Illustrious composer, songwriter, producer, pianist, and arranger Jack Nitzsche was born in Chicago in 1937. Nitzsche began his professional career working as Sonny Bono's copyist. As protege of Phil Spector, Nitzsche was integral to the creation of the legendary "Wall of Sound." Famous for his work with Neil Young, his credits include The Rolling Stones, The Monkees, and The Ronettes. Nitzsche also contributed music to William Friedkin's The Exorcist. In 1975, Nitzsche received an Academy Award nomination for his score for One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest. He won the Oscar for best song in 1982 for "Up Where We Belong," from the film An Officer and a Gentleman. Nitzsche's instrumental hit "The Lonely Surfer" is a milestone of Top 40 history to be filed in the brain.
Genre: Classic Pop
Artist: Jack Nitzsche
Song: The Lonely Surfer
Album: Rhino Hi-Five: Jack Nitzsche EP
Experimental folk group Fruit Bats, led by singer/songwriter and guitarist/pianist Eric Johnson, has a revolving-door policy for its musicians. The band was founded in Chicago in 1999, then relocated to Seattle. Johnson has been a touring member with popular indie favorite The Shins. "The Earthquake of '73," from the 2005 release Spelled in Bones, has an eerie wonder. What if you lived on a fault line?
Artist: Fruit Bats
Song: The Earthquake of '73
Album: Spelled In Bones
Misophone is Matthew "M.A." Welsh and Steven "S" Herbert (S plays 20 instruments, and M.A. is a banjoist, artist/writer, and singer) from Carlisle/Bristol, U.K. Misophone is an artful carnival, a mixture of sad and happy yet happy to be sad and sad to be happy kind of a thing. The duo is self-described as Laptop Folk/Americana. The title "Tired of Silly Dreams," from Misophone's current release Where Has It Gone, All The Beautiful Music of Our Grandparents? It Died With Them, That's Where It Went sounds haunted by elegant, capricious ghosts.
Buy: Kning Disk
Genre: Experimental Folk
Song: Tired of Silly Dreams
Album: Where Has It Gone, All The Beautiful Music of Our Grandparents? It Died With Them, That's Where It Went
Pop-folk band Bread was founded in 1969 by singer/songwriter and guitarist David Gates, vocalist Robb Royer, and drummer Jim Griffin. "Make It With You" became a No. 1 hit for the band in 1970. Shortly thereafter Griffin would be replaced by drummer Mike Botts, and Royer would be replaced by Larry Knechtel. In 1976, the original trio of Gates, Griffin, and Royer got back together and released the mega-hit "Lost Without Your Love." "Tecolote," from the album Guitar Man, is an unexpected surprise: a tougher side of Sears, so to speak.
Album: Guitar Man
Dorothy Love Coates
Gospel singer extraordinaire and civil-rights activist Dorothy Love Coates was born in 1930 in Birmingham, Alabama. Regarded as a high priestess of Gospel by Little Richard, Coates was the main engine of the Alabama-based Original Gospel Harmonettes, serving as vocalist and arranger. Often, during performances, Coates got so caught up in the spirit that members of the group would have to steer her back to the stage. It's said that Mr. James Brown fashioned some of his dramatic stage moves on her style. After her daughter was born with epilepsy and cerebral palsy, Coates virtually retired to care for her. Her last recording was in 1970; she died in 2002. The title "Trouble," from the album The Great Gospel Women, has magnitude and grace.
Artist: Dorothy Love Coates
Album: The Great Gospel Women
Jazz musician, classically trained bassist, and father of mambo, Israel "Cachao" Lopez was born in Havana, Cuba, in 1918 and died in March of this year. His career began at the age of 8. In the 1930s, he started to change Latin music: He gave it an African pulse and called it mambo. After the Cuban revolution, Cachao performed mostly in Las Vegas, where he said he became a compulsive gambler. In the early '90s, actor Andy Garcia, a strong admirer of Cachao's, returned him to the studio, producing several albums over recent years, including Cachao's Grammy-winning Ahora Si! in 2004. The title "Malanga Amarilla," from the album Descargas y Montuno by Cachao y Su Combo, is authentic, modern, and its own.
Song: Malanga Amarilla
Album: Descargas y Montuno