Posted inMusic

Sounds of the Pioneer

Sounds of the Pioneer In a recent interview guitarist John Fahey said he’d been listening to more and more jazz music, but considering that one of the first records his new archival label, Revenant, will reissue is by British free improviser Derek Bailey, the last guy I expected Fahey to name as his fave was […]

Posted inFilm

James Dean: Four Television Films

Between 1951 and 1955, James Dean acted in more than 30 TV dramas. Four of these shows–plucked from the networks’ vaults–have now been packaged as an omnibus meant to trace the rapid emergence of a cultural icon. Dean’s persona as a brooding romantic in blue jeans was, of course, largely forged by his big-screen roles […]

Posted inFilm


This 1995 film is the only feature by Hal Hartley that has the same degree of formal playfulness as his overlooked short films–perhaps because it was made as if it were three separate shorts, all recounting the same story but set in different cities (New York, Berlin, and Tokyo) and told mainly in different languages, […]

Posted inMusic

Sabri Brothers

SABRI BROTHERS Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan has popularized qawwali, the ecstatic devotional music of the Sufis, but fellow Pakistanis the Sabri Brothers were actually the first performers to take it outside their native land. The Sabris, whose lineage runs back 400 years to Punjabi court musicians, made their first recording in 1958, and in their […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Polished Pearl

The Dragon and the Pearl at the Organic Theater By Albert Williams May you live in interesting times” is an ancient Chinese curse disguised as a blessing, and Pearl Sydenstricker Buck certainly did. Born in West Virginia in 1892, she was raised in a China racked by revolution, invasion, and transformation from empire to republic. […]

Posted inMusic

George Shearing Quintet

GEORGE SHEARING QUINTET Elegant and playful, light-fingered and crafty, the blind pianist George Shearing qualifies as a genuine jazz perennial. He made his first record in 1939 in his native London, but it was a series of events in mid-40s New York that established his popularity: his immigration to the U.S., his adoption of bebop, […]

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Del McCoury Band

DEL MCCOURY BAND With the recent passing of Bill Monroe, the undisputed father of bluegrass, it’s hard not to view Del McCoury–who played and sang in Monroe’s band in the 60s–as the music’s most vital living proponent. Most modern bluegrass artists have opted either for post-Alison Krauss airbrushed gloss or post-Bela Fleck wankery, but McCoury […]

Posted inNews & Politics

Bad Call

Bad Call Dear Mr. Cox, Regarding your article in the Chicago Reader on September 6: Perhaps there is another, very critical factor relating to attendance at Comiskey Park–the continuous trashing of the team, individual players, the manager, the owner, and of course, the ballpark, the ballpark, the ballpark. I was disappointed to see that you […]

Posted inMusic

Carl Stone

CARL STONE The digital revolution has produced at least two distinct schools of aesthetic thought. One seizes on the sampler’s capacity to zip through and assimilate vast quantities of diverse information; the other uses the computer to examine minuscule flecks of material in meticulous detail. If the first school is epitomized by the pastichery of […]