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.


Fred Astaire’s songs that dance 2

Dance · Film · Music
by 
If all you know of Fred Astaire is his movie dancing, the new two-CD set “Fred Astaire: The Early Years at RKO” (Turner Classic Music/Sony Masterworks) will be a revelation. With the possible exception of Bing Crosby, Astaire introduced more good songs — first on the Broadway stage, then in his movie musicals — than ...

Backstage intimacy from Phil Stern’s camera 1

Film · Music · Visual arts
by 
Hollywood photographers have always had to walk a fine line. Their work is contingent on access to the celebrated, but entree hinges on trust and following implicit rules of privacy. Movie studios have always wanted their actors and directors depicted in the best possible light and they’ve rewarded those whose images flatter most. But good ...

Holiday sounds: manger, mistletoe, and martinis

Music
by 
Every December, a crop of new recordings address the season by celebrating the birth of Jesus, playing up the frivolity of holiday parties, and all variations between. These are some of this year’s CDs. PBS viewers know well the angelic boys choir Libera. A recorded concert at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Armagh soars to heavenly ...

Pianist Dick Hyman, a many-colored chameleon

Music
by 
It takes an exceptional chameleon to be able to master every piano style of consequence in jazz history.  There have been some good comprehensive players; the late Dr. Billy Taylor comes to mind.  But it takes an extraordinary artist to be able to accurately interpret the work of great pianists in their own respective vernaculars, ...

Cool Hollywood jazz feted in festival

Music
by 
Jazz has been such an integral component to American motion picture soundtracks for so long, we sometimes forget it wasn’t always so. Try to think of modern motion picture soundtracks without jazz and it’s, well, unthinkable.  Don Ellis’s vibrant, taut music to “The French Connection,” Johnny Mandel’s poignant songs like ”The Shadow of Your Smile” ...