The Bullet List #9: Kamasi Washington, How Music Works, Joshua Ellis, Conan and Zappa / by Nasri Atallah

Kamasi Washington

Someone recommended I give this a listen a couple of days ago (thanks Talar) and it is truly phenomenal. A little digging reveals that Washington was responsible for the sax arrangements on the latest Kendrick Lamar album, but his solo work is the kind of jazz that comes around once in a generation. His album — aptly entitled The Epic — was featured in Pitchfork’s Top 50 of last year and he’s recently been the subject of a glowing New York Times Magazine cover story.

From Jackson Allers: “ He represents the progeny of the jazz elders I worked with in Los Angeles with my partner Carlos Gabriel Niño (*working class productions) between 95'-2000. What Kamasi and his family of musicians in the West Coast Get Down represent (Stephan "Thundercat" Bruner, Ronald Bruner, Brandon Coleman, etc.) are the current purveyors of the Central Avenue Jazz scene of Los Angeles from the 40's to the mid/late 60's - culminating in 2015 with Kamasi Washington's 3 disc album - The Epic - on Flying Lotus' label Brainfeeder. These cats are also the chief architects behind the music on Kendrick Lamar's 'To Pimp a Butterfly.'”

How Music Works by David Byrne

David Byrne’s seminal work is an all-encompassing look at where music comes from, the spaces it occupies and the industry that promotes it. It essential reading for anyone involved in the industry, from musicians to managers and labels, and basically anyone who cares about the context around the stuff they listen to.

“How Music Works is David Byrne’s remarkable and buoyant celebration of a subject he’s spent a lifetime thinking about. He explains how profoundly music is shaped by its time and place, and how the advent of recording technology forever changed our relationship to playing, performing, and listening to music. Acting as historian and anthropologist, raconteur and social scientist, he searches for patterns—and tells us how they have affected his own work over the years with Talking Heads and his many collaborators. Touching on the joy, physics, and the business of making music, he also shows how it is inextricably linked to its cultural and physical context. His range is panoptic, taking us from La Scala to African villages, from his teenage reel-to-reel recordings to his latest work in a home music studio.How Music Works is a brainy, irresistible adventure and an impassioned argument about music’s liberating, life-affirming power.” - McSweeny’s 

Joshua Ellis

I came across Josh when an article called ‘Everyone I know is brokenhearted’ popped up in my news feed. I was moved to my core by both his message and his prose, which compelled me to follow him on Facebook. I suggest you do the same. He is a truly gifted writer, and posts regular commentary on life in US as seen from Yakima, Washington. He’s both sensitive to the issues driving our world today (race, gender, religion) and deeply irreverent in his treatment of those subjects and opponents to his views. He was also nominated for a Pulitzer and wrote a very Bukowskiesque account of his trip to Mexico (An American Vampire In Juarez: Getting My Teeth Pulled In Mexico's Most Notorious Border Town) to get his teeth fixed which you can get on online.

Going Down A Rabbit Hole of Conan Remotes

The release last week of Conan O’Brien’s latest side splitting video with Kevin Hart, Ice Cube and Diana Chang (a Conan staffer) is a great reminder of where the lanky pompadoured comedian performs best: out of the studio. Conan remotes have been legendary since his early days at NBC, and a lot of them are on YouTube. There’s no better way to waste an evening than to spend an hour going through them. I’ve linked a few of my favorites below.

Frank Zappa talking about his guitar heroes

Zappa at his zenith ... Think about this the next time you play a "wind-up monkey" note-for-note guitar solo ...

Posted by Paul Dezelski on Thursday, January 14, 2016