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.

There is a truly great comic moment in "The Lovers." It comes at a wonderful time and for a good reason -- it has to. Otherwise you might be tempted to abandon the movie altogether. It finally announces what the whole film is about. It's about a long-married husband and wife who have each settled into having long-term affairs. We spend an uncomfortably long preliminary …

Wes Montgomery with the Wynton Kelly Trio, "Smokin' in Seattle: Live at the Penthouse" (1966) (Resonance). One of the classic guitar records in jazz history is the Wes Montgomery and Wynton Kelly record "Smokin': Live at the Half Note" ("the greatest jazz guitar record ever made" according to Pat Metheny). All of it is sensational but its transcendental cut is thei…

Louis Hayes, "Serenade for Horace" (Blue Note). As time goes by, we're seeing a lot more discs like this--new discs distinguished by the excellence of their notes rather than the music within. Before this month is out, drummer Louis Hayes will celebrate his 80th birthday. He was one of the primal musicians of the soul jazz era with Horace Silver, then Cannonball Adderl…

JAZZ Jack DeJohnette, Larry Grenadier, John Medeski and John Scofield, "Hudson" (Motema, available early June).  Well, yes, it's clearly an imposing jazz supergroup, but how did they get together? They first came together in the 2014 Woodstock Jazz Festival. All, it turned out, are current residents of the Hudson Valley. Hence the title of the group and the disc its…

Who can't love a holiday at your neighborhood theater? So let me put in a good word, sight unseen, for something no one could possibly expect me to --"Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales," the fifth installment of the terminally cynical film series that was never an actual movie in the first place. I'd go even farther than that: anyone who has been to Di…

My story about David Lynch and me begins with another great American film director entirely--Jonathan Demme who, sadly, just died at the age of 73. In the late 1970's, Gerald O'Grady's Media Study was such a charismatic concern on Delaware Avenue that its film curator Bruce Jenkins got Demme to come to Buffalo to show some movies and talk about them. He had already been…

“Shake It Up: Great American Writing on Rock and Pop from Elvis to Jay Z” edited by Jonathan Lethem and Kevin Dettmar; the Library of America, 601 pages, $50. If ever a book were a 600-page paradox, it’s this one. It’s both essential and woefully inadequate. That’s because the idea of a huge collection of rock writing is far from new. Two that I consider superior…

CLASSICAL Erik Satie, Complete Piano Works Vol. 1 -- New Salabert Edition performed by pianist Nicolas Horvath (Grand Piano) To begin this music chronologically -- which Horvath does -- is to plunge you up to your neck in exactly the sort of Chopinesque conventionality that the rest of Satie's radicalism negates so decisively. By the time he was composing the work…

Bobby Watson is something of a legend in the annals of Buffalo jazz. Before the Artpark Jazz Festival of 1992, the event's producer Bruce Eaton was telling everyone he knew that on a recent engagement in New York, he'd seen the former Jazz Messenger and his group Horizon be positively sulfurous when the alto saxophonist's group played a gig there. Sure enough, when they…

JAZZ Billy Childs, "Rebirth" (Mack Avenue) and Christian Sands, "Reach" (Mack Avenue) This is two generations of superb mainstream jazz pianists coming from the same stellar mainstream Detroit jazz label. Billy Childs, at the age of 60, made his first record in a group with J.J. Johnson and has performed with everyone from Freddie Hubbard to Diane Reeves and Glady…

JAZZ Charnett Moffett, "Music from Our Soul" (Motema). Has there ever been an innovative jazz musician who inspired more jazz families than Ornette Coleman, whose own son Denardo recorded with him on drums? Coleman's old Fort Worth tenor-playing friend Dewey Redman had a son named Joshua who went on to become a major figure in the tenorist's trade. And one of Cole…

It's 1982. The Republican candidate's name was Lew Lehrman. He ran for governor against the venerable Mario Cuomo, already something of a New York State institution. Lehrman was nothing of the sort. For the most part, he was known as the inventor and grand poobah of Rite-Aid. And yet when the final vote was tallied, Cuomo got 50 percent and Lehrman 47.5 percent. By l…

This much we all know: The moment, in 1979, when the alien monster exploded out of John Hurt's belly in Ridley Scott's "Alien" will always remain one of the scariest and most horrifying jolts in movie history. That brings up an interesting subject, now that Scott's first-rate new prequel, "Alien: Covenant," is ready to keep audiences in suspense for two hours. What i…

Sometimes, even Ecclesiastes got it wrong. It's not true that there's nothing new under the sun -- not in current movies, anyway. We are seeing an extraordinary new kind of virtuosity from young film actors and the audacious directors who know how to use them. These are movies of severely limited location that are brilliant one-man shows from some of the least likely st…

"Snatched" is the most disappointing movie comedy since the all-female "Ghostbusters." And thereby hangs a tale. The two unfunny botches share a writer--Katie Dippold, who is also known for such successes as "The Heat" and TV's "Parks and Recreation." Forget, for a moment, the ugly and unseemly online sexual raillery at the very idea of an all-female "Ghostbusters." Som…