News & Updates — Los Angeles

Wardell Gray / Feb 13, 1921 - May 25, 1955

Wardell Gray / Feb 13, 1921 - May 25, 1955

Passing just two months after Charlie Parker was another genius of the saxophone, tenor player Wardell Gray. He was one of the bright lights of the West Coast scene of the late '40s/early '50s and it's a shame how relatively little-known he is compared to some of the other titans of the era, of which he surely should rank alongside. His style was flowing and melodic, not too heavy. He was one of the players who straddled the line between the swing and bop eras. His first instrument was clarinet but he was inspired upon hearing Lester Young to switch to...

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Leon Haywood / Feb 11, 1942 - Apr 5, 2016

Leon Haywood / Feb 11, 1942 - Apr 5, 2016

Happy birthday to the recently-passed keyboardist/songwriter/producer Leon Haywood, the man behind that G-Funk staple "I Wanna Do Something Freaky To You". He came from Houston and was playing piano as a young child. He put together his first professional band in the '50s, playing locally while also backing Guitar Slim. In the early '60s he moved to Los Angeles, where he played in a band with saxophonist Big Jay McNeely, and backing Sam Cooke in his band until Cooke's death. He continued working as a session musician with Dyke & The Blazers, among others. He had a few minor soul...

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RECORD REVIEW: Jungle Fire - Jambú (Nacional Records)

RECORD REVIEW: Jungle Fire - Jambú  (Nacional Records)

Review by DJ Bongohead There’s a lot of pretenders out there when it comes to contemporary instrumental Afro-funk and Afro-Latin inspired music, but when a band knows their stuff, well, as Fela Kuti used to say, “Who no know go know,” and one thing I know: Jungle Fire is 100% legit, pura candela, mofongo funk. If the percussion section can’t turn on a dime or do tight breaks, if the brass is limp or out of tune, if the bass has no tumbao, if the players don’t know their roots or let the orishas take them, well then don’t bother...

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