Blue Box

Wednesday, February 21st, 2018

Lee Friedlander brings his camera to the party

Yale University Press has published another volume in its series documenting the work of renowned photographer Lee Friedlander. Parties: The Human Clay is the fourth of six volumes scheduled for release over three years (8.14.15 AJW). As the title indicates, most of the photos are candid shots from parties, 1962-2016. Two of them depict smoky […]

Wednesday, February 7th, 2018

Idan Raichel performs in an intimate setting

Israeli superstar Idan Raichel typically tours with a large ensemble. The Idan Raichel Project’s 2014 show at the O’Shaughnessy in St. Paul, for example, featured seven musicians and three singers (4-25-14 AJW). However, the singer-songwriter’s recently released two-CD set, Idan Raichel – Piano – Songs (Cumbancha), mainly pares down the arrangements of Raichel’s beloved repertoire […]

Wednesday, January 24th, 2018

A novelistic look at the Nazi Olympics

Oliver Hilmes, an acclaimed biographer of Alma Mahler, Cosima Wagner, Franz Liszt and others, turns his sights on the 1936 Berlin Games, the “Nazi Olympics,” in Berlin 1936: Sixteen Days in August (Other Press). Employing an innovative novelistic approach, the author sketches the strange milieu — Nazi officials, diplomats, writers, socialites and locals — gathered […]

Wednesday, January 10th, 2018

Isaac Sidel makes a final appearance in Jerome Charyn’s ‘Winter Warning’

  Prolific author Jerome Charyn wraps up his Isaac Sidel mystery series with Winter Warning (Pegasus Crime), a noir thriller that sets a pistol-packing, Jewish U.S. president on a collision course with White House rivals, Russian gangsters and private mercenaries. In a story set in the 1980s, former New York City mayor Sidel — whose […]

Thursday, December 28th, 2017

The Late Set album evokes another era

For their album The Late Set (Anzic Records), vocalist Hilary Gardner and Israeli native Ehud Asherie on piano combine their sublime talents on nine songs that evoke a smoky piano bar in the early 20th century. Asherie — called “a master of swing and stride” by The New Yorker — provides lyrical and playful support […]

Wednesday, December 13th, 2017

Fred Hersch writes an exemplary memoir

Fred Hersch, a native of Cincinnati, Ohio, was a rising star in the jazz world, when he nearly lost his life. In 2007, he suffered septic shock and doctors put him in an induced coma for two months. In Good Things Happen Slowly: A Life In and Out of Jazz (Crown Archetype), Hersch tells wonderful […]

Wednesday, November 15th, 2017

The Settlers: How did the Israeli occupation happen?

Israel has been mired in a military occupation of the Palestinian Territories for more than 50 years. The Settlers (available on DVD from Film Movement), an absorbing documentary written and directed by Shimon Dotan, quickly moves through the history of the modern State of Israel, and focuses on the problematic growth of Jewish settlements in […]

Wednesday, November 1st, 2017

Peter Edelman: How our government criminalizes the poor

Peter Edelman, a Minneapolis native, worked for Sen. Robert F. Kennedy. He’s now a professor at Georgetown University Law Center. His latest book, Not a Crime to Be Poor: The Criminalization of Poverty in America (The New Press), focuses on how government policies make the difficult lot of impoverished Americans unendurable. From money bail that […]

Wednesday, October 18th, 2017

Trump’s rise moves songwriter Seth Kibel to despair

Seth Kibel, a Washington, D.C.-based musician, says he was “shellshocked” by the results of the 2016 presidential election: “I had a hard time processing what had happened.” The multi-instrumentalist (sax, flute and clarinet) played in the various jazz and klezmer ensembles, but the rise of Donald Trump led him to shift gears. He wrote nine […]

Wednesday, October 4th, 2017

Barton Fink has a case of writer’s block

“I’m having a little trouble getting started,” explains Barton Fink (John Turturro) to Hollywood film studio exec Ben Geisler (Tony Shalhoub). It turns out that Fink, a Broadway playwright transported to La La Land, in the 1940s, to write scripts for B-movies, has writer’s block. Then his life goes topsy turvy. Barton Fink, the award-winning […]