Stanley Moss about Dr John

Graphic design, brand strategy, and Dr John: the story of a friendship

Stanley Moss / Interview by Luca Forcucci – July 9th 2019 / Berlin

Stanley Moss (b. 1948), is founder of DiGanZi Group, a brand advisory, and The Club of Venice, a private conversation on brands and branding. He is global brand ambassador for Gottschalk + Ash of Zürich. He’s also author of novels including The Hacker, HACK IS BACK, The Crimson Garter and Fate & The Pearls, and The Book of Deals. A brand guru, philosopher, writer, and artist, he divides his time between Europe, India and Southern California. He served as CEO of The Medinge Group, the Stockholm-based think-tank on international branding, 2004-2012. He was a fine artist, sponsored by Absolut and Johnnie Walker Black Label, and exhibited landscapes in the US State Department Art in Embassies program.  His “New Wave Cookbook” is in the permanent collection of the MoMA NY. He is a faculty member at Academia di Belle Arti Cignaroli of Verona, Italy; Travel Editor for Lucire, a New Zealand fashion magazine; and served on the Board of the Rocket Mavericks Foundation.  

Dr. John belongs to a prestigious lineage of New Orleans keyboard greats that includes such names as Professor Longhair, Huey “Piano” Smith and Fats Domino.

His name has become synonymous with the city in which he was born. Dr. John’s music is stamped with the rhythms and traditions of the Crescent City, and he has spent a career that now spans more than half a century championing its music.

His best-known work includes Gris-Gris (1968), an album steeped in the otherworldly sounds of Louisianan voodoo culture; Gumbo (1972), wherein he offered an authoritative overview of New Orleans’ finest music; and In the Right Place (1973), which gave him the Top Ten hit “Right Place, Wrong Time.” His concerts are ritual invocations of New Orleans’ enduring musical spirit. More broadly, he has helped bring the sound of New Orleans into the national mainstream.

Born Malcolm John “Mac” Rebennack, he learned piano and guitar as a child. As a child growing up in the 1940s, he was steeped in the music of the city. “It was a special time in New Orleans,” he told USA Today’s Edna Gunderson. “The radio stations played basically New Orleans music, and I thought that was what the whole world heard.” His father ran an appliance store that carried records, and he also repaired P.A. systems for clubs around town; it was through him that young Mac gained exposure to the world of music in New Orleans.

As a musician, he was schooled by local legends like Walter “Papoose” Nelson (Professor Longhair’s guitarist), guitarist Roy Montrell, keyboardist James Booker and Cosimo Matassa (whose J&M Studio was the hub of the city’s recording scene). Rebennack became one of the first white sessionmen on the local scene. A fixture in New Orleans’ clubs and studios, Rebennack found himself making music night and day. “We used to work twelve hours a day, seven days a week, on Bourbon Street,” he told interviewer Robert Santelli. “That was real easy to do because there were so many clubs.”

He participated in sessions for records released on such labels as Ric and Ron, Minit, Ace, Ebb, Specialty and AFO (“All For One,” started by a cooperative of New Orleans musicians).

In short, Mac Rebennack was a pure product of New Orleans. “The old-timers schooled me good,” Dr. John reflected. “They brainwashed me to respect music, whether we were playing rockabilly or blues or rock and roll.”

Rebennack began recording as far back as 1957 and released his first single, “Storm Warning,” under his own name in 1959. As much as he loved New Orleans, he moved to Los Angeles in 1962, joining an exodus of local musicians who left town after a new district attorney began cracking down on clubs and nightlife in an effort to curb vice. Working in L.A. with producer Harold Battiste, a fellow Crescent City expatriate, he created the character of Dr. John the Night Tripper, a voodoo sorcerer and healer. His first album, Gris-Gris, masterfully evoked the mystical spirit of back-alley voodoo in a musical setting of otherworldly “N’Awlins” swamp funk. It meshed perfectly with the age of psychedelia in which it was released. Dr. John cut this startling release during unused session time for a Sonny and Cher album, as that duo had become involved in a movie project. Such cuts as “I Walk on Gilded Splinters” evoked a late-night, back-streets netherworld of ritual and mystery. The album remains a unique achievement in the realm of popular music, a touchstone to a world that few even knew existed.

Gris-Gris was followed by three more albums in the same vein: Babylon (1969), Remedies (1970) and The Sun, Moon & Herbs (1971). The last of these was intended to be a three-record set, each reflecting a different time of day. Some sessions were conducted in England, with such musicians as Eric Clapton and Mick Jagger participating. However, because of technical and budgetary issues, it was pared down to a single album. 

