“Why are music competitions so bad at singling out potentially major artists? Because the winners are chosen by juries. A jury is at bottom a committee–and a committee, as John le Carré famously said in ‘Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy,’ is ‘an animal with four back legs.’ They exist to generate and perpetuate consensus views. They can’t make great art, and it’s all but impossible for them to agree on great artists…”
Archives for July 7, 2013
Karen Wilkin, Hans Hofmann: A Retrospective. The extraordinarily fine catalogue of a Wilkin-curated 2003 show at Florida’s Naples Museum of Art, this is a near-ideal introduction to the work of a abstract-expressionist master who was also an immensely accomplished and significant art teacher. Wilkin really ought to give us a full-length Hofmann biography, but until then, this volume will do quite nicely (TT).
Brian Priestley, Chasin’ the Bird: The Life and Legacy of Charlie Parker. By far the best single volume published to date about the life and work of the second most influential jazz musician of the twentieth century. Priestley succeeds in separating fact from gossip, simultaneously shedding much light on Parker’s formidable artistic achievement. Concise, intelligent, and accessible to non-musicians (TT).
Giant (Ghostlight, two CDs). The original-cast album of the Public Theater’s 2012 production of the Michael John LaChiusa-Sybille Pearson stage version of Edna Ferber’s novel. I praised it in The Wall Street Journal as “the most important new musical to come along since The Light in the Piazza….Giant tells an all-American tale in a way that is well suited to the present moment. It’s a myth, but an honest one, enacted with high seriousness and great beauty” (TT).
Jim Hall Live! Vol. 2-4 (ArtistShare, three CDs). Previously unreleased recordings made in 1975 by Jim Hall, Don Thompson, and Terry Clarke at the same Toronto gig that produced Jim Hall Live! The latter is by common consent Hall’s best album–a judgment in which I concur–and this set is of identical quality, a priceless cache of wholly involving performances by the greatest living jazz guitarist (TT).
A Picture of Autumn (Mint Theater, 311 W. 43, closes July 27). An ultra-rare American production of N.C. Hunter’s poignant 1951 play about a cash-strapped aristocratic family saddled with an unaffordable country house, beautifully staged by Gus Kaikkonen and acted by a letter-perfect cast. No, you’ve never heard of Hunter, but trust me on this one–he’s in urgent need of revival and revaluation (TT).
Philip Lambert, Alec Wilder (University of Illinois Press, $29.95). An important, impressively readable new monograph about a composer-songwriter who straddled the worlds of popular and classical music with unprecedented aplomb. The emphasis is on the music, but proper attention is paid to Wilder’s life as well (TT).
Wolf Kahn (Ameringer McEnery Yohe, 525 W. 22, up through July 26). New paintings by a criminally underappreciated, philosophically minded modern master, a Hans Hofmann pupil who passes his memories of the visible world through the transforming prism of abstraction (TT).