals my father [opera singer Robert McFerrin Sr.]
November 7, 2013 |
IF HIS SMILE was like a warm hug, as a fan put it, his piano playing was like a mellow caress. Father John D'Amico was not only an outstanding jazz pianist who gathered fans wherever he played throughout the city, but he was also a warm and fuzzy friend and a man devoted to social causes. When he died Thursday in Lankenau Hospital, doctors and nurses wept. "They really loved him," said his wife, Kathleen. "He was the kind of person you really liked. Since he died, I've been getting hundreds of messages.
October 27, 2013 |
Having "Mac" Rebennack, the master of Crescent City funk and swampy voodoo soul known as Dr. John, appear at New Hope's dark, multicultural Havana eatery Wednesday - one week before Mischief Night and Halloween - was perfect timing. At 72, the good Doctor hasn't lost a bit of his murkily mysterious mystique, his flavorful dedication to the most joyful and most haunted elements of New Orleans' musicality, or that naughty crackle in his soulful, snarling voice signaling ghostly romanticism and danger.
October 15, 2013 |
For George Horner at age 19, music was an escape from the pain that surrounded him and his family in the Czechoslovakian concentration camp where they were imprisoned. Horner's passion for music endured through several near-misses with death, the loss of his family, and through the end of World War II. Later this month Horner, now 90, a retired physician and a resident of Newtown Square, will commemorate the lives lost in the Holocaust by performing on piano at Boston Symphony Hall alongside legendary cellist Yo-Yo Ma. The Oct. 22 performance was arranged by Mark Ludwig, the head of the Terezin Music Foundation, a Boston nonprofit group that honors the legacy of composers who died in the Holocaust.
October 7, 2013 |
'It's so good listening to old records," Allen Toussaint sings on his new album. And it's so good to hear old masters Toussaint and Ry Cooder in such fine form on their new records. Their live sets are among a spate of our favorite new roots-related releases. Songbook ( Rounder **** ) captures just Touissant and his piano at New York's Joe's Pub in 2009. The 75-year-old giant of New Orleans music is known more as a composer and arranger than as a performer, but like the great soul songwriter Dan Penn, he's as good an interpreter of his own material as anyone.
July 9, 2013 |
LILLIAN M. Lewandowski did her part for the war effort during World War II. She made Raisinets for the troops. That's not as far-fetched as it might sound. Lillian had to forgo a full scholarship to the University of Pennsylvania because her work for the Blumenthal Brothers Chocolate Co. was deemed essential to the war effort. Lillian Lewandowski, who after the war worked as a secretary for lawyers, then the U.S. Customs Agency and the Environmental Protection Agency, and used her musical talents to teach piano and organ and peform at area churches, died June 22. She was 88. She lived in Bensalem but had lived for many years in Frankford.
July 3, 2013 |
WALTHAM, Mass. - The famed piano maker Steinway is hoping that the sale of the company to private equity firm Kohlberg & Co. will strike the right chord. Steinway Musical Instruments Inc., which has been in business for 160 years, said Monday that it has agreed to be bought by Kohlberg for about $438 million. Steinway pianos have been a status symbol and a must-have luxury in concert halls for more than a century, but the storied company suffered during the recession. While it has recovered, its shares have not returned to their peak, reached just six months before the recession began.
May 10, 2013 |
MYRTLE SIMS PERRY always put on her finest outfit for church, complete with the big hats that she made herself, her nails impeccably sculpted. "As a young child she was always told by her mother to give God her best and that's why she loved to dress in her finest," her family said. "She was the diva of the church," said her daughter, Cheryl Curry. Myrtle was not only a fashionable dresser at her church, the United House of Prayer for All People, in South Philadelphia, she played the piano for three choirs at services, directed one of them, the Echoes of McCollough, created bulletins, handled correspondence and was chairwoman of the church's Women's Day. Myrtle Perry, who took on multiple jobs to support her family over the years, died May 2 of complications from surgery.
April 16, 2013 |
Often lost amid all the exactitude issuing from conservatories today is the reason we make music in the first place. It's not about being able to play all the notes or play them in tune. Interpretation has to mean something if it is to be worth the trouble, especially since the trouble is considerable. How fortunate, then, must be the students of Miriam Fried, the violin pedagogue who teaches at the New England Conservatory. On Sunday night, for the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, she came to the Perelman Theater with one of her progeny - in fact, her prime progeny, pianist Jonathan Biss, who happens to be her son. Whatever their offstage dynamics may be, in terms of musical substance it was a performance of equals - if very different ones.
April 12, 2013 |
IF YOU COULD make it at Spider Kelly's, you had already made it in the Philly jazz scene. After all, John Coltrane played there, as well as organist Jimmy Smith and numerous other local luminaries at a time ('50s and '60s) when Philadelphia was the place to be for the best in jazz. It was a tough crowd. A piano player kept a bottle of wine and a pistol under his piano. The denizens expected only the best in their kind of music, and they got it. The likes of Louis Jordan and Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, playing at the nearby Earle Theatre, came by to scoop up talent for their bands.