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Articles by S. Balaji Mani

ARTS EDITOR
February 20, 2009
Jazz is a genre that consistently flirts with risk-taking. Whether this manifests itself in compositional structure, instrumentation, harmonic choices, or transcending implicit musical boundaries, The Bad Plus is a group that has done it all. Since the release of the group’s first record on the Fresh Sound / New Talent imprint, the critic community has argued over the true categorization of these three veteran musicians from Minneapolis. At the very base, they are indisputably a jazz group. But what causes most listeners to question this blanket classification is The Bad Plus’ penchant for risk. Boasting a catalogue of astounding original compositions (each member plays piano and writes for the whole band) and an arsenal of jazz-tinged rock and pop covers, The Bad Plus explores more musical territory than most of their jazz or indie contemporaries. This past summer, at the North Sea Jazz Festival in Rotterdam, Netherlands (an event I was fortunate enough to attend) Reid Anderson (bass), Ethan Iverson (piano), and David King (drums) announced the upcoming release of their new album, For All I Care. They also mentioned that they’d had a surprise waiting for the audience backstage. Seasoned Bad Plus fans are no stranger to the antics that this trio brings to the stage, but there’s just one thing that fans were not expecting: Wendy Lewis.
ARTS EDITOR
February 20, 2009
Last Sunday MIT Natya performed their annual show in Little Kresge, entitled Shakti: Women of Power. Natya is purely devoted to Bharatanatyam, a classical dance tradition originating from South India. The show utilized the art of dance to convey the stories of three women in Hindu mythology who have had notable impact on the status of women. Bharatanatyam is an extremely technical and challenging dance form that incorporates percussive foot movements, which often complement the rhythm of the drums in the accompanying music.
ARTS EDITOR
February 6, 2009
Chicago-based songwriter and indie superstar Andrew Bird garnered peculiar amounts of attention after his 2005 release of The Mysterious Production of Eggs. Since then a relentless schedule of gigs, a successful album and EP release, and spots at larger festivals like Chicago’s Lollapalooza have driven Bird to surpass his contemporaries. Add on top of that success a writing gig at the New York Times and you’ll wonder how Bird does it all.
ARTS EDITOR
February 6, 2009
Last season’s production of David Rabe’s classic 1970s play, Streamers, gives new meaning to the power of theatre. Executed by the Roundabout Theatre Company at Laura Pels Theatre in New York City, the performance included a cast of seasoned actors who brought an eerie realism to the tale of young soldiers awaiting deployment to Vietnam.
ARTS EDITOR
February 3, 2009
Most Radiohead fans consumed Thom Yorke’s 2006 solo effort, The Eraser, as a welcome treat in that awkward limbo period between the releases of Hail To The Theif and In Rainbows. But it you call it filler, at least call it good filler. Now that the In Rainbows craze has died down a little, we find Thom Yorke releasing a remix album to satiate our thirst for Radiohead-related material (at least temporarily, that is). Last week, Yorke released a compilation (available only in Japan until now) entitled The Eraser Remixes, housed in a package mimicking the original acclaimed artwork of its predecessor.
STAFF WRITER
December 5, 2008
If you laughed along with Sal Paradise in On The Road, feared the conniving Dr. Benway in Naked Lunch, and saluted the iconoclastic verses of America, then you’re undeniably a Beatnik. While Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs, and Allen Ginsberg are arguably the three most important authors of the Beat Generation, they are also our default historians of a transitional time period in the United States. Their uninhibited, jazz-inspired prose revealed a candid portrait of a class of people who embraced life in growing cities and welcomed experimentation.
STAFF WRITER
November 21, 2008
The Little Folk-singer isn’t so little anymore: with more than sixteen studio albums in her catalogue, ownership of her independent label Righteous Babe Records, and now a mother to a two-year-old daughter, Ani Difranco has built a career that’s unparalleled by that of any other female solo artist. Her poignant lyrics are both bitingly honest and elegant, a result of her prior study of poetry at The New School. Erin McKeown supported DiFranco last Sunday at Symphony Hall, playing a short set of simple yet clever songs with just one guitar and her voice. She opened with a fast-paced tune in which she questioned “what kind of lover am I?”
STAFF WRITER
November 14, 2008
Chicago-based trio Pillars & Tongues don’t just play together: they talk to each other, critique each other, and advise each other—with their instruments, of course. Their frank, uninhibited musical conversations have been compiled onto a disc entitled Protection, released just last month on the Contraphonic imprint.
STAFF WRITER
November 4, 2008
As Eddie Vedder has pointed out at many Pearl Jam shows, “we’ve all been benefiting from the long term friendship between Jeff Ament and [Pearl Jam guitarist] Stone Gossard.” It’s True that it was the songwriting duo that sent Eddie Vedder a demo tape almost two decades ago, which contained nascent versions of future Pearl Jam hits like “Evenflow” and “Alive.”
STAFF WRITER
September 19, 2008
Today’s photographer is often faced with the challenge of either maintaining the purity of black and white photography, or embracing the current culture of digital practices. Julio de Matos, in his exhibit entitled Fading Hutongs, at times seems to have inadvertently exempted himself from this rigid classification. While deep inspection of his digital color prints clearly reveals his medium, his subject matter lends a black and white feel to any casual observer.
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