RIP Jan Boerman (1923 – 2020)

Jan Boerman was a Dutch composer active in electronic music when it was still an affair of room-filling electronic machines.

Much of that music is also called ‘acousmatic’ and I suspect that this “Alchemie” (1961) composition by Boerman also falls under that label.

If you like “Alchemie”, be sure to check out Bernard Parmegiani’s masterpiece “De Natura Sonorum” (1975).

RIP Jerry Jeff “Mr. Bojangles“ Walker (1942 – 2020)

Jerry Jeff Walker was an American musician best known for writing “Mr. Bojangles“.

Walker recorded “Mr. Bojangles” too, but when I hear that song I’m invariably only reminded of the heavily orchestrated version by the great Nina Simone.

The Nina Simone version wormed itself into my head in 2006 via the compilation Nova Classics 07 released on Radio Nova, keepers of musical taste in the early 2000s.

Nina first released on her cover album Here Comes the Sun from 1971.

Mr. Bojangles

RIP Spencer Davis (1939 – 2020)

Spencer Davis was a British musician known for such songs as “I’m a Man” (1967).

I give you that song here in a 18 minute bastardized disco version released in the US on Prelude.

It became a staple at the Paradise Garage, being, of course, popular with the gay crowd. I can just see all these men dancing and mouthing the “I’m a Man” words while touching their bodies and glancing lasciviously at one another. Lovely.

“I’m a Man” (1978) by Macho

RIP Alex Varenne (1939 – 2020)

Alex Varenne was a French comics artist.

This I know from the time in the late 1980s when I bought L’Écho des savanes and RanXerox was my hero. That time.

Alex Varenne is famous for his erotic comics which were fashionable from the late 1960s onwards. In this short reportage, he tells about his career in erotic comics, how his love life was very rich and full, how he drew from live models, his girlfriends, or friends of this girlfriends, how he used to tell his models stories, how the times have changed, starting in the sexual revolution, the era between the pill and AIDS (“La periode apres la pilule … avant le sida …”) , then the onset of BDSM and current times which are largely masturbatory. He talks about his admiration for Roy Lichtenstein.

Alex Varenne – Itenéraire Libertin (2015)

RIP Enzo Mari (1932 – 2020)

Enzo Mari was an Italian designer. He is perhaps best-known for his Box Chair, of which I am the happy owner of five originals.

I bought them from Bill, a Dutch guy who used to sell designer furniture in Antwerp, where I live. He was a big guy who had a shop in the Kloosterstraat. Not so long ago I ran across him in the Bleekhofstraat.

Mari belongs to the generation of Italian designers celebrated by the MoMA in their exhibition Italy: The New Domestic Landscape (1972) which had this to say of him in their catalog:

Enzo Mari was born in 1932 and works in Milan. Beside his extensive activity as a designer, since 1952 he has devoted himself intensively to theoretical research, especially on the psychology of vision, systems of perception and the methodology of design.”

Arte made this portrait of him:

RIP José Padilla (1955 – 2020)

In DJ-land, the name José Padilla has achieved mythical proportions. One associates it with a beautiful sunset in a beautiful bar listening to beautiful music. The place I just described was a real place called Café del Mar and Padilla was its DJ. Café del Mar is also the title of a series of chill-out music compilations.

Padilla’s own compositions are not very interesting, and truth be told, his Café del Mar compilations aren’t either.

I once wrote that the ‘Café del Mar’, ‘Hôtel Costes’, ‘Buddha Bar’ and ‘Verve Remixed’ compilations served to satisfy the chill-out, downtempo, lounge, ambient and trip hop tastes of the late 1990s and the early 2000s yuppie crowds. Needless to say, these compilations were but the ersatz fix for a genuine sophisticated sound. Take Italian lounge of the 1960s and 1970s, for example.

I mean, seriously, listen for yourself and check “Tema di Londra” (1967) by De Masi and Alessandroni or “Deep Down” (1968) by Morricone.

And if it’s pure ambient you are after, check Brian Eno or my hero Hiroshi Yoshimura.

RIP Bunny Lee (1941 – 2020)

Bunny Lee was a Jamaican record producer and one of the major forces in the Jamaican music industry, producing hits throughout his long career.

“Wet Dream”

His song “Wet Dream”, interpreted by Max Romeo, became popular in 1968 despite being banned on the BBC; and Eric Donaldson’s “Cherry Oh Baby” would be covered by the Rolling Stones.

“My Conversation”

Lee also produced the perennial riddim “My Conversation”.

‘If Deejay Was Your Trade’ (1994)

The compilation ‘If Deejay Was Your Trade’ (1994), which was the debut release of the reggae compilation label Blood and Fire, consists of a selection of his productions from the period 1974-1977.

The documentary ‘I Am The Gorgon – Bunny ‘Striker’ Lee and the Roots of Reggae’ is in full on YouTube.