Jeff Simon, The Buffalo News
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Jeff Simon

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Jeff Simon is the News' Arts and Books Editor. He has been writing for the paper since Spiro Agnew was the vice president.

JAZZ Joey DeFrancesco + The People, "Project Freedom" (Mack Avenue) Current jazz' two greatest Hammond-B3 players in the Jimmy Smith tradition are Joey DeFrancesco and Dr. Lonnie Smith (the latter of whom grew up in Buffalo). DeFrancesco plays a lot here that is more than a little extraneous to the great music he plays so well in the great organ group tradition. H…

“Poems in the Manner of....” By David Lehman, Scribner, 144 pages, $18, paperback. The first thing that no doubt occurs to you is that Lehman is doing parodies for yuk’s sake. But no, that’s not really what this book is all about. The tradition in all the arts, is so much older and more complex than that, whether we’re talking about Bach and Vivaldi or Shakesp…

"Wilson" made me laugh more and harder than a lot of better comedies. I'm neither proud nor ashamed of that but that's the bottom line here. I wouldn't claim to anyone that screenwriter Daniel Clowe's adaptation of his own graphic novel is a good and satisfying movie. It's as obnoxious and annoying sometimes as its lead character. And it goes kerflooey, right into ick a…

CLASSICAL Nadia Boulanger, "Mademoiselle: Premiere Audience: Unknown Music of Nadia Boulanger" performed by cellist Amit Peled, organist Francois-Henri Houbart, pianist Lucy Mauro and singers Nicole Cabell, Alek Schrader and Edwin Cressley-Mercer (Delos, two discs) Absolutely nothing about this record denotes one of the most important classical records of this or any…

It looked like a double whammy to end all double whammies. I don't think it is. Late last week, in two separate and unrelated announcements, we learned that the Main Street stores of both Record Theatre (in the University Plaza) and Talking Leaves (a few blocks away) will close. What's crucial to note in both cases is that, both Talking Leaves and Record Theatre's ot…

JAZZ FUSION Julian Lage and Chris Eldridge, "Mount Royal" (Free Dirt) Nobody bats an eye anymore when jazz and bluegrass musicians decide to record together. All things considered, there's no reason why anyone ever should have batted an eye or anything else. The career of the late, great jazz bassist Charlie Haden, alone, is enough instruction about how contigu…

JAZZ FUSION Mostly Other People Do the Killing, "Loafer's Hollow"  (Hot Cup) When they came to be featured in the Albright-Knox Art of Jazz Series, the nuttily named jazz group Mostly Other People Do The Killing revealed exactly how lunatic their particular brand of top shelf jazz postmodernism can be. They've done it repeatedly on record ever since, including a vir…

It stuns me every time. ABC's "American Crime" – not to be confused with the FX network's "American Crime Story" – is now in its third season. You might think my amazement would have abated by now. Not even close. I'm more amazed by the new season that began last Sunday than I've ever been. The fact that it's happening on Sunday, the most watched night of the w…

“The One Inside” by Sam Shepard, forew0rd by Patti Smith, Knopf, 172 pages, $25.95. One might, at first, think that a reader has fallen down some moral rabbit hole in Sam Shepard’s new book. It’s a collage/novel composed of very short autobiographical sketches, some less than a page. Anyone too inquisitive about what’s real in Shepard’s own life will find…

It hasn't exactly affected a huge number of people but word's been out for a while that there's been a bit of trouble in the marketing of Disney's big new semi-live action version of "Beauty and the Beast." The biggest part of The Selling of B and The B is that Beauty Emma Watson, the beloved Harry Potter heroine Hermione, is, off-camera, an avid and outspoken feminist.…

Tony Webster's tiny vintage camera store isn't very deep. And it's nothing if not narrow. It looks to be, at most, 20 feet from side to side. In "The Sense of an Ending," that's about how narrow his life has become in late middle age, too. He sells and repairs cameras in his store -- mostly vintage Leicas. We find out early on that it was a Leica camera that a beautiful…

The name of the song is "At the Rendezvous." Leave off the prepositional phrase and "Rendezvous" is the name of Clint Holmes new album, too (Ll Records). Holmes introduces the song this way on the record: "So I was about 12 years old. My [jazz musician] Dad, Edward Louis Holmes, started taking me into Buffalo, N. Y. to hear his music. You see, I was too young to go at n…

In 2012, The Daily Beast website got Robert Osborne to write about 11 of his "Secret Favorite Movies" which TCM would show in a TCM Classic Movie Festival in Los Angeles. It was his contention that "variety is what's lacking in theaters today." The 11 films he chose were: "The Big Clock" (1948) starring Ray Milland and Charles Laughton, directed by John Farrow "Do…

Robert Osborne couldn't have made it easier. He was so urbane, so genial, so civilized and so emblematic of avuncular American decency that he couldn't have been improved upon as America's favorite guide to classic American movies. That's what he was as the face of Turner Classic Movies. When, in 2012, he made a list of 11 favorite films for a TCM film festival, it radi…

NONFICTION Other People: Takes and Mistakes By David Shields Knopf 369 pages, $28.96 David Shields, at 60, is one of America's most accomplished and best writers. The trouble is that his books arrive in a vehemently, almost angrily unclassifiable form. As brilliant and joyously readable as they are, they evade all established ideas of literary genre. F…