In The Wall Street Journal this week, I interviewed contemporary artist Takashi Murakami (go here). He’s the father of the Superflat art movement. You’re probably most familiar with his colorful designs for Louis Vuitton bags popular a bunch of years ago (see pattern below). Superflat art features two-dimensional color works of pop subjects influenced by Japanese manga and anime. I caught Murakami’s show at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts a couple of months ago and wanted to interview him for my "House Call" column. There’s something about his art that channels your inner child and challenges your sensibilities. And you have to love a famous artist who sleeps in a wooden box. Here are a few of examples of Murakami’s work…
Also in the WSJ, I interviewed novelist Nathan Englander on a meaningful favorite song—The The’s This Is the Day (go here). Nathan is the distinguished writer in residence at New York University and the author of Dinner at the Center of the Earth (Knopf). [Photo by Joshua Meier/Courtesy of Alfred A. Knopf]
Red Garland radio. This Sunday, January 14, "Symphony Sid" Gribetz will present one of his famous five-hour "Jazz Profiles" programs, this time on pianist Red Garland. The show will last from 2 to 7 p.m. (EST). You can access Sid and Red from anywhere in the world on your computer or phone by going here.
Lenny Breau. Following my post on guitarist Lenny Breau, his friend and collaborator Ron Halldorson emailed a note:
"It’s beautiful Marc. Thank you for doing this. Lenny deserves so much more public recognition than he has had. You had to know this guy to appreciate what a sweet person he was. So gentle. Never had a bad word to say about anyone. And funny as hell. Loved nonsense humor the best. I’ve never known anyone so dedicated and hard working as Lenny. People call him a genius, but I never thought of him that way. He just worked tirelessly all his life with an all-consuming passion for music and innovation on the guitar."
Four Brothers by five saxophonists (ranging from a curved-neck soprano sax on the right to the bass saxophone on the left) at Disney World in Orlando, Fla. in 2006. Thanks to Andrew J. Sordoni III for sending this along. Go here…
RIP Rick Hall, Part 1. Rick Hall, who founded FAME Recording Studios in Muscle Shoals, Ala., and produced dozens of Southern artists in the 1960s and ’70s, including Percy Sledge, Clarence Carter and Etta James, died on January 2. He was 85. I interviewed Rick for the WSJ in 2013 (go here).
Last Saturday, Chris "King" Cowles of WRTC-FM broadcast Part 1 of a two-part series on Rick. Chris played his interview tapes with Rick and featured bassist David Hood of the Swampers and saxophonist Floyd Newman of the Mar-Keys and Memphis Horns. He also interviewed me. If you’ve never heard Chris in action, check him out. I love what Chris does on his show, Greasy Tracks, which features the very best in soul. To hear Part 1 of Chris’s Rick Hall tribute, go here. Part 2 will air on this Saturday ((January 13). I’ll have the link for Part 2 next week.
Art Farmer’s family recently launched an official website in tribute to the late trumpeter. Go here.
Speaking of design, Ian Mackenzie sent along a link to Jim Flora’s famed album covers in the 1950s (go here).
What the heck. Here’s Julie London singing My Lover Is a Stranger, a rare B-side in 1964 by Marvin Fisher and Jack Segal. The pair wrote When Sunny Gets Blue. As you can hear, this is one tricky song to sing, but dig how London handles it. Wow. (The A-side was The Boy From Ipanema)…
Oddball album cover of the week.