My new Think Again column is a sad lament for lack Republican voice in the media and a tribute to Joel Kotkin’s brilliant analysis of that terrible problem. It’s called “The ‘Virtually Voiceless’” and it’s here.
In my Nation column, I offer my dissent in the MSM celebration of Andrew Sullivan. That’s here.
Alter-reviews: Jazz at Lincoln Center “Birth of the Cool” celebration, Miles Davis Bootleg release, Volume II, Nixon in China….
Tempted to say I had a “cool” weekend at Jazz at Lincoln Center last week, but I’m not quite that corny. Anyway, this J@LC Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis spent the weekend playing a set that was half Gerry Mulligan and half John Lewis, who, together with Miles and with arranger Gil Evans most prominently, came together to take jazz in this new direction in the late 1940s. Both Lewis and Mulligan had played with the orchestra—I saw a wonderful show with Lewis in the late 90s—but this show did what J@LC does best, which is to marry the classic with the contemporary. In this case, it did so through the combination of the Orchestra and the 26-year-old NOLA pianist Jonathan Batiste. The show also benefited enormously from Wynton’s skills as a host speaking both historically and personally about the musicians and the composers in between each song. Seeing jazz in Rose Hall—the only concert hall in the world built specifically for jazz—is like seeing a classical music concert except that people are not so dressed up. Wynton’s personality helps a great deal in transforming this big beautiful hall into a “house of swing.”
I have to say, however, I am partial to the much more intimate Jazz@LC Allen Room, both for its intimate size and its wonderful view of Columbus Circle behind the musicians. And the following night, I got to see pianist Bill Charlap lead not only fine band but also offer a history of jazz lesson with the great Basie sax man Frank Wess, national treasure, guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli, singer Mary Stallings and vibraphonist Steve Nelson. He had his regular band, bassist Peter Washington, and drummer Kenny Washington, along with trumpeter Jeremy Pelt, saxophonist Gary Smulyan, trombonist Jason Jackson, Bob Stewart (tuba), and Jeff Scott (French horn). They played plenty of Lewis and Mulligan, augmented by any number of tunes, and again, benefitted from Charlap’s commitment to giving the audience some context for the songs and their arrangements as well as the amazing musicans and the georgous music proper respect…. It was almost perfect night, except that they don’t let you bring drinks into the hall.
For more from J@LC, go here, please.
And speaking of Miles: Since there really is a Miles Davis, there is always more Miles, and my friends at Sony Legacy have found and cleaned up a new edition of the Miles Davis Bootleg Series from Miles's Third Great Quintet, known also as the "Lost" Band of 1968-1970 and featuring Miles, Wayne Shorter, Chick Corea, Dave Holland and Jack DeJohnette, a band that never recorded in the studio. It’s the nucleus of the “Bitches Brew” band, which, in my Philistinic opinion, is where the whole world started going to Hell. (Right afterward, that is, I like the album a great deal.) Anyway, this band was recorded in three separate concerts including sets at the Antibes Jazz Festival, in Stockholm, as part of "The Newport Jazz Festival In Europe," plus a 46-minute performance at the Berlin Philharmonie, which is included on a color DVD. What’s not to like? Well, perhaps the packaging, but I’ll let you know about that all-important factor once it’s out.