Top 25 Twenty-First Century Jazz Albums

Today being international jazz day, there will be much celebrating of the greatness of its history. I’ve done that in the past; it is a great history. But it is not all back in historical times; jazz lives, and evolves, and continues to be great. Yet how many lists of the greatest jazz albums include anything from the current century? Read more »

Tribeca Review: Bugs or “Waiter, Can You Put a Fly in My Soup?”

Will maggot fat oust coconut oil as a foodie favorite? Is PepsiCo replacing the corn flour in its Fritos with ground cricket corpses? And, hey! Who doesn't want to bite into some chicken with garlic and saffron sauce topped with crumbled buffalo worms?

Answers: Possibly. Not yet. Less people than you might think. Read more »

You've Got Spam!

SPAM
Written by Rafael Spregelburd and translated by Jean Graham-Jones
Directed by Samuel Buggeln
Presented by The Cherry Arts
JACK, Brooklyn, NYC
April 14-30, 2016

Making a performance look easy is very difficult, but the fantastic new production of Argentine playwright Rafael Spregelburd’s intricately-constructed SPAM makes it look effortless. SPAM, making its English-language première in a translation by the City University of New York’s Jean Graham-Jones, probes some of those boundaries and spaces between appearance and reality, especially where language is concerned. Mario Monti (Vin Knight) is a linguistics professor with an ethically questionable relationship to the work of one of his thesis students and a case of amnesia from a head wound. As the play unfolds, both he and we come to understand more about how he ended up living in a hotel room in Malta, trying to hawk Chinese-manufactured talking dolls on the beach for cash and befriending a Swiss diver filming an underwater documentary. Read more »

R.I.P. Prince Rogers Nelson 1958-2016

Prince didn't give a fuck what anybody thought about him. Read more »

Farewell, My Prince

Those who know me well, know that I was the publisher/editor of Prince's short-lived magazine NPG (New Power Generation) back in the mid '90s. (Culture Catch's managing editor Steve Holtje was our managing editor, too.) I had just finished my stint as editor-in-chief at Creem magazine where I was the only journalist to interview him in 1992. I had to agree to his seemingly restrictive demands that I not record our interview on a cassette recorder or use pen/pencil and paper and that he'd have final approval on the article, something we'd never done with any artist ever. I agreed since I was meeting him in person on his home turf. I did interview everyone in his inner circle and then finally met him in his private room where he played me his new record The Love Symbol Album in its entirety and we chatted about all kinds of things. Then known as the "Symbol/Glyph," "The Artist Formerly Known As..." or "The Boss" as he was known in and around his creative compound Paisley Park, I was told he really liked my creative cover story (Feb, 1993) that was as much an homage to Alice in Wonderland meets the Wizard of Oz as a visit to the astral/mystical world of Paisley Park. Read more »

Spot On!

On the Spot
Broadway Comedy Club, NYC 
Monday nights, 8:00 PM

In the olden days ("Tell us great-grandfather") there was vaudeville, where young performers could cut their teeth, playing on the various circuits all around the country. So where do emerging singers and comedians get their time before an audience in this strangest of all eras? Of course there's the web, but tweeting responses or comments below a YouTube video do not in my opinion constitute a flesh and blood audience--those hearty folk who make an effort to move their bodies into a performance space, and let a singer or comedian know in no uncertain terms if they've "got it." Read more »

A Prog-Rock Bonanza: Anthony Phillips Reissued

 
Anthony "Ant" Phillips, an original member of Genesis, left after their second album (Trespass, 1970) because of stage fright -- an especially problematic situation, one supposes, for the lead guitarist. He spent the ensuing years studying music at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama (which is to say classical music), along with occasionally recording demos of new material at home. It would be seven years before his first solo album would appear, but after that he would be fairly prolific. Though he never achieved mainstream success -- which sadly makes sense given that this progressive rock legend didn't issue anything in 1971-76, the peak prog years -- aficionados of the style have long admired his work. Cherry Red's Esoteric imprint is now in its third year of repackaging Phillips's work with his collaboration, and with the recent issuance of 1979's Sides meaning that all of his '70s albums are now available again as box sets, now seems like a good time to review the story so far.

Not My Baggage To Bare

You Are Now the Owner of This Suitcase
Written by Mando Alvarado, Jenny Lyn Bader, Barbara Cassidy, Les Hunter, Joy Tomasko, Gary Winter, and Stefanie Zadravec
Conceived and Directed by Ari Laura
Kreith Theatre 167 West End Theatre, NYC
April 9-May 1, 2016

The instantly recognizable blue logo for the A train provides the “a” in the sign reading "Once Upon A Time" that hangs high above the stage upon which You Are Now the Owner of This Suitcase is performed. It alerts spectators that what they will see is not your typical take on New York City; and the creative force behind it, Theatre 167, is not your usual theater company. The company takes its name from the 167 languages spoken in its birthplace of Jackson Heights, Queens, and describes its mission as bringing together voices from a multiplicity of backgrounds in an intensely collaborative process of theatrical creation. You Are Now the Owner of This Suitcase is the middle play in The Jackson Heights Trilogy, which also includes 167 Tongues and Jackson Heights 3AM and was written collaboratively by a total of 18 playwrights. Audiences do not, however, need to be familiar with the other plays in the trilogy to thoroughly enjoy this magical realist tale of hope, love, diversity, and community in New York City. Read more »

Little Q+A: Sarah Davis + Bradley Rubenstein

Sarah Davis lives and works in Brooklyn with her husband Millree Hughes and daughter Meriel. 

