Head over Heels for Hedwig

Hedwig and the Angry Inch : Theater Review / NY / Broadway / Time : 2014 Spring

By Rory Winston

What would I be writing if Hedwig and the Angry Inch was the name of a real band rather than the fictitious one in the play of that title? Since suspension of disbelief rarely gets easier than when one is under the spell of Neil Patrick Harris, let's begin with our very own mock-rock concert review:

Born of the rubble that had once been the Berlin Wall, the heavily underpublicized glam-meets-punk rock band Hedwig and the Angry Inch hijacked the Belasco Theatre last night in an once-in-a-lifetime performance that showed New Yorkers that tearing down the walls of gender and musical genre alike is still one of the best ways to ‘bring down the house.’ But how did a spin-off project that had recently been no more than the supporting band for rock legend Tommy Gnosis get booked in one of the most prestigious houses on the Great White way? The story seems as twisted as the transgender East German lead singer of the band.

American Music (and Musicians) For The Ages


By Barry Bassis

We all know that great music lasts forever, but some musicians seem to live, and even perform, into their old age.

When a new CD, “Magic 101,” arrived from Frank Wess, I immediately checked for the date of the recording, assuming it must have been made decades ago. Yet, the session took place in June 2011. Born in 1922, he performed at Birdland earlier this year to celebrate his 91st birthday. Wess was a mainstay of the Count Basie band during his ten years there. That group became know as the “Two Franks” band because of the two saxophonist-composer-arrangers Frank Wess and Frank Foster. In 2007 he received the American Jazz Masters Fellowship award from The National Endowment for the Arts. And what does Wess sound like on the CD? Smooth as silk. Wess plays tenor saxophone and, never a flamboyant musician, he is mellower than ever, on evergreens like “The Very Thought of You” and “Easy Living.” He also sustains a gentle swing, with the help of a first-rate group: Kenny Barron on piano, Kenny Davis on bass and Winard Harper on drums. This is an album you can put on to relax after a stressful day. Incidentally, the tile of the new album is a reference to the fact that Magic is the nickname his band mates gave to Wess. My only complaint about the CD is that Wess doesn’t play flute, an instrument on which he was one of the jazz pioneers.