My country ’tis of thee … of thee I sing!

Music
We just loved seeing a creative American like Sonny Rollins honored in the White House. That’s the way it should be every day, not once a year. More arts, education, and humanities in our country! Here, the great jazz saxophonist accepts 2010 National Medal of Arts from President Obama. What a moment! “I’m very happy ...

President Obama confers arts & humanities award

Dance · Film · Music · Theater · Visual arts
From the White House earlier today …

Honoring America’s greats: National Medal of Arts

Dance · Music · Theater · Visual arts
President Obama this morning honored some of our nation’s great artists in a ceremony at the White House. Receiving the 2010 National Medal of Arts were Robert Brustein, the theater producer and critic; Van Cliburn, the pianist; Mark di Suvero, the abstract expressionist sculptor; poet Donald Hall; and the pioneering dance organization, Jacob’s Pillow Dance ...

James Dean would follow Eartha Kitt anywhere! 1

Dance · Film · Music
Even to Katherine Dunham‘s dance class circa 1955 … but who wouldn’t? Eartha Kitt danced with the Dunham troupe from age 16 to 20, approximately, touring Europe, and becoming a cabaret sensation in Paris. James Dean, on the other hand … this great photo care of koolcatshipchicksblog. fabulous dunham historic photos here.

Duke Ellington’s polished “Satin Doll” 1

Music
Note the beat-up bass Aaron Bell solos on! Personnel: Ray Nance, Shorty Baker, Cat Anderson, Bill Berry, Ed Mullens (t), Lawrence Brown, Leon Cox, Chuck Connors (tb), Russell Procope, Johnny Hodges (as), Paul Gonsalves (ts), Jimmy Hamilton (cl, ts), Harry Carney (bars), Duke Ellington (p), Aaron Bell (b), Sam Woodyard (d). NYC, Jan 9, 1962. ...

Herb & Lani’s Latin-infused jazz at “Vibrato” 1

Music
“It’s what Miles said about me, which is really touching, ‘You hear three notes and you know it’s Herb Alpert.’ Well, you hear one note and you know it’s Miles. He won!” So says the modest and artistic Herb Alpert, musician, painter, sculptor, and arts philanthropist, at the end of an interview on a CBS morning program ...

Lorenz Hart taught Balanchine English 1

Dance · Language & ideas · Music
Chatting by phone with George Balanchine’s longtime assistant, Barbara Horgan, I learned an amusing story about the great expatriate choreographer. “Balanchine was rather reserved,” noted Horgan. “But he adored Lorenz Hart [the brilliant but troubled lyricist of Rodgers & Hart songwriting team]. “Balanchine always used to say that ‘Larry taught me how to speak English.'” ...

Happy 70th birthday, Captain Beefheart

Language & ideas · Music · Visual arts
Guitarist Gary Lucas‘s Captain Beefheart symposium was already in the works when he received a text message December 16 that Beefheart, aka Don Van Vliet, was no more. After years of suffering from multiple sclerosis, the enigmatic rock vocalist and musician, who had long forsaken music for painting, died at 69. Speaking to a theater ...

OCPAC reborn as Segerstrom Center for the Arts

Architecture & Design · Dance · Music · Theater · Visual arts
The erstwhile Orange County Performing Arts Center — Costa Mesa, California’s artistic mecca worthy of the 1.5- hour caravan southward from Los Angeles — entered a new era yesterday. In a burst of fireworks — $100,000 worth it is rumored — the center honored its founding patron Henry Segerstrom in a special way. Dropping its ...

Dance ambassador Lula Washington heads to Middle Kingdom 2

Dance · Music
A U.S. consulate representative’s positive feedback of a Vladivostok performance by Lula Washington Dance Theatre — they were in Russia in November and December on a 20-city tour — resulted in a six-figure grant in support of a visit to China for the ebullient Los Angeles-based dance troupe. The Washington-ites will visit Henan and its neighboring central ...