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BEST OF 2011

Dear Readers,

It's again a good year for new music and reissues. The usual disclaimers stating the obvious but pertinent: We were not able to hear all the concerts and discs of 2011. We merely give credit to the ones we geographically, financially or by circumstance were able to lay our ears upon.

Happy hunting to all, and an artistically rich 2012.
Steve Koenig,

New York City

10 memorable rituals from 2011

Daniel Higgs @ Zebulon 2/22/11

Morton Subotnick / Atom TM @ David Rubinstein atrium 4/7/11

Pikacyu & Makoto Kawabata at Monster Island Basement 5/11/11

Hikashu at Japan Society 5/13/11

Ryoji Ikeda - the transfinite exhibit at the Armory 5/20/11

Wu Fei at Barbes 7/23/11

Secret Chiefs 3 at Le Poisson Rouge 9/13/11

Nisennenmondai at Death By Audio 11/2/11

Otomo Yoshihide & Christian Marclay at Japan Society 11/19/11

John Zorn solo organ at Miller Theater 12/9/11

Cuidad México, D.F. / Mexico City

Weird synthetic sounds for acoustic levitation.

1. DJ RASHAD. Just A Taste. Ghettophiles.,

2. HYPE WILLIAMS. One Nation. Hippos in tanks.,

3. ONEOHTRIX POINT NEVER. Replica. Mexican Summer,

4. JAMES FERRARO. Far side Virtual. Hippos in tanks.

5. STEVE HAUSCHILDT. Tragedy & Geometry. Kranky.

6. BYTONE. Symeta. Raster Noton.

7. ANDY STOTT. We Stay Together. Modern Love.,

8. ZOMBY. Dedication. 4AD.,

9. DEATH GRIPS. Exmilitary.

10. SHABAZZ PALACES. Black Up. Sub Pop.,

Solid Sound Archeology: New discoveries of Cosmic Sounds heard in 2011

1. CAL TJADER. Latino. Originally released in 1960 by Fantasy Records.

2. IDRIS MUHAMMAD. Power of Soul. Originally released in 1974 by CTI Records, Original recording remastered by Sony 2002.

3. PAX NICHOLAS AND THE NETTEY FAMILY. Na teef know the road of teef. Originally released in 1973 by Tabansi label, reissue by Daptone Records, 2009.

4. GRACE JONES. Warm Leatherette. Originally released in 1980 by Island Records. [Editor's Note: Better yet, find the original punk single "Warm Leatherette" by The Normal.]

5. RHYTHM & SOUND w/ Tikiman. Ruff Way EP (Afefe Iku Remix). (Unofficial Release ARP 001) originally released 2007.

Ethnomusicologist, composer, improviser


In alphabetical order:

Abdolqader Maraqi Ensemble. Showqname. 3 CDs. 2011.

Beytocan. Etuna dile min. CD. Aydin Müzik Yapim. No date.

INDONESIA. Songs from the Uma: Music from Siberut Island. 2 CDs. PAN Records. 2009.

Kardes Türküler. Çocuk Hakli. CD. Kalan. 2011.

KURDISH-TURKEY. Hearth and Ash: Kurdish Alevi Laments. CD + book. Kalan. 2011.

KURDISH-TURKEY. Komela Jinen Serhede. Kurdish women singers from Van who are living in a tent, their homes having been destroyed by the recent earthquake.CD. Asanlar Müzik Yapim. 2011.

Mutant. Blues in Z. CD. A.K. Müzik Yapim. 2011.

Luigi NONO. Risonanze erranti. CD. NEOS. 2011.,

Eyse SAN. Hepsa Diyarbekir. CD. Asanlar Müzik Yapim. No date.

Giacinto SCELSI. The Viola Works. CD. Mode Records. 2011.

Alessandro STRIGGIO. Mass in 40 Parts. CD/DVD. Decca. 2011.

