Monday, October 22, 2012

Baxterless Brown back with 'Guide'

Yeah, Baxter McLean will be back, this time our unlikely folk-singing sleuth getting tangled up in the messy revolutionary politics of the 1970s, specifically the so-called United Freedom Front, which, in 1976, decided that bombing our happy little town, Newburyport Superior Court, was an interesting and effective way to protest whatever it was they were against (it seems so foggy now, like a bad dream) in the next Libertyport murder-mystery — Libertyport being that quaint, fictional-but-oh-so-familiar New England community where everyone knows everyone else, and their business, “an idyllic vision straight out of Norman Rockwell, but gay-friendly, with hybrid cars and flat-screen TVs,” as Joel Brown, the author, puts it. But you won’t find him, Baxter, kicking around the Rum House, or fending off the ferocious queries of local gossip/blogger Abigail Marks until next year. “If I make good on my promises,” says Brown, a North End resident, Boston Globe scribbler and author of “Mirror Ball Man” and “Mermaid Blues,” the two Libertyport/McLean mysteries. And he pretty much has to follow up on the series, seeing how he promised to kill off some lucky fan as a reward in his Kickstarter campaign to help finance “Essex County Byway Guide: History, Culture & Nature on the North Shore,” his current project, which has its coming out party next week at Plum Island Coffee Roasters — and his third book in as many years.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Jozef Nadj: Hitting all the right notes

Jazz violinist Jozef Nadj’s got his funk on. He’s moving, grooving, despite the fact that he’s still getting used to real time after a trip back home, his first home, to Central Europe. So he rolls out of bed at the ungoldly hour of 5 in the morning, still hobbling around the house, nursing a foot injury from a pick-up soccer game, which delayed his return stateside by almost a week, leaving him barely enough time to prepare for the first day of classes at The Musical Suite, where the Lynn resident has taught for three years. He puts on some Maceo Parker and shakes off the cobwebs. Not that the violinist, who brings his band, the Jozef Nadj Fusion System, to the Firehouse next week, is especially heavy into the funk thing. Fact is, Nadj, whose name rhymes with "lodge," could, and would, play pretty much anything, as long as he finds something intriguing at its core, some challenge, something interesting to latch onto, to explore, an attitude perfectly illustrated by the classically trained musician’s two current, competing projects: the first, a rock album of original music somewhere in the vicinity, musically, of his favorite bands from back in the day: Guns N’ Roses, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Metallica — itself a significant departure from JNFS’s 2009 debut, "Digital World," which finds him in the neighborhood of Jean Luc Ponty (natch) and Miles Davis (the fusion years). And then there’s the other project, an album of tunes by Charlie Parker. By a band that does not have a tenor player — any saxophone, in fact. Yeah, Bird, the guy who all but invented the instrument. A god in jazz circles. Untouchable, unapproachable. An album with violin as its main weapon, its ax of choice. Granted, a hopped-up violin. Electric, with all the gear, pedals. Which adds another layer of controversy for purists.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Amazing journey: Dunphy, Epomeo, the Dreadnaught

Melissa Dunphy is a classical composer with, um, some unusual influences, touchstones, like her stubborn, lingering obsession with Nine Inch Nails, which led her to re-imagine NIN’s “The Frail,” which she named “Variations on a Theme by Trent Reznor” and which she arranged as an Elizabethan madrigal, of course. And this is probably the most “normal,” the most standard repertoire thing she’s done lately. She’s 32, an Australian transplant. She’s a fellow at the University of Pennsylvania, a PhD candidate in composition, on a Benjamin Franklin Fellowship. She’s currently working on an opera based on the writings of Ayn Rand. Not the (yawn) important philosophical underpinnings of her fiction, what the Russian writer called objectivism. No, she’s zeroing in on Rand’s nasty, completely over-the-top depictions of sex that read like rape fantasy, or, in the case of “Fountainhead” hot-to-trot protagonists Howard Roark and Dominique Francon, sexual assault committed during the course of a home invasion. “I’m amazed that no one has made an opera out of it yet,” she says. Then, pausing, she adds, “Hopefully I won’t get sued.”