Jeff Simon, The Buffalo News
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Jeff Simon

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


NONFICTION What Happened By Hillary Rodham Clinton Simon and Schuster 492 pages, $30 It's a book, first of all. Just a book. It's not a nuclear bomb. It's true that it launches a lot of carefully aimed missiles in a lot of American directions for posterity's sake--most notably at the nation's press and former FBI director James Comey--but it does so persu…

Classical Hildegard von Bingen, "The Complete Sequentia Edition" (Sony/Sequentia 9-discs). The sudden eruption of the writings and especially the music of Hildegard von Bingen in the '80's was one of the more marvelous things to come out of a decade didn't get much love. In 1982, the vocal ensemble Sequentia would begin recording the wonderful known music from the…

You'll be getting in on the ground floor of something if you see "American Assassin." Whether it turns into a skyscraper or remains a one-floor warehouse at your friendly neighborhood megaplex will depend on how many other people go to see it this weekend. My vote is for at least one more in this series, simply because despite all deficiencies, it holds the promise of a…

Two, that's all. That's the grand total of Emmys I care about at this weekend's caravan of fame and self-adulation. But then, I've never really given a fig about the Emmys. They're not the worst of America's Award Shows. The Grammys have that distinction sewed up from zipper to hat band. But the Emmy Awards have always found ways to run as close as possible to total foo…

Jazz Fusion John McLaughlin and Fourth Dimension, "Live@Ronnie Scott's" (Abstract Logix) The master jazz fusion guitarist John McLaughlin will be launching a "Meeting of the Spirits" tour in the University at Buffalo Center for the Arts on Nov. 1. He and American guitarist Jimmy Herring will present their bands for a half apiece and then collaborate for a big Mahavis…

ROCK The Rolling Stones, "Their Satanic Majesties Request: 50th Anniversary Special Edition" (Abkco two vinyl records and two discs, mono and stereo). Keith Richards pretty much hates it. Mick Jagger mostly writes it off as a druggy detour that took forever to make because drugs kept getting in the way. Writer/annotater Rob Bowman says of one of the Stones' most impo…

They're a couple you know--universally loved superstar Jennifer Lawrence and filmmaker Darren Aronofsky, who's 22 years older. They connected while making the supremely wild and woolly demi-thriller "Mother!" which goes nuts in American movie theaters this weekend. Anyone who doubted their coupleness for a second is smacked in the face with it in the film's first hou…

Blame Dan Rather. It's always easy to do and not always wrong. In his case, Dan Rather in 1961, was a news director/reporter at Houston's KHOU when Hurricane Carla hit. It was about to join the list of 10 most powerful storms in American history. Rather not only understood how big hurricane stories are, he understood that they were "great television"; if you're looki…

"Twin Peaks: The Return," Showtime's extraordinary offer of prime time to David Lynch and his partner Mark Frost, has been must-see TV this summer. I watched every episode with a weird combination of duty and excitement. To have been a critic watching, right from the very beginning, David Lynch's career (including interviewing him in what seemed at the time like a Lynch…

"The commodification of flesh and sexual imagery" is what David Simon's co-creator George Pelecanos said  "The Deuce" is about. Sex exploitation went "from being in a brown paper bag and under the counter to universal in American life." I don't know about "universal" but I take his point. The period in which "The Deuce" takes place is 1971, just before the advent of "D…

JAZZ Chuck Owen and the Jazz Surge, "Whispers on the Wind" with Randy Brecker and Gregoire Maret (Mama) and Christian McBride, "Bringin' It" (Mack Avenue). You couldn't ask for more diametrically opposite approaches to jazz orchestras than the opening tracks of these two discs- -- Chuck Owen's incorporation of roots elements and heartland aura in the 14-minute "Warpe…

Stephen King appeared onscreen before the film at the screening of "It," which was adapted from his huge, bestselling 1986 novel. "One of my favorite and most personal works" he told us. He also said he liked what writer/director Andy Muschietti did with it. You can see why he calls it "personal." It's the horror film version of "Stand by Me," a nostalgic tale of seven …

JAZZ Oded Tzur, "Translator's Note" (Enja) It's an old reviewer's trope. When faced with something that's brand new but reminiscent of one of an art form's giants, you call it "the 21st Century (fill in the blank.)" So help me though, you couldn't blame the international jazz critic who called the quartet of the sensational tenor saxophonist Oded Tzur, the Coltran…

JAZZ Vijay Iyer Sextet, "Far From Over" (ECM). The journey from the Rochester suburb of Fairport to the national aesthetic forefront has, by no means, proven impossible. The late Philip Seymour Hoffman was the most famous to have accomplished it. But so has the great Amer-Indian composer and jazz pianist (and Harvard professor) Vijay Iyer. Iyer has no trouble in t…