Bradley Rubenstein: What were some of your early experiences, like school, for example, where you decided to become an artist?

Sarah Davis: My radar was, What’s the best thing to be doing when you’re 80? Where are the best-looking old people? And for me, that was obviously painters, or the art world more generally. Maybe I was close to my grandparents, or maybe it came from going to high school in L.A., where the projected end was 30. Still, painting was my identity from about age 8. Every kind of picture book, and there were tons of them, was how I spent my free time. I copied everything and made up my own. Making paintings and drawings was how I socialized, from third grade on.  Read more »

Song of the Week: Gary Lucas & Jann Klose - "Fair Weather"

One may surmise that NYC-based guitar maestro Gary Lucas has the magic touch when it comes to collaborating with profound artists. He has found yet another formidable vocal foil in singer/songwriter Jann Klose. As you may or may not remember, Mr. Lucas was responsible for igniting Jeff Buckley's vocal prowess in their band Gods & Monsters and co-writing the two best tracks on Mr. Buckley's solo debut. It should come as no surprise that Mr. Klose handled vocals in the Buckley bio pic Greetings from Tim Buckley and has appeared at numerous Buckley tributes and multiple stage appearances with Mr. Lucas. "Fair Weather" is from their excellent stripped-down simple Americana-centric album Stereopticon (Cosmic Trigger Records). It's my favorite track from said album. Klose's smooth vocals perfectily compliment Mr. Lucas' acoustic guitar majesty. The video was directed by DeAngela Napier.

Getachew Mekurya R.I.P. (14 March 1935 - 4 April 2016)

Tenor saxophonist Getachew Mekurya, one of the greatest musicians in the long and proud history of Ethiopian music, passed away today. 

Boston-based bandleader Russ Gershon, with whose Either/Orchestra Mekurya played in the 21st century, wrote on Facebook, "By playing Shellella, an Ethiopian vocal war chant, on his tenor sax, he arrived at a sound that had something in common with Albert Ayler independently, half a world away, and several years earlier."

By age fourteen, Mekurya was already a professional musician, playing saxophone and clarinet in the Municipal Band of Addis Ababa, the capitol of Ethiopia. At twenty, he was in the house band at the Haile Selassie I Theatre, and at thirty joined the prestigious Police Band. Read more »

Not Everybody Wants Some

Everybody Wants Some directed and written by the Texas-based Richard Linklater, and billed as "the spiritual sequel to Dazed and Confused," is not very good. First and foremost it lacks any real narrative. It's more of a tone poem on a place and time in history. In this case, the year is 1980 and the campus is an East Texas college and horn-dogs of that college's baseball team -- a collection of predictable cliches that we've seen better served in better period piece comedies. It's not nearly as funny as Animal House or insightful or enlightening. Look, I was in my senior year of college in 1980 and in a fraternity much hornier and crazier than this fictitious baseball team.   Read more »

Mike McGinnis - Art Lande - Steve Swallow at IBeam (Brooklyn, NY), March 27, 2016

Chances to hear pianist Art Lande in action in New York City are rare; with bassist Steve Swallow, even rarer (they had a band in the Bay Area in the '70s). Fortunately for New Yorkers, clarinetist/soprano saxophonist Mike McGinnis took it upon himself to bring them together for some trio concerts, and though snow in Colorado kept Lande from arriving for the originally scheduled Thursday and Friday shows, IBeam was able to accommodate them for the expected four sets by squeezing in a late set Saturday and then three sets Sunday night; I caught the first two on Sunday. Read more »

Puddles For President!

With our electoral system in turmoil and already full of clowns, I nominate Puddles!

Puddles Pity Party is the new indie party for the people!

Need I say more?

Video of the Week: Big Swede - "Downtown Art Dreams"

Having lived, gigged and worked in LA I can tell you first hand that the Historic Core seciton of downtown LA is a very cool place. So it comes as no surprise that some resident artists are pimping their talents via social media with local artist/producer/musician/culture guru Big Swede at the helm. The video above features spoken word nuggets and artwork from artists Gronk (aka Giugio Nicandro) and Tanner Goldbeck, and a killer harp track by LA legend Jimmy Z. I'm stoked to share their good vibes with you fine readers. Not sure if Fear of The Walking Dead will usurp 'em, but this is a great place to start if you've never spent any time in that amazing neighborhood. Give 'em a chance and spend some quality time next time through the City of Lost Angels. And tell Big Swede Dusty sent you!

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