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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.

CLASSICAL/FOLK Folk Songs performed by the Kronos Quartet with Rhiannon Giddens, Natalie Merchant, Olivia Chaney and Sam Amidon (Nonesuch) What's not to love here? It's diving fully into great folk music which has, frankly, been one of the more irresistible things classical musicians have always done. Never mind Bartok, Vaughan Williams and Kodaly, decades ago the…

POP/COUNTRY Glen Campbell, "Adios" (Universal). Pity the poor cynic. Faced with this, the final studio recording of the great American pop singer whose advancing Alzheimer's disease won't permit another, they will be able to see only exploitation peering around the corner of tragedy and heartbreak. And yes, everything we are told by Glen Campbell's family, friends an…

Some advice you're going to thank me for: Eat first. You really don't want to attempt Eleanor Coppola's "Paris Can Wait" on an empty stomach. So delicious-looking is the food presented with almost pornographic relish all through the movie's 92 minutes that, if you don't eat first, there's a good chance you'll be starving as you leave the theater. And ready to spend a fortu…

It's all Stewart's fault in "47 Meters Down." You never even see the dude but he's the one who sets the whole blood feast in motion. He dumps his girlfriend Lisa because she's too boring for him. So Lisa, who had already arranged a Mexico jaunt with Stewart, wrangles her younger sister Kate instead for company. Lisa is so ashamed of being cast aside by Stewart that, at …

All hell broke loose when Bill Maher used the n-word on "Real Time" two weeks ago. People wanted him tarred, feathered, fired and Lord knows what else. He wasn't doing it meanly or cruelly or insultingly, though; he was referring to himself and using Malcolm X's famous distinction between "field negro" and "house negro" in the slave era. (Malcolm, famously, used the for…

What I watched on Thursday was a fired FBI chief accusing a sitting president of lying about him and his former workplace. That ex-chief was conspiratorial enough to give a memo of his to a good friend to leak to the press for the sole purpose of provoking the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate the president's gang and its relationship to Russia. Imagine…

Popular: The Power of Likability in a Status-Obsessed World by Mitch Prinstein; Viking, 273 pages, $36. Mitch Prinstein has news for us and it’s not especially good. In life, “The enduring power of popularity can be traced to the fact that those same (childhood) dynamics are still a part of our daily lives.” The factors of popularity aren’t much different. As in…

CLASSICAL Aaron Copland, Symphony No. 3, "Three Latin American Sketches" performed by Detroit Symphony Orchestra and conductor Leonard Slatkin (Naxos) Here is an argument just waiting to be had by lovers of American classical music: "Just what is the greatest American symphony?" A lot of people – I'd venture to include myself – would nominate Copland's Third…

JAZZ Ambrose Akinmusire, "A Rift in Decorum: Live at the Village Vanguard" (Blue Note, two discs) How on earth did the trumpet reclaim the position of leading jazz avant-garde instrument when the saxophone had so long reigned supreme? However it happened, we have the offspring of Wadada Leo Smith, Don Cherry and others to credit. With Dave Douglas about to release…

CLASSICAL Franz Schmidt, Symphony no. 2 and Richard Strauss, "Dreaming by the Fireside" performed by Vienna Philharmonic conducted by Semyon Bychkov (SONY Classical) If you've wondered where Semyon Bychkov has been since he was the director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra in the mid-'80s, the answer  is "the Vienna Philharmonic, no less." Where life seems to b…

Let's call the roll: At the end of the 1911 silent short called "The Mummy," the actual Mummy married the professor who had rehabbed her for modern polite society. In 1932, Boris Karloff was "The Mummy" and delighted and scared the willies out of everyone.The director was Karl Freund who went on to, yes, invent the three-camera set up for modern sitcoms in "I Love Lucy.…

"Why do you feel you have the right to ask these kinds of questions" snarled Vladimir Putin. "Why do you feel you have the right to ask questions all the time?" Megyn Kelly could have answered that it's the way democracy works: The press is free so that American citizens can know what their leaders are thinking and doing. It's why Thomas Jefferson said that if he had th…

JAZZ The New Vision Sax Ensemble, "Musical Journey Through Time" (Zaki Publishing) You'll hear in this group from South Florida a lot of similarities to the Amherst Saxophone Quartet which originally formed at the State University of Buffalo. In other words, they're more academically punctilious than the 29th Street Saxophone Quartet or the seminal saxophone Quart…

Jazz Ahmad Jamal, "Marseilles" (Jazz Village, to be released digitally next week). Jamal will be 87 on July 2. He is now, in his ninth decade, as much a product of France's unabashed love of American jazz as he is of American jazz itself. This is described as "Jamal's love letter to the iconic city in Southern France" -- the one which we're reminded, faces Africa. …

JAZZ Thelonious Monk, "Les Liasons Dangereuses 1960" (SAM/ Saga, two discs to be released June 17). Not to be missed by in-the-pocket jazz people. A major jazz event. Here, after 57 years, is one of jazz' great lost records: Thelonious Monk's intended soundtrack for Roger Vadim's movie of "Les Liasons Dangereuses" (one ofVadim's  best movies.) When the movie was …