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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.


ONE WEEK Pat Metheny was playing five nights at the old Tralfamadore on Main and Fillmore -- three of those nights to half-filled houses. A few months later he was selling out 2,000- and 3,000-seat halls long in advance.Suddenly a jazz musician who'd grown up expecting the usual audience response to jazz found himself a major figure in American pop music. (He will pla…

THE BUFFALO NEWS Jazz at the Albright-Knox series hits lucky seven this year, beginning next Sunday.It was in 1982 that Buffalo News publisher Stanford Lipsey first engaged saxophonist Sam Falzone and the all-star Buffalo Jazz Workshop to celebrate summer, Buffalo jazz and the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, all at the same time, by playing a series of Sunday concerts on t…

"ON OR ABOUT December 1910, human character changed" wrote Virginia Woolf famously and somewhat facetiously in 1924. So then changed the very idea of "Character in Fiction" according to her landmark essay now reprinted in the lavishly annotated "Essays of Virginia Woolf, Vol. 3, 1919-1924" (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, $22.95).Taking Woolf's jauntily speculative lead, y…

SITTING IN front of me is a complete Xerox of the actual memo that started the teapot tempest known as "Gumbel-gate." This, you remember, was the secret memo from Bryant Gumbel to "Today" producer Marty Ryan that was snatched raw and bloody from the NBC computer.The full Xerox was provided by a friend as an "early Christmas present" for which I'm suitably grateful.Two…

You have to see "Vampire's Kiss" to believe it.When the great lunatic performances in the history of movies are toted up for celestial accounting at Judgment Day, 1989 will be Nicolas Cage's year. Hands down.He has always been a wondrously off-the-wall actor, in "Birdy," say, or "Moonstruck" or, especially, "Raising Arizona." But in Robert Bierman's "Vampire's Kiss," …

John Scofield and David Sanborn have both played pop jazz slickeries by the ton and lived to tell the tale. No matter how many robot rhythms, drum machines and slurps of synthesizer syrup they've had to play through, their passion, intelligence and musicianship remain absolutely intact.They are among the handful of younger jazz musicians who've had the best of both wo…

JIM MCBRIDE'S "Great Balls of Fire" is about as much fun as you can have at a thoroughly terrible movie.It's a rambunctious musical drama about the 18-month rise and fall of Jerry Lee Lewis in the late 1950s -- the period between the loud national arrival of the leering, lascivious wild man of rock and his fall into international disgrace when the world discovered tha…

It's HOT-- not just sticky and uncomfortable but 100 degrees hot, the kind of weather that turns people into dangerous, roiling swirls of resentment."Everybody makes no sense," says a Puerto Rican mother after a yammering set-to with her daughter.Testosterone levels are high. A black kid and a Puerto Rican kid have a little boom-box duel on the street, just to see whi…

Following this weekend's entertainment, the Tralfamadore Jazz Institute will go dark until the Curtain Up! celebration in mid-September.The only exceptions to the Tralf's summer inactivity will be the two shows performed by singer Mica Paris in the club July 8 and the annual festival by the Queen City Jass Society Aug. 20.The reason for the Paris exception is that her…

Dennis Quaid's career is about to catch fire -- for real this time. Never mind that people have been shaking their heads and blubbering that for five years now -- after "Dreamscape," "Suspect," "D.O.A.," "Innerspace" and especially "The Big Easy" and "Everybody's All-American."Never mind that Quaid has been about as good as an American film actor can get without cras…

Well, you see, Dr. Freud, I keep getting this movie's name wrong. I keep calling it "Honey, I Shot the Kids" instead of its real title, "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids." Do you suppose this means anything -- in the larger scheme of things, that is?I'm genuinely sorry to be fouling up this movie's name so often because it's a terrific little kids' movie -- almost enough to m…

Suddenly there was a whole slew of wonderfully weird soft drink ads on TV. In the middle of them is a bizarrely attractive female comic shrieking and moaning and tittering as if she were minutes away from the rubber room. One has her driving a truck; one has her on jungle safari. The question came up -- "Who IS this woman?" Her name is Judy Tenuta, the center of her o…

Prince, Batman Soundtrack (Warner Brothers, 9-25936-1, all formats). Leave it to Prince. Give the virtuoso changeling of rock a blockbuster movie to score and you don't get background music, you get a gorgeous and brilliantly inventive pop opera with each song meant to be a little dramatic aria. The actual score used in the movie ignores most of it. But it's still ama…

There is a 10-year hole in the middle of Joe Pass' life. On one side of the hole -- the early side -- there is a professional guitar player learning his craft in the Navy and the band of Charlie Barnet. On the other side of the hole is one of the great living jazz guitarists -- a sensitive and unequivocal master of the Charlie Christian guitar tradition. That's the on…

World Saxophone Quartet, Rhythm and Blues (Elektra-Musician- 60864, all formats). Ever since the early days of Chicago's AACM, the great figures in New Jazz have been finding inspiration rather than shame in the great R&B tradition. Ever since Lester Bowie's antic (but somehow loving) deconstructions, record producers and executives have looked on approvingly. Not all…