What is The New Yorker? I know it’s a great magazine and that it’s a tremendous source of pleasure in my life. But what exactly is it? This blog’s premise is that The New Yorker is a work of art, as worthy of comment and analysis as, say, Keats’s “Ode on a Grecian Urn.” Each week I review one or more aspects of the magazine’s latest issue. I suppose it’s possible to describe and analyze an entire issue, but I prefer to keep my reviews brief, and so I usually focus on just one or two pieces, to explore in each the signature style of its author. A piece by Matthew Trammell is not like a piece by James Wood, and neither is like a piece by Peter Schjeldahl. One could not mistake Finnegan for Frazier, or Lepore for Paumgarten, or Goodyear for Khatchadourian. Each has found a style, and it is that style that I respond to as I read, and want to understand and describe.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

June 27, 2016 Issue

There’s a “Night Life” note in this week’s issue that caught my eye. Titled "Special Piano Extravaganza," it says,

This multi-generational meeting of piano luminaries brings together three exceptional stylists: Frank Kimbrough, George Cables, and Don Friedman. United in their authority of the post-bop idiom, each has a wholly distinctive approach to the genre—consider this evening a master class in keyboard expertise.

This event took place last night at Jazz at Kitano in New York City. I wish I could’ve been there. I’m a fan of all three pianists – Kimbrough, Cables, and Friedman. They truly are, as “Night Life” notes, “exceptional stylists.” I’m listening to Cables’ great 2015 album In Good Company as I write this. If Whitney Balliett were alive, he would’ve covered this gig. And he would’ve written it up in The New Yorker so that readers could imagine they were there, too. He loved piano jazz. He referred to it as a “pianistic river that flows through New York” (Night Creature, 1981). It appears that river is still flowing.

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