Category: Art

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....

Joy and Its Absence

On a hot Saturday night in the provinces, two handsome young lovers made their nuptial vows at a Christian church in front of family and friends, as is the custom. But at this wedding, unlike every other I’ve attended, the preacher harangued and scolded and pretended to cry, careful, it seemed, to inject the proceedings...

Jazz Competitions, In and Out of the Marketplace

One of the 20th Century’s greatest artists, a cat named Thelonious Monk, the pianist and composer of countless jazz standards, including “Round Midnight” and “Well, You Needn’t,” left behind, among other things, a brilliant son (the drummer, T.S. Monk), a lucrative publishing catalogue, and a legacy of musical encouragement. The Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz...

Brooding on Death

The remains of my dear friend Ella the dog arrived from the crematorium in a nice fabric-covered box. The ashes themselves were in a plastic freezer bag, which was probably a good thing, since in addition to a fine grey powder there were many pinky-nail-size bone fragments and flakes from the few teeth Ella retained...

Wine, Awards, and Telling the Truth

Not until I started working with a handful of foreign-born musical artists was I aware of the honorific “multi-awarded” — as in, “the recipient of numerous awards.” Good singers (or actors, or authors, or whatever) get an award. Really good ones are “multi-awarded.” The more awards, the better the artist. It’s pretty easy to follow. ...

Tigran

For the past couple of years, musician friends of mine have been telling me about an Armenian pianist who they believe is, variously, “a freak,” “a genius,” and “the next Keith Jarrett.” Since almost nobody but the disgraced Cultural Elite know who Jarrett is, despite his nearly mythic status among jazzheads, being the next him...