NAT KING COLE
Fast forward about 3,000 years to Israel Horovitz' play Out of the Mouths of Babes. In this striking Cherry Lane Theatre production (www.cherrylanetheatre.org), the Babes are adults. Out of their mouths comes wit..with claws. Picture four sassy, savvy, snarky babes -- all ex-wives and lovers of the same beloved Professor -- clumped together in one Paris apartment for his funeral.
Sinatra Century is a hell of a whiskey; if you've got $500 to spare, there are far worse ways to spend it. But this whole package feels to me like the Sinatra estate flipping the bird to the people who simply love his music. Let's hope some altruistic soul puts this show online for the masses as a sort of return salute.
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After the screening, Lauryn Hill fronted a big band singing songs from Nina Simone's songlist, starting with "Ne Me Quitte Pas." She played "Ain't Got No, I Got Life" as a rap tune. Jazmine Sullivan sang "Baltimore." These performers, along with Mary J. Blige, Usher and others are part of a Nina Simone tribute album.
Of the many tributes to Billie Holiday's 100th birthday today (April 7), the most compelling I've heard is Cassandra Wilson's Sony Legacy album Coming Forth By Day, a strange, atmospheric brew produced by Nick Launay (whose credits include music by Nick Cave and Arcade Fire) with shimmering string arrangements by the incomparable Van Dyke Parks.