Video of the Week: Antix - "Come Home"

UK hip-hop artist Antix releases his heartfelt new single "Come Home" on 16 March 2015. Already gathering steam from his remarkable 2014 year, this stunning track will be released in conjunction with Mind, the mental health charity, as the track deals with the difficulties and stigma of mental health, a subject that that he knows all too well. This is my favorite song of the year, so far. 

Tick, Tick, Bang

The Forever Now: Contemporary Painting in an Atemporal World
Museum of Modern Art, NYC
December 14, 2014-April 5, 2015

Between 1942 and 1963 Dorothy Canning Miller was the curator of the influential Americans shows at the Museum of Modern Art. Beginning with Americans 1942: 18 Artists From 9 States and ending with Americans 1963, Miller presented the work of artists such as Hyman Bloom, Robert Motherwell, Jay DeFeo, Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Lee Bontecou, and Frank Stella -- artists who would ultimately be the defining contributors to the mid-century American art historical canon. After a gap of nearly a half-century, MoMA once again is reviving this tradition with Laura Hoptman’s The Forever Now: Contemporary Painting in an Atemoporal World, an exhibition of seventeen painters representing current trends in painting. Read more »

Desecrating Pynchon. Inherent Vice Arrives on DVD

There are films that make you want to run to the bookstore or, in reality, Amazon.com. Any Jane Austen or Dickens adaptation. Atonement. Requiem for a Dream perhaps.

Then there is Paul Thomas Anderson's adaptation of Thomas Pynchon's Inherent Vice starring Joaquin Phoenix, Josh Brolin, Owen Wilson, Martin Short, Reese Witherspoon, Maya Rudolph, and Benicio Del Toro, plus a bevy of other game thespians. This adaptation has a contrary effect. It makes you want to hightail it to the incinerator with every Pynchon paperback you might own. Farewell, V. Sayonara, Gravity's Rainbow. Read more »

Quote of the Week: J.K. Simmons

"I like to act. Every other aspect of show business I find uninteresting."

Jonathan Kimble "J. K." Simmons (born 9th of January 1955), an Academy Award-winning American actor, also the voice of the yellow M&M.

Frigid New York Festival 2015

Dog Show
Directed by Karim Muasher
Created by the Ensemble Animal Engine
Kraine Theater 85 E 4th St., New York, NY 10003
 
The Can Opener: A Brief Horror Musical
Directed by Kenneth Oefelein
Written by M. Zachary Johnson 
Kraine Theater 85 E 4th St., New York, NY 10003
 
Richard the Third and Goal, or RG3
Written and Directed by Neal J. Freeman
Bloody Shakespeare at Under St. Mark’s 94 St. Mark’s Place, New York, NY 10009

This is the first of two dispatches from the theater festival whose name is currently more than apt: Frigid New York. Frigid is in its ninth year, and all of its revenue goes directly to the artists involved. This year, there are thirty shows running for a combined total of 150 performances in two theaters. Here, we will discuss three of those thirty, ranging from light comedy through horror-tinged musical to an excellent reimagining of Shakespeare by way of professional sports. Read more »

Song of the Week: East India Youth - "Turn Away"

Here's one of my favorite new rock tunes, a quirky little ditty from East India Youth that you should buy and tell your friends to buy as well. Taken from the upcoming album Culture Of Volume out on the 7th of April. Look for this London-based artist's North American tour starting at SXSW. Remember, kiddies, there is no shame in sharing music as long as you don't rip off the artists who write, record, and release it. Long live rock!

Martha Argerich & Claudio Abbado: Complete Concerto Recordings

One can't help but assume that this five-CD compilation is a tribute to its conductor, Claudio Abbado, who passed away last year. Certainly his collaborations with thankfully-still-with-us pianist Martha Argerich reveal music-making of brilliant spontaneity and imagination. Consider, for instance, their two recordings of Ravel's G major concerto. Their 1967 recording with the Berlin Philharmonic won immediate acclaim as one of the most sparkling and lively renditions the work had ever had. What good could come of re-doing it in 1984 with the London Symphony Orchestra? How often we have heard artists return to repertoire in which they'd made landmark recordings only to fail to reach their previous levels of achievement. Yet Argerich and Abbado came up with a new yet equally valid and compelling interpretation in 1984: darker, more detailed (and in better sound), and more emotionally profound. Read more »

Quote of the Week: Jon Stewart

"Love what you do. Get good at it. Competence is a rare commodity in the day and age. And let the chips fall where they may."

Jon Stewart (born Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz; 28 November 1962), American political satirist, writer, producer, director, television host, media critic, stand-up comedian, and actor. Just retired from hosting The Jon Stewart Show.

