Author

David Hadju

Bob Dylan's big break

It happened, positively, on fourth street. a celebrated stretch of Greenwich Village bohemia provisionally occupied by several generations of freethinkers and subversives, Fourth Street was taken over by the folkies at the dawn of the 1960s. Countless young men and women, drawn to homemade native music as an alternative to the period’s insipid pop, came crooning and strumming acoustic guitars, scuffling with an equality of anonymity befitting the scene’s Marxist bent — until a 20-year-old who called himself Bob Dylan played Fourth Street on Sept. 26, 1961.

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Legacy: Lon Chaney, Jr.

It’s good to see bad acting get its due. Jim Carrey is asked what other performer makes him laugh, and he says William Shatner. The all-but-official poster boy of the Ham Council, Shatner has indeed come to represent delicious thespian excess to a whole generation of show-business cynics like Carrey, who revel in overwrought vulgarity as evidence of the old values of seriousness and industry gone wildly wrong.

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There’s a certain subspecies of gear-head attracted to a particular subgenre of jazz. The guys absorbed in the show-off mechanics of computers (the most memory, the highest speed) often drool equally over the show-off mechanics of contemporary electric jazz (the newest synth, the fastest guitar solo). They love gearhead artists like Herbie Hancock, and they’ll like Living Jazz, which was coproduced by the pianist’s company. Though slick and expensive looking, it’s glibly superficial — and as formless and sloppy as a fusion jam.

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George Burns and Gracie Allen

George Burns and Gracie Allen

It’s not only Mad About You. Every relationship comedy on TV these days seems to take the war between the sexes awfully literally. Let’s just call the whole genre Mad at You. The couples are so relentlessly, narcissistically combative. They’re arch and cranky, which, I think, sounds like a vaudeville team. That is to say, they’re not Burns and Allen, who, of course, were a vaudeville team and who, equally significant as a point of comparison, were clearly mad about each other.

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Setting a ''New Standard''

Like game cards for some Hipster Edition of Mad Libs, the song lists on jazz CDs recombine the same tunes album after album, artist after artist. ”Body and Soul,” ”I Can’t Get Started,” ”Don’t Get Around Much Anymore” — the jazz repertoire can seem as narrow and frozen in time as the canon of symphonies in classical music. And Herbie Hancock is pretty tired of it.

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Like a welcome letter from a sweet cousin, this conversational piano session by Barbara Carroll, one of jazz’s dearest storytellers, spins familiar musical tales with tender wisdom. Everything I Love is combo jazz (featuring guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli and trumpeter Randy Sandke on tunes from Charlie Parker to Stephen Sondheim) that brings about a melancholy smile.

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Fred Hersch plays his jazz music for today

To the uninitiated, Fred Hersch might seem like a hack. How else could this jazz composer-pianist appear on six CDs out this spring-including The Fred Hersch Trio Plays, the follow-up to the group’s Grammy-nominated ‘93 debut (Dancing in the Dark), and Last Night When We Were Young, the Hersch- produced all-star jazz release to benefit AIDS? The reason is, unfortunately, bittersweet.

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Here’s a lesson in the inverted physics of jazz, courtesy of the ever-enlightening Marsalises: Whistle Stop is a big collaboration by dad Ellis (piano) and sons Branford (sax), Jason (drums), and Delfeayo (producer). But it’s a well-conceived, focused, and entirely enjoyable tribute to New Orleans. House is a pet project by Wynton, a suite about faith. And despite its individualistic intentions, it’s overlong, amorphous, and ultimately unmemorable. Whistle Stop: A

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Here’s a lesson in the inverted physics of jazz, courtesy of the ever-enlightening Marsalises: Whistle Stop is a big collaboration by dad Ellis (piano) and sons Branford (sax), Jason (drums), and Delfeayo (producer). But it’s a well-conceived, focused, and entirely enjoyable tribute to New Orleans. In This House, on This Morning is a pet project by Wynton, a suite about faith. And despite its individualistic intentions, it’s overlong, amorphous, and ultimately unmemorable. In This House, on This Morning: C+

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