New York State
Managing Editor

Best of 2011

In retrospect, a better year than I had thought. When the time came to compile this list it seemed to keep growing endlessly.

Having gotten the beast under control, it was hard to whittle it down to just these. Clearly a banner year for the Clean Feed label, at one point I had ten titles on the list and seven of them belonged to them. Alphabetical rather than in any order of preference, although if pressed to pick a number one it would handily be Adam Lane's corker for Clean Feed. Someone else's review began with simply, "Wow! What a record!" and I tend to agree. And special kudos must go to any disc that's fun enough to make me get up and shake my leaden ass, which Stefan Zeniuk's wonderful Gato Loco did several times. Not always a safe idea while driving... [Editor's Note: Thanks to Señor Zeniuk and Gato Loco, you can hear one of their live performances in our Musician's Gifts section:, and then buy this CD too.]

Adam Lane's Full Throttle Orchestra. Ashcan Rantings. Clean Feed.

Agustí Fernández. Morning Glory. Maya,

Aram Shelton's Arrive. 'there was...' Clean Feed,

Atomic. Here Comes Everybody. Jazzland,

Bill Dixon. Envoi. Victo,

Darius Jones Trio. Big Gurl (Smell My Dream). AUM Fidelity

David Binney. Graylen Epicenter. Mythology,

Enrico Rava Quintet. Tribe. ECM,

Bach. Concertos & Sinfonias for Oboe. Heinz Holliger. ECM New Series,

Jason Ajemian's Daydream Full Lifestyles. Protest Heaven. 482,

Jim Black Trio. Somatic. Winter&Winter,,

Joe Morris & Agusti Fernandez. Ambrosia. Riti,

Joel Harrison String Choir. The Music of Paul Motian. Sunnyside

John Escreet. The Age We Live In. Mythology,

Jonathan Kreisberg. Shadowless. New For Now,

London Improvisers Orchestra. Lio Leo Leon. PSI,

The Necks. Mindset. ReR,

Pablo Held. Glow. Pirouet Records,

Pat Martino Quartet. Undeniable. High Note,

Peter Evans Quintet. Ghosts. More Is More,

Rez Abbasi's Invocation. Suno Suno. enja,

Rob Brown Trio. Unknown Skies. Rogue Art,

Rudresh Mahanthappa. Samdhi. ACT,

Satoko Fujii Min-Yoh Ensemble. Watershed. Libra,

Starlicker. Double Demon. Delmark,

Stefan Zeniuk. Gato Loco. Winter & Winter,,,

Walter Beltrami. Paroxysmal Postural Vertigo. Auand,

William Parker & ICI Ensemble. Winter Sun Crying. NEOS Jazz,,

Wadada Leo Smith's Organic. Heart's Reflections. Cuneiform,

New York City


ALICE COOPER. Killer (Remaster). This plus Love It To Death are the two of twelve Japan-only Alice Cooper remasters released on SHM, whose technology makes little sense, yet has rarely failed to make an audible difference when played in my system. You have to reach Japan to track down remasters of masterpieces afforded crap treatment stateside: grab Van Morrison's Japan-only remaster of Astral Weeks and Laura Nyro's Japan-only remasters of Christmas and The Beads of Sweat and Smile while you still can. On this remastering of Killer, which sounded execrable on original CD and even worse on original LP, all fears of a bad master-tape are allayed. Revel to the basslines and the trumpets (synths?) on "Dead Babies" and the chorus on Love It To Death's "Ballad of Dwight Fry." Worth the bucks if you have a yen for the music. Warner WPCR-14392, SHM-CD (Japan only), 37:01,

ALBERT AYLER. Stockholm, Berlin 1966. Some has been on bootleg, but the Stockholm, I believe, is the first ever appearance. Whether you have had some of this before or not, the audio, from European radio broadcast tapes, is spectacularly vivid; you've never heard Ayler's horn sound so real. Tthere's no excuse not to add this to your collection. HatOLOGY 717, 59:18,

