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Monday, January 18, 2016

Harlem Nocturne for MLK

-- By Tom Phillips

Billy Harper
We didn't plan it to coincide with Martin Luther King Day, but somehow it all worked out.  Last night my wife Debra took me out for my birthday, to the local jazz and supper club, Smoke, at 106th and Broadway.  The music was the Billy Harper Quintet, a group I'd never heard.  But I saw Harper's picture -- slim, gray-haired, serene -- with his tenor sax, and I just had a feeling.

Sure enough, the music was right up my alley -- wild, Coltrane-like solos spilling out over a calm, steady dance rhythm kept by the bass, with the drums and piano darting into the cracks in the chord structure and the beat.  And the faces of the band were nearly as expressive as the music.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Oscar Prevue 2016

 -- By Tom Phillips

Christian Bale in "The Big Short"
When it comes to movie awards season, the answer is usually blowin' in the wind --- some political or social trend will reflect itself in the choice of winners.  This year, I devoutly hope the wind blows in the direction of one or two films whose message is -- the authorities who tell you everything is OK are lying.  At the top of my list is "The Big Short,"  a racy re-creation of the financial meltdown of 2008 --  followed closely by "Spotlight," a newspaper drama based on the Boston Globe's 2002 investigation of predatory priests and their protectors in the Roman Catholic Church.