In the first half of the 1970’s, Dr. John released a series of albums that mixed New Orleans classics with original material, all driven by his remarkable piano playing and superb bands. This change in direction from underground mystic to overground eminence began with Gumbo, Dr. John’s fifth album, released in 1972. The idea that he pay tribute to New Orleans’ musical legacy came from Jerry Wexler, the renowned producer and talent scout for Atlantic Records, who co-produced Gumbo with Harold Battiste. Dr. John was signed to Atco, an Atlantic subsidiary, and Wexler made the suggestion after hearing him warm up with such material in the studio. It brought broader exposure to both the artist and his city’s musical heritage.

This paved the way for a pair of albums, In the Right Place (1973) and Desitively Bonnaroo (1974), that carried his career to the next level. Both were made in collaboration with Allen Toussaint and the Meters, longtime stalwarts of the New Orleans scene. “Right Place, Wrong Time,” from In the Right Place, became a Top Ten hit that spent nearly half a year on the chart. The album’s other hit single was “Such a Night,” which Dr. John performed at the Band’s The Last Waltz farewell concert.

In the late Seventies, he moved to New York and worked with producer Tommy LiPuma and lyricist Doc Pomus, resulting in the albums City Lights (1978) and Tango Palace (1979). In the early Eighties he made his first solo piano recordings (Dr. John Plays Mac Rebennack, 1981, and The Brightest Smile in Town, 1983). He ended the decade with In a Sentimental Mood (1989), an album of standards that reunited him with LiPuma.

The Nineties witnessed an artistic rebirth and rekindled connection with his New Orleans roots. In 1992, as remarkable as it may seem, Dr. John actually recorded his first album in New Orleans. Entitled Goin’ Back to New Orleans, it was “like a little history of New Orleans music—from way back in the 1850s to the 1950s,” Dr. John explained. In 1998 he returned to the mystical aura of his Gris-Gris period on Anutha Zone, which included cameos from such younger British admirers as Paul Weller and members of Spiritualized and Supergrass. Creole Moon, released in 2001, assimilated the various aspects of New Orleans music into a tasty gumbo. In 2004, Dr. John again saluted the Big Easy’s musical heritage on N’Awlinz: Dis, Dat or D’Udda, which rounded up such New Orleans legends as Earl Palmer, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, Willie Tee, Snooks Eaglin, Eddie Bo, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band and a member of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.

Beyond his vast discography as a recording artist, the list of sessions on which he has played for others is lengthy and impressive enough to merit his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a sideman, too. Dr. John’s bottomless sessionography includes releases by Maria Muldaur, Johnny Winter, Buddy Guy and Junior Wells, Van Morrison, the Band, Frank Zappa, Ringo Starr, Canned Heat, the Rolling Stones and countless others. He has even done well for himself as a jingle writer, tinkling the ivories on funky-sounding commercials for Levi’s blues jeans and Popeye’s Chicken.

For more than three decades Dr. John has been a perennial performer at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. He has also become an unofficial spokesman and ambassador for the city and its musical history. Meanwhile he continues to make creative, challenging records in the New Orleans style.

In 2008 Dr. John and his band, the Lower 911, released City That Care Forgot. The most topical and hard-hitting album of his career, it addressed the toll taken on his beloved hometown by decades of neglect and its near destruction by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. City That Care Forgot won Dr. John a Grammy for Best Contemporary Blues Album—the fifth of his career. Meanwhile, he continues to keep the city’s musical heritage and history alive.

“The most important thing to remember is this: New Orleans music was not invented,” Dr. John noted in 1992. “It kind of grew up naturally…joyously…just for fun. That’s it. Just plain down-to-earth happy-times music. When I was growing up in the Third Ward, I used to think, ‘Oh, man, this music makes me feel the best!”

Pamela Z / Sonic gestures extraordinaire (in English)

Pamela Z / Interview by Luca Forcucci – May 24th 2019 / Berlin

Pamela Z / Interview by Luca Forcucci – May 24th 2019 / Berlin

Pamela Z is a composer/performer and media artist who works primarily with voice, live electronic processing, sampled sound, and video. A pioneer of live digital looping techniques, she processes her voice in real time to create dense, complex sonic layers. Her solo works combine experimental extended vocal techniques, operatic bel canto, found objects, text, and sampled concrète sounds. She uses MAX MSP and Isadora software on a MacBook Pro along with custom MIDI controllers that allow her to manipulate sound and image with physical gestures. Her performances range in scale from small concerts in galleries to large-scale multi-media works in theaters and concert halls. In addition to her performance work, she has a growing body of inter-media gallery works including multi-channel sound and video installations.

