Guitar.com: What do you remember most about growing up in Mississippi?
Otis Rush: It was tough, man. It was a struggle to go to school, even no longer than I went. To eat, to live was hard. We were sharecroppers. That's when you don't own your own place but you want to make some kind of living, you know, so you had to go to the white man's place and sharecrop with him and work his land. He'd furnish your tools or whatever you need, and at the end of the year, out of the crop, he'd get half of it. And all of the costs and the wear and tear, I gotta pay that outta my half. I just get what's left. You'd have very little left, sometimes not enough
Guitar.com: You first learned to play on your brother's acoustic. Did he teach you anything?
Rush: I learned to play by myself. Nobody helped me. Nobody teached me. That's why I play left-handed. If somebody would have been there to teach me how to play the right way, I would have had my strings strung up the right way. But nobody was there, so I learned a note here and a note there, and here I am, still trying to learn.
Guitar.com: You must have found religion when you arrived in Chicago and started seeing people like Muddy Waters in person.
Rush: Each time I went, I could hear 'em from outside before I walked in the club. And I was always like, 'That's a record playin'!' But I'd walk in and see 'em playin' on stage, and man, I just froze right there.
Guitar.com: Although you'd learned about the guitar in Mississippi, did these club shows provide more inspiration?
Rush: Man, after one of those first shows, I went home a bought me a little, cheap guitar called a Kay. That amplifier was so light, you'd play a note and it would almost jump off the floor and dance. I'd start practicing, and I just went from there. I started tryin' to make those sounds that they was makin'. I was up on the third floor [of his sister's apartment] of 3101 Wentworth in Chicago, South Side. The neighbors wanted to call the police on me, mad at me for making that noise. I was like, 'Man, I'm tryin' to learn how to play this guitar like Muddy Waters!'
Guitar.com: You've crossed paths with so many guitar legends. How did they affect your playing abilities?
Rush: You learn from listening to any guitar player. If you're interested in learning about music, you just pick up things from each one. And from that, you put it into your style. But you don't forget those particular notes, so you make up your own song. We all play like each other in a sense. If we all had to play our own music, there wouldn't be too many musicians. [laughs]
Guitar.com: After a lifetime of this, what comes next?
Rush: I'm gonna keep recording and gigging, and keep tryin' to learn how to play my guitar and sing. You never learn it all. There's always something to learn. I don't care if you're the greatest, there's always something to learn on that instrument. You know what I mean?
Along came a Peruvian duo with a very long name, Dengue Dengue Dengue!, in 2011, and a project to release a new sonic-selfhood or indigenismo. Read Simon Bolivar’s “Letter From Jamaica” where he denounces the killings of the continents previous landowners but also the limits placed on persons like himself born in the Americas by Spaniards and you will understand how serious indigenismo is: reason for revolution.
They are young but they are proud. They are also cosmopolitans and would like to meld the world into Peruvian sound and song. For the cover of their most recent release Siete Raices, the name of a Peruvian punch beverage that is an aphrodisiac, they wear masks, as many non western cultures, including those of tribes native to the Americas, do. Like their name, dengue is the name of a fever, the album screams “Feverrr!” as La Lupe does so on her recordings spectacularly. It is an album of 9 songs, each a gem of ambient, sultry, electronic, clinical rhythm, layers of instrumentation, and sometimes singing.
The songs are fun but their intent is clear: these are cultural songs that seek to replenish nation and culture. “Guarida” is a plunge of song – there is text and grave singing to the rhythm that we are introduced to slowly but surely. “Dubcharaca” also begins slowly to quickly move into dance-able excitement. Listening to “Amazonia” is a walk through a world somewhat psychedelic but maybe indigenous. “Badman” is a great dance song.
With radio length for each song and through intricate layering on facile rhythm to a time of heightened affordable hedonism but also of public dissent, this duo offers their native culture modernity and complexity and us the ability to feel cosmopolitan Peru.
