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Jackie Mason

Jackie Mason - BB King’s, NYC, 5.6.17

by Michael Sherer

Jackie Mason has been on the comedy scene for sixty years, and is considered a living legend by many. He’s also had his share of controversy for his choice of material with such topics as politics, prostitution and race relations, as well as a major run in with Ed Sullivan when on his show in 1964. Sullivan had erroneously thought that Mason had given him the middle finger on air while performing, although Mason had in fact not. That’s a whole other story, though I’ll say that while the fallout was a disaster and derailed Mason’s career for two decades, it does provide a good antidote for Mason to tell during his show, as well as doing his famous impersonation of the wooden like Sullivan.

At 85, Mason (born Yacov Moshe Maza) has slowed down but he still has the goods and natural timing that a real comedian must have. And to his credit Mason has almost always written all of his own material. That also includes American politics and culture in general, observational commentary, international relations, antisemitism and Jewish culture. Mason is as Jewish centric as they come, (he refers to himself as “The Ultimate Jew”) and with his strong Yiddish based accent and highly distinct, staccato manner of speaking, he sounds like no one else. A critic for Time once wrote that he spoke to audiences “with the Yiddish locutions of an immigrant who just completed a course in English. By mail.”

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Michael Douglas, Stephen Galloway & Sherry Lansing

Sherry Lansing and Stephen Galloway in conversation with Michael Douglas, 92Y, NYC, 4.28.17

by Michael Sherer

There’s no doubt that Sherry Lansing has had a stellar and storied career in the film industry. She was the first female president of 20th Century Fox and later went on to become chairman of Paramount Pictures. She’s also been a very successful independent producer. Ms. Lansing recently met up with old friend and colleague Michael Douglas and author Stephen Galloway at the 92nd Street Y to discuss her biography, written by Mr. Galloway, titled “Leading Lady: Sherry Lansing And The Making of a Hollywood Groundbreaker.” Mr. Douglas took the role of moderator and was clearly comfortable asking questions surrounding the book and reminiscing about his long standing professional relationship with Ms. Lansing.

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Aimee Mann captivates the Barrymore audience

Aimee Mann brings “Mental Illness” to Madison’s Barrymore Theatre 5.2.17

by Sal Serio

After more than 30 years in the role of “Music Reviewer” I am happy to report that the activity hasn’t become rote and automatic. Because, often I am pleasantly surprised by the concert experience, especially when it is outside the limitations of my initial expectations. After being asked to review last night’s Aimee Mann concert at the Barrymore in Madison, I definitely walked away feeling like I got way more than I initially bargained for (in my mind, that is). Which clearly begs the question, what did I expect? Well, first let’s look at the latest release by Aimee Mann, titled ‘Mental Illness’, a beautifully crafted album of strong material, anchored by Mann’s driving acoustic guitar rhythms and her lilting singing style. The 11 songs are typically in an introspective, borderline melancholy mood, perfect for a rainy day. But this shouldn’t shock anybody. Mann’s nearly 25 year solo career has been founded on this sort of emotion… a dark humor balanced by melodies that stick in your head long after the record is off the turntable. Akin to watching an excellent drama, and having it’s major themes stuck in your subconscious for days or weeks after.

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Bob Dylan circa 1963

The Photography Show - Presented by AIPAD, March 30 - April 2, 2017, Pier 94, NYC

by Michael Sherer

Now in its 37th year, The Association of International Photography Art Dealers, (AIPAD), has been presenting its annual exhibition in New York City. This year it was at Pier 94 on 12th Ave at 55th Street. Featuring more than 85 prominent photography galleries from throughout the country, this is a major show indeed. There’s so much to see throughout the isles of this spacious venue. There’s a bar on hand as well. A variety of genres are on display, including contemporary, modern, nineteenth-century and photo-based media. There are also talks given by photographers and artists. This year I was especially keen on hearing veteran photographer Lee Friedlander. He and his wife Maria were interviewed by their grandson Giancarlo. They’re all in business together owning the longstanding Haywire Press, which publishes Lee’s work since he started photographing in the late ‘50’s. Much of that work is known for its urban “social landscapes,” with many of Lee’s images incorporating store-front reflections, structures outlined by fences, street signs, etc. He also loves jazz and took photos of many musicians of this American invented genre, including John Coltrane’s Giant Steps, that wound up on many covers of Atlantic Records in the ‘60’s.

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The Zombies

The Zombies - The Town Hall, NYC, 3.25.17

by Michael Sherer

I was quite pleased to be present for The Zombies’ last tour as it came through the most major of all its U.S. stops, my hometown of NYC. And what a venue to experience it, the fabled Town Hall, one of the oldest and charming venues in the city. Opened in 1921 in the Times Square area with a capacity of 1,500, its acoustics and sight lines are excellent, especially from my seat a few rows away from center stage.

Some contextual history for this band is in order. They were founded in 1961 in St. Albins, Hertfordshire, England by Rod Argent, Paul Atkinson and Hugh Grundy, with Colin Blunstone and Paul Arnold joining soon after. All were late teenagers still in school. They were originally called The Mustangs, with Arnold suggesting changing it to the far more unique The Zombies. After scoring some hits, the band unfortunately broke up in December of 1967, months before their second record was released in April, 1968. That record, Odyssey & Oracle, is ranked number 100 on Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. This final tour is to celebrate the 50th anniversary of its recording. It contains one of their best songs, written by Rod Argent, called “Time Of The Season.” It was a big hit, peaking at number 3 on Billboard’s Hot 100 in 1969, after building up from its release the year before.

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