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David Bowie to out album – Graham exhibit

LOS ANGELES, Oct 25, (Agencies): King of space-themed rock ‘n’ roll David Bowie will release a new album in January entitled “Blackstar,” according to reports. Bowie crafted the seven-song collection at New York’s Magic Shop studio with the assistance of local jazz musicians, according to the Times. The lead single, also called “Blackstar,” will drop on Nov 19. It will also be featured in “Lazarus,” the musical Bowie is co-writing with Enda Walsh. The track is also used as the theme for UK crime series “The Last Panthers.”

The Times classifies the new LP as “an album of long, jazzy jams mixed with the kind of driving beat pioneered by Seventies German bands Can and Kraftwerk.” The album is also said to include hints of “Gregorian chants, a soul section, various electronic beats and bleeps and Bowie’s distinctive vocals,” combining for a record that the quoted Bowie insider describes as “completely bonkers.”

Bowie’s last full-length album, “The Next Day,” bowed in 2013. “Blackstar” continues Bowie’s tradition of galaxy-inspired album titles, including “Earthling,” “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars” and “Space Oddity.”

“Blackstar” is expected to be released on Jan 8th, 2016, Bowie’s 69th birthday.

Legendary rock impresario Bill Graham, who worked with Hendrix, the Grateful Dead, the Stones and Santana, was in his heyday at a time when music was our tech.

The only differences between the two fields: The older generation pooh-poohed the music, our parents were not our friends, and you had to leave your house to experience it. But over the course of a decade, the entire younger generation was infected by the sounds made by a bunch of renegade players who weren’t interested in getting rich so much as in making a statement.

I almost didn’t go to Bill Graham and the Rock & Roll Revolution – the exhibition of his work and times at Los Angeles’ Skirball Cultural Center — because I didn’t think I’d have time to get to it before the exhibit ended Oct 11.

Now, I’m glad I did. Walking through the exhibit transported me to a strange time in a faraway place — the ‘60s happened 50 years ago, even though they happened right here on the Sunset Strip, and up north in the Haight. California was the epicenter of everything new and different, where limits were tested and culture was developed. It still is, not only in Silicon Valley, but Silicon Beach. In D.C. you kowtow to the powers that be and do what’s expedient; in California you ignore the rules as you invent a new game.

The exhibit blamed Reagan, the legitimization of greed and the cutback of cash for social programs for the counter-revolution that ripped apart the social fabric of our nation. But when the Fillmore East ruled, tickets were $3-$5. The exhibit had one of the green football jerseys the Fillmore East staff wore, as well as Graham’s mind-blowing watch – the one with two faces, for East Coast and West Coast time.

Bob Lefsetz

Also on display: Grace Slick’s Woodstock dress, and Janis Joplin’s stage outfit … back when things were handmade and looked like it. And Duane Allman’s guitar from Fillmore East, and Pete Townshend’s Gibson from the Metropolitan Opera House.

From Keith Richards saluting vocalist Merry Clayton of “Gimme Shelter” fame to an all-star gathering of jazz musicians paying tribute to saxophonist Sonny Rollins, the stage of the Apollo Theater was a showcase for friends stepping up on behalf of honored and absent guests.

The 85-year-old Rollins spoke, but did not play, Thursday night as he received a lifetime achievement prize from the Jazz Foundation of America, which held its 14th annual benefit gala “A Great Night in Harlem.”

Clayton, one of the top backup singers of the 1960s and ‘70s, appeared only by video as she recovers from a 2014 auto accident that cost her both her legs. She was the first recipient of the Clark & Gwen Terry Courage Award and in her taped remarks showed that she had lost none of her range and power, singing a few lines of the old Joe Cocker hit “You Are So Beautiful” and hitting high notes in easy and rising succession.

The foundation provides a wide range of support for jazz musicians, from rent money to medical care.

The event began with actor-activist Danny Glover leading a tribute to civil rights leader Julian Bond, who died earlier this year. Glover called Bond a “freedom fighter” and inspiration for the “young black adults who give life” to the Black Lives Matter movement.

For much of the night, the stage was filled to capacity with jazz, rock and rhythm and blues artists. Ravi Coltrane, Donald Fagen and Jack DeJohnette were among the many performers playing some of Rollins’ best known work, including a relaxed and joyous run-through of “Paul’s Pal,” a fierce update of the Rollins-John Coltrane duet “Tenor Madness” and the Rollins standard “St Thomas.”

Rollins was praised by the son of his old friend, pianist and composer Thelonious Monk. T.S. Monk remembered the saxophonist as one of many famous musicians he knew as a child and called Rollins “one of the absolute kings of melody.”

Rollins appeared briefly on stage, walking uneasily and with a cane, but full of spirit as audience members shouted “Sonny!” and he chanted a litany of heroes from Coltrane to Charlie Parker and praised them as “the people that set our world in motion with the music.”

Rollins and Clayton each have a history with Richards, Thursday’s final act. Rollins’ wistful solo was featured on the Rolling Stones ballad “Waiting On a Friend” while Clayton’s ringing, ominous shouts of “Rape! Murder!” on “Gimme Shelter” remain one of rock n’ roll’s all-time guest shots.

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