Pamela Z has toured extensively throughout the United States, Europe, and Japan – performing in international festivals including Bang on a Can at Lincoln Center (New York); La Biennale di Venezia (Italy); the Interlink Festival (Japan); Other Minds (San Francisco); and Pina Bausch Tanztheater’s 25 Jahre Fest (Wuppertal, Germany). She has composed, recorded and performed original scores for choreographers and for film/video artists, and has done vocal work for other composers (including Charles Amirkhanian, Vijay Iyer, and Henry Brant). Her large-scale, multi-media performance works, including Memory Trace, Baggage Allowance, Voci, and Gaijin, have been presented at venues like the Kitchen in New York, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and Theater Artaud (Z Space) in San Francisco, the Museum of Contemporary Art Theatre in Chicago, as well as at theaters in Washington D.C. and Budapest Hungary. Her one-act opera Wunderkabinet inspired by the Museum of Jurassic Technology (co-composed with Matthew Brubeck) premiered at The LAB Gallery in San Francisco, and was presented at REDCAT in Los Angeles and Open Ears Festival in Canada. She has shown media works in exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of American Art (New York); Erzbischöfliches Diözesanmuseum (Cologne); the Tang Museum (Saratoga Springs NY); the Dakar Biennale (Sénégal); Krannert Art Museum (IL), and the Kitchen (NY).

Ms. Z has had chamber music commissions from Kronos Quartet, the Bang On A Can All Stars; Ethel String Quartet, the California E.A.R. Unit; the Left Coast Chamber Ensemble; the Empyrean Ensemble, and St. Luke’s Chamber Orchestra. She curates and produces “the ROOM Series”, a San Francisco avant-chamber series featuring the work of a variety of virtuosic solo artists and chamber groups playing experimental music. She has collaborated with a wide range of artists including Joan La Barbara, Joan Jeanrenaud, Brenda Way (ODC Dance), Miya Masaoka, Jeanne Finley + John Muse, Shinichi Iova Koga (Inkboat), Christina McPhee, and Luciano Chessa. She has participated in several New Music Theatre events (including John Cage festivals), and has performed with The San Francisco Contemporary Music Players. Her interactive web-based work Baggage Allowance can be viewed at baggageallowance.tv where it is permanently installed.

Paulo Bruscky, a Legendary Brazilian Artist (in Portuguese)

Interview by Luca Forcucci / 22 November 2018

Paulo Roberto Barbosa Bruscky (Recife, Pernambuco, 1949). Artista multimídia, poeta. Na década de 1960, inicia pesquisa no campo da arte conceitual, e a partir de 1970 desenvolve pesquisas em arte-xerox. Em 1973, atua no Movimento Internacional de Arte Postal, sendo um dos pioneiros no Brasil nessa arte, e no ano seguinte lança o Manifesto Nadaísta. Organiza duas exposições internacionais de arte postal no Recife nos anos de 1975 e 1976, sendo esta última fechada pelos militares brasileiros. Realiza 30 filmes de artistas e videoarte entre 1979 e 1982, e começa a produzir videoinstalações em 1983. Cria, em 1980, o xerox-filme com base em sequências xerográficas. Com a Bolsa Guggenheim de artes visuais recebida em 1981, reside por um ano em Nova York. Nesse ano, expõe na sala especial sobre arte postal montada na 16ª Bienal Internacional de São Paulo. É editor de livros de artistas e mantém em seu ateliê no Recife importante coleção de livros e documentos sobre arte contemporânea, entre eles correspondência com integrantes dos grupos Fluxus e Gutai. Em 2004, seu ateliê é integralmente transferido do Recife para São Paulo, sendo remontado em uma das oito salas especiais da 26ª Bienal Internacional de São Paulo.

b. 1949, Recife, Brazil | lives and works in Recife, Brazil

Paulo Bruscky’s work reflects a simultaneous engagement with both the Brazilian artist’s local framework of Recife and a global network, which he documents in artist’s books, performative projects, and photographs. Associated with Fluxus, and a key participant in the international mail-art movement, he investigates meaning through action, collage, installation, film, and poetry. Produced during his first trip to New York as part of a Guggenheim Fellowship and in collaboration with Daniel Santiago, Air Art Proposal of Composition of Colored Clouds in the Sky of New York (1982) is one of a series of classified ads published in Brazilian and other newspapers that advocate absurd or impossible situations.

