January 20, 2006
arts. michigandaily. com
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"You know, Sputnik is really a spy satellite."
'Nine Lives' captivates
MARSALIS AND ENSEMBLE TAKES THE S
By Andrew Klein
Daily Arts Writer
The idea of revisiting and interpreting an leg-
endary album that helped
define modern music is the
dream of many, but one that Wynton
few actually attempt. This Marsalis with
Sunday at 4 p.m. at Hill the Lincoln
Auditorium, renowned jazz Center Jazz
trumpeter Wynton Marsalis Orchestra
will appear with the Lincoln Sunday at 4 p.m.
Center Jazz Orchestra. They Tickets $10-$48
will perform a tribute to John
Coltrane's A Love Supreme, At Hill Auditorium
the iconic 1964 masterpiece
consisting of three tracks totaling 32 minutes
and 59 seconds.
A recipient of several Grammys and a Pulitzer
Prize, Marsalis, co-founder and Music Director
for the LCJO since its creation in 1987, needs no
proof of his legitimacy as a jazz musician. Still,
even for someone with as many credentials as he
has, preparing A Love Supreme is no small feat.
Originally recorded with a quartet, Marsalis has
arranged the music to encompass the entirety of
the 15-member LCJO.
Even with his numerous accolades, Marsa-
lis is no stranger to criticism. While there's no
doubt that the nonprofit LCJO is one of the lead-
ing institutions of jazz music in America, there's
much discussion of what the LCJO doesn't play.
His disapproval of post-1965 avant-garde jazz,
as well as fusion from the '70s, is as well known
as his calm disinterest in his critics.
Politics aside, Marsalis is devoted to music
on a broad scale.
He appeared in New Orleans this past Mon-
day, giving a speech and performing for the
students of Tulane University, which resumed
"He has devoted his whole life to jazz music,"
said Ali Jackson, the ensemble's drummer who
is among its newest members.
From meeting with committees to fundrais-
ing, Jackson said Marsalis "does the work of
three or four people."
He described Marsalis as a "good barometer
for talent," and perhaps that reflects on Jackson
himself. Jackson, who began drumming at age
two, has performed with Aretha Franklin and
TAGE AT HILL
When asked about his choice to perform A
Love Supreme, Jackson described the album
as "a unique documentation of a certain time,
a certain philosophy, not just Coltrane's phi-
losophy, but also the musicians he was playing
with." He went on to label the album as "a very
spiritual piece of music."
A cornerstone in the education of any jazz
musician's life, Jackson recognized the full
importance of the album at age 14. He emphati-
cally summed up the album's concept as one of
"It's a connection of trying to find who you
are, where God is ... to walk a path of righ-
teousness and containing all of the those quali-
ties that concern righteousness," he said.
As one of the musicians performing such a
piece, Jackson described the feeling as being
"absorbed by the music."
On Marsalis as a band leader, Jackson had
only high praise, dismissing critics and emphat-
ically throwing his support.
"He's a special individual ... He doesn't give
up. He's straight-up," he said.
With Ann Arbor the fourth stop on a 10-
date tour that includes Chicago and Yokahama,
Japan, the ensemble has the potential to impact
an audience as few performers can.
By Andrew Bielak
Daily Arts Writer
Near the end of Rodrigo Garcia's "Nine
Lives," cancer patient Camille (Kathy
few choice words
from the confines
of her hospital bed.
"We're so lucky,"
she manages to tell
her husband through
at the Michigan
the warm haze of her pre-surgery anes-
thesia. When the question of how they are
lucky arises, Camille responds in a man-
ner both esoteric and disarmingly simple:
"To be a part of something,"
Being a part of something is essen-
tially what "Nine Lives" strives for as it
weaves through the lives of nine differ-
ent women in Los Angeles. Through the
presentation of brief, dramatic vignettes,
most of which are wrought by a miniature
crisis, Garcia hopes to convey a sense of
interconnectedness among the trials and
tribulations of the characters.
With a surprisingly layered and varied
cast,"Nine Lives" offers glimpses of life so
fully realized that, left to themselves, they
could stand as their own complex charac-
ter studies. Diana (Robin Wright Penn,
"White Oleander") teeters on the verge of
a breakdown while encountering an old
flame at the supermarket. Sonia (Holly
Hunter, "Thirteen") attempts to retain her
composure while suffering underneath a
collapsing relationship. Holly (Lisa Gay
Hamilton, "The Truth About Charlie")
returns to her childhood home to confront
an estranged father.
The stories of these women, and the
other six that compose the film, offer an
intentionally vague and choppy vision
of who they actually are. This sense of
incompleteness ends up serving as one
of the film's greatest strengths. While the
audience is initially eager to learn about
their pasts and futures, the true satisfac-
tion comes from the deep connection
and understanding we glean from briefly
watching them in the present. For the
slow, deliberate manner in which he tack-
les many of these situations, Garcia has a
profound ability to keep them, for the most
part, engrossing and entertaining.
While it's largely successful in achiev-
ing the quiet poignancy it aims for, "Nine
Lives" still misfires in a few critical ways.
In an attempt to present a sense of inter-
connectedness in the manner of "Mag-
nolia" or "Crash," Garcia has characters
from one storyline reappear later on in
another, but the extra flair is superflu-
ous. Rather than establishing continuity,
it feels like a forced attempt to rework a
An additional problem in the film
is inconsistency. Although many of the
vignettes - specifically the ones men-
tioned earlier - are especially absorb-
ing, there are a few in the second half that
are pointedly bland. But blemishes aside,
what makes Garcia's effort really work
is its ambition. "Nine Lives" operates on
an admirably miniature level, refusing
to offer grand visions or tightly pack-
aged portraits of its characters. Through
a minute representation of the struggles
these ordinary women endure, the film
ultimately becomes a universally affect-
ing sum of its parts.
sat in on two tours with
toured Europe with his
when he was 17.
