Nov 17 – Dec 13, 2015

Saw Cecile McLorin Salvant last night & spent most of the show in awe. I’m glad I didn’t know just exactly how young she is (26) until after I got home.

Yes, her voice is hugely powerful — pure & rich in the lower registers, which is what leads to the Ella Fitzgerald & Sarah Vaughan comparisons. Up in the midrange it gets brassy, and on a couple of vintage blues numbers she let rip with a guttural growl that would’ve blown out a weaker throat after just a few seconds.

But even more than that, it was how completely at ease she seemed, twisting songs, turning them inside out & then putting them right again, all with an ear for musicality & for the lyrical sense, both at once. It seems like it should take more of a lifetime to get good at that.

What else? Transparent Season 2 came out. I had forgotten what pathetic wretches the children are. We’re only 2 episodes in & I’m dreading the rest, but that doesn’t mean I won’t keep watching.

Back at the start of the (ahem) 4-week period covered by this entry, we saw You Us We All, the baroque opera written by Shara Worden and Andrew Ondrejcak. Parts of it were highly enjoyable (including all of the music, much of the singing, and emphatically the costumes). The libretto was kind of a mess, and it never really seemed to go anywhere, but it was definitely a spectacle, and when I step out for an evening of musical theatre, spectacle is what I expect.

What else? Saw T0W3RS & Boulevards the day after Thanksgiving. T0W3RS were great — Derek’s newer material has him exploring his lower Ian Curtis vocal register, which I loved. Boulevards *really* needs to assemble some kind of dynamite funk band to back him up. He’s a hugely energetic performer, but too much of his energy is being diverted into overcoming the fact that he’s singing along to backing tracks.

Plus I got the sense that his backing tracks are the same as (or very similar to) the ones on the record, and the mix felt weird in a live setting as a result. I love the record, but I’m gonna have to give the live show a B-.

Last weekend we saw Isabella Rossellini do her “Green Porno” show/lecture thing. It was 1000% beautiful & life-affirming & goofy. And adorable. If she were American, her kids would probably be totally mortified. But she’s Isabella Rossellini. 950 people in a theater totally crushing out as she dressed up like a hamster with prominent red nipples.

This month is my favorite time of the year for music because it’s when all the Top-Whatever lists come out, and I get to start listening to new music. Keeping up with the full flood of new releases is too exhausting, so I just wait for the year-end summaries & cherry-pick the best stuff. The other day I spent 2-3 hours listening through the Stereogum Top 50 Metal Albums list & found at least a half-dozen things to love.

Book-wise I have taken a break from my endless back-and-forth between Richard Stark’s Parker novels, and Robert Crais’s Elvis Cole novels, to dive into that super-popular sci-fi series The Expanse, the one they just turned into a SyFy Network series. I had read the first book, Leviathan Wakes, back in 2011 and really enjoyed it, but since Amazon sucks at even the most obvious recommendations, I hadn’t even realized there had been subsequent volumes.

It’s space opera, but with a somewhat higher than average degree of character development, and with an interesting First Contact plot. Things start to spin out of control shortly after the start of the third book, but the first two are solid. Out of curiosity I watched the first 7-8 minutes of the first episode of the TV series, but I couldn’t go any further.

Nov 17 – Dec 13, 2015

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