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Jazz, Featuring Chopin and Bach

By at June 20, 2014 | 2:37 am | 0 Comment

Jazz, Featuring Chopin and Bach

You might not think of Le Poisson Rouge as the ideal place for an organ recital: for one thing, it lacks an organ. But an organist can bring a portable one, and that is what Cameron Carpenter did on Tuesday evening, though not without some backstage drama.Mr. Carpenters original plan was to use his own practice organ and celebrate the release of his new compact disc and DVD, "Cameron Live!" (Telarc), by performing works of Bach, Shostakovich, Liszt, Chopin and Moszkowski. But a few days before the performance he decided that his instrument was not flexible enough for recital use.

His solution was odd. He rented a Hammond B3: an organ favored by jazz musicians (and some 1960s rock bands) but not ideal, in timbre and range, for classical works. So out went the classics, for the most part. Instead Mr. Carpenter brought along a drummer, Marion Felder, a recent Juilliard graduate who performs with the Count Basie Orchestra, and played a freewheeling, virtuosic jazz set.

That the concert now had little to do with the recording it was meant to promote seemed not to matter to anyone, least of all Mr. Carpenter, who spent the hour before the performance milling through the crowd, stopping at every table in the club to introduce himself ("Hi, I am Cameron," he said, holding out a hand) and chat. This was his party, and he was determined to enjoy every minute it. You almost had the feeling that he would have brought you a beer on request. At curtain time he threw a jacket studded with small mirrors over his black T-shirt and took to the keys.

It was clear in Mr. Carpenters opening selection, a rhythmically supple account of Coltranes "Moments Notice," that he had a feeling for this music. That should not be surprising: organists, unlike most classical instrumentalists, are schooled in improvisation, and Mr. Carpenter has an extroverted performing style well suited to the business of finding the possibilities in a chord progression or a melody.

Most of his set was devoted to Gershwin songs, starting with "Love Is Here to Stay," in which he augmented the Hammond sound with the varied timbres of a Yamaha synthesizer, and "I Got Rhythm," which he played as a widely ranging set of variations (including one for pedals only). "Do It Again," "The Man I Love," "Fascinatin´ Rhythm" and "Nice Work if You Can Get It," and Henry Mancini´s "Whistling Away the Dark," were also dissected and reassembled with unpredictable metrical and coloristic twists.

Mr. Carpenter´s single straightforward classical performance, late in the set, helped to explain his decision to play jazz. His reading of Bach chorale prelude "Nun Komm, der Heiden Heiland" had the right impulses, but the organs tone did not suit the piece. In any case, Mr. Carpenter had a more interesting approach to the classics up his sleeve. In a pair of Bach "Well-Tempered Clavier" preludes and fugues, and in Chopins C sharp minor Etude , he moved back and forth between straightforward readings and, with Mr. Felders support, vital, spirited, inventively reharmonized elaborations.

Was this a crossover concert? Maybe. But Mr. Carpenters jazz performances do not require special pleading. Move over, Renee Fleming.

Local , Music

Songs That Rock the Boat, With Heart and Soul, Too

By at June 20, 2014 | 2:37 am | 0 Comment

Songs That Rock the Boat, With Heart and Soul, Too

On the face of it, Frank Loesser, one of Broadway´s all-time great wielders of urban slang, and Karen Oberlin, a demure pop-jazz singer who radiates a subdued glamour, are not a natural fit. Had he lived in a later time, Loesser, who died in 1969, might have turned a Martin Scorsese movie like "Raging Bull" into a hard-boiled pop opera. Nothing about Ms. Oberlin, whose tribute to Loesser, "Heart and Soul: A Centenary Celebration of Frank Loesser," is playing at the Oak Room of the Algonquin Hotel, could be described as hard-boiled. She is no smoldering Vikki LaMotta. Nor could I imagine her in "Guys and Dolls," playing Miss Adelaide, whose comic signature song, "Adelaide´s Lament," is conspicuously missing from this show. (Sarah Brown, yes.)

But there are other aspects to Loesser besides the wisecracking pre-Beat poet of "Guys and Dolls." And in "Heart and Soul" Ms. Oberlin concentrates on Loesser´s softer-edged zaniness and on his unjustly neglected romantic side. Several of Loesser´s great ballads – notably, "I´ve Never Been in Love Before," "I Wish I Didn´t Love You So" and "Spring Will Be a Little Late This Year" – were given careful, contemplative readings in Wednesday´s show.

Beyond having a pretty voice, poise and interpretive insight, Ms. Oberlin is a thorough researcher who placed many of the songs in a historical or personal context. The frisky "Bloop, Bleep!" and the galloping boogie-woogie "Rumble, Rumble, Rumble," she explained, described Loesser´s nocturnal frustration at the sounds of dripping faucets and an upstairs piano player.

