“‘Lubitsch and Hitchcock, each with the stamp of a great personality on his work, are names not half as familiar to the American public,’ Vogue said of Sturges when Hail the Conquering Hero, his final hit, was released. Then the bottom fell out of his career, and after 1949 he never again worked in Hollywood. For years the movies that had made his reputation–crazy comedies with wild plots involving political graft, imprisonment on a chain gang, one-night-stand pregnancies, and false war heroics–were neglected, and even after home video gave them a second life, his reputation failed to return to its early heights…”
Archives for December 3, 2009
A tip of the hat to my friend Luciana Souza, whose latest CD, Tide, has been nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best Jazz Vocal Album category. Ditto to Dan Morgenstern, whose notes for Mosaic’s The Complete Louis Armstrong Decca Sessions (1935-1946) were nominated in the Best Album Notes category.
I also commend to your attention two other CDs previously praised in this space that received nominations:
• Quartet Live, by Gary Burton, Pat Metheny, Steve Swallow, and Antonio Sanchez, nominated in the Best Jazz Instrumental Album category.
• Intimate Letters, the Emerson String Quartet’s recording of Janacek’s two string quartets, nominated in the Best Chamber Music Performance category.
For friends with empty stockings who already have a copy of Pops, these albums are all eminently giftworthy.
Here’s my list of recommended Broadway, off-Broadway, and out-of-town shows, updated weekly. In all cases, I gave these shows favorable reviews (if sometimes qualifiedly so) in The Wall Street Journal when they opened. For more information, click on the title.
Warning: Broadway shows marked with an asterisk were sold out, or nearly so, last week.
• Alfred Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps (comedy, G, suitable for bright children, closes Jan. 10, reviewed here)
• Fela! * (musical, PG-13, adult subject matter, reviewed here)
• Finian’s Rainbow (musical, G, suitable for children, dramatically inert but musically sumptuous, reviewed here)
• God of Carnage (serious comedy, PG-13, adult subject matter, closes Jan. 3, reviewed here)
• South Pacific (musical, G/PG-13, some sexual content, brilliantly staged but unsuitable for viewers acutely allergic to preachiness, reviewed here)
• Superior Donuts (dark comedy, PG-13, violence, closes Jan. 3, reviewed here)
• Avenue Q (musical, R, adult subject matter and one show-stopping scene of puppet-on-puppet sex, reviewed here)
• The Fantasticks (musical, G, suitable for children capable of enjoying a love story, reviewed here)
• The Orphans’ Home Cycle, Part 1 (drama, G/PG-13, too complicated for children, will be performed in rotating repertory with second and third parts of cycle starting on Dec. 3 and Jan. 7 respectively, closes Mar. 27, reviewed here)
• Our Town (drama, G, suitable for mature children, reviewed here)
• The Understudy (farce, PG-13, extended through Jan. 17, reviewed here)
I’ll be speaking about Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong tonight at the Boston Athenaeum, but if you haven’t already bought your ticket, stay home. My talk is completely sold out.
In lieu of seeing me in person tonight, here are some alternatives:
• To read the prologue to Pops, go here.
• To download a podcast of my appearance on NPR’s Talk of the Nation or listen to the segment in streaming audio, go here.
• To download a podcast of my appearance on WCPN’s Jazz Tracks or listen to the segment in streaming audio, go here.
• To read Time Out New York‘s four-star review of Pops, go here.
• To read what I wrote about Pops for Power Line, go here.
• To read the third installment of Marc Myers’ five-part interview with me, go here.
To celebrate the publication this week of Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong, I’ll be posting Armstrong videos every day.
In today’s video, a scene from High Society, Bing Crosby, Armstrong, and the All Stars perform Cole Porter’s “Now You Has Jazz”:
“The people expect all that from me–coming out all chesty, making faces. That’s me and I don’t want to be nobody else. They know I’m there in the cause of happiness.”
Louis Armstrong (quoted in Terry Teachout, Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong)