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Old Friends, New Recordings

 

As a former New Yorker now living in Chicago, it is always great when old New York jazz friends come to town.  This month was especially a treat with bassist Tal Ronen rolling through the windy city.  Ronen, who is easily one of the best bassists of his generation, is a regular at New York stalwart clubs, such as Smalls, 55 Bar, and the Fat Cat.  Recently, he has been …more…

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A Weekend in the Country: a Sondheim favorite @ Writers’ Theatre

It may not be the “country” but for city-dwelling Chicagoans, it’s close enough. Writers’ Theatre in Glencoe, just outside the city, concludes their twentieth season with Sondheim’s pastoral classic, A Little Night Music. Writers’ Theatre is one of the suburbs’ foremost theaters, recently notable for David Cromer’s successful revival of A Streetcar Named Desire. Though considerably lighter in subject matter, this new mounting of Night Music is still pretty revelatory, more so than the …more…

Nathan Lane - Iceman Cometh

The lie of a pipedream: ‘The Iceman Cometh’ at Goodman Theatre

It’s difficult to find humor in a Eugene O’Neill play, but The Iceman Cometh was inspired by a vaudeville-era joke. In typical O’Neill fashion, the joke is mined down past the comedy to its tragic source in this nearly five-hour epic. From the same director that brought The Goodman’s production of O’Neill’s Desire Under the Elms to Broadway in 2009, comes this star-studded revival of The Iceman Cometh.  Featuring …more…

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Feel the Sway with Matt Wilson’s Arts and Crafts at the Green Mill

 

As one steps back and takes a good look at all of the jazz that is out there, all the different musical directions that have developed and are developing right now, it can be overwhelming.   To boot, much jazz music is quite serious in nature (don’t get me wrong, much of that serious music is quite inspiring) but when one is listening to a jazz suite composed over the John …more…

Rose Colella

Jazz Spotlight: Vocalist Rose Colella

 

In the age of American Idol, singers are often unfortunately graded on how hard they can belt.  Rose Colella sings with understated nuance in a way that brings to mind Blossom Dearie, Shirley Horn, and Billie Holiday.  Colella does not use a song’s lyrics as a “show off” vehicle, she massages each lyric with deep musical sensitivity and emotional maturity.  She uses a gentle whisper to caress a melody or …more…

Camino Real @ Goodman Theatre

A Heart as Big as a Baby’s Head: ‘Camino Real’ @ The Goodman Theatre

You know you’re experiencing good theatre when patrons are walking out because of moral objection rather than poor quality. The Goodman Theatre serves up a very intriguing interpretation of a lesser known Tennessee Williams gem. Camino Real (pronounced re-AL) is a complex drama with a short production history since its initial 1953 debut. This rare production is the brainchild of Goodman artistic director Bob Falls’ pairing of Calixto Bieito …more…

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The State of Jazz Clubs: Chicago and New York

 

I was attending a wonderful show by vocalist Arlene Bardelle and I reflected on the unique perspective that my wife and I (as well as a few others) have from observing the jazz scenes of both the windy city and the big apple.  As jazz clubs continue to financially tread water, refine their lineups to fit more popular tastes, or simply close down, many in the jazz community question what …more…

The Convert -Goodman Theatre

A ‘Pygmalion’ in Africa: ‘The Convert’ @ Goodman Theatre

“I was thinking one day, and I was like, I want to make a play that’s sort of … an adaptation of Pygmalion, about Zimbabwe, because I just feel like there are so many parallel themes,” says playwright Danai Gurira in an NPR interview, whose newest work The Convert is currently holding its world premiere at The Goodman Theatre. This commissioned work began at The McCarter Theatre Center in New Jersey in late January and was transfered to The Goodman in late February. ...more...

Stephanie Paul

Dancer Spotlight: Stephanie Paul – Be The Groove

It is both a risk and a dream to start your own company.  You raise it like a child giving it your time and energy.  And it takes all of your experience and more to raise it.  Be The Groove, created in 2006, is the rhythmic loving child of Stephanie Paul and Davora Sides.

Stephanie Paul grew up as an athletic child.  She danced from a young age until she was …more…

Chris Madsen

Jazz Spotlight: Tenor Saxophonist Chris Madsen

The history of the tenor saxophone runs as deep as it does wide in jazz, from Bean to Brecker, to the extent that one can almost question what else can possibly be done on the instrument.  Fortunately for the skeptics, the jazz community does continue to turn out unique tenor saxophone stylists and among them is Chicago-based tenor player Chris Madsen.  The first thing one notices about Madsen is his …more…

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Jazz Spotlight: Sarah Marie Young

With the eclectic nature of Chicago’s music scene, filled with the blues, jazz, gospel, and R & B, it is a real joy to check out the vocal stylings of Sarah Marie Young.  An alumni of Columbia College’s heralded vocal jazz program, Young has been impressing Chicago audiences since 2004.

One aspect of Young’s singing that really amazes is her ability to sing jazz, R & B, as well as her …more…

Chicago International Salsa Congress

Chicago International Salsa Congress

Salsa has become a global phenomenon.  In any country people can be found who appreciate the music, the dance and the culture associated with it.  Events known as Congresses or Congressos can be found all over the world from New York to Italy, Zurich, Isreal, China and Puerto Rico. Chicago’s International Salsa Congress (CISC) has come into its eleventh year with a bang. Created by Saladeen Alamin and Rosita Ragin-Alamin, …more…