Making a Better Times

My most recent Nation column is about the New York Times Public Editor and it's called "Margaret Sullivan Made 'The New York Times' Better--and We All Benefited." You can find it here.

Miles/Coltrane preview
Megan Hilty at the Café Carlyle:

Just a quick heads-up on an event this weekend that I couldn't be more excited about: a four day celebration of at Jazz at Lincoln Center of Miles Davis and John Coltrane, involving dozens of musicians on all three of its stages.

The biggest draw will undoubtedly be the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis playing a program they are calling "Miles Davis: The Sorcerer at 90" in Rose Theater. Per usual, they will feature new arrangements of classics from Birth of the Cool to Miles In the Sky. Given the evening's title, I think we can expect more than a smattering of late (Warner Brothers) Miles, which I've recently been listening to a great deal and find a lot to like (surprising myself, actually).

Also a big deal, in the gorgeous Appel Room will be Joe Lovano joined by Ravi Coltrane, Brian Blade, Reggie Workman, Geri Allen, Tom Harrell and Steve Kuhn playing what they are calling "The Spiritual Side of Coltrane." OK, so "Naima" and then some. When the Orchestra played "A Love Supreme" (together with "My Favorite Things") last year, the combination of familiarity and originality made it a perfectly satisfying combination of challenge and warmth. It will be a similar challenge to Lovano, especially since those "spiritual" Coltrane performances can go off into outer space (which is why they often end up in Dead and Allman Brothers jams.) The fact that you can actually see the sky behind the band in this great room is a bonus, albeit not a necessary one.

Finally, at Dizzy's they are presenting trumpeter Keyon Harrold whom Wynton apparently calls "the future of the trumpet" playing "Iconic Miles Davis," and the young sax man, Patrick Bartley, doing "The Timeless John Coltrane." Check out for tickets, times, dates and whatever.

It's also time again for me to crow about Megan Hilty. Fresh off her insanely funny role in "Noises Off," also reviewed here, and for which she just got nominated for a TONY, she's back at the Cafe Carlyle with a show that is part "Smash"-ok enough already with Smash, though I guess it's what the tourists want--and a terrific tribute to Rosemary Clooney. With her Marilyn Monroe looks (and not because of "Smash") and her Streisandeque delivery, Hilty is really nothing like Ms. Clooney, who was quieter and more subtle. But Hilty has a terrific voice that can fill almost any more--and can easily dominate the intimate confines of the Carlyle--and she makes Clooney's material her own, while at the same time paying intelligent and respectful tribute. Her patter is more than a bit "Please Like Me" sappy, especially when she is mooning over her husband, Brian Gallagher, the guitarist in her band. But it is a great band, led by musical director, Matt Cusson and they make the subtle parts come alive in between Megan's grand voice. She did nice things with "Tenderly," "Come Rain or Come Shine" and a surprisingly moving "I'm Putting All My Eggs in One Basket." Also quite powerful was "When October Goes," written by Johnny Mercer with Barry Manilow, albeit after Mercer's death and hence without his knowledge. Perhaps you need to be old to like that song--or to admit to admiring Barry M. I was among the youngest people in the room the night I saw her, save for Hilty and her band. I won't say she made me feel young, but the timeless music and warm, often powerful, sometimes beautiful presentation made getting old enough to appreciate such things unashamedly as if brand new, and many were just that.

Lena Hall is coming back in June so that ought to bring out the younger, rich folk. Schedule here.

I am also listening to:
Sonny Rollins, "Holding the Stage" (Road Shows, Volume 4)
The Grateful Dead, "Red Rocks, 7//78"
Paul Simon, "Stranger to Stranger"
Teddy Thompson and Kelly Jones, "Little Windows"
Margo Price, "Midwest Farmer's Daughter"
William Bell, "This is Where I Live"
Bad Company, "Live, 1977 and 1979" (well, some of it)

What I am trying to listen to but the download won't cooperate:
Radiohead, "A Moon Shaped Pool"