Their new self-titled, debut album opens with the introspective "Coax" composed by bassist Matt Penman. It offers Josh Redman room to solo in a quizzical way opening the door to Aaron Parks on piano teasing us with delicate notes designed to draw us closer. Followed by the very funky "Polliwog," written by Redman, this pleasing tune features the tenor sax player performing as lyrically as I've ever heard him. The lazy ballad "Bijou," composed by Aaron Parks, shows a lighter touch. But the mood changes again with a piece called "Chronos," also written by Parks, but clearly led by drummer Eric Harland. His brand of percussion is similar in style to Jack DeJohnette, who loves to mix it up on the kit marking the transitions of fast and slow that is the predominant feature of this composition. Clearly, James Farm is a band that is only interested in the musical pull of the ensemble as opposed to a rhythm section backing a horn-player.
Saturday, July 9, 2011
Friday, July 8, 2011
Co-winner of the grand prize at the Montreal World Film Festival, Baran marked a stylistic leap forward for Iranian director Majid Majidi. It was also a less angry film than his previous two movies, Children of Heaven and The Color of Paradise, both of which had also won the top prize in Montreal. Those films were heavier--and cruder--than Baran, which is, finally, a sweet story of unconsummated love.
Thursday, July 7, 2011
For a few years, I flogged the proposal to various publishers but many were worried that there were too many people from different backgrounds (i.e. Margaret Atwood sitting alongside Oliver Stone). Another publisher curiously chose to reject it because, to them, it appeared to be a book about me promoting my interviews (as if I was trying to be a low-rent Larry King) rather than seeing it as a commentary on the decade through the eyes of the guests. All told, the book soon faded away and I turned to other projects. However, when recently uncovering the original proposal and sample interviews, I felt that maybe some of them could find a new life on Critics at Large.
|Tom Fulton of On the Arts.|
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
As a “press advance man” for former Vermont Governor Howard Dean’s presidential bid, Brooklyn playwright Beau Willimon spent the last three months of 2003 crisscrossing
. So it’s hardly surprising his gripping make-believe account of a modern campaign would be set in that Midwestern state. Farragut North, which opened off-Broadway in late 2008, was about back-room machinations and dirty tricks among political operatives. Iowa
Yet Willimon, who had stumped for other Democratic candidates in the past, made it clear in an interview three years ago that his piece was not a Deaniac docudrama. “I drew on all those experiences to create a fictional but authentic world,” he said, while sipping orange juice at a cafe in
Manhattan’s neighborhood. “My intention is to present a universal story about power and ambition.” Chelsea
It also seemed to be a story appropriate for cinema. The action has been relocated to
in the script Willimon wrote after Farragut was optioned by Warner Bros, in conjunction with George Clooney’s production company. Clooney co-adapted and directed the film, now titled The Ides of March, and he also stars, along with Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ryan Gosling, Marisa Tomei, Paul Giamatti and Evan Rachel Wood. It will open the Venice Film Festival on August 31, before an October 7 release. Ohio
|John Gallagher Jr., Chris Noth and Kate Blumberg in Farragut North.|
The dynamic original version, under the aegis of the Atlantic Theater Company, featured Chris Noth of Law & Order fame and John Gallagher, Jr., who won a 2007 Tony Award for his performance in the hit Broadway musical Spring Awakening. The cast included Olivia Thirlby, Ellen Page’s sidekick in Juno, and Isaiah Whitlock, Jr., perhaps best known for HBO’s The Wire. Doug Hughes, the director of Farragut, had earned a 2005 Tony Award for Doubt.
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
Monday, July 4, 2011
“There’s talk on the street it sounds so familiar
Great expectations everybody’s watching you
People you meet they all seem to know you
Even your old friends treat you like you’re something new
Johnny come lately…the new kid in town.”
The Eagles – “New Kid in Town.”
John David Souther isn’t quite the new kid in town anymore. Back in 1970, he joined together with Glen Frey to form a duo called Longbranch Pennywhistle. They released one album and then Frey went on to help found The Eagles. While Souther was invited to join this soon to be iconic band, he figured the addition of one more guitar would not have made much of a difference to their sound. Nonetheless, he stayed close at hand and co-wrote some of The Eagles’ most memorable songs, “Best of My Love,” “Heartache Tonight” and “New Kid in Town.” Souther also had a reasonably healthy solo career releasing a handful of albums for Asylum Records while providing hit songs for Linda Ronstadt and collaborating with James Taylor. Then he just seemed to disappear.
He showed up as an actor on television in thirtysomething and in film (Postcards on the Edge) but for over twenty years he didn’t release any music. That changed in 2008 with a jazzy album called If The World Was You. He added trumpet solos and sophisticated piano and steered clear of the country-rock guitar stuff he’d been known for. The album was a surprising hit. When I saw him that year at Toronto’s Hugh’s Room he played a couple of sunburst Gibson guitars and was a surprisingly clumsy guitarist. But he more than made up for it with his warm supple voice and winning stage presence. Souther was charming, rather than the arrogant character he’d portrayed on TV. The album was only a month old, and when he moved to the piano to play one tune, he couldn’t remember the words. He asked if anyone had bought the vinyl version at the merch table, and borrowed the lyric sheet to read the song. How endearing is that? Now he’s back with a follow-up album, Natural History.
Sunday, July 3, 2011
Since he is very logical, people start coming to him to solve various crimes: murders, thefts, assaults, etc. They all offer to pay him a lot of money, money he desperately needs. He solves the crimes with his mind. He is ably assisted by the youthful Sam (Toorance Coombs – The Tudors) who is a chess nut. Arkady “pays” him with chess lessons whenever Sam does external investigations. A sympathetic maid (Carmen Aguirre) also pitches in by running interference for him with the hotel management and security. The show gets creatively around the Arkady-stuck-in-the-hotel scenario by having him fantasize conversations with the victims or probable perpetrators of the crimes. This allows him, in his head at least, to go outside. Frequently, they turn into rather comic encounters shot in a hyper-real manner.