Monday, March 07, 2011

Miscellaneous: Anatomy of a Weekend

The McCoy Tyner Quintet. Might as well kick things off by seeing a legend in person. Tyner is one of the great jazz pianists and a living link to John Coltrane. (He played on A Love Supreme, people.) At Jazz Alley, he was backed by a brace of sterling musicians: Gary Bartz on saxophone, John Patitucci on bass, Herlin Riley on drums and the one and only Bill Frisell on guitar. Each had his moments to shine, but all were happy to defer to the master at the keyboard. Their rendition of Duke Ellington’s “In a Mellotone” was pure joy. The show was packed, to the extent that I was initially concerned about our seats at the side of the stage. But that’s where the boys hung out right before they were introduced. And we were positioned perfectly to see Mr. Tyner’s face throughout the set, issuing signs like a wily catcher calling a close game behind the plate. I may request those seats in the future.

Local 360. Dinner was terrific at this new locavore restaurant, but what do I know? I’m no foodie. Of greater interest was the application of their philosophy to the cocktail menu. I had a Manhattan made with Desert Lightning corn whisky from the Yakima Valley. The whisky’s sharp, almost astringent taste was reminiscent of moonshine – yes, I’ve had moonshine – and resisted blending with the vermouth. The result was not entirely successful. But damned if I don’t want another one.

The Adjustment Bureau (2011). This Philip K. Dick-inspired thriller about a man who stumbles onto the mysterious forces who keep us mere mortals on plan is, at heart, a love story. Its light tone makes a nice change of pace from the usual paranoid intensity. Matt Damon and Emily Blunt have better chemistry than any screen couple in recent memory. Writer/director George Nolfi provides them with some good dialogue. Throw in great New York locations and fine haberdashery and I was happy to go along for the ride.

No Orchids for Miss Blandish (1948). James Hadley Chase’s 1939 novel about a kidnapping gone wrong, and then really wrong, is one of the premier WTF reading experiences, with jaw-dropping, mind-bending and occasionally eye-rolling plot twists all the way to the closing paragraphs. This lurid U.K. adaptation, its cast of English actors Noo Yawkin’ it up, kept some lulus that an American version would never have gotten away with, but still had to water the strongest stuff down. Despite gutting Chase’s book, it remains deeply nuts.