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.


Greek tragedy in Alphabet City: the death of Lee Morgan

Featured · Film · Music
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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 ...

Eden Ahbez: the wild, the innocent & the Vine Street shuffle

Music
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[ed. note: author Kirk Silsbee’s story was originally published, in slightly different form, in the L.A.Weekly] Some people only have one hit record in them. History’s one-hit wonders make up a long, sometimes colorful and often tragic legion. Eden Ahbez was lucky. He had a compelling song, with an unusual melody and a gentle message ...

Michael Vlatkovich’s unpredictable musical universe @ the Hammer

Music
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Michael Vlatkovich’s idiosyncratic music balances the meticulous writer with the laissez faire bandleader. The trombonist/composer has the uncommon luxury of convening seven pieces at the Hammer Museum’s free JazzPOP series this coming Thursday night. Drummer Chris Garcia, who has played with Vlatkovich since 1991, recalls a tour. “We had a new bass player,” Garcia says. ...

Jeff Parker’s guitar twists & turns @ The Blue Whale

Music
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Jeff Parker knows about harmonic color. His current CD, The New Breed (International Anthem Recording Company) is lush with it. It hangs like audible clouds, created by slow-moving electronic keyboard backgrounds, nudged along by discreet electric bass currents, and seeded by Parker’s pungent single-note improvisations. The KORG MS20 adds grainy keyboard impasto to those scrims ...

Jazz singer Jeri Southern, appreciated

Music
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There were other female jazz pianists who also sang in the 1950s, but none shared Jeri Southern’s formidable pianistic technique, vocal individuality, and unerring choice of good material. She sang the most bittersweet love songs in the most intimate manner. And few could inspire the nightclub reveries Southern conjured—of melancholy, infatuation, optimism, idolatry, disconsolation, and ...