Category: Art

Encouraging Words for Despairing Artists

If you’re an artist, or have an artistic impulse, or care deeply about art, you probably experience the kind of quiet despair that I find in many of my jazz musician friends, my poet friends, my painter friends, and frequently from myself. Yes, it’s heartbreaking to be part of a culture that finds the work that...

Ode to “Opening Night: The Improvised Musical”

Los Angeles is lousy with talent. Just as the plethora of beautiful men and women on the streets (and in the stores, and everywhere else) start to blend into the palm-lined boulevards, it’s easy to become immune to the charms of so many funny, clever, quick-witted people. When you see theater or hear music or...

Remix Manifesto

1. Culture always builds on the past. Whether it was composer and piano virtuoso Franz Liszt using Gypsy melodies in his compositions, Metallica borrowing song structures from Diamond Head or The Rolling Stones recording Robert Johnson’s “Love in Vain” as a “traditional, arranged by Keith Richards,” composers have always used previous works as inspiration for...

An Opinion You Can Trust

The most irksome problem with the Blogosphere is that everybody is a critic, which is cool for everybody but troubling for everybody else. Without institutional authority — a newspaper, a university, a trade group — to certify who should be listened to and respected and who should be dismissed and neglected, discerning the wheat from...

Planning for the New Year

Those of us who suffer from Horizon Sickness — always looking ahead to the next thing instead of being fully engaged with the present — tend to be excellent planners. We maintain detailed lists; we’re fantastically organized; our desks are neat. We foresee everything.  Sadly, after several decades of insisting otherwise, we must admit that...

Art After 40

After the excessive optimisim of youth, the impressive energy of young adulthood, and the confidence of being all grown up, those of us who are fortunate enough to make it to our Forties generally look forward to an incremental and inexorable decline in just about every meaningful area of life — and not just health,...

Jazz is Dead

If, like me, you listen frequently to jazz radio, often you hear DJs and other concerned constituents urging folks to “keep jazz alive,” as though it were an invalid on life support. Falling sales, vanishing broadcast formats, venue closures — they all suggest that America’s greatest contribution to the planetary arts is indeed on the...

The Fable of the Fable

There once lived a Regular Person with regular talents and regular desires, including the one that most regular people have: to be less regular and more extraordinary, to be more like an exalted Them and less like an unheralded Us.  So, despite her regular looks — some would unkindly say that she was not even...

Badasses

News has reached these benighted shores that Rolling Stone, a magazine that earned its former journalistic reputation for its solemn coverage of a once-relevant musical genre known variously as rock & roll, rock, adult-oriented rock, alternative rock, and dinosaur rock, hath declared that, in their view, the greatest singer in the history of popular music is...

The Artist as Saint

His nickname among musicians was “Prince of Darkness.” According to many who claim to have known him well, and according to an accrued reputation bordering on myth, Miles Davis was a jerk.  Based on evidence available for review on YouTube, as well as eyewitness accounts shared anecdotally and personally, Keith Jarrett can be insufferably obnoxious....