Posted inArts & Culture

Lazy Lester

Born Leslie Johnson in Pointe Coupee, Louisiana, in 1933, Lazy Lester was captivated early on by the music of DeFord Bailey, the Grand Ole Opry’s diminutive African-American harmonica player; soon he was playing harp himself. Lester learned guitar by jamming with his brother and a local fretman named Guitar Gable, and by his teens he […]

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Leave the Heps Behind

Gus Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago at the Athenaeum Theatre, March 7-9 In the movie White Christmas Danny Kaye ridicules “choreography,” denouncing it as the mortal enemy of dancing. Surrounded by grim-faced, black-skirted women affecting angular poses, he mourns in a bogus upper-crust accent the loss of “chicks who did kicks” and “heps who did steps.” […]

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John Parish, Howe Gelb

Guitarist and hands-on producer John Parish has exerted his influence quietly over the years, helping P.J. Harvey (To Bring You My Love), Sparklehorse (It’s a Wonderful Life), Eels (Souljacker), and Goldfrapp (Felt Mountain) whittle their music down to its core, allowing no wasted gestures or extraneous notes. In 1996 he played all the instruments and […]

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Nothing Like the Real Thing

Trent Harris: The Beaver Trilogy at Gallery 312, through March 22 It’s no secret that movies often skew real events in order to make them more entertaining. In The Beaver Trilogy, short films being shown continuously as part of the “Really Real” exhibit at Gallery 312, Trent Harris tracks this process of distortion by juxtaposing […]

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Dave Holland Big Band

Dave Holland was already the most highly regarded bassist of his generation–owing largely to his work in such divergent and complex projects as Miles Davis’s first electric bands and Anthony Braxton’s bionic avant-garde quintet–when he formed his first group in 1983. With this quintet, Holland presented an alternative to Wynton Marsalis’s neoclassicism, then at the […]

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Sheila Jordan

Many jazz musicians have had some Native American blood (Jim Pepper, Oscar Pettiford, Art Farmer, Benny Golson, Duke Ellington), but Indian strains in jazz are usually too submerged for listeners to recognize, or they’re reduced to caricature–a boom-bum-bum-bum tom-tom introducing “Cherokee,” for instance. Singer Sheila Jordan, part Cherokee herself, digs deeper, evoking Native American chants […]

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Godspeed You Black Emperor!

Godspeed You Black Emperor! may have been enfants terribles when they released their first cassette nearly ten years ago, but I think it’s safe to say they’re now an institution, with all the good and bad that implies. They forged their own aesthetic and, as soon as it got predictable (which it did pretty quickly), […]

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Homebound

Homebound, ETA Creative Arts Foundation. Javon Johnson’s drama, set in a juvenile detention home, is steeped in good intentions. With a passionate intensity that leaves ample room for humor, he relentlessly exposes the fears, obsessions, and psychic wounds of his adolescent protagonists–a murderer, arsonist, drug dealer, and rapist–as they struggle to find hope in a […]

Posted inNews & Politics

Just Say Yes

How perfectly telling–a man (Scott Portman) who has experienced the travesties and inhumanity of the Hussein regime while heading the International Rescue Committee’s relief program for Kurds could elaborate with firsthand knowledge and sympathetic eloquence for eight pages as to why a war against Iraq is warranted [“War: What It’s Good For,” March 7], and […]

Posted inNews & Politics

Special Deliveries

Daniel Alpert spent the last year shooting Mother Maker, a documentary about the Chicago Doula Project, which matches childbirth coaches with single, teenage, expectant mothers on the city’s west and south sides. Members of the communities they serve, the doulas guide their charges through pregnancy, labor, and delivery, and hang around afterward to get them […]

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My Big Fat Quinceanera

My Big Fat Quinceanera, !Salsation!, at Teatro Luna. Cultural heritage is obviously a point of pride with this predominantly Latino troupe, all of whom mention their ethnic ancestry in the program notes. And the American experience is all about figuring out your roots and bridging the gap between old-world traditions and New World multiculturalism. In […]