My Ten Favorite Albums of 2010
December 24, 2010
It’s that time of year, and I’m as susceptible to cornball ideas as the next music lover—and as susceptible to delusions of taste-making value as the next music critic. So, here it is: a list of my ten favorite albums of 2010. I welcome dissent, since I will get it anyway. 1. Jeremy Denk: Jeremy Denk Plays Ives Piano Sonatas no. 1 and 2 (Concord) played with stunning originality, ferocity, and humor. 2. Janelle Monae: The ArchAndroid (Suites II and III) Loopy utopian Afro-futurist nonsense made sexy and irresistibly danceable. 3.
The Wee Small Facts
December 23, 2010
James Kaplan, in Frank: The Voice, draws heavily on previously published biographies—especially Kitty Kelley's 1986 His Way, as well as the books on S
Stories for Boys
December 10, 2010
Despite the temptation, I'm not going to write about the new Spider-Man musical without seeing it. I just really, really, really do not want to pay several days' salary to watch three hours of staging stunts accompanied by rock show tunes by Bono and the Edge. As I recall, a critic once lost a lawsuit brought by David Soul, the beloved costar of Starsky and Hutch, for a critical review of a play starring Soul, which the writer said took place on a night the theater was dark.
Association, Transgression, and Martha Raye
December 03, 2010
A smart woman with good taste, a radio documentarian named Delaney Hall, had a sizable problem with the Maria Schneider concert that I gushed about in my last post. Delaney was one of several friends and students of mine who went to see Schneider at my urging, and Delaney found herself resisting the big-band instrumentation that Schneider employs, because it carries, for her, associations of Vegas lounges and schmaltz.
Giving Thanks for Maria Schneider
November 26, 2010
The first of two good reasons for raising glasses and ringing bells during the winter holiday season falls on Thanksgiving week, when Maria Schneider, the composer and conductor, brings her twenty-piece orchestra to the Jazz Standard for its annual residency. Schneider has been doing this for nine years now, and the occasion has become one of the most anticipated events of the New York jazz calendar, along with the Bad Plus's Christmas residency at the Village Vanguard just a few weeks later.
More Thoughts on Keef
November 19, 2010
I've gotten a few complaints from fellow Keefheads—note the inclusionary construction there—about the piece I posted a few weeks ago on Keith Richards's memoir, Life. The criticism has centered not on my text, but on the videos I chose to accompany it, because neither of the two clips shows Richards making music.
It's Good to Love the Banana
November 12, 2010
In music as well as politics, there is something marvelous in the human capacity to embrace bad ideas that jibe with one’s personal experience or taste. I’ve been thinking about this since last weekend, when I attended a pair of concerts devoted to the music of my favorite composer, Billy Strayhorn, at Jazz at Lincoln Center (JALC).
November 05, 2010
James Moody, the veteran jazz saxophinist, flutist, and sometime singer, is ill with cancer, and his wife Linda, who has acted as his manager for years, made public this week Moody's decision to have no further treatment.
Keith Richards's 'Life'
October 29, 2010
Keith Richards' essence as an artist, like dark matter elsewhere in the universe, is something we comprehend only by inference and comparison. Although we think of Richards as absolutely unique among rock stars, we tend to conceive of him and his music in relative terms. Compared to Mick Jagger, Richards's needy, flamboyant, beknighted partner in the Rolling Stones, Richards seems to be a model of masculine insolence as cool. Compared to the Beatles, those lovable moptops, Richards and the Stones embody rock stardom as a state of permanent bad-boyhood.
Sufjan Stevens's "The Age of Adz"
October 22, 2010
I like Sufjan Stevens more than I want to. The self-conscious contrarian in me tells me to resist him just for his status as an idol of Brooklyn hipsterdom. He's a pretentious white guy who plays the banjo, as well as half a dozen other instruments (including the oboe and the English horn). As such, he is beloved by the Williamsburg smarties, and he's the sort of artist who tends to gratify rock critics eager to validate their own pretentious white guyness. All that stuff is extra-musical, of course.