Her interpretation of "Love Isnt Born (Its Made)," a song with music by Arthur Schwartz that Ann Sheridan introduced in the 1943 movie "Thank Your Lucky Stars," emphasized its message as a hard-headed advice song to women to be more sexually aggressive. "Here is a fact to face:/A man wont take a taxi just to get no place," it declares.

Ms. Oberlin brought enough sass to "Hamlet," Loesser´s riotously funny translation of Shakespeare into gangsterese ("He bumped off his uncle/and he Mickey Finned his mother") to make the song register.

Throughout the smart, polished show, she maintained a comfortable rapport with her musicians, the fleet, airy jazz pianist Jon Weber, who took a couple of impressive solos, and the bassist Sean Smith.

Karen Oberlin continues through June 19 at the Oak Room of the Algonquin Hotel, 59 West 44th Street, Manhattan; (212) 419-9331.

Local , Music

Tapping the Roots of American Music

By at June 20, 2014 | 2:37 am | 0 Comment

Tapping the Roots of American Music

The closing concert of the enterprising Riverside Symphony´s 29th season, on Wednesday evening at Alice Tully Hall, was a thematic program that pulled together 20th-century works with roots in American vernacular music. It was, in a way, the perfect program for our eclectic, genre-hopping time, not only because it illustrated the porousness between formal and popular styles, but it also showed that this supposedly trendy approach is really nothing new. The two works on the first half of the program, after all, were composed in the 1920s.

Copland´s "Music for the Theater" (1925) was not composed for theatrical use at all, but for the concert hall; the Boston Symphony, under Serge Koussevitzky, gave the piece its premiere. But the work is steeped in the pop conventions of its time. The fast movements, especially, draw on jazz moves, and are meant to swing – as they did in this performance, led by George Rothman; the slow movements, with their prominent trumpet and English horn solos, evoke crooning vocalists and slow dances. You even hear a hint of Gershwin´s "Rhapsody in Blue," a predecessor (by a year) in the world of symphonic jazz crossovers.

Weill´s "Threepenny Opera" (1928) has tendrils that reach toward American jazz too. But its allusions are more oblique – a matter of rhythm and spirit rather than harmony or melody – and its more dominant accent is that of the German cabaret. In a tight, vigorous performance of a suite from that work, the orchestra´s woodwinds, brasses and percussion (with guitar, banjo and piano) thoroughly captured the music´s essence and conveyed a palpable sense of its dark atmosphere and pervasive restlessness.

Health , Local , Music

On the Horns of Abundance: Jazz Festivals Resound

By at June 20, 2014 | 2:37 am | 0 Comment

On the Horns of Abundance: Jazz Festivals Resound

N extraordinary amount of jazz hits New York over the next two weeks: four festivals, about 150 sets, and much of it extracurricular to the usual riches at the clubs. It´s a time of marathons and breadth and goes in heavy for the new: not just youth, but also new aesthetic combinations, new attitudes toward repertory, new influences and paradigms, new clubs and theaters. Unlike some past jazz festival seasons, with more brand-polishing and sentimental favorites, this one – in the aggregate – can really show you where both the music and the culture of jazz in New York have gotten to. The news releases plonked into e-mailboxes throughout the spring. First to announce a schedule was the old-school jazz promoter George Wein. After the exit of JVC as his regular sponsor, he returns this year with the first annual CareFusion Jazz Festival, named after the medical technology company that is writing its checks. It´s a mixture: typical JVC-esque big-hall bookings (Herbie Hancock, Keith Jarrett, Joao Gilberto); carefully chosen smaller shows with some of the best younger bandleaders, including Ambrose Akinmusire and Darcy James Argue; and a few gigs for early and swing-era jazz fans.Next, the 15th Vision Festival, an event planned and run community-style, with minimum sponsorship and maximum input from musicians, by Patricia Parker; it´s built around the lineage of free improvisation and jazz´s nonmainstream. This year´s festival is half again as big as last year´s. It contains an evening devoted to the Chicago pianist Muhal Richard Abrams and his circle and gigs by the local scene´s veterans, including the saxophonists Charles Gayle and David S. Ware, as well as the improvising singer Fay Victor, the scholarly and freewheeling Chicago-based quintet People, Places & Things and the rock band Akron/Family. The shows spread through the Lower East Side: clubs, cultural centers, even the playground of the Campos Plaza housing development on East 13th Street. Then came news of the first Undead Jazzfest, two nights of hear-a-thons in clubs on a stretch of Bleecker and Sullivan Streets, this Saturday and Sunday. It occupies, roughly, the middle path between Vision Festival and CareFusion: heavy on neither free improvisation nor the mainstream-jazz continuum.

