If my dad, Carl Sigman, were around on the day the rains came to California last month in the midst of the worst drought the state has seen in centuries, he might have said, 'Mother Earth smiled again.'
I'm old fashioned. I have deep respect and undying love for great songs. Some of them were written for Broadway shows; others to be performed at parties and in nightclubs. Some became popular over the radio or because they were included in beloved movie musicals.
Often, biographies of artists get me a little antsy: Shouldn't I just be watching their movies, reading their books, studying their art or listening to their music? But the best books capture their life and creative process and shed new light on the work in the process.
Sometime in the winter of 1958, I had the chance to hear Billie Holiday on her closing night at Boston's venerated Storyville. For reasons I can't recall, I chose not to go. She died less than a year later, at 44, and that was that for me and Billie Holiday live.
Seeing Allen Toussaint perform twice in the space of about 60 days -- in drastically different circumstances each time -- reminded me of why a love for musical roots can seemingly never run out of ways to discover and rediscover the beginnings of American popular music.
That is the question posed by one of the musicians in Judy Chaikin's illuminating and joyful new documentary The Girls in the Band, and one of the best lines in the film pointing up the challenges faced by female jazz musicians in the 30's, as well as today.
It's Memorial Day, honoring those who died in service to our country, and for most of us, it's an extra day off. An extra day off is a such a luxury, a delight, a bonus. So why doesn't an extra meal give us the same thrill?
The bottom line is that children who have more arts education do better in school and in life. Significantly, the correlation happens to be strongest for low-income youth, the students most often failed by our schools.
At age 97, more than eight decades into his remarkable career, Irving Fields is the last of the original generation of cocktail pianists who tickled the ivories in Manhattan's swankiest nightspots in the 1930s and '40s.