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Articles by Samuel Markson

October 2, 2009
It’s hard to put a finger on Ahmad Jamal’s music. It speaks slowly, suggestively, and delicately. He’s seen his fair share of music, and his style fits into the spectrum between breezy carelessness and angsty desperation. Perhaps its greatest quality is its use of space. Few other artists out there can tap out of melody with as much natural, composed structure as Jamal can without it sounding inevitable and rigid. Jamal’s playing is unfettered but rational, well-balanced, and smooth. Above all, it feels good.
September 25, 2009
“Wherever you are, look to the sky and your star will guide you where you need to go… whatever happens or comes your way, you have your star to thank, more than you know.”
June 12, 2009
For musicians, it’s easy to get caught up within a genre. Classical musicians tend to find jazz messy and undisciplined. Jazz musicians find classical music square. Pop musicians find both groups stuffy and academic. Both groups stereotype pop as superficial and uninventive.
May 1, 2009
The 50s had housewives and modular homes. The 60s had race riots and pot. The 70s had prog rock and wide ties. The 80s had punk and cocaine. The 90s had hip-hop.
April 3, 2009
Drama is tough. It takes a lot time, a lot of money, and a lot of otherwise unemployed people willing to sacrifice both soul and social life for the glory of a few good performances. Unlike some of the other arts, which are often solitary, drama is always about other people: the audience, the cast, the director. No production is “pure” in that sense, but rather the amalgam of a host of other people’s opinions and decisions.
February 20, 2009
Conspirators wear business suits. Mark Antony chats on his cell phone. The soldiers of Brutus deck themselves out in camo and army boots.
February 13, 2009
It’s hard to be a living legend. It’s hard enough having one brilliant idea. It’s even harder moving past it. To be an over-the-hill performer without just regurgitating the epiphanies of one’s early years is certainly something.
January 28, 2009
Lights come up. Welsh hymns slowly fill the air. Actor scurry about stage. The modern day is left at the doorstep and nineteenth-century Wales comes to the fore.
October 3, 2008
A lot of single-instrument groups can be gimmicky — along the lines of, “How many tuba players does it take to make a coherent album?” Many of those efforts are well and good, even virtuosic, but the majority are relegated to narrowly devoted fan-bases — those who, no doubt, brake for vibraphones or are the proud parents of an oboe player — without much chance at breaking through to the larger musical scene.
September 26, 2008
For the Boston jazz scene, Regattabar is about as classy as it gets. High-rollers in tailored suits like to mix and order $86 bottles of champagne, and mellow out after a day of tapping their blackberries. Its best asset is that it can entertain this crowd without losing sight of jazz’s groovy, down-home feel: those same high-rollers are sitting happily next to Berklee students in hoodies and ripped jeans. There’s no stage — only a wood floor in one corner of the room. Big names in jazz come and stand a yard in front of the audience, and no one pays it any mind. There aren’t any barriers here (save the $86 champagne tab for you and me) — this place is about the music.
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