Marsalis. Jackson also
uncle, Oliver Jackson,
Blige doesn't break through on latest
By Caitlin Cowan
Daily Arts Writer
As respectable and genuine as R&B grande dame
Mary J. Blige might seem, she
just doesn't command respect
the way some of her predeces-
sors have. She doesn't have
Mariah Carey's amazing pipes,
capable of scaling an unbeliev-
able eight-octave range, and she
Mary J. Blige
doesn't have Whit-
Couresy f yanSyder
Lelm will dance Saturday at the Mendelssohn Theater.
Student-based Irish dance
troupe leaps to new venue
ney Houston's chest-blasting vocal power either. As
much as her seventh studio album might seem like
a solid record by a solid artist, it's mediocre for a
vocalist who has as much experience and as many
famous friends as Blige has.
It's no secret that the beats on The Breakthrough
are great - when they're her own. Blige uses the
beat from The Game's "Hate it or Love It" for her
self-glorification anthem, "MJB Da MVP," in which
she recounts (in a style that borders on the unmusi-
cal) nearly every record she has made in her decade-
"Then I came with No More Drama / I remem-
ber that week / It was when Aaliyah died / I could
hardly sleep," she says in the song, dropping names
even faster than Johnny Cash in the middle of his
countrywide crawl on "I've Been Everywhere."
The last track is a sorry duet with Bono on U2's
"One," complete with ad-libbed, uptight cheer rou-
tines like, "Mary! Mary!" from the Irish rocker him-
self. Jay-Z pops up as well, and adds some flavor to the
bland blah-blah of the middle of the album on "Can't
Hide From Luv." Even though Jay hypes her up during
the song's intro, saying, "MJB ... the voice ..." Blige
is fairly inconsistent on the track and momentarily
sounds as if she's a young Aretha before returning
to her typical so-so style. It's Jay's voice that makes
it worth a second listen, and Blige is overshadowed
more quickly than Kanye West in the booth with Talib
Kweli and Common on his College Dropout cut, "Get
Em High" (sic).
Blige's voice and The Breakthrough on the
whole incite a desire to light jasmine candles
and call up your lover, but sometimes she even
gets too screechy, and preachy, for that. On "Bag-
gage," Blige forgets her own strengths as a singer
and rips through some notes that almost bring the
whole record to an ear-splitting stop. "Want you
to stay with me / I n-e-v-e-r meant to hurt you
baby," Blige sings, squealing through one of her
favorite overused adverbs.
It can't be helped. Always, never, forever ... this
is Blige's territory, and has been from the outset.
Even though her fifth album promised No More
Drama, this is still chock full of it.
By Niamh Slevin
Daily Arts Writer
Every spring, the Diag wakes up from
the gloom of winter and becomes a lively
arena of sprawled-
out sunbathers and
ing their perches.
But among the best
exhibitors in the
remains the Leim
Irish Dance group,
who performed last
year on the steps
of the Grad for the
At the Lydia
auditorium) was actually packed full.
There were people sitting in the aisle,"
This Saturday Leim will take the stage
at the Lydia Mendelssohn Theater for the
second time. But the transition to a bigger
venue implies more than simply a larger
house. Lauren Berry, an Art and Design
alum who is one of the group's oldest
members, explained its significance.
"This is much more than we've done
in every other show, and hopefully they'll
see the transition from the kind of amateur
group to a more professional, seasoned
dance group,"she said.
Though Leim primarily focuses on
traditional folk songs and instrumental
pieces, they also perform to several con-
temporary American songs to offer a
more modern view of what Irish dance
can entail. This semester's show, "Sham-
rockettes Irish Spectacular," features 16
performances, ranging from traditional
jigs and reels to classic-rock songs such as
Aerosmith's "Walk This Way" and AC/
DC's "Shook Me All Night Long."
Unlike other Leim shows, the event
leans more toward theatrical performance
than pure dance. Members created back-
drops and costumes, and choreographed
scenes to further develop the authenticity
Classical quartet features
dlarinet soloist at Rackham
Although they can't save the whole record
from sinking, songs like the bump and squeak of
"Enough Cryin' " and the powerful "Good Woman
Down" showcase exactly why Blige has endured
as an artist as long as she has: She knows how to
make a good R&B cut.
Unfortunately, there just aren't enough of them
on the album. The Breakthrough flickers into,
and out of, relevance as quickly as Blige's over-
flowing feelings change.
By Colleen Cox
Daily Arts Writer
Since its 1969 creation at the Jul-
liard School of Music, the Tokyo
Formed six years ago as the only Irish
dance program on campus, Lim attract-
ed just a few dancers at first before quickly
growing to include many performers with
a wide range of talents.
Business juniorErin McCann described
the makeup of a typical troupe: "We have
people who have never done any form of
dancing at all before joining the group
this year, and we have people who have
has stood as one
of the top classi-
cal collectives in
the world. This
Saturday at 8
p.m. in Rackham
to Ann Arbor for
Saturday at 8 p.m.
ed, all four members were Japanese
students at Julliard. Considered the
first all-Japanese classical quartet,
the group's interpretation of works
by Western masters through non-
Western perspectives opened new
facets of the music, quickly garner-
ing the quartet acclaim in the world
of classical music.
But as time passed, members left
and new members from all over the
world took their place. This diver-
sity of musical backgrounds only
enriches the experience of listening
to them perform.
Clarity and ingenuity are key to
the quartet; each member recognizes
Courtesy of UMS
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