| March 29, 2010

I just started Week Two of mental stimulation marked by seeing six movies at the dazzling Cleveland International Film Festival, a great, too-short concert by John Zorn’s Masada Sextet (here’s my preview) and, this morning, reading “Atomic Age,” Martin Benjamin’s first, long-overdue book of photography. Karen and I went to the film festival for the […]

Rock lives

| March 7, 2010

In rock ‘n’ roll, comebacks are by no means a sure bet. Some bands never go away, even when they should, like the Stones and the Who. Some go acoustic and minimal, like Ray Davies of the Kinks. Others devolve into their leader, like Roky Erickson, whose 13th Floor Elevators yielded the barbed-wire breakup song, […]

My favorite books of 2009

| December 27, 2009

These are my best 2009 reads. I reviewed all of them except Box 21. Maybe I included that one because I read it for fun. T.J. Stiles, The First Tycoon (Knopf) Hans Fallada, Every Man Dies Alone (Melville House) Stieg Larsson, The Girl Who Played With Fire (Knopf) Peter Kuper, Diario de Oaxaca (PM Press) […]

Leonard Cohen: in the zone

| November 6, 2009

Weird to think of “Leonard Cohen Live in London” alongside “Allman Brothers at Fillmore East,” but both are paradigms of the live album, capturing artists at the peak of their powers. Cohen’s was recorded in 2008 when he was 73, near the start of his nearly two-year-long tour; the American leg this fall was his […]

The torchy Sophie Milman

| November 6, 2009

Sophie Milman is a 26-year-old Toronto chanteuse who may be the hottest Canadian export since Diana Krall. Not only is Milman, a Russian native and a kind of wandering Jew, fluent in English, she sings jazz with an authority common to far more seasoned performers. Backed by Paul Shrofel on piano and Mark McLean on […]

Jewish music

| November 1, 2009

I keep running into other lucky ones who attended the Leonard Cohen concert at the Allen Theatre in Cleveland Oct. 25; we all stand in awe (here’s my preview). In more than three hours, Cohen and his amazing troupe of cosmic musicians rekindled my belief, that I’d thought retro, in pop as conveyor of truth. […]

Fra Fra Sound channels Afrobeat

| October 14, 2009

Call Amsterdam-based group Fra Fra Sound’s CD “Dya So” world music, call it jazz, call it anything you want. Formed 25 years ago, the septet takes its name from the Surinamese “Fra Fra,” meaning “mysterious” or “hybrid.” “Dya So,” its latest CD, blends high-life, rai, island chickenscratch, funk, percussion virtuosity and an ever-shifting, ever-surprising front […]

The post-bop sax of Bobby Selvaggio

| October 14, 2009

Bobby Selvaggio is a post-bop saxophonist from Cleveland with robust tone, astonishing technique and a talent for composing tunes with complex, braided melody lines. On his fifth CD as a leader, Selvaggio unfurls spiky chamber music (“Whirlwind,” a fabulous exchange with pianist Kenny Werner), an exotic, Middle Eastern excursion (the wittily titled “Timbuktu Step”) and […]

Willie Nile’s latest CD

| October 14, 2009

Willie Nile may be the most stirring hard rocker you’ve never heard, and his new album, “House of a Thousand Guitars,” ranks with his best—except for the title track, a musical roar that name-checks guitar heroes in an uncharacteristic, sadly retro burst of self-indulgence. Otherwise, “House” is wonderful, sparked by the infernally infectious hoedown of […]

Willie ‘n’ me

| October 11, 2009

I reconnected with my past last night when I went to hear Willie Nile at Wilbert’s in downtown Cleveland. I hadn’t seen Willie since the early ‘80s when he was the next big thing, a bantam conflation of Dylan and Springsteen who made critics slaver. I was writing for the Schenectady Gazette in those years […]

About the author

I'm a veteran critic and business writer who reads and listens and writes about music, books, hotels and travel. I've been in the business for many years and still enjoy it. My pride and joy is my book, Cleveland Rock & Roll Memories. Follow me on Twitter: