Music

Thelonious Monk: Monk in Tokyo

Joel Hanson
Thelonious Monk

Monk in Tokyo

Label: Legacy
US Release Date: 2001-02-13
Amazon
iTunes

After signing his first major label contract with Columbia in 1962, Monk's ominous, periodically dissonant piano stylings were reaching a wider audience -- culminating with a Time magazine cover story in February 1964 -- and their popularity in Japan is evident due to the enthusiastic applause from the audience during the opening bars of "Straight, No Chaser", "Bemsha Swing", and "Blue Monk". Throughout the 81-minute, two-CD performance, the Monk Quartet swings between such standards as "Just a Gigolo" and Tommy Dorsey's "I'm Getting Sentimental Over You" to more introspective, less popular constructions from Monk's slightly off-kilter psyche.

However, for those listeners thirsty for innovation, who celebrate artists interested in pushing the sonic envelope, Monk's compositions are the true delights of the Sankei Hall performance on 21 May 1963. On standout tracks "Pannonica", "Jackie-ing" and "Epistrophy", the rhythmic fulcrum of drummer Frankie Dunlop and bassist Butch Warren creates an appropriate launching pad that allows the conversations between Monk's piano and the gritty phrasings of tenor saxophonist Charlie Rouse to soar into the unexplored tonal ether. And, thanks in part to the mastering wizardry of Mark Wilder of Sony Music Studios, these songs are every bit as fresh and invigorating as the night of their Tokyo performance almost 38 years ago.

To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.


Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09
Amazon

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

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TV

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

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The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

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9

Here comes another Kompakt Pop Ambient collection to make life just a little more bearable.

Another (extremely rough) year has come and gone, which means that the German electronic music label Kompakt gets to roll out their annual Total and Pop Ambient compilations for us all.

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8

Winner of the 2017 Ameripolitan Music Award for Best Rockabilly Female stakes her claim with her band on accomplished new set.

Lara Hope & The Ark-Tones

Love You To Life

Label: Self-released
Release Date: 2017-08-11
Amazon
iTunes

Lara Hope and her band of roots rockin' country and rockabilly rabble rousers in the Ark-Tones have been the not so best kept secret of the Hudson Valley, New York music scene for awhile now.

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