Interview by Luca Forcucci / 22 November 2018

WordPress.com
Jetpack

Jorge Antunes (in Portuguese)

Interview by Luca Forcucci / 20 November 2018 / Recife / Brazil

JORGE ANTUNES

Jorge Antunes formou-se em violino, composição e regência. Em 1961 se destacou como precursor da música eletrônica no Brasil. Realizou estudos pós-graduados na Argentina, na Holanda e na França. Foi Professor Titular na Universidade de Brasília de 1973 até 2011 quando se aposentou. Obteve vários prêmios nacionais e internacionais. É membro da Academia Brasileira de Música. Suas obras são publicadas por Salabert, Breitpkof&Hartell, Gerig, Ricordi, Sistrum, Billaudot e Suvini Zerboni.

Escritor

Sua produção literária é vasta, embora pouco conhecida. A divulgação de seus poemas, crônicas e outros escritos tem se restringido à inclusão em algumas coletâneas, livros coletivos e jornais e revistas. Em 1998 a editora Hemisfério Sul, de Blumenau, publicou seu livro de literatura juvenil A Morte do Arco-Íris. Em 2001 ganhou o primeiro lugar no concurso de contos da Revista Poiésis. Em 2006 recebeu menção honrosa no Concurso de Contos Yage, em Salzburg, na Áustria.

Artista Plástico

Participou dos Salões Nacionais de Belas Artes, do Salão de Abril no MAM e dos Salões Nacionais de Arte Moderna. Partindo do princípio de que “o grau de recepção de uma mensagem artística é proporcional ao número de sentidos usados na recepção”, criou obras as quais denominou “arte integral”, pelo apelo direto aos cinco sentidos, inclusive o paladar. Emprega assim os diferentes recursos audiovisuais e cinéticos, além de odores, elementos gustativos e possibilidades táteis.

JORGE ANTUNES

was born in Rio de Janeiro in 1942. He completed his musical studies at the University of Brazil: violin, composition and conducting. From 1961 he stands out as a precursor of electroacoustic music in Brazil and begins research in the field of the correspondence between sounds and colors.

He took postgraduate courses in Buenos Aires, Paris and Utrecht, studying with Ginastera, Kröpfl, Gandini, Koenig, Bayle, Reibel and Schaeffer. From 1973 he is a full professor at the University of Brasilia, having retired in 2011. In 1976-1977, he completed his doctorate at the University of Paris VIII under supervision of Daniel Charles.

Antunes works with electroacoustic music and computer music, but his instrumental production is very great. Its scientific production is also vast, with articles published in several specialized journals and annals of congresses. He has published five books on techniques and theory of contemporary music.

Their scores are published by Suvini Zerboni, Billaudot, Breitkopf & Hartell, Durand and Sistrum. In 2002 he was appointed Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Ministry of Culture and Communication. In 2012 Antunes received the Ibermusicas prize. In 2013 he was a resident-composer at CMMAS, Mexico. In 2014 was done, in Brasilia, the world premiere of his new opera “A Cartomante”. In March of 2017 was done the world premiere, in São Paulo, of his new opera “The Mirror”.

Their scores are published by Suvini Zerboni, Billaudot, Breitkopf & Hartell, Durand and Sistrum. In 2002 he was appointed Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Ministry of Culture and Communication. In 2012 Antunes received the Ibermusicas prize. In 2013 he was a resident-composer at CMMAS, Mexico. In 2014 was done, in Brasilia, the world premiere of his new opera “A Cartomante”. In March of 2017 was done the world premiere, in São Paulo, of his new opera “The Mirror”.

Jorge Antunes interview by Luca Forcucci / 20 November 2018 / Recife / Brazil
WordPress.com

Phill Niblock

Phill Niblock / Interview by Luca Forcucci – May 21st 2018 / Berlin

Phill Niblock (b. 1933, USA) is an artist whose fifty-year career spans minimalist and experimental music, film and photography. Since 1985, he has served as director of Experimental Intermedia, a foundation for avant-garde music based in New York with a branch in Ghent, and curator of the foundation’s record label XI. Known for his thick, loud drones of music, Niblock’s signature sound is filled with microtones of instrumental timbres that generate many other tones in the performance space. In 2013, his diverse artistic career was the subject of a retrospective realised in partnership between Circuit (Contemporary Art Centre Lausanne) and Musée de l’Elysée. The following year Niblock was honoured with the prestigious Foundation for Contemporary Arts John Cage Award.

Interview by Luca Forcucci / Berlin / Mai 21st 2018
WordPress.com