Rafael Cortijo Verdejo es una de las figuras más innovadoras e importantes para la historiografía musical puertorriquena. Su ingenio marcó un hito en pleno desarrollo de la bomba y la plena, sirviendo de punta de lanza para el posterior surgimiento del sonido de la salsa. Cortijo nació el 11 de diciembre de 1928, en la calle Colón de la parada 21 de Santurce. Aprendió a dar toques de tambor en rumbas callejeras, sin realizar estudios en música. Aun así, fue un sabio de la tumbadora y desarrolló un estilo único con destrezas nunca antes escuchadas entre los músicos de la época. Innovó en la creación de su combo, introduciendo dos trompetas, dos saxofones, piano y timbales en la ejecución de bombas y plenas, pero reteniendo su sabor tradicional y su base rítmica. "Fue un científico del ritmo y un hombre lleno de ideas. Sus iniciativas (musicales) lo hicieron grande", opina Sammy Ayala, su compadre y uno de sus primeros cantantes. La proyección de su trabajo transportó nuestros ritmos nacionales fuera de los arrabales para situarlos en los mejores escenarios dentro y fuera de Puerto Rico. Sus arreglos musicales -en gran parte trabajados por Quito Vélez- no eran muy elaborados, en cambio su sonoridad devolvió a la percusión el predominio que había perdido por la fuerza que habían adquirido agrupaciones estilizadas, como la Orquesta Siboney y la de Rafael Munoz.
Rafael Cortijo constituyó la primera banda integrada por negros -rompiendo la barrera del racismo- y logró trabajar en los más prestigiosos hoteles de San Juan. Como líder de grupo, Cortijo marcó una nueva etapa de progreso para sus músicos -hasta entonces tratados con indiferencia por su extracción social y racial- e insistió en subirles el salario. Antes, cuenta Sammy Ayala, sólo se pagaba $25 por seis noches por considerarse "músicos de la calle y sin escuela". Con Cortijo llegaron a cobrar hasta $12 por baile. Su propuesta artística fue revolucionaria. Su conjunto fue toda una atracción porque sus integrantes tocaban de pie y los cantantes no paraban de bailar. En los momentos de auge del salón neoyorquino El Palladium -donde se lucía Tito Puente, Machito y sus Afro Cubans y Tito Rodríguez- Cortijo hizo vibrar la sala en cada una de sus actuaciones. A los 14 anos de edad, Rafael Cortijo tocaba congas y bongó en las orquestas de Frank Madera, Miguelito Miranda y Agustín Cohen. También transitó por el Conjunto de las Hermanas Sustache, el Grupo de Monchito Muley, la Orquesta de Parques y Recreos, la Sonora Boricua, Miguelito Miranda, Frank Madera y el Grupo de Mario Román. En 1942 se inició como músico profesional en el Conjunto Monterrey de Juan Palm ("Mentokín") y en 1954 figuró como conguero en el combo del pianista Mario Román. Ese mismo ano, Román se fue de la Isla cediéndole al músico de Santurce los derechos del grupo y su contrato en el sector la Marina de San Juan, surgiendo así Cortijo y su Combo. En 1955 integró al cantante de la Orquesta Panamericana, Ismael Rivera, para que lo acompanara en una grabación con el sello Seeco. El primer álbum fue "Cortijo y su combo: Invites you to dance", en el que aparece como vocalista Nelson Pineda cantando el tema "Zumbador". En esa producción también figura Roy Rosario, el sonero original del grupo, quien interpretó "Conocí a tu papá" y "Amárrala con cadena". Junto a ellos, Sammy Ayala e Ismael Rivera.
The Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami, who died yesterday at the age of seventy-six, was simply one of the most original and influential directors in the history of cinema. He achieved something that few filmmakers ever have: he seemed to create a national identity with his own cinematic style. He was the first Iranian filmmaker who expanded the history of cinema not merely in a sociological sense but in an artistic one, and his tenacious, bold, restless originality—an inventive audacity that carried through to his two last features, made outside of Iran—focussed the attention of the world on the Iranian cinema and opened the Iranian cinema to other directors who have followed his path.
Art is born of a confluence of temperament and circumstances. It’s amazing that Kiarostami was able to work copiously and free-spiritedly within the rigid constraints imposed by the religious and political doctrines of the Iranian regime. Yet he also seemed to thrive on conflict, arising from his over-all sense of resistance to authority and defiance of norms, which he expressed subtly but decisively in dramatic action and in cinematic form. He was one of the greatest ironists and symbolists in the history of cinema, bringing out grand philosophical ideas and depicting independent-minded characters, while nonetheless apparently deferring to imposed conventions and expectations.
