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.


Tango Revolution: Quinteto Astor Piazzolla at The Soraya

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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. ...

Diva in concert: Darlene Love at Pepperdine

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A recent hot theater ticket in San Diego was the trial run of the historic rock musical, “House of Dreams,” that told the story of Hollywood’s fabled Gold Star Studio. Over a hundred hit songs were recorded there in the 1960s — from “Rockin’ Robin” to “Good Vibrations” to “Cherry Bomb.” Owner/engineer and sound innovator ...

Review: a Bowl-ful of Playboy jazz

Music · Reviews
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angelique kidjo, photo credit: matthew imaging 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 ...

Alan Broadbent: fire in the residency

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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 ...

Jazz review: Chilly night at the Ford warmed by ‘Spring Quartet’

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Spring Quartet: DeJohnette, Lovano, Spalding, Genovese For a jazz super group, the Spring Quartet is something of a phantom. Most Angeleno jazz fans had never heard of the quartet, but they all know the names of saxophonist Joe Lovano, drummer Jack DeJohnette, bassist Esperanza Spalding and pianist Leo Genovese. When the group performed at the ...

Stylin’ songs straight-ahead: Catherine Russell @ Segerstrom 2

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Songstress Catherine Russell It’s very common for today’s young jazz singers to want to sound like instruments, instrumentalists, and/or innovative vocalists. There are legions of developing singers who worship at the altars of Betty Carter, Sheila Jordan and Mark Murphy. But each of those trend-setters evolved into very personal stylists only after years of trial-and-error. ...

Charles White, at our city’s artistic center LACMA

Reviews · Visual arts
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Charles White in his Los Angeles studio, 1970 photo: Robert A. Nakamura The Pacific Standard Time art extravaganza that blanketed Southern California in 2011 brought much-needed, new focus to the art currents that circulated in post-World War II Los Angeles. Those surveys, as fine as they were (there were some glorious shows), implored further explorations. ...

John Sebastian’s Greenwich Village memories to Malibu 4

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John Sebastian’s songs for the Lovin’ Spoonful placed him firmly in the elite 1960s songwriting fraternity that helped turn rock from entertainment to an art form. Like Paul Simon, John Phillips of the Mamas and Papas and Roger McGuinn of the Byrds, Sebastian was one of the prime architects of folk-rock. That crop of folk ...

A thoughtful, joyous Kurt Elling Christmas at Segerstrom

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Two years ago, jazz singer Kurt Elling released The Beautiful Day: Kurt Elling Sings Christmas. As he’s a vocalist who likes to have his way with a song to the point of redesigning it, that CD was a bit of a surprise. But for anyone familiar with Elling’s background, it made perfect sense. The son ...

A cantor’s son travels over the rainbow … Harold Arlen

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ed. note: arts·meme reprints with permission Kirk Silsbee’s profile of Harold Arlen originally published by the Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for the Arts. ♠           ♠           ♠           ♠ Search any photographic archive for images of composer Harold Arlen (1905-1986), and it’s the rare picture that he’s not seen in a jacket and tie, his pocket filled with a ...