120 Seconds With Jazz Legend Chico Hamilton

In this episode of 120 Seconds by NYC’s very own Friends We Love, jazz legend Chico Hamilton opens his heart about how he met the love of his life, his wife of 67 years, Helen.

Chico’s latest album, Twelve Tones of Love, takes listeners on a musical journey of his venerable career and the numerous people who have influenced it, including trombonist George Bohanon, who was in one of Chico’s classic sixties ensembles; vocalist Jose James, who studied under Chico; and multi-reedist Jack Kelso, Chico’s lifelong friend.

Free download: “Penthouse A”

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SXSW 2009: Kanye West, Common, Erykah Badu, Devo, Red Riders, Big Boi and More

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Kanye West at the Levi’s/Fader Fort © Seher Sikandar

SXSW 2009: Kanye West, Common, Erykah Badu, Devo, Red Riders, The Asteroids Galaxy Tour, Big Boi, Janelle Monáe, Chin Chin, Beach House, Solange, Kid Cudi

Austin’s South By Southwest Festival is four days of new bands eking out a following and amplifying their buzz while established acts assert their influence or grasp at a comeback. Giant Step’s Resident Mawuse Ziegbe took in as much of the long lines, late nights and musical highs as she could. Here’s her review of a weekend of sounds in the South.

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Giant Step’s Resident 40: Lykke Li, Alaska In Winter and Friends We Love Festival

By Mawuse Ziegbe

So many rising stars sell out shows, sing along to a DAT, bask in their blogosphere buzz and call it a day. But congregates, believe wholly and fully in the hype of
Lykke Li. Rapturous Lykke Li followers enveloped Webster Hall and homegirl brought it. Her album Youth Novels is all feathery textures, pillowy vocals and naked emotion. And while she opened with the ethereal “Melodies & Desires,” she spent the rest of the show busting up the stage with rollicking versions of her dreamy break-up jams. Swathed in black layers she rocked “Dance, Dance, Dance,” banging on her drummer’s cymbals and shaking up the folky number with freewheeling spunk. The crowd drooled when she went into “I’m Good I’m Gone.” The band gave “Little Bit” a downtempo, acoustic revamp that heightened the vulnerability of the original version. During the encore she slipped in a cover of A Tribe Called Quest’s “Can I Kick It” and finished with “Breaking It Up.” For a Swedish pop star, she was mad hip hop. It was kinda like Lil’ Kim Presents Lykke Li. Amazing.

Alaska in Winter is also doing some fun stuff performance-wise. A slight fellow with a penchant for suits and fur hats, the project’s Brandon Bethancourt tinkered with an assortment of homemade key-tars (like, guitars duct-taped to keyboards), ukuleles and synths at Williamsburg’s Monkeytown. The show had all the makings of crappy experimental theater (one guy, too many instruments, a tolerant, touchy-feely audience). But unlike crappy experimental theater it came across as a meticulously planned performance experience. Bethancourt projected video of himself playing each instrument individually on Monkeytown’s four screens. He dressed in layers and disrobed throughout the set to match his virtual doppelgangers. So say before he goes into his pulsing, New Wave jam “Berlin,” he’ll take off his brown slacks to reveal some crisp white skinny pants that match the four celluloid Bethancourts strumming banjoes, slamming key-tars and wearing horsey masks. Ok, my description sounds like I huff glue but I pinky swear it’s a totally great show.

I had a ridiculous time at the Friends We Love Festival. It was all beautiful Brooklyn folk who only come to the city for gritty yet fabulous parties such as this one. DJs like the legendary Bobbito and DJ Moni spun the chunes and Platinum Pied Pipers’ Wajeed made an appearance. And there was the requisite indoor street art and that everybody was too drunk to really notice. The party also had the rowdiest entrance sitchy I’ve ever encountered. You go to the door and there’s a sign saying the party’s moved across the street. Fine. You get to that address and there’s another sign saying it moved around the corner. Um, ok. The next entrance says it’s on the other side of the building. Just when I’m about to give up thinking the party’s in Narnia, I find the entrance. And the elevator isn’t working. Joy. Five flights later, I get to the party. Sarah White and DJ Don Cuco hit the stage and I bop to their snappy number “I Wanna Be With You.” Hopefully this bit of blog buzz doesn’t make them switch to DATs. I think more rising stars need to slam key-tars and channel Lil Kim.