Showing posts from March, 2020

The voice of GPS: If only we could humanize it more (An Automotive/Theatrical Fantasy)

Adam Crowe and Lauren Briggeman I don't know how many of you have had trouble with the GPS voice, but I have, and it's become a cryptic companion whose word is mum. I feel dependent on it when I'm going to a new place and need navigational help. If I'm traveling alone, it's an especially essential tool. But I have to hear it. In my new car, I can only get it to work on the first step of the directions I've entered. Then it clams up, and I must steal glimpses  of the screen to see where I am. Fortunately, we took Susan's car on a trip to Dallas to see our son Theodore about a month ago, in what now seems like another world. Her vehicle has a larger, mounted screen on the dash and presumably reliable voice support. But in leaving the city from our hosts' home, we got turn-by-turn vocal directions that took us through urban-sprawl hell. We must have entered an instruction to avoid highways. We faced the prospect of driving a thousand miles back to

If the relaxation of COVID-19 guidelines gets real specific, freedom may promote love on the street where you live

Don't Get Around Much Anymore (A Personal COVID-19 Update)

Dayna Stephens, a saxophonist with a personalized advance on mainstream

The Dayna Stephens Trio gives itself inviting room to live up to the title of its new CD. A cherished American word is summed up by that Lady in the Harbor. Her face and headgear are gently mocked in the cover art of "Liberty" ( Contagious Music ). With astute colleagues Ben Street, bass, and Eric Harland, drums, the saxophonist ranges over a stimulating set of original compositions, each of them showing how expansive three musicians without the bedrock of a harmony instrument can be. Dayna Stephens: Exploring wry eddies off the mainstream The leader sometimes sounds like a man seeking direction but determined to find his own path. This is all to the good, because the quest turns out to be  well-founded. "Lost and Found" is a track that obviously sums up the journey, with the leader setting aside his usual tenor to take up the baritone. Stephens' sure-footed phrasing, sometimes surprising in its odd balances, inevitably makes sense once the listener g

For All He Knows, we are forced to conclude that POTUS dooms us to ignorance and shell games about COVID

"Two Cigarettes in the Dark" glows in the tenor partnership of Keith Oxman and Houston Person

A shrewd one-tenor, two-tenor dynamic gets handsome display in a new Keith Oxman CD featuring veteran Houston Person . And there's the added variety of two juicy guest appearances by vocalist Annette Murrell. Annette Murrell sings two songs on Keith Oxman CD. "Two Cigarettes in the Dark" ( Capri Records Ltd. ) starts off by showcasing the saxophone dialogue with the evergreen Frank Loesser song "I've Never Been in Love Before."  At 84 when this recording was made in late 2018, Person contributes the wisdom of the ages, balancing Oxman's buttersmooth phrasing with a more pungent sound. The partnership always sounds natural: The tenormen share space compatibly, and the way Person sets the tone for Murrell's sojourn through "Everything Happens to Me" speaks to his fruitful experience over many years with singer Etta Jones . Murrell spreads her wings in "Crazy He Calls Me" as well. Houston Person feeds wisdom of the ages i

Come rain or come shine, we must all stay true to our loved ones as we constantly complain of COVID


Everything Happens to Me, we all are inclined to think nowadays, as the global health crisis blends with our private woes

APA presents Alessio Bax: 'Italian Inspirations' from a pre-COVID-19 peninsula

Alessio Bax conveyed "Italian Inspirations" Substituting for the previously announced recitalist, Alessio Bax quickly whisked away any shadow of replacement status in a brilliant piano recital Sunday afternoon at Indiana Landmarks Center. The third program in American Pianists Association 's "Grand Encounters" series this season adhered to the theme "Italian Inspirations."  The recital was rooted in Italian musical sources or generated from the the legacy of two notable Italians, St. Francis and Dante. A theme made famous by Arcangelo Corelli but not originating with him has nearly pan-European provenance. "La Folia," as applied after the model of the Italian baroque composer's violin piece of that title, was worked into a masterpiece for solo piano by Sergei Rachmaninoff. The result, Variations on a Theme of Corelli, brought Bax's recital up to intermission. It was characteristic of Bax's playing that he used the sustai

In Fonseca Theatre Company's 'The Cake,' one of the fronts in today's culture wars is examined on a private battlefield

Della dreams of success with her cakes in "The Great American Bake-Off." Two clashing aspects of American freedom receive scrutiny in "The Cake," a hard-wrought comedy by Bekah Brunstetter currently on the Fonseca Theatre Company stage. If your religious views incline you to reject homosexuality, you may not want your business to endorse its expression. If your identity cries out for free exercise, you are not likely to accept barriers placed in its way. The show avoids the legal side of the struggle around gay marriage, famously sanctioned by the Supreme Court but subject to pushback from businesses catering to weddings when their owners object. Is religious freedom at stake, or simply the privilege of bigotry? More than that question is aired in "The Cake": Private struggles with identity, friendship, and down-home versus big-city values are woven into a tight fabric by the playwright. The cast negotiates the issues with speed and fervor under the

Everybody'll get the fever? Who knows? A warning in song, with historical/literary examples

IRT's 'Murder on the Orient Express' moves smartly on a snow-stalled track

Even people not enamored of detective fiction can get caught up in seat-of-the-pants sleuthing when reading or watching a carefully shaped who-dun-it. It's amateur night, and in the case of "Murder on the Orient Express," the payoff is likely to reward all guesses as to the real perpetrator of the crime. I hope this doesn't violate spoiler etiquette, or to indicate that an unusual play-within-a-play device is involved — also, a train-stopping snowstorm in 1934 Yugoslavia as the Orient Express travels from Istanbul to Western Europe. The setting, exotic in time and place to today's audiences, is a kind of edge-to-edge red herring, as a cosmopolitan cast of characters is at length revealed to have crucial associations in common. Andrew May as Agatha Christie's oddball detective hero, Hercule Poirot. Indiana Repertory Theatre' s production of the Agatha Christie mystery, as adapted by Ken Ludwig, rewards all hunches as it concludes. But still, everyon

'The Agitators': Phoenix presents a history lesson that struggles to convey emotional meaning

Our ancestors who pressed for social change wielded a two-edged sword: Without social media to aid them or A spellbound Susan B. Anthony recalls the musical passion of her fellow agitator, Frederick Douglass, resist them, they depended on retail politics. That's all to the good, as we have been frequently reminded as our customary primary process awkwardly unfolds.  Public lectures were a performance art in which personalities and issues fused in the public square. Activist intellectuals had to travel without conveniences and lecture without microphones. Their persuasive powers couldn't be developed and exercised without hospitable venues and outlets for the printed word. One feels that only people of extraordinary gifts of energy and focus could thus distinguish themselves and engage the public. An indignant Twitter presence was unavailable to them, and they couldn't rake in vast sums bloviating on cable TV. That's the milieu in which Frederick Douglass and Sus