Its the sound of the adventurous present, including the drummer and composer John Hollenbeck, the saxophonist Steve Coleman, and Fight the Big Bull, a roustabout little big band from Richmond, Va. It´s produced by Brice Rosenbloom and Adam Schatz, who are doing much to expand, diversify and generally excite the New York jazz audience through their annual Winter Jazzfest.

Health , Local , Music

Lady Madonna? Gaga Channels Madge in Video

By at June 20, 2014 | 2:37 am | 0 Comment

Lady Madonna? Gaga Channels Madge in Video

Is Lady Gagas Alejandro Video a Rip-Off or Homage to Madonna?
Gagas most-recent single, Alejandro,premiered, fans and music writers have been divided over whether Gaga was trying to flatter the Material Girl or rip-off her best-known videos.Madge has yet to weigh in on the debate. Her rep did not respond to ABCNews.com request for comment. But if her remarks at last Sundays MTV Movie Awards in which she called Gaga beautiful are any indication, then Madonna is most likely flattered.The nearly nine-minute video in which Gaga pays homage to Madonnas Like a Prayer and Vogue videos, has been drawing controversy for other reasons, too. Gaga swallows rosary beads while dressed as a nun in red latex, and simulates having sex while in the presence of a crucifix.

Health , Music , News

january jones and the walk of shame

By at June 20, 2014 | 2:37 am | 0 Comment

january jones and the walk of shame

Mad Men star and internet favorite January Jones is about to become even favoritor because this morning at 10:30am she came crawling back home in the same dress she wore last night to the Oceana World Oceans Day Party. Does this mean she hooked up with some random guy or girl and had a night of deviant sex? Yes, yes it does. It´s undeniable proof. Throw an Ocean Day party and watch the panties start droppin, apparently. It sure as hell got January all worked up. I´m gonna go to her house dressed as Poseidon, see if I can get anal.

Entertainment , Health , News

Brad Pitts Psychic Speaks

By at June 20, 2014 | 2:37 am | 0 Comment

Brad Pitts Psychic Speaks

Brad Pitt may have no use for religion, but his psychic tells Life & Style he is very spiritual and often seeks divine advice.

Life & Styles press release follows:

When super dad Brad Pitt has tough decisions to make, he turns to a surprising source–his psychic! Life & Style has learned that psychic Ron Bard has helped Brad through many important moments in his life. “Yes, Brad has come to me for a reading,” Bard tells Life & Style exclusively. “I know him both personally and through my business. He is very, very spiritual.”

Brad first visited Bard while married to Jen and filming Mr. & Mrs. Smith with Angelina. While he is keeping his visions of Brads future to himself, Bard tells Life & Style, I meet a lot of celebrities in this business, and he is truly one of the nicest people. He is gracious and generous, just such a great person.”

Brads psychic describes himself as “an adviser to some of the richest and most powerful people around the world…from powerful CEOs of American and Japanese conglomerates to Hollywood celebrities.Earlier this year, he founded a paranormal social networking site, of all things, with his friend, Frasier star Kelsey Grammer.

Entertainment , Health , News

Tom Cruises Career Reboot: Mission Possible?

By at June 20, 2014 | 2:37 am | 0 Comment

Tom Cruises Career Reboot: Mission Possible?

ROCKLAND, ME

Entertainment , Health , News

Obama To Make Reassuring Eye Contact With Every Last American

By at June 20, 2014 | 2:37 am | 0 Comment

Obama To Make Reassuring Eye Contact With Every Last American

ROCKLAND, ME

Entertainment , Health , News

Few Hometown Heroes at a Hip-Hop Showcase

By at June 20, 2014 | 2:37 am | 0 Comment

Few Hometown Heroes at a Hip-Hop Showcase

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – As hip-hop rites of passage go, the annual Summer Jam, hosted by the New York radio station Hot 97, is ostensibly an event of genre-wide significance, but really its an opportunity for local boosterism. Summer Jam is supposed to be a reminder not just of the importance of New York hip-hop but also of New York as vital turf where outsiders come to prove themselves.
Its going to take place on a tropical island owned by the couples super-rich friend, said the blonde entertainment reporter. And her dress will be created by the fashion designer who did all those Oscar gowns. The scrum that took over the New Meadowlands Stadium stage here toward the end of this five-hour show on Sunday night was vintage Summer Jam in attitude and structure. There were easily 100 people muscling for space – some of them rappers, most hangers-on – and the performance not so artfully but thrillingly crashed together a fistful of recent hits. The ringleaders of this barely controlled explosion were the screech-voiced DJ Khaled and the casually sharp rapper Rick Ross

Entertainment , Health , News

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