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by PopMatters Staff

26 May 2009

Balkan composer and musician Goran Bregović has two new North American releases, Alkohol (19 May) and Welcome to Bregovic: The Best of Goran Bregović (9 June). Here are two recent live performances to whet your appetite. June tour dates are posted below.

TOUR SCHEDULE
06/11/2009, Thu: Brooklyn, NY Celebrate Brooklyn!
06/12/2009, Fri: Toronto, ON Luminato, Toronto’s Festival of Arts & Creativity
06/13/2009, Sat: Toronto, ON Luminato, Toronto’s Festival of Arts & Creativity
06/14/2009, Sun: Chicago, IL Ravinia Festival
06/15/2009, Mon: Cleveland, OH Cleveland Museum of Art
06/17/2009, Wed: Austin, TX Bass Concert Hall
06/19/2009, Fri: Los Angeles, CA Royce Hall
06/20/2009, Sat: Los Angeles, CA Royce Hall
06/21/2009, Sun: San Francisco, CA Nob Hill Masonic Auditorium
06/23/2009, Tue: Seattle, WA Moore Theater

by PopMatters Staff

26 May 2009

The National played a new song from their upcoming album on Canada’s Q TV.

by PopMatters Staff

26 May 2009

1. The latest book or movie that made you cry?
Tuesdays With Morrie.  It’s a great story about finding yourself and what really matters in life.

2. The fictional character most like you?
Don’t really know any fictional characters, or at least followed any. So I don’t really know what each one does or stands for.  Never really got into any animated shows or cartoons.

3. The greatest album, ever?
Donny Hathaway’s i>These Song For You Live!’. Stevie Wonders’ Signed, Sealed and Delivered and Marvin Gayes’ I Want You album are tied for a close second place!

by Bill Gibron

26 May 2009

James Cameron swears it was an original idea. Harlan Ellison begged to differ, and was awarded a screen credit (and one assumes, some cash) for challenging said statement. It turned Arnold Schwarzenegger into a superstar and reset the tone for actions movies for decades to come. Yet few who saw the original Terminator thought it would be a sleeper hit. Cameron, working with a tiny budget and a mostly no-name cast, had to be overly inventive in his story of a killer from the future chasing down the mother of the man who would lead the human resistance against the machines in a future war fraught with death and destruction. The results hit audiences desperate for something both intelligent and energetic. The sequel was even more satisfying, utilizing amazing special effects that, once again, rewrote the sci-fi filmmaking rule book.

But then time passed, and studio suits grew antsy for more fanboy cash. They cooked up a warmed over version of the second film, hired a then flagging Ah-nold to return to his signature role, and went all girlie on the potential murder machine. Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines had its moments, but with its shockingly similarly storyline (a 20-something John Connor is chased by an advanced cyborg, only to be protected by another Schwarzenegger-bot) and downbeat ending, everyone could see the corner the series was staring into. Now, with the less than successful returns for the fourth installment, it seems like nothing can successfully bring the Terminator back to Cameron era, excellence.

by Thomas Hauner

26 May 2009

Ahmad Jamal presented a tight, affable early set at the Blue Note, playing through a repertoire spanning both genres and decades. After sitting down to the piano and launching into “Wild is the Wind / Sing”—from 2008’s impressive It’s Magic—Jamal quickly stood back up and, going from stage right to left, introduced his supporting cast: Percussionist Manolo Badrena, drummer Jake Johnson, and his trusty bassist James Cammack. He then impishly added, “…and me!” As if there was any doubt.

As a stalwart bop pianist in earlier times Jamal’s playing flaunted timing and urbane impulse, all without resorting to innocuousness. His rhythm always attacked and then defused in interesting ways. Thus his work with Badrena has been a welcome marriage, blending dynamic rhythms and feel with eclectic textures. A new composition, “Love Is Lost”, showcased some of Badrena’s bells and “It’s Magic”, a slow ballad, was made even more tender with gingerly conga flourishes.

Cammack also showed-off his tenure with Jamal, effortlessly playing with and under Jamal’s strong lines. A new tune, “Flight to Russia”, was grounded by a swinging bass line that carried the piece. At another point Cammack played a brilliant solo of modulating octaves, all while fighting over a waiter’s steak order in the background.

Jamal was still, however, very much the focus of the set. Vocally, he would chide his aging hands when they failed him during a virtuosic run or compliment Cammack or Badrena after invigorating turn-arounds. It gave the intimate club an even more intimate feel, like we were picking his brain in real-time. Musically, Jamal was engaging as ever. Though he sometimes stumbled on his most difficult passages, his classics, like “Poinciana”, were ethereal in their resolving harmonies and syncopated cadences.


Closing with “Baalbeck”—written after a 2004 performance in the town of the same name in Lebanon—proved a disappointing choice. Its militant, and prominent, snare-drum rhythm smothered Jamal’s playing suffocating the piece. It was simply unrepresentative of the night’s warm performance as a whole.

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