Letter to the Miami New Times newspaper...

[In the Miami New Times version of my Cuban Originals -- Desi Arnaz review, I made the comment that "Raymond Scott, Arthur Schwartz, and Moises Simons, who composed some of the songs on Desi Arnaz, were hardly sons of Havana." I was wrong about that, and have corrected my review accordingly. Here is the letter to the Miami New Times setting me straight from Arturo Gómez, the music director of Miami's WDNA-FM (88.9) and host of the station's Monday edition of Latin Jazz Quarter from noon to 2:00 p.m.]

Crazy for Desi
It all started right here: In his review of Cuban Originals -- Desi Arnaz ("Rotations," August 24) Bob Tarte wrote: "Raymond Scott, Arthur Schwartz, or Moises Simons, who composed some of the songs on Desi Arnaz, were hardly sons of Havana." But in fact Moises Simons was born in Havana on August 24, 1889. He was a bandleader and pianist as well as the composer of the famous "El Manicero" ("The Peanut Vendor"). Simons composed "El Manicero" late one night in 1928 on a napkin while in a Havana tavern, having been inspired by a passing peanut vendor who was singing a pregón (jingle) to sell his cucuruchos de maní (paper cones filled with peanuts).

I was pleased Tarte knew that before I Love Lucy Desi Arnaz was already a well-known bandleader. He also was a rising star of the Broadway stage and appeared in a few movies in the Forties. More important Desi was responsible for introducing U.S. audiences to the conga rhythm of Cuba. His father was the mayor of Santiago de Cuba, and in the early Thirties became an exile here in Miami.

Desi began his musical career in Miami. One night while singing with a German dance band, he forgot his song's lyrics, but recalling the conga rhythm of the carnivals of his hometown, he brought out a tumbadora, a so-called conga drum, and taught the non-Latinos the simple one-two-three-kick steps of the conga, setting off what is referred to as the "rhumba craze." It was all the rage in the U.S. throughout the Thirties.

Desi is famous for his interpretation of "Babalu," which originally was performed by Miguelito Valdes in the Thirties. Desi often referred to Valdes as the authentic "Mr. Babalu."

Not only did I Love Lucy forever change television history because of Desi Arnaz's innovations, but his Desilu Studios went on to become the most important outlet for the best television programs from the mid-Fifties through the late Sixties.

Arturo Gómez
Miami Beach

Letters to Bob...

January 2000

Dear Bob Tarte,

would you consider adding a link to Norwegian indie label Bajkal Records on your fine page? We will of course link to you as well

BAJKAL RECORDS is a soundship that was launched from the small village of Aurland by the Norwegian Sognefjord in 1989. It contains fragments of the following bands and artists: The JAZZ POLICE, ØVIND HNES, LOBSTER COPTER, ATLE PAKUSCH GUNDERSEN, WALTHER BLADT, KARL-HENRIK GUNDERSSEN and SYNSBEDRAGERNE. The music covers a wide variety of areas; from pop to hunting-jazz to molar-disco to furniture music to hydraulic noise and pure schmalz.

The spaceship is on it's way to Betelgeuze, where the content will be remixed for the benefit of future generations.


Eivind Lorentzen

March 1, 1999

Hey Bob,

Long time no speak. Hope you are doing well.

Thanks for the review of Global Voices in Technobeat. You had some kind words to say about my work, and my production style. Good to know that there are people out there who actually value production styles of individual producers and labels. That to me, is the ultimate complement, and I've heard a lot of good remarks about the production style of the set. I can tell you I obsessed, and obsessed about sequence order, timbre, texture evenness and relative gain. Uggh.

Not surprising that you liked the Contemporary disc least. I've heard that from others. It's ironic, because as you know, I favor trad world music, and I sort of went out of my way to put together the Contemporary disc, having to license more tracks than I've every done in my career. Licensing is fine, but I prefer to create music rather than merely replicate it.

Finally though, one little thing in your review I couldn't relate to. Dusty Springfield and Neil Young? Are you serious?? What's so exceptional about their voices? As for the contemporary disc, I think the Sovoso tracks and especially Don Walser's yodeling are pretty hot. Put it on again, Bob. Do you HEAR what Walser is doing in his yodel? Most yodeling I've heard involves trilling the voice on one melodic interval (scale) - usually the octave or sometimes the 5th, and even then, the yodel is often done slowly.

Walser, in this cut (yodel section: second set of eight bars), is actually varying the modes in his yodel, that is, moving up and down tonic notes while hitting the yodel equivalent of each tonic as clear as a bell, and also lightening fast. I'm certainly no expert on yodeling, but I've sung professionally enough in my life to know that this is fucking HARD to do. (certainly a lot harder than any type of overtone singing). In my opinion, the pedal steel performance is no where near the yodeling performance. Ah, vive la difference... the wonderful world of varying opinions. Anyway, that's my two cents for what it's worth.

Again, thanks for the good review, and in general for your general support and enthusiasm for my work over the years.

Enjoy life to the fullest,

Bob Haddad
Music of the World

December 10, 1998

Hey Bob-

I'd like to weigh in on the question you posed at the end of your review of [your] Tapani Varis, Jews Harp in the latest issue of The Beat:

>Isn't it about time we retired the insulting "jew's harp" tag?

I, personally, am a Jew who's never been insulted by that tag. And if you take the time to research its origin, you'll see that it's very unlikely that the name was born out of any slight or slur to Jews. (You can read a nice summary of the current scholarly reseach on this subject at http://www.jewsharpguild.org/history.html).

Must we kneejerk to the PC police and change an established, quirky name with no offensive intent just to avoid the potential of offending a few of the oversensitive?


Robert Simonds,
President, NorthSide
East Side, Inc.
530 North Third Street, Suite 230, Minneapolis, MN 55401, USA
Phone (612) 375-0233, Fax (612) 359-9580



Letters to The Beat magazine...



Attn. Bob Tarte
Re: Pat Boone

HELLO ???? EXUSE ME !!!!! Are you brain dead, where have you been Man ???

Led Zeppelin--

"British bands cult hit Stairway to Heaven"
"string of ambitious but commercially disastrous Lps"
"Zep's ex-members off the dole"

HELLO ?????

For your information and for the sake of accuracy in journalism "Stairway to Heaven" is one of the all time most requested most played songs on the radio and every Lp they made were multimillion sellers. At one point Led Zeppelin rivaled the Rolling Stones as the biggest band in the world both in tems of record sales and concert attendance.

As for collecting "Dole" I should be so broke as Plant or Page !!!!

Also for your information I Loved/Love those 2 bands but my inspiration and admiration goes to SANTANA, I just couldn't let your remarks go unchallenged.

Yours truly,

Miami, FL




I am subscribing despite the over "Tarting" of BEAT.

I don't care about the Whale or any of the rest of it. The fact that he is in London only makes me wonder if there might not be some validity to keeping a tight rein on all borders. An idea I have resisted all my adult life.

The truth is, it was tolerable when it was contained to one column. But like a deadly virus it is spreading to it's page neighbors.

Spare me. I like mindless raving as much as the next person--if it is funny clever silly enlightening. I appreciate4 self-indulgence for all of the same reasons.

But this is boring Boring Boring BORING?

[Picture of Sun Ra album cover was inexplicably included here.]

Spare me, save me, let me read music stuff. It is why I am subscribing.

Petaluma, CA



Dear Friends,

It is always with joyful anticipation that I receive my new issue of The Beat, and dig into the plentiful articles and reviews of my favorite musics.

I was particularly impressed with the review written by Robert Ambrose in African Beat. His journey from field recordings thru studio recorded traditional music to African pop was thoughtfully presented. I also always enjoy Noches Calientes by Jacob Edgar, and I appreciate his inclusion at articles end of the record label addresses for easy purchase information.

I wish I had the same praiseful comments for Bob Tarte and Dave Hucker. I am getting tired of the Whale episodes, and wish they would get on with their prescribed duties--reviewing music in intelligible phrases.

I have been missing Gage Averill's Haitian Fascination, but I suspect he has been busy with his new book. His stature as an authority on Haitian music certainly lends credibility to The Beat.

Keep up the good work and I hope you do retrospectives on the lives of the two music icons we recently lost--Fela Kuti and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, whose passing I heard about just today, and about which I'm still in shock.


A dedicated music lover

Needless to say, your distasteful comments about Bob Tarte's or Dave Hucker's columns could appear in this space. E-mail all complaints and restraining orders to btarte@cris.com.


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Goose photo and animation copyright 1998 Bob Tarte