Sunday, September 27, 2015

CD Review – Saraswati Dreams, by Jaya Lakshmi & Ananda

Warm acoustic guitar combines with exotic Indian instruments and singing for a delightfully pleasing and hypnotically entrancing world music sound.

The album is beautifully and richly layered thanks to the talents of Jason Bailey on hammer dulcimer; Hans Christian on bass, cello, and keyboards; Krsna Dev on vocals; Dasi Karnamrita on vocals; Jaya Lakshmi on guitar, harmonium, kartals, piano, shaker, and vocals; Prema Mayi on vocals; Rasa Priya on sarod; Deepak Ramapriyan on violin and vocals; Ankush Vimawala on tabla; and Ananda Yogiji on bansuri, bass, guitar, harmonium, shaker, and vocals.

This is a worthwhile entry in the growing trend of Eastern-Western musical hybrids.

--Raj Manoharan

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Jack Larson (1928-2015)

With the passing of Adventures of Superman cast member Jack Larson, only “Lois Lanes” Phyllis Coates and Noel Neill remain as the last surviving stars from the iconic 1950s television series.

Larson was not the first actor to portray Daily Planet photographer and cub reporter Jimmy Olsen, but over the course of the show's six seasons, he set the standard for those who followed in his footsteps, most notably Mark McClure of the Superman and Supergirl films from the 1970s and 1980s.

Later a playwright, librettist, and movie producer, Larson will always be remembered as the plucky and affable Olsen. His memory lives on in reruns of Adventures of Superman every Saturday from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., Eastern Time, on Me TV.

The classic TV network paid tribute to Larson with a memorial black-and-white photograph preceding each of this past Saturday's two installments of Adventures of Superman. The unscheduled episodes focused on the late Larson's Jimmy Olsen character.

--Raj Manoharan

Sunday, September 20, 2015

CD Review – Moksha, by Ray Spiegel Ensemble

This is “raga rock” if I've ever heard it.

Drummer and percussionist Ray Spiegel leads an energetic and vibrant world music ensemble that includes himself additionally on dohl, manjeera, marimba, and tabla; Ira Coleman (Billy Cobham, Herbie Hancock, Sting) on bass; Robert Levin on percussion and talking drum; Ramesh Mishra on sarangi; Melanie Richeson on harp and tanpura; Stan Scott on harmonium; Tani Tabbal on cajon and drums; Frank Velardi on drums; and Junior “Gabu” Wedderburn on bongos, congas, and djembe.

The real standout is the late Stephen James, who, in addition to playing violin, plays the sarod with the invigorating fire and fury of an electric lead guitarist.

This is an engaging sonic blend of East and West.

--Raj Manoharan

Monday, September 7, 2015

TV – CHiPs Back on the Beat on Me TV

Despite removing Adam-12 and Hawaii Five-O from its schedule, Me TV does earn some kudos for bringing back my guys Larry Wilcox and Erik Estrada with the return of CHiPs – or CHmePs, as Me TV likes to call it – to the lineup.

Once again, you can relive the good old days as motorcycle cops Ponch (Estrada) and Jon (Wilcox) patrol the freeways of Los Angeles weeknights at 6 p.m. on Me TV.

--Raj Manoharan

TV – Me TV Gives Hawaii Five-O the Heave-Ho

Boo on you, Me TV, for disrespecting my man James MacArthur.

You wouldn't want to be the topic of discussion when Jack Lord's Steve McGarrett tells MacArthur's Dan Williams to “Book 'em, Danno!”

Bring back Danno!

--Raj Manoharan

Martin Milner (1931-2015)

Martin Milner was one of America's great TV cops, having played Officer Pete Malloy alongside Kent McCord's Officer Jim Reed and William Boyett's Sergeant MacDonald on Adam-12 from 1968 to 1975.

Malloy was the confident, take-charge veteran officer, showing the younger Reed the ropes while patrolling Los Angeles in their squad car, designated Adam-12, under the supervision of their tough but fair commander, Mac. Together, the trio proved a very formidable team.

The normally excellent Me TV network gets a demerit for taking Adam-12 off the schedule earlier this year. Perhaps in memory of Milner, Me TV should bring the show back so fans both old and new can continue to enjoy one of the all-time classic police dramas.

--Raj Manoharan

Sunday, August 30, 2015

CD Review – Ayahuasca Dreams, by Ciro Hurtado

Peruvian guitarist Ciro Hurtado breaks from his usual mold and brings it on this engagingly vibrant world music album.

Based primarily on South American rhythms and sounds, the CD is a full and rich cornucopia of Latin-flavored jazz, pop, rock and fusion, with Hurtado leading the way on nylon- and steel-string acoustic guitars and electric guitars.

Hurtado proves to be a consummate bandleader, hosting not only his wife on sprightly vocals, but also a top-notch group of musicians on flute, violin, keyboards, bass, drums, and percussion.

This is a fine guitar album that deserves a place in any guitar enthusiast's collection.

--Raj Manoharan