Charlie pays tribute to some of the outstanding musicians who passed away in 2009.
Les Paul was not only an accomplished guitarist and inventor of the eponymous guitar, he was also an early pioneer of multitrack recordings. Fellow American Snooks Eaglin was also a guitarist, a virtuoso on both the 6 and 12 string versions, blessed by an encyclopaedic musical memory and an aficionado of radio: his nickname was derived from a popular 1940s programme. Willy DeVille of Mink DeVille fame and Claude Jeter who fronted the Swan Silvertones in their heyday also left this year for the Great Jukebox in the Sky.
Argentine singer Mercedes Sosa’s legacy is best summed up in the words of her pianist and musical director, Popi Spatocco: “At the time of the dictatorship, Mercedes was the underground reference point for a ton of people who weren't allowed to express their own ideas and convictions." Staying in Latin America, Orlando ‘Cachaito’ Lopez (pictured below with his band) hailed from a famous Cuban musical dynasty and his bass playing anchored not just the Buena Vista Social Club recordings but also the Cuban National Symphony as well as Orquesta Riverside.
It’s no exaggeration to say that the sarod player Ali Akbar Khan was one of India’s greatest musicians. He was not only a supreme virtuoso and a gifted composer but also a powerful advocate for north Indian music in the West, particularly in the 1950s. Son of another acclaimed musician, Ustad Allauddin Khan, Ali Akbar Khan was known for his absolute concentration in performance and uncompromising standards. "I started to learn this music at the same time I began to talk," Khan once told music writer Don Heckman. "So it is as natural to me as speaking. It's not something I have to think about any more than I have to think about the words I'm saying."