Monday Mixtape #10: Innovators in music.

Some musicians are so successful in realizing their artistic and creative vision their music becomes a style of its own. Countless of followers try to emulate it, or others improve upon it and allow it to evolve, but still it’s traceable back to that first pioneer who tried to play the piano with his feet or do something else that seemed ridiculous at the time. To honor these greats, but also to enjoy their music, we’ve picked a few tracks you might like. Have fun!

Guillermo Portabales / El Carreterro
The film Bueno Vista Social Club and its soundtrack made people around the world fall in love with Cuban music. Not many people knew however, that what that much of what they were listening to would not exist if it wasn’t for the musical sensitivity of Guillermo Portabales. Ironically, while the country has in this music a great export product and ambassador, Portabales left post-revolution Cuba, never to return.
Django Reinhardt & Stephane Grapelli / Minor Swing
The Belgian Manouche (gypsy) musician Django Reinhardt is considered by many to be the most important European innovator in Jazz. He was also completely unpredictable, sometimes not showing up at sold-out concerts to walk at the beach. Some current day musicians are so obsessed with his playing style that they play gypsy jazz with two fingers tied down with rubber bands. Two of Reinhardt’s fingers had become partly paralyzed in a fire when he was 18 years old, he had to teach himself a new style of playing.
Louis Armstrong
Jazz music is practically defined by the free-spirited approach of its musicians. There’s so many that contributed their unique style that to not be an innovator meant you were not a true Jazz musician. However, when you hear someone scat, whether it’s in Jazz or in any other musical style you know that comes from this particular cool cat.
Jimi Hendrix / Purple Haze
Some innovators are considered prophets, especially when they die young, leaving the world to wonder what else they could have achieved if they were granted a few more years. Jimi Hendrix was not only a virtuoso guitar player, his use of pedals and amplification was nothing short of a revolution in rock music. Effects that before were avoided, (such as the amp feedback that creates the typical electric guitar sound) were now used for full effect.
Hossein Alizadeh, Keyhan Kalhor & Majid Khaladj
Iranian modern-classical music is undergoing such a renaissance at the moment that every few years another singer or instrumentalist tries out something new that has the purists coming out with pitchforks and torches raised. Whether it’s developing new techniques on existing instruments, importing instruments from other cultures or creating new instruments all together, our music is in a state of flux, and that’s an exiting place to be. The video I’ve picked shows the collaboration of three such greats. The Kamanche virtuoso Keyhan Kalhor, the master of strings Hossein Alizadeh and the mystical drummer Majid Khaladj. As with all good Iranian tracks it takes its time to build up to a crescendo, so make some tea, close your eyes and go on musical journey with this trio.
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