In the nineteen-seventies, Kiarostami made his earliest films under the auspices of the Kanun, or Institute for the Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults. They were didactic films, for and about young people. After the Islamic Revolution, he continued to make educational films, but a sense of his sly radicalism appears in the short film “Orderly or Disorderly,” from 1981, a sort of cinematic “Goofus and Gallant” of large groups, in which the orderly one appears terrifyingly dehumanized (and enforced by the authority of the police) and the disorderly appears lively and vital—but not without risks and conflicts. It’s also a reflexive film, in which each sequence is prefaced by a slate and a clap, as well as a film of passionate observation, expressing the sheer joy in seeing and filming the alluring details and large-scale patterns of daily life.
The first paradox of Kiarostami’s career is the clash between documentary and dramatic elements, between the observed and the imposed, between the discovered and the determined—and between the closed world of the movie shoot and the total one behind the camera. He worked mainly with non-actors whom he encountered on location, as in his 1987 feature “Where Is the Friend’s Home?,” the story of a schoolboy in the rural village of Koker who travels to another village to give a classmate a notebook, in the process defying parental authority, and other authorities as well. That region was devastated in 1990 by an earthquake; in the 1992 feature “Life and Nothing More,” Kiarostami dramatized his trip to Koker after the disaster to inquire about the movie’s young star, with an actor playing the director. One of the film’s key incidents is an encounter with a newlywed man who married his fiancée the day after the earthquake (they spend their first nights together in the shelter of ruins). Kiarostami followed that film with “Through the Olive Trees,” a story based on the life of the local mason who played the newlywed groom in “Life and Nothing More.” The director is a character, too, and he gets involved in the couple’s relationship. For that matter, the movie opens with an actor addressing the viewer, identifying himself as an actor playing a director who has come to Koker to choose an actress for a film.
In January 1977, Miller furthered his career when he joined the Duke Ellington Orchestra, led by his son trumpeter Mercer Ellington. Miller was recommended for the job by his friend saxophonist Bill Easley. The job with Ellington brought him to New York City where he began to make a name for himself in the city’s jazz scene.
Miller remained with the group until early 1979 when he joined the rhythm section of singer Betty Carter’s group alongside bassist Curtis Lundy and drummer Greg Bandy. In late 1980, he joined trumpeter Woody Shaw’s group, performing with him until the summer of 1983.
After joining tenor saxophonist Johnny Griffin for a brief tour, Miller joined drummer Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, making his debut with the group on 1984’s New York Scene. During his time with Blakey, Miller started to record with several up and coming young jazz musicians including trumpeter Terence Blanchard, tenor saxophonists Donald Harrison, John Stubblefield and Branford Marsalis, alto saxophonist Bobby Watson and vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson.
In 1985, Miller made his debut recording Keys To The City for producer Orrin Keepnews’s label, Landmark. Starting in 1986, Miller became a member of drummer Tony Williams’ quintet.
While with Williams, Miller pursued a dazzling array of side projects. In 1987, Mulgrew formed the cooperative ensemble Trio Transition with bassist Reggie Workman and drummer Freddie Waits. The group toured throughout Europe and sometimes included alto saxophonist Oliver Lake as a featured soloist.
The same year, Miller began to perform with tenor saxophonist Benny Golson, appearing on his album Stardust. 1987 Mulgrew also performed on trumpeter Wallace Roney’s album Verses and also played with the group Wingspan on a self-titled album. In 1992, when Williams dissolved his group, Mulgrew further focused his attention on these other projects.
Miller toured with the New York Jazz Giants before performing with clarinetist Eddie Daniels and vibraphonist Gary Burton.
Miller continued to lead a trio while working as a sideman on various recordings. In 1993, Mulgrew performed with guitarist Ron Muldrow and tenor saxophone Joe Lovano.
The same year, Miller along with pianists Harold Mabern, James Williams, Geoff Keezer and Donald Brown formed The Contemporary Piano Ensemble. Initially starting after a performance at the 1991 Montreaux Jazz Festival, the group consists of four pianists, with one sitting out, performing simultaneously with a rhythm section. The group performed last in 1996.
1993 also saw Mulgrew performing on bassist Steve Swallow’s album Real Book with Lovano, trumpeter Tom Harrell and drummer Jack DeJohnette. On “Bite Your Grandmother,” DeJohnette plays an opening cadenza before the unison melody of Lovano and Harrell begins the top of the form. With the unrestrained performance of DeJohnette, Miller and Swallow prove to be a reliable and interesting rhythmic partnership with the two men utilizing the upper registers of their instruments to contrast with the dark sound of Lovano. Mulgrew’s solos offer brief, but poignant examples of his harmonic intelligence and aptitude.
As Marianne and Paul stretch out, a shadow passes over them. It is a plane, bringing an unexpected and largely unwelcome guest: Harry (Ralph Fiennes), Marianne’s ex, and also her former producer. (Flashbacks show them working in the recording studio, or fondly cementing their bond with snorts of coke.) Now he is back, barging through the airport and breaching the peace, and with him is a young and unruffled blonde. Marianne and Paul presume that she’s a conquest, the latest in an immeasurable line: an easy mistake to make, for Harry ogles her and brandishes her like a prize. (“She’s a lovely bitch.”) In fact, she is his daughter, Penelope (Dakota Johnson). From here on, a scent of something unhealthy hovers around their relationship, never to be dispelled.
Why, then, do we not recoil from Harry and leave it at that? Because Fiennes is in his element, and his pomp. The hints of deep unhappiness—buckled down or warped into outright malice—that showed in his earlier roles have made way for a broader strain of play and expostulation, although, to one’s amazement, there has been no loss of intensity. Set beside the Nazi commandant whom he depicted in “Schindler’s List,” his Lord Voldemort, in the Harry Potter saga, was a fantasy of ill intent, designed for kids, yet Fiennes laid serious siege to their imaginations. And so to this Harry: a loudmouth and a boor, arms spread wide in an engulfing hug. He will not take no for an answer, whether it involves ravishment or a restaurant table; indeed, he will barely ask the question, preferring to bully the world into an exhausted chorus of “yes.” Marianne and Paul don’t want Harry at their villa, and he knows as much, but he moves in anyway, with Penelope in tow. It is as though Falstaff had decided to try his hand at being Prospero, with a secluded little kingdom of his own, and a treasured child.
Unsurprisingly, Harry powers the plot. He comes on to Marianne afresh. He dices with Paul, and the rivalry between them lends even their summery larks, like a swimming race, the blare of battle. A festival in a nearby town begins with the parading of a Madonna, in pious procession, and ends with Harry taking over the karaoke machine at a local bar and crooning to the crowd. Life swells into a permanent head-to-head, for which Guadagnino finds a startling dramatic shape. As Marianne and Harry bicker in the street, each of them confronts the camera, their faces filling the frame, and even Swinton’s makeup becomes a weapon. At the start of the film, her eyes are daubed with silver; here they gleam with a wicked yellow gold.
“A Bigger Splash” is the title of a David Hockney painting from 1967—an ejaculatory shot of white on the surface of a calm California pool. The screenplay of the new movie, by David Kajganich, is adapted from “La Piscine” (1969), a modish romantic thriller with Alain Delon and Romy Schneider, set in the South of France, as was “Bonjour Tristesse” (1958), another tale of a daughter perplexed by her father’s passions. Then, there’s “Stromboli” (1950), where Ingrid Bergman pursued her yearnings beneath volcanic hills. Above all, fans of Guadagnino’s previous work, “I Am Love” (2009), in which Swinton played an aristocrat who had an affair with a chef, will find much to savor here. Food, again, wields a vitalizing force. The closeups of fresh ricotta being spooned, still warm, into Marianne’s mouth, or of a fish having its belly stuffed with chilies and herbs (Harry, needless to say, is an unrestrained cook), exude a tang that verges on the erotic.
Not that we have to go without sex itself. The main characters keep having it, discussing it, or joking about it, and every carnal combination seems ready to be explored. In short, Luca Guadagnino has made something rare and disconcerting: a genuinely pagan film. It rejoices not just in nudity, male and female, but in the classical notion of figures in a landscape, and of the earth itself demanding frenzied worship. That is why Harry, having put on a Rolling Stones LP, begins to dance to “Emotional Rescue” and then, clearly fettered by interior space, bursts out onto the rooftop and continues his display under a scorching haze. Who would have thought that an Englishman, of all people, would prove to be such a natural Dionysian?
“A Bigger Splash” is fiercely unrelaxing, and impossible to ignore. You emerge from it restive and itchy, as though a movie screen could give you sunburn, and the story defies resolution. Penelope, the youngest of the group, remains the hardest to fathom, and provides a final twist. None of the four could be described as affable. Yet they all seem dangerously alive, in their indolence as in their rutting, and even the speechless Marianne is able to enunciate, through gasps and gestures, the storm of her body’s needs and her heart’s complaint. The isle is full of noises, and they won’t die down.
