A GRACELAND SILENCE —-Vincent Nguini, the Cameroonian guitarist who worked with Paul Simon for decades, has died. He was 65. According to The New York Times, he passed away on Dec. 8 of liver cancer in Abadiânia, Brazil, where he had gone in order to see a spiritual healer. “He was the most creative musician I’ve ever worked with,” Simon told the paper, calling him “an extraordinarily melodic rhythm guitarist. By that I mean his rhythm parts were usually repetitive lines — very West African — rather than strumming chords. His style was unique and can’t be fully understood except by the most sophisticated players. Born in Obala, Cameroon in 1952, Nguini built his sound by combining African music, jazz and rock. By 1978, he was working as a session musician in Paris and then became the musical director for another Cameroonian, Manu Dibango, who’s best known for his 1972 international hit “Soul Makossa.”
Simon met Nguini through jazz trumpeter Hugh Masakela in 1987, and he brought the guitarist into his global music fold. Nguini’s clean, winding guitar lines were a major part of 1991’s The Rhythm of the Saints, earning a co-writing credit on “The Coast.”
Nguini remained with Simon, both on tour and on record, throughout the rest of his life, and tracked sessions for such acts as Peter Gabriel, Jimmy Buffett, the Neville Brothers and Angelique Kidjo. He also released numerous solo albums, with the last one arriving earlier this year.
Back in July, Ray Phiri, who played guitar with Simon on Graceland and The Rhythm of the Saints, died of lung cancer.
PASTORE TO HAWAII — The Sopranos‘ alum Vincent Pastore is set for a recurring role opposite Scott Caan and Alex O’Loughlin on CBS’ Hawaii Five-O. Pastore will play Vito, Danny’s (Caan) “uncle” from New Jersey, a contractor and general Mr. Fix-It. Danny grew up thinking Vito was “connected,” something Vito played up to, despite having no mob ties to speak of. Vito prides himself on being able to get stuff done. And if he can’t do the job himself, he always claims to “know a guy” who can. Danny will bring Vito out to Hawaii to help get things moving with their burgeoning restaurant. And Vito will get things moving alright — just not necessarily in the direction Danny and McGarrett (O’Loughlin) had hoped.
Pastore, best known for his role as Salvatore ‘Big Pussy’ Bonpensiero on The Sopranos, was recently cast alongside Denis O’Hare and Michael Rispoli in the Joe Manganiello-starring indie film Stano. His other TV credits include Blue Bloods and The Practice.
Speaking of 5-0, if you recall, the show drew some shade recently when two cast members’ contract were not renewed, or should I say, their salaries raised to the stature of the others. They left the show and then came an outpouring of accusations that turned out to not be true … with everything from racism to unfair business practices being cited.
I always liked the show and I couldn’t believe the criticism. That said, everyone came to their senses and the show this year, possibly their last, has been nothing short of sensational. I’ve long been a fan of O’Loughlin’s and he been excellent this year so far. Tight scripts, terrific acting, the show has been a joy this year and they have resolved the actors who left to everyone’s satisfaction. Nicely done.
WARREN’S RULES —Warren Beatty’s production company is being sued by Regency Entertainment for allegedly failing to pay back costs for the 2016 film Rules Don’t Apply.
Regency claims it entered into talks with Beatty in 2013 to finance and distribute the Howard Hughes biopic, which was written and directed by Beatty and who also starred in the film as Hughes. The distributor claims it agreed to incur substantial upfront costs which were to be recouped from the film’s revenues. In addition to distributing Rules Don’t Apply, Regency says it also invested $2.5 million in the project and entered into separate shortfall guaranty agreements with the other investors.
“The Defendants agreed to guarantee any shortfall of the amounts incurred by Regency and to pay back to Regency and costs that were not recouped from the Picture’s revenues within a specified time period,” writes attorney Richard Kendall in the complaint filed Friday in Los Angeles County Superior Court.
Despite its star power, the $25 million film only grossed $3.9 million worldwide. “It was not a commercial success,” writes Kendall, adding that the distribution costs exceeded the receipts by more than $21 million.
I didn’t see this movie and I wanted to. It’s been a tough few years for the visionary writer/director Beatty. His snafu at the last Oscar’swas the stuff of legend … and, with Faye Dunaway no less. Truth be told, Beatty is one of the most versatile guys out there; directing, acting, writing … he does it all. Quite sure that it’s not over for him and he will return with a solid-blockbuster.
SHORT TAKES — One more Best Of albums of the year: Paul Shaffer & The World’s Most Dangerous Band. This is the album that came after his stint with the David Letterman show. It was just a sensational set with featured players Will Lee, Anton Fig, Sid McGinnis and Felicia Collins. We loved Paul’s take on “Why Can’t We Live Together” with Darius Rucker and “I Don’t Need No Doctor” with Valerie Simpson. Shaffer’s a wiz and always has been; do you know he co-wrote “It’s Raining Men.” A consummate musician with exceptional taste. This was a way overlooked gem …Terrific article from Deadline about how Guillermo Del Toro didn’t create a monster for his awesome The Shape Of Water, but rather a leading man. Excellent read: http://deadline.com/2017/12/guillermo-del-toro-the-shape-of-water-interview-monsters-sally-hawkins-contenders-video-1202227159/ … Our pal Nancy Berk in Parade.com, did a terrific interview with author Mark Bego and his book Eat Like A Rock Star, which remains on the Amazon Best Seller List – well after its October release. Take a look: https://parade.com/630472/nancyberk/eat-and-cook-like-a-rock-star-mark-bego-serves-up-the-rocking-recipes/ …Honey West’s Ian McDonald and Ted Zurkowski at Matt’s Grille in midtown yesterday. The band will be at Steve Walter’s Cutting Room on Thursday, January 25. Be there for sure. The best new band of 2017 for sure … Film Festival Traveler-scribe Brad Balfour interviews Good ‘n Screwed creator Joanna Bonaro tomorrow, along with director Kelli K. Barnett … MERRY XMAS!!! Back in a week!