Seventh Son and Jupiter Ascending: Two Current Oscar Nominees Fizzle

Who doesn't adore Julianne Moore?

Especially in Still Alice, the film for which bookmakers are betting she'll take home the Best Actress Oscar, Moore's portrayal of a linguistics professor battling early onset Alzheimer's is letter perfect. Myself having a sibling now encased in a memory care facility in Florida after being ravaged by the same affliction, every step of Alice's deterioration is recognizable: the random loss of memories, the awareness she's losing her identity, the outbursts of anger, the inability to control bodily functions, and the short-lived moments when the person you have always loved reemerges out of a fog of despair.

Sadly, Moore's performance and that of her peers in Seventh Son capture a forgetfulness, too, although not one symptomatic of an infirmity, but one characteristic of creative bankruptcy. By the time this adaptation of Joseph Delaney's bestselling young-adult classic, The Spook's Apprentice, ends and you've emptied your bladder in your mall's stall, you'll have trouble recalling what you've viewed on screen. So generically configured is this tale of medieval witches who turn into dragons, and the alcoholic heroes who try to eradicate them, you'll swear you'll have come down with an incurable case of chronic déjà vu before the credits finish rolling. Read more »

New York Shakespeare Exchange's Titus Andronicus

Titus Andronicus
Adapted and Directed by Ross Williams
Written by William Shakespeare
New York Shakespeare Exchange
at HERE
145 6th Avenue, New York, NY 10013
January 22-February 8, 2015

The New York Shakespeare Exchange has its finger in more than one pie, and not all of them are, as in Titus Andronicus, filled with human flesh. In addition to its current production of Shakespeare’s gory early crowd-pleaser, the group created The Sonnet Project, which develops a short film shot in a “cultural/historic” NYC location for each sonnet. The results can be viewed online or through a dedicated mobile app (available for IOS or Android). It also runs periodic pub crawls called ShakesBEER, which we can personally recommend as a fun way to experience a few new drinking establishments in the City accompanied by themed scenes or mash-ups from the Bard’s dramatic canon. Read more »

Jazz Review Roundup

I didn't have enough free time in 2014 to review nearly as many of last year's prolific output of fine jazz albums as I wanted to. Here's a small step toward catching up, plus two 2015 releases (Ligeti/McDonas, The Side Project Saxophone 4tet).

Tom Varner: Nine Surprises (Tom Varner Music)

Composer and French horn player Tom Varner is indeed full of surprises, and they are not confined to the suite of that name (which, surprisingly, has 15 movements). I was most surprised by the outburst of New Orleans jazz in the last piece on the CD, "Mele," which Varner calls "a Gil Evans-influenced variation on the harmonic structure of a pop Hawaiian Christmas song." In general the music here seems highly composed -- these are not heads with strings of solos -- but still allowing for improvisation. The soloists who make the biggest impression are trombonist David Marriott and, no surprise here, Varner himself, but everybody in his nonet acquits himself admirably. Occasional aberrations aside, the style is "inside-outside," advanced harmony with a fair amount of dissonance, most often during solos. Many of the sections of the suite are quite short (eight are under a minute each, most of them with just one player), seemingly character sketches, but the longer sections are thematically compelling. Read more »

The Wild Feathers One-Take - "Wine & Vinegar"

From Nashville, the American rock quintet The Wild Feathers' unplugged rendition of "Wine & Vinegar". One-Takes are live performances by artists you know, should know, or will know soon enough.

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ANNIVERSARIES: William Boyce Died February 7, 1779

In a time when the most famous composers in England were -- for example, Handel, and J.C. Bach -- relocated Germans, William Boyce (1711-1779) was arguably the premiere English-born composer. In 1736 the former choirboy turned organist (he studied with Maurice Greene at St. Paul's Cathedral) was named composer to the Chapel Royal; in 1759 he was made Master of the King's Musick. By 1769 deafness had largely ended his official musical duties. Read more »

Happy Birthday, Bob Marley

Had cancer not taken him at age 36, Bob Marley (1945-1981) could have turned 70 today. The man who did more than anyone to make the reggae sound of his native Jamaica popular in the United States had made his first recordings at the age of 17 in 1962, so despite his early demise, he left a large and rich legacy of recordings. Fortunately, his popularity also led to a few of his concert appearances being filmed; here's a classic one.

Quote of the Week: Brian Williams

"I said I was traveling in an aircraft that was hit by RPG fire. I was instead in a following aircraft. We landed after the ground fire incident and spent two harrowing nights in a sandstorm in the Iraq desert."

Brian Williams

(born 5 May 1959),

American journalist as well as anchor and managing editor of NBC Nightly News.

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