Fred Wesley Jr., legendary funk, soul, and jazz trombonist, has a new, unlikely gig: klezmer artist. Wesley has joined Abraham, Inc., a collaboration between classical and klezmer clarinetist David Krakauer and DJ Socalled. The band was featured on NPR's All Things Considered yesterday. Krakauer calls the band, which also includes rapper C-Rayz Walz, jazz guitarist Cheryl Bailey, and bassist
Jerome Harris,"a mash-up." Wesley was nervous when he first began playing klezmer because its Eastern modal scales are so different from what he usually plays. But he soon realized they had plenty in common. "It was a funky beat and I recognized [it]," Wesley said. To learn more about Wesley and his extraordinary career playing with James Brown, Parliament-Funkadelic, and the Count Basie Orchestra, read his autobiography, Hit Me, Fred: Recollections of a Sideman.
If you're attending BEA, please stop by our booth, #3727 and pick up some great books and a cool tote bag to put them in. If you won't be there, stay tuned to our Facebook page and Twitter feed for some giveaways this week!
Today Rorotoko features an interview with Enda Duffy, author of The Speed Handbook: Velocity, Pleasure, Modernism. Duffy argues "that many of the radical new forms of modernist high culture, and even
more the original formats being pioneered by the new mass media, were
developed to represent speed’s thrills." His book looks at the fascination with speed in both high art and popular culture in the early twentieth century. Duffy also wants to understand human energy, such as the representation of adrenaline: "Just as there is a history of slowness as well as a history of speed, a
history of human energy too remains to be written. The turn of the
century moment that saw the isolation and description of the role of
adrenaline is a key transformative moment in that history." He hopes his book will be a contribution to the field of biopolitics as well as to literary and cultural studies.
Mira Schor, author of A Decade of Negative Thinkingand Wet, is interviewed on Artforum.com this week. She talks about her new blog, a counterpart to her book called A Year of Positive Thinking. "There are so many things that I love in art, film, art history, and
political history, which help me to be an artist; I really want to share
that part of my experience," she says. Blogging comes naturally to Schor, both because she has been an "inveterate self-documenter" since childhood and because she loves to write. "I can’t imagine not writing––it would be like not thinking or speaking," she says.
Daniel Widener, author of Black Arts West: Culture and Struggle in Postwar Los Angeles, was profiled in yesterday's San Diego Union-Tribune. Widener is a professor of history at University of California, San Diego. Widener tells reporter Robert L. Pincus, "This topic also came out of my life." Widener grew up in Los Angeles's Echo Park. Pincus writes that Widener's "parents’ lives intersected with those of black artists like Alonzo Davis,
whose career is chronicled in the book. They frequented one of the
pivotal showcases for black artists, Brockman Gallery, which Davis ran
along with his brother, Dale Davis." The article also discusses Widener's interest in his current home of San Diego. “I think it’s pretty extraordinary what is happening here,” observes
Widener. “This is a city on its way to becoming something else. It’s
changing demographically. But I don’t think anyone has a handle yet on
what it will be like in the future.”
Congratulations to Bob W. White, author of Rumba Rules: The Politics of Dance Music in Mobutu's Zaire, for winning the 2010 Joel Gregory Prize. The Joel Gregory Prize is awarded by the Canadian Association of African Studies to the best book published in African Studies in the social sciences and humanities, written by a Canadian, a landed immigrant, or an African who has completed a Ph.D. program in Canada or has worked in a Canadian organization devoted to the promotion of knowledge of Africa. The award was announced at the Annual Meeting of the Canadian Association of African Studies on May 5th.
In Rumba Rules, the first ethnography of popular music in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Bob W. White examines not only the economic and political conditions that brought this powerful music industry to its knees, but also the ways that popular musicians sought to remain socially relevant in a time of increasing insecurity.
Publishers Weekly has given a Starred Review to Amitava Kumar's forthcoming book A Foreigner Carrying in the Crook of His Arm a Tiny Bomb. The reviewer writes that "Kumar’s searching and humane account of the global consequences of the
U.S. 'war on terror' gets behind the rhetoric and state public relations
campaigns in a brisk but thoughtful narrative." The reviewer concludes: "An arresting and heartrending work of public protest and valuable social
analysis, this work contributes forcefully to a subtle, human-scaled
accounting of 21st-century geopolitics." The book will be available in August, along with Kumar's first novel, Nobody Does the Right Thing. Check out Kumar's website or follow him on Twitter.
May 2010 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the FDA's approval of the birth control pill. Time Magazine did a long story on the development of the pill and its integration into American society. But they left out a fascinating and mostly unknown part of the story. In the 1940s chemists discovered that barbasco, a wild yam indigenous to Mexico, could be used to mass-produce synthetic steroid hormones. The development of the Pill led to increased demand for the yams, and to thus to increased opportunities for the Mexican farmers who cultivated and harvested them. In her new book Jungle Laboratories: Mexican Peasants, National Projects, and the Making of the Pill, Gabriela Soto Laveaga reconstructs the story of how rural yam pickers, international pharmaceutical companies, and the Mexican state collaborated and collided over the barbasco. By so doing, she sheds important light on a crucial period in Mexican history and challenges us to reconsider who can produce science. In a review of the book on Feminist Review this weekend, Maya N. Vaughan-Smith says Jungle Laboratories is "an engaging read for women who are curious about the political economy of
the pills they are popping on a daily basis."