Reviews and Blog Posts: Blues

Les Blank : always for pleasure

This Criterion Collection of the films of Les Blank is a gem! I enjoyed discovering each one, having no idea independent films were being made like this in the 1960s and 1980s. Each short film is saturated with American culture rarely caught on camera. Even rarer is Les Blank’s hands-off...

Treme. The complete first season

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 Treme is set in New Orleans shortly after Hurricane Katrina. It follows characters representing different aspects of the city’s culture as they try to resume their lives after the devastation.  It’s apparent from watching Treme that the writer, David Simon, has a lot of admiration for the music and traditions...


by composer Hozier

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Hozier’s self-titled debut album is pure magic. I’m concerned that he will not be able to outdo himself and make a better album after this one!

Billie Holiday the ultimate collection

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This documentary covers a lot of information about the legendary jazz musician Billie Holiday and even better has a lot of live footage and audio recordings.  The live footage is very moving and a gem for Billie Holiday fans and jazz history enthusiasts. There’s also a bonus to the documentary...

Colour My World

Marian McPartland

Marian McPartland once noted, "The Key of D is daffodil yellow, B major is maroon, and B flat is blue." The beloved jazz pianist and host of NPR's Piano Jazz for over 30 years has left the recording studio, after sharing a rainbow of musical journeys with fellow artists.

If you are new to jazz or want to pay tribute to McPartland and her musical family, visit NPR's tribute Twilight World. McPartland interviewed her guests with the language of music, co-creating unique musical experiences. She had a gift for drawing musicians out, and the intimacy of their conversations drew listeners in. 

Music of the Sahara

Ali Farka Toure

I've been recently enjoying the "desert blues" of Saharan Africa.  When you think about the harsh climate and political history that peoples of this region have faced, it seems only natural that powerful and soulful music would emerge similarly to American blues.

This music combines guitars with traditional African instruments such as flutes and harps and finds structure around percussive rhythms that stay with you long after you shut off the stereo.  Although you probably won't understand a word of the lyrics, you get the strange sense that you know what they're singing about purely through their emotive tones.

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