Category: Music

Daniel Koren’s “The Most Important Thing”

When a performance is difficult to explain yet utterly cogent to live audiences, something suspiciously like art is probably happening. In the case of composer Daniel Koren’s “The Most Important Thing,” a mélange of music, video, dance, and comedy, the results are wildly entertaining, formally provocative, and resolutely their own thing. That’s not easy in...

Tierney Sutton’s “After Blue”

When one of the world’s greatest jazz singers, Tierney Sutton, interprets one of the world’s greatest songwriters, Joni Mitchell, the result, in the case of Sutton’s new “After Blue,” is a startlingly sublime work of art. Recording for the first time in a decade without her Tierney Sutton Band mates Christian Jacob and Ray Brinker...

Laurence Hobgood’s “Christmas”

We’re on the record: the world needs another Christmas music collection about as much as another porno clip. We’ve got plenty. What more needs to be added, what else can be said on the subject of Christmas songs that hasn’t already been said wonderfully well by hundreds — thousands? — of others? Pianist-arranger-composer Laurence Hobgood,...

Late Quartet

Despite being handicapped by a complete absence of CGI natural disasters, murderous firearms, or human bloodshed, the feature film “A Late Quartet” is surprisingly interesting. You could say it’s an adult film — about four adults (members of a world-famous string quartet) playing adult music (Beethoven, Shostakovich), grappling with adult concerns (mortality, fidelity, honesty). Writer-director Yaron...

Cambodian Space Project

Aside from the usual side-effects of hypnotic music — tapping toes, pumping heads, swaying shoulders — one of the interesting results of listening to the Cambodian Space Project is the onset of what feels vaguely like a psychoactive hallucination. They’ve got a delightful weirdness factor (at least to unseasoned Western ears). You feel transported. But...

Don Johnson Big Band

Finland’s Don Johnson Big Band is an ironically named collective of modern hip-hop artists. They’re not big and they’ve got nothing to do with the former star of “Miami Vice,” but they are a band. A funky one. With percussion and a flute-and-sax man. They’re extremely groovy and unabashedly weird — klezmer gangsta rap, anyone? The best...

I Wanna Be Loved

The show is billed as “stories of Dinah Washington, Queen of the Blues.” And it is. But I Wanna Be Loved, which features all of Dinah’s hits, could just as easily be billed as “An Evening with Barbara Morrison.” L.A.’s Queen of Jazz & Blues is now confined to an electric wheelchair after diabetes-related operations. The scooter...

The Art of Being Funny in Los Angeles

Lately we’ve been immersing ourselves in stand-up comedy and feeling altogether good about it. You can be addicted to a lot worse things than endorphins. Much of the past year in Los Angeles has been spent closely observing comedians doing their thing: ranting, rambling, telling jokes, riffing, raving, singing songs, reading from a script, making...

Jazz is Dead, Part 2: Performing Artists

We’ve previously discussed how poor programming choices on jazz radio are unintentionally sabotaging the medium’s noble mission to “keep jazz alive.” But terrestrial radio, an increasingly irrelevant distribution channel in the age of the Internet and satellites, isn’t the only culprit in our music’s alleged “death.” Some of jazz’s most effective assassins are the people...

(K)Jazz is Dead

Since the 1970s, for as long as I’ve been aware of the music commonly known as “jazz,” various authorities, mavens, and aficionados have been declaring it dead or soon-to-be-deceased. “Jazz is dead.” “Jazz is dying.” “Jazz is going extinct.” If this is so, the suffering patient has been enduring a kind of decades-long hospice care...