Stir It Up: Musical Mixes from Roots to Jazz by Gene Santoro

By Gene Santoro

It is a cliché that the area is shrinking. As Gene Santoro sees it in his moment selection of essays, song is one enviornment the place that cliché takes on a true, yet paradoxical, existence: whereas track crisscrosses the globe with ever better pace, musicians grab what is necessary, and extend their idioms extra rapidly.
a growing number of because the Nineteen Sixties, musicians, either in the United States and out of the country, have proven an uncanny yet constant skill to attract proposal from fairly unforeseen resources. we expect of Paul Simon in Graceland, mixing Afropop rhythms and Everly Brothers harmonies right into a outstanding new sound that captured imaginations around the globe. Or Jimi Hendrix, attempting to wring from guitar the howling, Doppler-shifting winds he skilled as a paratrooper. Or Thelonius Monk, mingling Harlem stride piano, bebop, the impressionist harmonies of DeBussey, and a appreciate "harmonic house" that eerily paralleled sleek physics. From the startling experiments of such jazz giants as Charles Mingus, to the political chunk of Bob Marley and Bruce Springsteen, we see musicians time and again taking musical culture and making it new. the result's a great quantity of latest varieties, media which are continually being reinvented--in brief, an paintings shape in a position to likely unending, and eternally interesting, permutations.
Gene Santoro's Stir It Up is a perfect advisor to this ever altering soundscape. Santoro is the infrequent song critic both at domestic writing approximately jazz (John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, Tom Harrell), rock (Sting, Elvis Costello, P.J. Harvey), and the foreign scene (Jamaican, Brazilian, and African pop music). In Stir It Up, readers will locate considerate yet unpretentious discussions of such diversified musicians as David Byrne and Aretha Franklin, Gilberto Gil and Manu Dibango, Abbey Lincoln and Joe Lovano. And Santoro exhibits us not just the particular good points of the various those that create such a lot of astonishing sounds, but in addition the sophisticated and sometimes awesome connections among them. With easy authority and a wealthy feel of song background, he unearths, for example, how Ornette Coleman used to be motivated by means of a magical crew in Morocco--the significant Musicians of Joujouka--whom he stumbled on through Rolling Stone Brian Jones; how John Coltrane's unpredictable, prolonged sax solos motivated The Byrds, The thankful useless, and most importantly, Jimi Hendrix; and the way Bob Marley's reggae mixed Rastafarian chants with American pop, African call-and-response, and Black Nationalist politics right into a effective combine that also shapes musicians from the USA to Africa, Europe to Asia.
A former musician himself, Santoro is both illuminating approximately either the technical facets of the tune and the private improvement of the artists themselves. He bargains us telling glimpses into their usually turbulent lives: Ornette Coleman being kicked out of his highschool band for improvising, Charles Mingus checking himself into Bellevue simply because he'd heard it used to be an exceptional position to leisure, the teenaged Jimi Hendrix practising air-guitar with a brush on the foot of his mattress, Aretha Franklin's Oedipal fight along with her larger-than-life preacher-father.
during the quantity, Santoro's love and data shine via, as he maps the profitable terrain of father music's assorted traditions, its eclectic, cross-cultural borrowings, and its mind-blowing recommendations. What effects is an engaging journey via twentieth-century renowned tune: full of life, thought-provoking, leavened with humor and unforeseen twists. Stir It Up is certain to problem readers while it entertains them.

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They can opt for golden-oldies status, recycling their hit or hits endlessly, hoping to latch onto those lucrative cruiseship gigs or to headline the package or revival tours that regularly visit big halls like New York's Radio City or Madison Square Garden. Or they can try for some redefinition, a refocusing of their sound and image that reworks the essential threads of their past into a newer, but congruent, form for their present. But since pop stardom is a demanding and limiting franchise—your fans want to hear what they already know, maybe with a slight twist—the second choice is loaded with potential missteps from the commercial, never mind creative, side.

In Byrne's elusive hands, the delicate confessional mode falls flat. Life can be tough for a rock star whose moment has passed—as happens to nearly all rockers. Most, for instance, never last beyond a couple of discs at best, never mind getting a shot at something as tricky as navigating middle age. And if they get that far, their options are stark and appalling. They can opt for golden-oldies status, recycling their hit or hits endlessly, hoping to latch onto those lucrative cruiseship gigs or to headline the package or revival tours that regularly visit big halls like New York's Radio City or Madison Square Garden.

Guitar riffs stuff each tune, gyring around each other in a series of dissolves and overlaps. But the underlying beats would seem flatfooted to a jazzer—slam, slam, slam, slam. There's no real bounce. h. What's fascinating about Television, made more than a decade after 46 Stir It Up the group first dissolved, is how it picks up pretty much where they left off. It's almost as if the suspension of time that lurks between rock beats the way they play them magically reflects how history itself eddies around the band.

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