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A week of Florida writers – Part 5

Florida claims Jimmy Buffett, although he was born in Pascagoula, Mississippi. Now get this, in a concert a bit more than a decade ago, Buffett told the audience his hometown was Fairhope, Alabama. Whatever, he lived for a time in Key West, and now Palm Beach is home and has been for a long time. [...]

Lumet takes on “The Wizard of Oz”

One cannot help but wonder why Sidney Lumet, director of so many superb and critically acclaimed films, would take on a black retelling of “The Wizard of Oz” story. The 1978 movie that resulted – “The Wiz” – was hated by reviewers and lost $10.4 million for the backers, Motown Productions and Universal Pictures. The [...]

A week of jazz giants – Part 5

Not all jazz giants were musicians. Herman Leonard was a photographer. He came along at the right time, 1948. Herman, as a young man home from the war and fresh out of Ohio University with a fine arts degree in photography, opened a photo studio in New York. His intention was to make a living [...]

A week of jazz giants – Part 4

Jane Jarvis is a jazz pianist and organist you’ve probably not heard of, but you’ve heard a lot of her music, particularly if you were a Braves fan at Milwaukee’s old County Stadium or a Mets fan at Shea. She was the organist and played everything from Charlie Parker’s “Scrapple From the Apple” to, what [...]

A week of jazz giants – Part 3

Hank Jones was a jazz pianist, bandleader, arranger, and composer whose style was both eloquent and lyrical. The National Endowment for the Arts honored him in 1989 with its Jazz Masters Award, the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers in 2003 with its Jazz Living Legend Award, and the National Endowment for the Arts [...]

A week of jazz giants – Part 2

In the field of jazz, Billy Taylor could do it all – pianist, composer, teacher, spokesman. I first became aware of him when CBS hired him in 1981, to be a cultural correspondent for “Sunday Morning,” the network’s Sunday morning news program then hosted by Charles Kuralt. Every feature Taylor ever did – at least [...]

A week of jazz giants – Part 1

George Shearing was the epitome of soft jazz, cool jazz with his “Lullaby of Birdland,” a tune he wrote in 10 minutes for the Birdland Jazz Club way back in 1952. The house band played “Lullaby” once every hour. People liked the number and it became a standard. Shearing wrote a lot of music, nearly [...]