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Jazz Plus: New blues releases spotlight veterans, reissues

Lurrie Bell: “Blues In My Soul” (Delmark) Guitarist/bandleader Lurrie Bell was touted very early in his career as a leader among the next generation of Chicago blues greats. Now he’s an established star, and his newest release celebrates the idiom’s cornerstone styles without being restricted by them. Bell’s rich, rousing voice is appropriately somber on “24 […]

Easy Rawlins returns in latest Walter Mosley novel

Award-winning mystery/crime novelist and essayist Walter Mosley made millions of fans sad over six years ago when it seemed he had killed his greatest creation, LA private eye Ezekiel “Easy” Rawlins. Mosley seemed disenchanted at the time with Rawlins, even saying in interviews he didn’t think he had any more stories for the character. He even […]

Blair Big Band swings into spring

The Blair Big Band gave a cohesive, sparkling performance Friday night with their “Swing into Spring” concert. The event not only featured the strong student ensemble, but outstanding guest performances from top area players. Under Billy Adair’s leadership, the Blair Big Band adheres to the genre’s virtues of precision and discipline as it spotlights an array of talented young musicians whose styles and […]

Wayne Shorter rules the stage in Nashville

Wayne Shorter may be approaching 80, but he’s still looking ahead as a composer, bandleader and instrumentalist. The quartet he’s led since 2002 is a formidable one, and their Friday night concert at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center was an intriguing mix of improvisational works and collective excellence. The opening 50-minute set featured the Shorter ensemble, […]

Fleck/Corea summit embodies true musical interaction

Banjo ace Béla Fleck has idolized the pianist, composer and bandleader Chick Corea since he was a teenager. But it wasn’t until 2008, when the Flecktones were the opening act on several Return to Forever reunion dates, that they began developing a professional relationship which now ranks alongside the lengthy one Corea’s enjoyed with vibist Gary Burton. Last […]

Jazz review: Pianist Bruce Dudley and Nashville Jazz Workshop pay homage to Dave Brubeck

Pianist/composer/arranger Bruce Dudley has previously demonstrated his thorough knowledge of one jazz legend’s catalog (Thelonious Monk). On Sunday, he saluted another, paying homage to the accomplishments and career of Dave Brubeck, the great jazz pianist who died last Dec. 5, just one day short of his 92nd birthday. Dudley led a fine group before a capacity crowd at the […]

Video Files: ‘The Master’ reaffirms Phoenix’s brilliance

Whatever else one might think about Joaquin Phoenix and his penchant for odd (to put it mildly) behavior, his acting talent should not be questioned. Having missed its theatrical run, the DVD of Paul Thomas Anderson’s “The Master” was definitely on my list. It will be available Tuesday (Starz/Anchor Bay, both Blu-ray and standard definition), […]

Jazz review: Roland Barber brings New Orleans spirit to Jazz Cave

The Barber brothers have long been Nashville’s twin jazz aces, two superb soloists with a thorough knowledge of the idiom’s multiple influences, histories and directions. While Rahsaan has lately busied himself doing everything from running a label and producing sessions to heading various bands, Friday night Roland unveiled the latest thing in his arsenal. He stepped out as the […]

Back Pages: New book dissects Scientology

Readers should try hard not to approach Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Lawrence Wright’s comprehensive new volume “Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood and the Prison of Belief” (Knopf) expecting either a hatchet job or celebrity expose. Some of its detractors, particularly those in the Church, have already labeled it both of those things in a dismissive manner, trying […]

Video Files: With ‘Argo’ and ‘Skyfall,’ it’s action time on disc

Seldom has there been as much controversy regarding director’s snubs as this year’s Oscar nominations have generated. Despite the fact that Zero Dark Thirty’s Kathyrn Bigelow already made history by being the first female to earn a Best Director award for The Hurt Locker, her absence from this year’s list spawned a host of columns and commentaries […]

Jazz review: Drumer Marcus Finnie launches latest Contemporary series

“Contemporary” when used as an idiomatic reference is frequently derided by people who consider themselves true music fans. They view it as an overly inclusive term that devalues authenticity and celebrates trendiness and imitation. But drummer Marcus Finnie and his band showed Saturday night as they launched the 2013 edition of the Nashville Jazz Workshop’s Contemporary Jazz series […]

Pop review: Smokey Robinson, warming hearts on Valentine’s Day

He’s unquestionably a legend, but the seemingly ageless Smokey Robinson spent as much of his time Thursday night dispelling any notions he’s slowing down as he did showcasing various aspects of an amazing career that dates back to the late ’50s. It was the opening night of a two-concert residency with the Nashville Symphony Orchestra at the […]

Jazz review: Charles “Wigg” Walker does that soul stirring thing at the Jazz Cave

The Nashville Jazz Workshop’s Jazz Cave often resembled an old-school R&B honky-tonk club on Friday night as Charles “Wigg” Walker showed a packed house the meaning of soul in both classic and contemporary senses. Over two 60-plus minute sets, Walker shouted, moaned, wailed and constantly took the crowd on the search for secular salvation that permeates and […]

Jazz Plus/Worldbeat Edition: Fela Kuti, unrelentingly musical

With the possible exception of Bob Marley, no international musician rivals the global impact of the late Fela Anikulapo Kuti, bandleader, activist and principal figure in the emergence and evolution of the majestic music known as Afrobeat. Kuti’s powerful work merged African rhythms with funk and soul influences, while his fiery lyrics constantly attacked the […]

Video Files: Denzel Washington soars in ‘Flight’

After hearing about Denzel Washington’s latest film Flight, my initial thought was, “wow, another transportation movie.” With such remakes as Taking of Pelham 123 and Unstoppable, it seemed he was stuck in a rut. But those were my impressions before seeing Flight. Watching it was the equivalent of seeing a championship fighter whose skills seemed […]

Jazz review: Jim Ferguson excels on jazz’s other side

Many fans see jazz mainly as forceful, experimental or edgy music, with performers obsessed with being on the cutting edge and looking more to the future than the past or present. While some of that is undeniably true, there’s a less familiar and publicized side that great musicians often display. Saturday night at the Nashville […]

Jazz review: Jazz greats bring Monterey to Nashville

Since its inception in 1958, the Monterey Jazz Festival has been known for presenting the cream of world class talent. Friday night at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center, a specially assembled All-Star band gave the capacity crowd a taste of what’s made the Monterey Festival so beloved, with a powerhouse show that featured two sets of consistently excellent music that extended nearly two […]

Jazz Plus: The golden age of the soundtrack returns

The soundtrack was once as treasured a part of the cinematic experience as the film itself. When such masters as Ennio Morricone, Elmer Bernstein or John Williams devised a musical framework, it enhanced, often elevated the action taking place on the screen. Curtis Mayfield and Isaac Hayes showed contemporary R&B and funk could be weaved […]

Classical review: NSO pays tribute to Martin Luther King

Just by being what it is, any Martin Luther King Day event has an inspirational quality. But Sunday night’s 20th annual Nashville Symphony Orchestra “Let Freedom Sing” celebration at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center’s Laura Turner Hall was far more than a poignant gathering and feel-good event. It also offered powerful testimonies and compelling stories from those […]

Back Pages: Author provides a new perspective on Vietnam

Social media provides its users with experiences of all kinds, positive and negative. Meeting journalist and author Eric Schafer, a prolific writer who has lived in Viet Nam for years (he spells it this way predominantly), resulted from our first becoming friends on Facebook, then later discovering we shared such multiple interests as writing, film, […]