ESR MONTHLY A music capsule delivered by ESR
A music capsule delivered by ESR
This time we're handing the helm of the newsletter to our good friend Vanja Favetta, who goes by the moniker Whole Ball Of Wax when he gets behind the decks.
About the Editor
Vanja is an italian from Milan where he co-founded Officina Radio back in 2017. He's now been living in Lisbon for a couple years and doing shows at East Side Radio since our very early days, always delivering interestingly eclectic sets.
His collection spawns a wide range of genres, from Soul to House, but Jazz is his true passion.
Keep reading for a couple of amazing little stories and pointers to Documentaries, Music and Books as suggested by Vanja.
So as in art, science and all those disciplines commonly associated to our creative self, I always believed that great music is made by great people.
In this piece I wanna give you a glimpse of the life of a great man and musician, who (so far) did not obtain all the success, money and, above all, the recognition he deserves. I’m talking about Uruguay-born multi-instrumentalist Hugo Fattoruso, annoverated by some as one of the greatest living pianists on Earth.
Born in Montevideo “in ’43 or ‘44”, as his mothers recalls in an interview, he spent his life between New York, Los Angeles, Rio de Janeiro and finally settled back to his hometown, despite the military dictatorship strongly limiting free artistic expression in Uruguay at that time, playing and touring with giants such as Airto Moreira, Chico Buarque, Milton Nascimento, Djavan and many, many more.
His daring life is one of a naturally extremely talented musician who never took advantage on others of his gift; on the contrary, he always put family and friends first, having formed with his brother Osvaldo (on drums) the legendary ‘OPA’ trio and more bands with his children, most times refusing the role of leader and playing with superstars and in local folk parades with the same passion and vital energy throughout his whole life. Having said so, it’s not surprising you can find him today in some Montevideo hood, cooking with his 97 year-old mother and rehearsing almost daily with 2 younger generations of Fattorusos. He is still very profilic in studio as well, having recently launched his latest album “2020” as “HA Duo” (Japanese exclusive).
If you wish to dig deeper into the incredible life of this man, who went from selling millions of records in his early twenties with an Uruguaian band styled on The Beatles (Los Shakers), to influencing the curse of Jazz-Fusion with some true masterpiece albums with OPA and never got a buck for it all, I suggest to watch the movie-documentary “Fattoruso”, available for rent on Vimeo (1.8€ for 48h; if you don’t like it, I owe you a beer 😉).
Tip: a copy of his 2018 album “Hugo Fattoruso y Barrio Opa” is laying on Peekaboo Records’ shelves for cheap since way too much time.
Los Shakers - La Conferencia Secreta Del Toto's Bar (1968)
OPA – Goldenwings (1976)
Hugo Fattoruso – Varios Nombres (1986)
THE ELECTRIFYING MOJO
Have an eye and two ears on an underground cult hero of the Detroit music history. The seminal radio shows that Charles Johnson aka The Electrifying Mojo hosted on several Detroit radio stations between 1977 and the mid ’80 still carve a special place in the heart of the then listeners and continue to inspire many to this day.
The Electrifying Mojo’s groundbreaking style blended genres such as funk, soul, new wave, rock and avant-garde music in a socially and community-oriented urban frame, making use of direct speech and poetry, futuristic opening themes, cultural and social issues discussion and introducing a variety of different themed segments, the most famous one being the “Midnight Funk Association”, whose fans and members counted of tens of thousand of enthusiasts. Among all, Mojo might be best remembered for influencing the taste and musical development of the first wave of Detroit Techno artists and for introducing to the Rainy City’s radio market and audiences giants such as Prince, Kraftwerk and the B-52’s.
Give it a click to hear The Go-Go’s mixed into Curtis Mayfield or Parliament into Yello into the Queen, intertwined by imaginative cosmic narrations and spontaneous down to earth life teachings.
REALLY THE BLUES
There is a passage in Milan Kundera’s “The Book of Laughter and Forgetting”, that goes: “Romance is the fruit of the human illusion to be able to understand others. […] The only thing we can do is give information about ourselves. Everything else is an abuse of power. Everything else is a lie (free translation from Italian)”. In the wake of this statement I spent a long while reading solely autobiographies, mainly from musicians, as I found them more real and entertaining than narrations by third parties. With no doubt, the most astonishing I came across is to me “Really the Blues” by Mezz Mezzrow, a book that inspired generations, “from Henry Miller to the gangsta rappers”.
Straight forward, humoristic, extremely simple and yet incredibly amusing, ‘Really the Blues’ dives you body and soul into the lost world of the Jazz Age, following the mindblowing stories of the life of Milton Mesirow, an Hebrew of middle-class family born in Chicago in 1899. Mezz’s life really was something extra-ordinary even back then, as still very young, while in reformatory, he got in touch with Afro-American music and culture and from then on devoted his life to it, self claiming that he was a “white negro” and losing all his colour-related previleges.
Along his life, he went from shaping the original Chicago Jazz style together with early Jazz icons such as Sidney Bechet, Joe Oliver and Bix Beiderbecke, got to become the biggest marijuana seller in Harlem (marjuana was legal in the US until 1930), gaining nicknames such as ‘Viper King’ and ‘Muffles King’, and some funny non pot-related ones, such as ‘the white major of Harlem’, ‘the union tract between races’ and ‘Mezz the philosopher’, got married to a black woman with whom he had a child, became an opium addict, was Louis Armstrong’s musical director and manager for a while, was leader in 1937 of the first mixed-race band to perform on Broadway, went to prison a couple of times and last but not least once refused Al Capone’s girlfriend advances.
Without spoiling further on, I can say the book is to be found pretty easily both in its physical and digital forms and promises to drive you through this chaos of events with sublime simplicity, a simplicity that is in fact the true expression of the man’s character himself and therefore of the true meaning of the Jazz of the origins.
We hope you enjoyed these links, a bit of a glimpse into the references of the musical world of Whole Ball Of Wax.
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Keep it up,
East Side Radio