Jeff Simon, The Buffalo News - Page 406 of 408
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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.


THE PERIOD was 1966 to 1974a tough time to love jazz. For every John Coltrane, Booker Ervin, Eric Dolphy, Cecil Taylor, Miles Davis and Ornette Coleman there had been in the '60s who took jazz to distant horizons, there were a dozen caterwauling "avant-garde" fakes overblowing the bejabbers out of their saxophones and a dozen fusioneering hacks ready to sell their souls …

CLINT EASTWOOD'S "Bird" never apologizes and never explains. It simply presents.What it presents -- at some length -- is the meteoric and harrowing and indeed classically tragic life of Charlie Parker, one of the few unquestioned geniuses in jazz history and one of the greatest and most influential innovators in American musical history -- period.Forget whether it's g…

what to do when your "sleaze hormones"are raging and the new television season is very disappointing. . . . I was watching Joanie sit in for Johnny one night. You know the Joanie I mean, the one who sounds like a horse with a cough. Joan Rivers, the first half-woman, half-snake, half-Republican, who so often seems like some kind of mythological figure, a Sagittari…

EVELYN WAUGH'S "A Handful of Dust" is a cruelly funny novel about adultery and social sangfroid. It was first published in 1934 and is often considered one of the great comic masterpieces of 20th century fiction.The movie of it is more like "Masterpiece Theater" than a masterpiece but it's still eminently worthy.Brigid Brophy once wrote that there was an early "Waugh"…

In its fourth year, the annual Jewish Film Festival is going to offer this year's audience everything from documentaries on intermarriage to a "madcap comedy" about what happens when a Hasidic rabbi accidentally falls in among thugs and drug peddlers in Paris. None of them will be the sort of ordinary film which passes through Buffalo weekly. All eight films shown wil…

IT'S 1825. India (that's pronounced "Indjaaa" with the final vowel prolonged until your lungs and uvula give up). Pierce Brosnan is a British soldier who gets an inordinate amount of pleasure running around dressed like a native. Maybe that's because his soldier costume is awfully odd (one of his hats makes him look like the rook in an old chess set I once had).He's a…

DAVID SELTZER'S "Punchline" isn't one movie, it's two movies smashed together. Both are about fledgling standup comics, perhaps the most neurotic and aggressively needful form of urban humanity.One movie is about Tom Hanks, an electrified bundle of hostility and emotional disquiet. And that movie is absolutely brilliant -- brilliantly acted and hair-raisingly believab…

Alan King and Billy Crystal play father and son in Henry Winkler's debut directorial effort, "Memories of Me." Shot from some angles, King and Crystal even look a bit alike, as if both had the same genes swimming around somewhere inside their chromosomes.In the film, both are superb -- especially King, a brilliantly irascible nightclub comic who has floated around the…

ON DECEMBER 15, 1966, a dedicated therapist for the handicapped named Dian Fossey embarked on a new life in Africa. Sometime in the evening of Dec. 26, 1985, someone walked into her cabin and split her skull diagonally from her forehead to her mouth. An automatic pistol lay next to her bed.What Dian Fossey did in between those two dates was nothing less than save an a…

"SHOELESS JOE" Jackson was one of the greatest baseball players ever to heft a bat or put on a glove.His career batting average in the majors is .356, the third highest ever. And, as baseball analyst and statistician Bill James says, "He compiled that in a low average era and hit with power."Except for a passing remark at the beginning of John Sayles' "Eight Men Out" …

You knew Henry Threadgill had arrived -- capital A -- when his droll and rather marvelous self somehow wound up in a Dewar's Profile -- one of those "what-sort-of-man-drinks-our-scotch" ads that adorn the back covers of all the fancier slick magazines (the New Yorker, et. al.). His profession is described as "composer, multi-instrumentalist, inventor of the hubkap…

YOU HAVE to remember one weirdly delightful thing as you watch Chris Columbus' absolutely shameless "Heartbreak Hotel" -- in 1961 Tuesday Weld co-starred with Elvis Presley in "Wild in the Country." Not only that, according to some cloudland dance cards, she spent some time offscreen on the much-coveted back seat of Elvis' motorcycle (and perhaps other more-coveted lo…

"Bird Lives" is the old subway legend. No he doesn't. Charlie Parker died in 1955. They don't get any deader. But heaven knows bebop still lives.The word that Clint Eastwood was bringing the life of Charlie Parker to the movies has been passed around jazz circles for more than a year. In the wake of the year's great bebop call to arms in movie houses, a few choice rec…

Bird was kind of like the sun, giving off the energy we drew from him. . . . In any musical situation, his ideas just bounded out and inspired anyone who was around. -- Max RoachHIS NAME was Charlie Parker but they called him "Bird" most of his adult life.Some of the things Charlie Parker did:He could play beautifully on any alto saxophone "even if it were held toget…