Posts by Kirk Silsbee

arts•meme contributor Kirk Silsbee writes about jazz and culture, as he has for nearly 40 years. He can be read in many publications including Downbeat, the Burbank Leader, the Glendale News-Press, Downtown News, and Jewish Journal. He makes a mean plate of pancakes and is known to be a terrific kisser.


Parks & wrecks: Carlos Almaraz @ LACMA

Featured · Visual arts
by 
The ‘Los Four’ exhibition at Los Angeles County Art Museum in 1974 put the local art establishment on notice that a thriving scene was taking place in East Los Angeles and elsewhere in the Southland. The Chicano art renaissance was represented by four artists — Carlos Almaraz, Beto de la Rocha, Frank Romero and Gilbert ...

Weird scenes inside the goldmine: L.A.’s 1967 rock venues 1

Architecture & Design · Fashion · Film · Language & ideas · Music · Theater · Visual arts
by 
editor’s note: Harvey Kubernik’s new coffeetable tome, 1967: A Complete Rock Music History of the Summer of Love (Sterling), is a both a scholarly examination and a sensuous immersion into the pivotal year in 1960s youth culture through a mosaic of voices. Kirk Silsbee’s sidebars from his essay in the book, excerpted and condensed here, ...

‘Summer of Love’ in pop-up film-fest

Film · Music
by 
As a nod to recurring “Summer of Love” fever, the American Cinematheque presents a pop-up 1960s mini film fest. Martin Lewis curated the fondly-recalled “Mods ‘n Rockers” series at the Egyptian Theatre, and he’s chosen a handful of titles to be screened at Santa Monica’s Aero Theatre this weekend. “Mods ‘n Rockers” was great fun ...

Ella at 100: virtuosity, joy and swing 4

Music
by 
arts·meme jazz critic Kirk Silsbee excerpts his liner notes to the new four-CD set, Ella Fitzgerald: 100 Songs For a Centennial (Verve 2016-00957) At first blush, one hundred songs from any artist seem like overkill. In the case of Ella Fitzgerald (1917-1996), whose recordings number in the thousands, one hundred is just about enough to ...

Greek tragedy in Alphabet City: the death of Lee Morgan

Film · Music
by 
Trumpeters have the most tragic lineage of any instrument in jazz history. Car accidents, mental illness, congenital defects, drugs and alcohol have claimed some of the greatest players. But the murder of trumpeter Lee Morgan in 1972 was a laceration on the music that never healed. That a great but floundering musician regained his footing ...

Must see, must hear: Maria Schneider big band at VPAC 2

Music
by 
Maria Schneider’s ascendance is a Cinderella jazz story of sorts, albeit a long one. It surprises no one when she’s on the cover of Downbeat these days. But she first appeared as Best Original Composition award winner in the magazine’s 1984 student competition. Subsequently she’s become one of the most distinctive and evocative contemporary composers. ...

Pasadena Museum of California Art goes to the beach

Visual arts
by 
Our winter is unusually wet and cold at the moment, making visits to our beaches prohibitive. The evocative exhibition at the Pasadena Museum of California Art, “In the Land of Sunshine: Imaging the California Coast Culture” (through February 19), will punch the emotional buttons of anyone who has sand in the shoes of their psyche. ...

Terence Donovan, British photog who chronicled sixties

Fashion · Film · Music · Visual arts
by 
Photographer David Bailey (born 1938) is said to have given us a visual vocabulary with which we remember Swinging Sixties London. But he didn’t do it alone. Though not as celebrated, Terence Donovan (1936-1996) and Brian Duffy (1933-2010) did groundbreaking work in their own right. All three triangulated fashion photography with movies and pop culture ...

Jazz for angels and others at Angel City Jazz Festival 1

Music
by 
It’s been nine years but the Angel City Jazz Festival, the Los Angeles music conflagration built on bringing cutting-edge sounds to the Southland, has not only survived, it has flourished. Impresario Rocco Somazzi, well regarded for the adventurous booking policy of his Rocco Ristorante in Bel Air, embarked on a week-long series of concerts for ...

Print pioneers of Los Angeles: Gemini G.E.L. 1

Visual arts
by 
It’s no surprise anymore when an American artist of any discipline or media turns out prints. Painter, sculptor, installation specialist, conceptualist, land mover—all find something in their trick bags that will fit on a piece of paper with a high-rag content. It wasn’t always so. None of the Abstract Expressionist vilde chayas who dominated 1950s ...