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.


Jazz serendipity: Alan Broadbent Trio’s ‘Trio in Motion’

Music · Reviews
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The longstanding professional relationships of the Alan Broadbent Trio might indicate that the recording at hand is the result of a comfy, well-worn process. Nothing could be further from the truth. Each selection of their new album, Trio in Motion (Savant) is a journey, and the performances are travelogues that sometimes surprise the musicians as much ...

In ‘jazz quarantine’ with Josh Nelson Trio 2

Music · Reviews
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For jazz musicians and their audience, the spring and summer months of 2020 have been, to paraphrase the rebel leader Don Jose in The Wild Bunch, the months of sadness. Musicians need to communicate, exchange, and create with each other. And most thrive before an audience. As clubs and music spaces shutter due to the ...

Jazz composer/pianist Billy Childs brings new ‘Acceptance’ to musical life

Music
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There have been two hallmarks—standards if you will—that have been a part of every Billy Childs album. The first is the journey he’s traveled as a composer.  He has always written and, to great acclaim: he has received five GRAMMY ® awards and 16 nominations—many for composition and arrangement. Presently in continual demand for symphonic ...

Through the eyes of Milton Glaser 2

Architecture & Design · Visual arts
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If you lived in America in the last half of the 20th Century, you saw the country, in part, through the eyes of illustrator and graphic designer Milton Glaser (1929-2020). So prolific and widespread was his visual sense that, for a while, almost all good design looked like his. He co-founded Push Pin Studios, the ...

Awaiting the return of Amir ElSaffar’s eclectic & enchanting soundstream 2

Music
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Ed. note: This article was commissioned and first published by The Soraya in conjunction with an April 16, 2020 performance, unfortunately cancelled by COVID-19. It is republished on artsmeme with permission. This young jazz-fusion artist, who mixes an Oriental and Western sound, merits your attention. Musical eclecticism is built into the DNA of the 43-year-old ...

Yo-ho-ho-liday recordings 2019!

Music
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Antonio “Tony” Covay, as “Singing Black Santa,” last week outside the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. (Amanda Voisard for The Washington Post) Holiday-themed recordings haven’t made much noise in recording industry cash registers for a long time. Yet Mariah Carey’s 1994 song, “All I Want For Christmas Is You,” is number one on the ...

‘Disappearing guitars’ of Bill Frisell & Julian Lage @ CAP UCLA

Music
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Guitarist Bill Frisell has proven himself as one of the most interesting conceptualizers of the past twenty years or so in jazz. His albums are a continual source of delight and amazement, as he takes his audience down one musical rabbit hole or another. Whether he’s playing his own original scores to Buster Keaton’s silent ...

Music in the key of joy: bossa nova with Sergio Mendes @ CAP UCLA 1

Music
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Sergio Mendes, Bebel Gilberto, Royce Hall Nov 16 In 1966, rock and soul dominated American pop music charts. But there was room for the infectiously swinging “Mas Que Nada”—the first international hit song in Portuguese. If Stan Getz and Joao Gilberto opened the door with “The Girl From Ipanema,” Sergio Mendes put an authentic Brazilian ...

Jazz gladiator Joshua Redman brings it to Royce Hall

Music
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Ever since he came to national attention at the beginning of the 1990s, tenor saxophonist Joshua Redman has defied the narrative of the wunderkind who bears prodigious talent, then declines. He’s taken on ambitious formats, often in the company of seasoned jazz gladiators, and Redman has more than held his mud. In the face of ...

Tango Revolution: Quinteto Astor Piazzolla at The Soraya

Music
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Ed note: This story by Kirk Silsbee was originally written for The Younes & Soraya Nazarian Performing Arts Center and is reprinted on artsmeme with permission. When Astor Piazzolla, Argentina’s paramount composer and bandoneon player, introduced his revolutionary quintet of the 1960s, tango adherents didn’t embrace his innovation. Fistfights, even death threats, were not uncommon. ...