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

Music
by 
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
by 
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
by 
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
by 
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
by 
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
by 
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
by 
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
by 
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

Music
by 
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
by 
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 ...