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.


A thoughtful, joyous Kurt Elling Christmas at Segerstrom

Featured · Music
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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

Music
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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 ...

A singer’s love of language: Luciana Souza comes to Royce Hall

Music
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It’s been a recurring pleasure to chart the creative arc of Brazilian singer and songwriter Luciana Souza through her SoCal appearances over the years. We remember Jazz Bakery evenings where she held the room spellbound with a tempered vocal delivery on jazz-rooted arrangements and musical interaction. Souza’s clear soprano uses volume judiciously: she can send ...

Rat Pack-ish: Chris Walden Big Band at The Wallis

Music
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Chris Walden is the most ubiquitous musician you’ve never heard of, but whom you’ve heard everywhere. He’s one of the busiest of the current Hollywood composer-arrangers, and just a sampling of his recent album credits includes Michael Bublé, Jessie J., Michael Bolton, and Celine Dion. His film and TV writing is voluminous (your kids hear ...

Vijay Iyer/Teju Cole ‘Blind Spot’ syncopates jazz, photography, text

Language & ideas · Music
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The intriguing image above represents the visual component for “Blind Spot,” a much-anticipated live performance soon presented by CAP UCLA at The Theatre at Ace Hotel. The collaborative effort showcases two artists at the top of their respective fields: jazz pianist/composer Vijay Iyer  and writer/photographer Teju Cole. A familiar face on the covers of Downbeat ...

Doors history: Jim Morrison’s boorish, then better, behavior (part 3)

Music
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ed. note: Harvey Kubernik’s book, The Doors: Summer’s Gone (Otherworld Cottage Industries, 2018) includes the following chapter by arts·meme contributor Kirk Silsbee. Serialized on arts·meme in three parts. Enjoy! London transplant Sally Stevens had never heard of The Lizard King when she took a waitress job at Thee Experience that summer. She had come to ...

Doors history: ice cream dreams at Thee Experience (part 2)

Music
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ed. note: part 2 (of 3) author kirk silsbee’s coverage of the scene at thee experience the short lived sunset strip psychedelia club. part 1 here. One of the people who visited the kitchen at Thee Experience was Owsley Stanley. The little man who dosed the whole West Coast with purple LSD traveled with the ...

Doors history: Thee Experience where Jim Morrison hung out (part 1)

Music
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ed. note: Harvey Kubernik’s book, The Doors: Summer’s Gone (Otherworld Cottage Industries, 2018) includes the following chapter by arts·meme contributor Kirk Silsbee. Serialized on arts·meme in three sections. Enjoy! After the Doors had tasted success, Hollywood was Jim Morrison’s playground. The Whisky a Go Go in West Hollywood, which launched the band, showcased all the ...

Isabel Emrich’s refracting beauty, in solo show 1

Visual arts
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Gallery openings can be uncomfortable affairs, with too many bodies jammed into small, unventilated spaces. Painter Isabel Emrich’s “Progressions” opening last weekend at Skidmore Contemporary Art at Bergamot Station was no exception, but the work itself provided a visual oasis from the oppressive heat and humidity. It’s her second one-woman show at Skidmore — always ...

The look of jazz: Warhol-designed album covers

Architecture & Design · Music · Visual arts
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Before he became the king of pop art, Pittsburgh native Andy Warhol moved to New York to make it. Warhol wanted to be part of the elite strata inhabited by Gore Vidal, Truman Capote, Tennessee Williams and other sanctioned artists. He didn’t have what it took to be admitted to those circles but he did ...