Posted inArts & Culture

The Prodigal Son

The Finnish cinema of today probably offers the most distinctive collective vision since Fassbinder and friends contributed theirs in 1970s Munich. In the films of the Kaurismaki brothers and their colleagues there’s a streak of subversive humor lurking under the bleak, dissolute existence of the postindustrial working class. While this idiosyncratic, tragicomic take pays oblique […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Kimberly Gordon

A classic jazz stereotype–a staple of the jokes jazzmen tell among themselves–pivots on the lack of musicianship among female vocalists. Kimberly Gordon changes, in fact defies, the punch line whenever she takes the stage. She thinks like a musician; instead of displaying that mentality in a series of scat improvisations, she prefers to apply her […]

Posted inMusic

Return of the monster boogie

Raging Slab’s Def American debut, Dynamite Monster Boogie Concert, is rife with fragments of the 70s: Lynyrd Skynyrd’s southern blues boogie, Blue Oyster Cult’s heavy rock hooks, Grand Funk Railroad’s braggadocio, ZZ Top’s riff-drenched electric blues, Bad Company’s pure hard rock. But Raging Slab doesn’t just gorge on the past and spit it back out. […]

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Head Exam

The shopworn term is “free improvisation,” but to paraphrase T.S. Eliot, no improvisation is free for the musician who wants to do a good job. Meaningful escape from chord structure and set rhythm requires disciplined players who really listen to each other and can find their way across trackless lands without making asses of themselves. […]

Posted inArts & Culture

A Rodgers & Hammerstein Songbook

Fifty years after they made their debut as a team with the landmark Oklahoma!, Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein remain the preeminent musical dramatists in American theater. Others before and after them may have been wittier, jazzier, more polished, more romantic, or more sophisticated. But none have equaled the duo’s ability to dramatize an individual’s […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Ian Hominick

The extraordinary pyrotechnics of 19th-century keyboardist Sigismond Thalberg put him in the exalted company of Franz Liszt, at least according to accounts at the time. But though widely popular, this Swiss-born Austrian virtuoso wasn’t a charismatic dazzler like Liszt; his stage presence was more elegant and subdued and his musicianship more subtle. As with many […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Johnny Laws

Johnny Laws’s weekend sets at the Cuddle Inn on South Ashland have long been among the most popular blues attractions on the south side; after years of local celebrity he’s finally begun to extend his reputation to other parts of the city (and the world: he was recently profiled in Living Blues magazine). Laws’s voice […]

Posted inNews & Politics

The Straight Dope

There’s a question that’s been burning in the unscrubbed corners of my mind for a long time. We are told that Ivory soap is “99 and 44/100% pure.” What’s in the other 56/100% (or 0.56% if you prefer)? –Peter Holland, Chicago You’re not the first to wonder. Actually it consists of “foreign and unnecessary substances,” […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Lefty Dizz

With all the bad news that’s been hanging over the blues world lately–deaths, sickness, untimely departures–the return of guitarist Lefty Dizz is nothing short of a godsend. Dizz, who spent the better part of last year battling cancer, is known around the world for his antic fusion of inspiration and impishness, but what makes him […]