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Music, Sizzle & Fizzle Sizzle and Fizzle: Highs and Lows from the Last Week in S.F. Music

Sizzle and Fizzle: Highs and Lows from the Last Week in S.F. Music

Sizzle Stern Grove announced its 2014 series of free Sunday concerts — and this year's is among the best we can remember. The lovely forest on the city's west side will host Rufus Wainwright, the Zombies, the Funky Meters, Andrew…
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Dining, Distillations Distillations: Improvisations on a Theme at Les Joulins Jazz Bistro

Distillations: Improvisations on a Theme at Les Joulins Jazz Bistro

Les Joulins Jazz Bistro makes a great nightcap: Take a date there after the-thing-you're-ostensibly-doing is over, put a cheap drink in her hand, let her be stunned by the live music, the late-night energy ... it feels like you're having…
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Music, <i>The Great Gatsby</i>'s Soundtrack Doesn't Fit Its Message

The Great Gatsby's Soundtrack Doesn't Fit Its Message

Australian filmmaker Baz Luhrmann's adaptation of F. Scott Fitzergald's The Great Gatsby is surprisingly true to the original text. He is reverent to the plot, lifts dialogue from the book, and honors Fitzgerald's principal literary devices as well: automobiles as…
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Calendar, Night&Day Long Before Aerosmith's "Crazy"

Long Before Aerosmith's "Crazy"

That which we now call a "music video" is more than it seems to be — the idea is immutable, obvious, and at least as old as visual recording devices. "Soundies" are the earliest known incarnation of the short-music-film form:…
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Calendar, Night&Day Bebop Forever

Bebop Forever

How do the words "Ella Fitzgerald singing to Duke Ellington and Benny Goodman, NYC, 1949" strike you? If they send chills to the spine, as they should, "Jazz Giants: The Photography of Herman Leonard" is bound to please you, a…
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Culture, Stage Finishing touches put on Duke Ellington's opera

Finishing touches put on Duke Ellington's opera

Every day, artists get bored, distracted, or die, leaving their work in a state of limbo. The world's desk drawers must sequester untold numbers of semideveloped plays, novels, paintings, and string quartets. Yet for some reason, the idea of the…
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Music, Reviewed Marcus Shelby Jazz Orchestra

Marcus Shelby Jazz Orchestra

Jazz bassist Marcus Shelby is a composer, bandleader, and Bay Area educator. He combines these talents on the magnum opus Harriet Tubman, a two-CD orchestral tribute to the iconic African-American nurse, Civil War spy, and antislavery activist. While such a…
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Calendar, Night&Day

Rainbow Font

Synesthesia involves the blending of the senses, in which shapes have taste, sounds have form, and black letters appear in colors. The curiosity has caused quite a commotion throughout the years, particularly since some people "feel" colors while others see…
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Calendar, Night&Day So Edgy!

So Edgy!

Punk just isn't enough for some people: at the Edgetone New Music Summit, musicians take improvised and experimental music to ear-scarring heights. No instrument is safe, from tubas to electronics of any description, with traditional folkloric instruments coming in for…
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Music, Definition-Defying Display

Definition-Defying Display

Ask the experts — be they documentarian Ken Burns or Wikipedia — "What is jazz?" and you may come away confounded. No one can quite say. Even the word's etymology is fuzzy, pertaining perhaps to "pep," to baseball, or to…
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Music, Paying Homage to a Master

Paying Homage to a Master

Monk is wild. Monk is smart. Offbeat yet sophisticated, Monk is bent-beautiful. Twenty-five years after his death and nearly twice that long since his heyday as the pianist-composer of the bebop and postbop eras, Thelonious Sphere Monk is universally respected…
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Culture, Stagecap

The Life and Times of Malcolm X

Here's a challenging American opera that embodies the mercurial spirit of a challenging American. Life and Times offers a moving depiction of one man's journey from the nihilistic doubt of a hustler to the galvanizing faith of a leader. Composer…
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Music, Bouncer

Beam Me Up, Jugdish

I am the proud owner of a Nichelle Nichols CD (Lt. Uhura from Star Trek). Nichols putting out a record is not that big of a stretch, because before she joined the cast of the '60s TV show she had…
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Calendar, Performance <i>Holiday</i> -- Celebrate

Holiday -- Celebrate

ONGOING 9/15-10/10 Duke Ellington wrote more than 200 songs during his 75 years, but he wrote the score to only three musicals, one of which was Beggar's Holiday. No doubt this ticket was one hot paper stub back in 1946,…
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Music, Reviewed Mekons


One of the aspects distinguishing rock 'n' roll from the pop, country, and jazz of previous generations is that rockers very seldom revisit their back catalogs in a studio context. While iconic figures Johnny Cash, Frank Sinatra, and Duke Ellington…
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Culture, Stage Black and True

Black and True

Like The Fever, a monologue Wallace Shawn first performed, semilegendarily, in his own Manhattan apartment, the AfroSolo Arts Festival started in front of a small circle of friends. Thomas Simpson asked a few actors over to entertain people at his…
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Culture, Stage

Blue Surge

The title may look misspelled to jazz fans old enough to notice -- "Blue Serge" is a Duke Ellington tune about a cheap serge suit -- but Rebecca Gilman intended it that way. Her kitchen-sink drama about a cop in…
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Calendar, Night&Day San Francisco Dreamin'

San Francisco Dreamin'

A good photograph can render words useless, but Mission-based street portraitist Bert Katz argues that language is necessary to tell the whole story. "I'm not satisfied with just a physical representation of an individual," explains Katz during a recent telephone…
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Music, Hear This Hear This

Hear This

In the past decade, violin and accordion have arguably become the subtlest vehicles for creative music innovation. Well aware of the power of this unlikely pair of avant-garde instruments, ubiquitous New York trumpeter Dave Douglas enlisted top downtown practitioners Mark…
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Film, Zoom Lens

Zoom Lens

Science Is FictionThe plangent wah-wah of vintage Duke Ellington accompanies the gyrations of seahorses in the opening images of Jean Painlevé's The Vampire (1945), giving viewers a sense of nature-appreciative well-being in the mold of so many other "real life"…
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