Harry S. Pariser

Harry S. Pariser

When I first heard that Michelle Rosewoman would be playing in a piano shop, I expected her in a small, dusty showroom with pianos clustered around her.

What I found instead on San Pablo in Oakland was a shiny showroom with gleaming pianos of many varieties, many of which cost ten to over a hundred thousand dollars.

A great show by Angelique and Youssou at Oakland's Paramount Theater

How often do four talented African guitarists come together to play acoustic onstage? Putumayo Records, a unique company, not only brought together such a remarkable supergroup but put them on tour.  "Acoustic Africa's" three main guitarists were Afel Becoum and Habib Koité from Mali and Oliver "Tuku" Mtukudzi from Zimbabwe. They were backed by the estimable Mamadou Kelly, Becoum's highly-talented regular guitarist and other musicians.

Although he relates that his 17-year-old daughter, “who plays me like a violin,” maintains that he is “not that famous,” singer-songwriter Randy Newman needs no introduction to most music aficionados. Years ago, when I was a student in Boston, I hitchhiked over to Harvard and forked down $2 to hear him play at the college’s creaky wooden Sanders Theater. It was an unforgettable experience. Since then much has changed, including number of wars and invasions, massive inflation, and the near-death of newspapers — as well as a whole slew of Randy Newman songs, one of which “A Few Words in Defense of Our Country”, was a 2007 New York Times fea...
Randy Weston is one of the elder statesman in jazz. At 83, he has been at this before many of his listeners were born. He does not tour or record as much as he used to, so it was a very special occasion when Weston entered the stage at Yoshi’s in San Francisco on February 7, 2011 for a one-night, one-time special performance. He was there to promote his new book, his first book, African Rhythms. Befittingly, he was interviewed by Anthony Brown, a UC Berkeley jazz professor, drummer and popular bandleader who had once produced an interview with him for the BBC. At 6’ 7” Weston, clad in his customary African-derived garb, is an imposing...
Sunday nights are not known for attracting crowds for a 9 PM show. However, a show by Los Van Van, the songo group dubbed the “Rolling Stones of Salsa”, proved to be an exception. During four nights at Yoshi’s, a jazz and contemporary music club in San Francisco’s Fillmore District, the Cuban band drew packed crowds. On this particular Sunday evening, the dance floor was packed with a coterie of enthusiastic dancers. Los Van Van was founded in December 1969 by bassist Juan Formell (who did not make the tour: see below) along with fellow conservatory-educated musicians. Amalgamating the sounds of soul, disco, rock, and funk,with the rhythms...
He beckons on the cover, seated at the piano, an imposing figure in a yellow Moroccan shirt and cap. The CD opens to show him grinning and seated at the keys. The liner notes are by the author of the best biography of Thelonious Monk. The recording is a solid set of compositions, all but one written by him and many dating back decades. At 84, Randy is still going strong, after more than a half century of composing and performing. More than 50 CDs and albums in, he still has something to say, as
Adventurous has always been the word for the music of Matthew Shipp, and Art of the Improviser his new two-CD set is no exception. At first glance, the purple-and-black cover, with its solid-set lettering, appears to be two disks of Matt solo, but it turns out to be two dates: one in a trio with drummer Whit Dickey and bassist Mike Bisio (recorded in Troy, New York) and a second solo at Le Poisson Rouge in New York City. Both contain reworkings of previously recorded tunes, and there are two lov
One of two recent releases on Motema by Geri Allen, Geri Allen & Timeline Live is not your usual live recording of a quartet date. Geri, a renowned contemporary pianist, is…
On this solo CD, Geri Allen doesn’t hide her influences. The cover proclaims it "inspired by Cecil Taylor, McCoy Tyner and Herbie Hancock." It definitely is. Yet this ether…
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