Sunday, December 30th, I did my last KCRW show of 2012. I featured some songs by artists I knew and loved. The first is Ravi Shankar, who was my first interview on MBE in mid-summer 1979. I was intimidated because it was a daytime show and I was face-to-face with a giant. I also will miss Cesaria Evora, one of the most wonderful artists I’ve ever been fortunate to meet. I first became acquainted with her just before France fell in love with the flat-footed “barefoot diva” a name deriving from the fact that she found shoes uncomfortable. Her song “Mar Azul” was the first song I heard, and that was it. I got to interview her numerous time and we were always happy to see each other. I loved her feisty, independent spirit: one time two important industry executives went to Cape Verde to see the islands and to try to meet her. They knocked at her gate and were greeted by somebody who told them that she was tired and didn’t want to see anybody.
Austin Peralta died by accident at the tragically early age of 22. He was an impossibly gifted kid who could play McCoy Tyner or Chopin with equal verve and aplomb, a childhood wunderkind, one of a kind. He had his whole life ahead of him, and great things could have happened. It is a tragedy.
There was also soul singer Fontella Bass died the other day at 72. She was best known for her 1965 hit, “Rescue Me” but I like her later work with the Cinematic Orchestra–which Austin Peralta also worked with recently–on a beautiful and haunting song called “All That You Give”.
Finally, Zani Diabate died in 2012. Since that exact date of his birth–or death–isn’t known, we don’t know his age. But he gave us one of the earliest Malian albums, Zani Diabate and the Super Djata Band in 1988 on Mango, which was a tour de force and turned a lot of people onto that big Malian modal groove.
I’ll miss all these artists. They have moved me and given me pleasure. They all leave us with music of timeless beauty, depth, and power.