This piece of choreography by Jonah Bokaer, who grew up speaking French in Tunisia, merits your time; it is simply beautiful. It was curated by Donatien Grau, Head of Contemporary Programs at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris for the Musee’s “Un Ouevre, Un Regard” series. Bokaer’s vivification of Louis Ernest Barrias’ sculpture, “Nubians,” is emblematic of the choreographer’s deep concern with merging the visual arts and design with dance.
I absolutely love this work. Jonah’s commentary at the video’s end, melodic in French, reveals his careful thematic grounding for the exercise: its environmental aspects, its evocation of conflicts in both animal and human kingdoms, and then, ever the dancer, Jonah’s observations about the “negative space” that impacts both dance and sculpture. How fantastic to bring living ‘plastique’ to this sculpture frozen-in-motion… the ultimate intra-art conversation. Thank you, Jonah, this is a gift.
Jonah Bokaer was my fellow Fellow at TheCenter for Ballet and the Arts at NYU. Added bonus, photo below: this former Merce Cunningham dancer has really good feet!
The Playboy Jazz mold was set a long time ago. Saturday openers are for socializing and getting the crowd up and moving. Sunday is where the bulk of the serious jazz ensembles and features will be heard. That framework continued unabated, at the 41st anniversary edition of the Playboy Jazz Festival June 8-9. That’s not to say that there were no challenging and rewarding sounds to be heard the first day, but it could be tough sledding. PJF veterans know that if they’re going to be there for the whole weekend, it helps to lay back and enjoy it.
The callow-but-spirited Valencia High School Vikings Two ‘n Four Vocal Jazz Ensemble, the all-woman Jazz in Pink group, and saxophonist Terrace Johnson, despite their merits were sacrificial lambs; background music for the throng filtering into the Bowl.
Veteran tenor saxophonist and composer Benny Golson invited close scrutiny. He has so many jazz standards to his name that a whole set of them is not egregious. At 90, he doesn’t have a lot of snap in his playing, but give him credit: he has more saxophone mojo than Dexter Gordon did in his last Bowl appearance at 65. His sterling quartet buoyed Golson, especially pianist Tamir Hendelman’s blues-rooted piano solos on “Along Came Betty” and “Blues March.” Drummer Roy McCurdy had fun with martial cadence and bebop for his peppery solo on that one.
Trumpeter Terence Blanchard might learn something
about compositional arc from Golson. His
E-Collective band rambled through a set of originals that were largely static. We
can’t attend Blanchard performances to just hear music. His albums are all
broadsides at one moral outrage or another, so that’s what’s on his menu at any
given time. Electronically mutating his horn didn’t make it sound any better. Nor
did Sheila E’s thrashing of her cymbal stand after a furiously pounding
timbales fusillade. Her set was relentless high energy except for a Marianne
Williamson interlude where she commanded the audience to tell a stranger that
you love them. Where Blanchard made the audience pine for the sound of a naked
trumpet, Sheila’s funk overwhelmed the senses. Might as well get up and dance
to that plodding beat.
Impassioned Benin singer Angelique Kidjo exceeded
Sheila in energy and finesse. Her mélange of African roots music, Celia Cruz’s Afro-Cubanisme and the Talking Heads
permutation made for excitement with musical complexity. If you tried to count
out those time signatures, you found out what you’re made out of. For her
impassioned vocals, her crack ensemble, the fascinating combinations and
intersections of the music, she walked off with the day’s honors.
Banjo virtuoso Bela Fleck and the Flecktones had the thankless job of following Kidjo and preceding Sheila. The collective instrumental prowess of Fleck and his players (most of whom doubled on other instruments; how can anyone play piano and harmonica at the same time?) was jaw-dropping. In a way, Fleck and company are the Dave Brubeck Quartet of our era: brainy and quietly thrilling. But juxtaposed with a dynamic red-garbed singer who commanded the entire stage, the Flecks were merely interesting.
A good balance to the PJF wig-and-wail conundrum was
achieved earlier by Patrice Rushen’s tribute to her late friend and mentor, Ndugu
Chancler (1952-1918). Drummer for all seasons, his resume stretched from Miles
to Michael, and the band touched on some of those junctures. Ernie Watt’s tenor
saxophone took the point and Teri Lynne Carrington drove the drum chair. George
Duke’s “Reach For It,” Jean Luc Ponty’s “Beyond the Wings of Time,” Weather
Report’s “Tale Spinin’,” Santana’s “Amigos” gave an idea of Ndugu’s jazz span.
In that context, it was a pleasure to shake booty to Michael Jackson’s “Billie
The tang of the Chancler Celebration had long worn
off as Kool and the Gang ran through their hits, agitated every varmint in the
Hollywood Hills, and sent more than a few of us to our cars early.
It was an evening of beaming smiles, prodigious effort, community love, and some real artistry last Saturday at the Broad Stage, as the Westside Ballet staged a impressive Gala fundraising event. Visiting “etoiles,” stars from companies as esteemed as New York City Ballet, Smuin Ballet, The Joffrey, and Miami City Ballet, studded the program, bringing ...
Alan Broadbent – Photo by Jon Frost When he left Santa Monica for New York in the fall of 2011, pianist and composer Alan Broadbent wasn’t missing out on many playing opportunities. One night a month at Vibrato wasn’t exactly stoking his pianistic fires. Chalk it up to one of the failures of this city ...
Calling all dads! Sunday’s your day to escape the dreary parade of chick flicks your wife drags you to. Get your manhood on with a Father’s Day screening of Spartacus, hosted by the Los Angeles Conservancy at Theatre at Act Hotel. If you are “questioning,” as part of the LGBTQ contingent , you may like ...
Ed. note: It is a sad time as LACMA, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, by dribs and drabs, closes down galleries — beloved spaces like the one that housed the museum’s fabled German Expressionist collection and also that for Pop Art. The art goes into storage and the walls and ceilings will meet ...
Ten was a biggie. That was last year. We threw a party. A birthday bash. But this one snuck up on us, and behold, on May 24, 2019, arts·meme turned eleven years old. Happy birthday, arts·meme ! No one noticed. We even forgot the date ourselves. So little Miss arts·meme had to sing an arts·memey rendition ...
She pulverized the Palace, and made carnage of Carnegie Hall. She slayed in Las Vegas. But you ain’t seen nothing yet … till you see Judy Garland play the Barn. That is happening Wednesday June 12. And we’re going! Garland, known to be a droll wit, made numerous appearances on television in the ’60s that ...
It’s not gourmet. It’s a simple repast. It’s what the British call “homely.” But it is good — and it’s necessary. With apologies for the teeth marks, may I introduce you to the lowly pre-theater bar snack? Everyone knows that the eternal question for theater-goers is … eat before or after the show? This option ...
Oh the seasons, they come and they go. That’s easy enough for us mortals to say. But for a monster-scaled live-arts presenter like the Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA, it takes both brains and brawn to pull off a full season. You live it, breathe it, push it, pamper it, and promote ...