As a young and aspiring filmmaker I remember seeing this film in 1975 and how it rang so true to my formative sensibilities. Robbie Mueller's tracking shots were a revelation not to mention the interplay between the journalist/photographer and young girl. This is when i started to know that the image rules in subtle ways. The land of television comes off badly, though.
Wim Wenders’ “Alice in the Cities” is about a disinterested togetherness between a German journalist (with a heart of a poet) in the middle of a creative block and a pre-adolescent girl who unexpectedly found herself in his care. It is also about a unique psychological atmosphere which is created by these two protagonists and which becomes the very style of the film – relaxed, tender, warm, more than just life. Thirdly, the film is about creative process when the object of creative effort is life itself. And, finally, it is about the geography of two cultures, American pre-globalist (and impulsively entrepreneurial) and European post-fascist (knowingly existential). The girl is without any of the usual appealing, without any need for success with other characters (inside the film) or the audience. As a screen presence she is rather shocking for most American viewers. The guy’s creative authenticity can match Alice’s existential one. We see them in New-York and then during their meaningfully absurd trips throughout West Germany. The power of their existential encounter without any expectation of any advantage is strong because they leave life in peace. Only life left in peace can reward people with enlightenment. The film shows that it is possible to feel together in the world without any sentimental ties. It depicts humanism in psychological action. “Alice…” is a film of moods when visual currents follow the music of emotions with freedom from conventions and strains. It is a film where Being is awakened to human life.
Jazz and classical, Dieter Ilg knows both worlds well. Partly to learn about the history of music, he studied classical double bass at the Freiburg music academy though he had decided to become a jazz bass player at the age of 16.
Now one of the leading jazz bassists in Europe, Ilg has occupied himself for years with Guiseppe Verdi, a contemporary and Italian Counterpart of that most formidable, gigantic, and definitely most German of all opera composers, Richard Wagner. In a trio with pianist Rainer Böhm and drummer Patrice Héral, his subtle and unique interpretation of the famed Verdi opera “Otello” in a studio recording and in the ACT live version “Otello live at Schloss Elmau”, Ilg elicited rave reviews from critics and audiences alike: “It has been a long time since a trio has seemed as intertwined with each other as this one,” adjudged the NDR broadcasting company. “If not already the case, Ilg, Böhm and Héral are now at least a perfect example of unfettered music making,” wrote Jazzthing. Norway’s Jazznytt magazine summed it up with one word in its CD critique: “Beautiful”. And consequently the double bass player was then honoured with the Echo Jazz Award 2011.
So it wasn’t a giant leap from Verdi to Wagner, and least of all to his last opera, the “sanctifying festival for the stage” ‘Parsifal’, which also lends its name to Ilg’s latest ACT album. “There are some overlaps,” says Ilg: “The opening melody in the prelude to Wagner’s Parsifal is similar to the famous double bass solo near the end of Verdi’s Otello. Wagner completed many parts of his Parsifal compositions during his journeys to Verdi’s homeland, before ultimately dying in Venice.”
Ilg’s past occupation with mostly German and European folk melodies took him to Wolfram von Eschenbach. The epos “Parzival” from the first decade of the 13th century is from him, and it fascinated Wagner and served him as inspiration. It deals with world religions, misunderstandings and irritations, with understanding and deliverance – themes that have obviously not become any less topical since Wagner, and that also affect Ilg. With this recording, the bassist is not forced to reinvent the wheel, but he is happy to be able to choose the path on which that wheel rolls.
On ‘Parsifal’ Dieter Ilg succeeds with an astonishingly logical, chamber musical reinterpretation of the opulent material. “The monumental becomes sensual and the sensual monumental,” he explains, and demonstrates his seemingly unending creativity with impressive virtuosity and stylistic variability in each and every piece: The title of the first track “Zum Raum wird hier die Zeit” indicates the tone of the album – an intensive, suspenseful and masterly game with opposing extremes. The bombastic “Parsifal” motif alternates between the major and minor keys and is interpreted excitingly and openly; the hymnal is rendered playful; the “Klageruf” sounds less plaintive than demanding and mighty, the “Zaubergarten” enchants almost weightlessly, with light melancholy; Wagner’s programmatic “Ich bin ein reiner Tor” is condensed with a driving groove and towers up dramatically. And it suffices to hear how the impressive “Amfortas” theme is introduced, varied upon, played around and injected with dynamism to see that this trio recognises the inexhaustible musical opportunities that classical music holds for jazz, and exploits them like no other.