Music » In Rotation

Soul scholar Aaron Cohen on the forgotten history of Black Power TV

Plus: Drummer Charles Rumback on the indescribable Arto Lindsay, the Reader's Peter Margasak on Elyse Weinberg’s lost folk-rock treasure, and more



A Reader staffer shares three musical obsessions, then asks someone (who asks someone else) to take a turn.

Bérangère Maximin, Dangerous Orbits
  • Bérangère Maximin, Dangerous Orbits

Peter Margasak, Reader staff writer

Liam Noble, A Room Somewhere Fans of improvised music may know UK pianist Liam Noble from Sleepthief, a trio with Ingrid Laubrock and Tom Rainey, but he deserves a wider audience. On this solo effort he combines fluency in jazz history with the refined touch of a classical pianist (he ends it with Elgar's "Salut d'Amour"). He turns "'Round Midnight" into a mirage, teasing out its melody with slow-moving lines and somber harmonies, and brings Bach-like counterpoint to "There Is No Greater Love."

Elyse Weinberg, Greasepaint Smile In 1968 this Canadian folkie took the advice of her friend Neil Young and moved to LA. But her 1969 debut, Elyse, stalled, and she drifted away from the Laurel Canyon scene after two subsequent albums went unreleased. Greasepaint Smile was the first, produced by David Briggs and featuring Young's lead guitar on "Houses," one of two tracks to appear on a 2001 reissue of Elyse. Otherwise this record has never been released before—it's a knockout, its cosmic folk-rock built around Weinberg's weary rasp.

Bérangère Maximin, Dangerous Orbits French sound artist Bérangère Maximin delivers gorgeous, meticulously plotted soundscapes thrumming with subtle pulses, droning atmospheres, shifting surface details, and environmental recordings (jungle sounds with birds, insects, and unidentifiable natural noises). Maximin makes classic musique concrete, but her sonic universe is staked to a rootless future.

Peter is curious what's in the rotation of . . .


Aaron Cohen, author of a forthcoming social history of Chicago soul

Gayle Wald, It's Been Beautiful: Soul! and Black Power Television In the late 60s and early 70s, Ellis Haizlip's groundbreaking public television program Soul! presented black authors, activists, and musicians speaking and performing without any kind of filter. Episodes included Nikki Giovanni debating James Baldwin and Labelle covering the Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again." Wald provides evocative descriptions of the shows and places them in cultural context.

Charles L. Hughes, Country Soul: Making Music and Making Race in the American South Also in the 60s and 70s, Nashville and Memphis, along with Muscle Shoals, Alabama, formed a triangle of fertile country and R&B production centers. Historian Charles L. Hughes offers insightful perspectives on how these cross-­pollinations worked and thoughtful considerations of the racial dynamics surrounding them. His considerable research challenges long-held assumptions about this time and place.

The Lost Generation A few months ago I interviewed brothers Lowrell and Fred Simon, who led this late-60s Chicago soul group. Lowrell was the main writer on the title tracks to the band's The Sly, Slick, and the Wicked and Young, Tough and Terrible. These tunes remain as striking as those by his better-known contemporaries. Producers Willie Henderson and Eugene Record also made sure that Thomas "Tom Tom" Washington's sublime string arrangements flowed with the vocal harmonies just right.

Aaron is curious what's in the rotation of . . .

Arto Lindsay - ANITTA BOA VIDA
  • Anitta Boa Vida
  • Arto Lindsay

Charles Rumback, drummer

Arto Lindsay I've been a fan of Arto Lindsay since a friend turned me on to his 1999 album Prize years ago. I've done my homework, going all the way back to DNA by way of the Ambitious Lovers and checking out albums Lindsay produced for other artists, but still I wasn't prepared for seeing him live at Constellation last month. He played solo, accompanying himself on a 12-string Danelectro. It's impossible to describe in words, but that show started me on another journey through the music of Arto Lindsay.

Uncle Paul's Jazz Closet I've become obsessed with this radio show and podcast hosted by Paul Motian's niece. Cindy McGuirl unveils pieces of Paul's archive, including journal entries, rehearsal tapes, gig calendar notes, and excerpts from his unpublished autobiography. From listening to the show I've learned a lot about Motian's music, but just as fascinating to me are the lesser-known stories from the life of a man who meant so much to so many.

Steve Marquette/Macie Stewart/Charlie Kirchen Every show I've seen by this acoustic string trio has been different. Guitarist Steve Marquette leads like a drummer, pounding life into hesitations before they happen and shaping the pieces dynamically. Stewart plays violin and sometimes sings beautiful counterpoint harmony to her parts in a way that's totally original. Kirchen and his bass hold it all together, sometimes reharmonizing from the bottom up. Everyone in this band digs deep.  v

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