Posted inArts & Culture

Steve Million Quintet

In case you’ve missed it, 1995 has shaped up as one of the busiest years in memory for Chicago jazz musicians on disc. (And this wave shows no signs of crashing, with new albums by the New Horizons Ensemble, Kelly Brand, Tatsu Aoki, the Joel Spencer-Kelly Sill Quartet, Ari Brown, Marshall Vente, the NRG Ensemble, […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Where Did Our Love Go?

American Ballet Theatre at the Auditorium Theatre, through October 1 Walking out of American Ballet Theatre’s mixed-repertory concert last Friday I was plagued by one question: what the hell has happened to love in the 20th century? Whether deliberately or unwittingly, the five dances on this program together offer a sort of mini history lesson […]

Posted inNews & Politics

News of the Weird

Lead Story In July Costa Rica’s supreme court ruled that the country’s hit-and-run driving law, which punishes a driver for fleeing after causing an accident, was unconstitutional. The court said that criminals are legally allowed to leave the scene of a crime because of their right not to incriminate themselves, and that hit-and-run drivers, like […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Blur/Whale

Blur is the most intelligent of the current crop of British bands; where imports like Bush or Oasis proffer that bottom-heavy rock the kids like these days, Blur’s singer-songwriter, Damon Albarn, places himself firmly in the tradition of social-pop tunesmiths like the Kinks’ Ray Davies. Albarn’s efficient mimicry of pop styles and ready ability to […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Charlatans

A pop generation ago, Manchester, England, produced a crop of bands whose churning dance rock and puree of influences both modern (hip-hop) and ancient (60s classic rockers) combined to create an intense and seemingly portentous branch of pop music. Among these were the Charlatans (the “UK” is a legal nicety in the U.S.), who were […]

Posted inMusic

False Idol

Frank Zappa From the first moment I laid eyes on my father’s copy of Lumpy Gravy, Frank Zappa has seemed like a big weirdo to me. As a kid I’d frequently drop the turntable needle of the family hi-fi all over a scratchy copy of the Beatles’ Revolver searching for “Yellow Submarine,” but I never […]

Posted inArts & Culture

And a Nightingale Sang

And a Nightingale Sang, Shattered Globe Theatre. Survival becomes a story in itself during wartime, which gives this affectionate period play by the late British playwright C.P. Taylor a built-in urgency. Originally produced here by Steppenwolf Theatre with a splendid Joan Allen as the narrator-daughter Helen, And a Nightingale Sang is a fond recollection of […]

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Agamemnon

Agamemnon, European Repertory Company. The Trojan War began with a human sacrifice–the slaughter of Iphigenia by her father, Agamemnon–and ended with one, when Agamemnon returned from Troy only to be murdered by his wife Clytemnestra, who’d had ten years to nourish her hatred for him. This grim myth, ancient when Aeschylus dramatized it in 458 […]

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Coming Attractions

Powertap Productions, at Famous Door Theatre. The serial killer in Lee Blessing’s Down the Road chose his victims with an eye to maximizing media coverage. In Ted Tally’s 1980 musical Coming Attractions, however, serial-killer wannabe Lonnie Wayne Burke has an agent to do that: Manny Alter, whose motto is “Small crime, serve time. Big crime, […]

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Lecture Notes: payback time for the ‘burbs

Minnesota state representative Myron Orfield is America’s leading proponent of “metropolitics,” a strategy to persuade suburbs to take more responsibility for urban decay. The 32-year-old, second-term Democratic lawmaker has pursued measures for fair housing, property-tax sharing, and urban reinvestment by convincing blue-collar, inner-ring suburbs to align themselves with Minneapolis and Saint Paul rather than the […]

Posted inMusic

Improvisation’s Outer Limits

Michel Doneda/Paul Rogers/Le Quan Ninh Open Paper Tree (FMP) Polwechsel Polwechsel (Random Acoustics) At this juncture in aural history there are a great number of approaches to improvisation, many of which bear only tangential relation to the music we call jazz. While some of the key figures in the mid-60s European improvised-music scene, such as […]