THE BEACH BOYS. The Smile Sessions Box Set. Packaged in a way oversized 3-D diorama box, 2 picture-sleeve original-label 45s, 2 original-label LPs, 5 original-labels CDs, poster, large color photo booklet, and 12x12" hardcover book; most of the music available on bootleg before, but not in sound like this and certainly not in packaging like this. If you're new to the "long-lost" Smile album, some of these songs have appeared on Smiley Smile and other albums, and everybody knows "Good Vibrations" and "Heroes And Villains," but now it's a full-length suite that charms and charms and is worth every penny. Non-collectors can make do with the double-CD edition. Capitol 509990 27658 22,,,

BEETHOVEN. Piano Sonatas. Peter Takacs. No one set will do everything brilliantly, but the majority of the "32" is better than fine, plus he performs nine early sonatas plus one for four hands. The These are hybrid-SACDs in a hardcase folio with an extremely informative 144-page book with essays about each sonata, plus a fold-out timeline poster of the history and music of the times of these sonatas. 5.1 surround layer for those who care about such things. Cambria Music CD-3800A, (This is the same label who put out a great 12-CD box Composer Portrait series, now available individually, including volumes containing Cage, Carter, Wuorinen, William Kraft, Krenek, Mel Powell, and Wadada Leo Smith.)

BO-KEYS. Got To Get Back! A Memphis soul group that revives the spirit of Booker T and the MG's (that stands for Memphis Group, y'all). Put this on after Green Onions and the Bo-Keys stand proud at the same time as they move your soul and ass at the same time. Electraphonic Recording ER-106,

ROB BROWN TRIO. Unknown Skies. With pianist Craig Taborn and drummer Nasheet Waits at the Sons d'Hiver Festival. Rogue Art,

ROB BROWN. Unexplained Phenomena: Live At Vision Festival XV. With Matt Moran on vibes, Chris Lightcap on bass, Gerald Cleaver drums, this was a memorable set live and remains so on CD. Marge 48,

KATIE BULL. Freak Miracle. Featuring the singer's regular collaborators including bassist Joe Fonda, pianist Frank Kimbrough and drummer Harvey Sorgen, this has been on constant play since it arrived and yet it is no slur to say she is even better live. Innova 802,

DONOVAN. Sunshine Superman (UK mono + US Stereo Edition). 155 minutes of the first Mickey Most Donovan productions. EMI UK, 2 CDs,

SILKE EBERHARD. Potsa Lotsa: The Complete Works of Eric Dolphy. Following a superb duo with Aka Takase in tribute to the compositions of Ornette Coleman, Ms. Eberhard here turns her arranging to Dolphy. This alto tenor trumpet bone quartet navigates the ins and out of Dolphy's compositions. At times invoking groups like the World Sax Quartet when they play ensemble, more often the solos, especially of trumpeter Nikolaus Neuser and trombonist Gerhard Gschöbl (all new to me). Jazzwerkstatt 086, 2 CDs,,

FAB TRIO (Joe Fonda, Barry Altschul, Billy Bang). History of Jazz In Reverse. Totally exciting session with excellent audio, fine notes and photos. TUM CD028,

"THE FAME STUDIOS STORY 1961-1973: Home Of The Muscle Shoals Sound." 75 tracks, some famous, some obscure, in a lavishly-illustrated 84-page hardbound book. Tommy Roe, Arthur Alexander, Clarence Carter, Mitty Collier, Etta James, Joe Simon and many more. Kent KENTBOX 12, 3 CDs,

"THE FLEMISH POLYPHONY / LA POLYPHONIE FLAMANDE." Works by Dufay, Binchois, Ockeghem, Obrecht, Brumel, de la Rue, Josquin, et al. Performed by Cappella Pratensis, Capilla Flamenca, Discantus, Romanesque, Vox Luminis, Ensemble Organum, Diabolus in Musica, et al. A treasure you can (and should) get lost in. Ricercar RIC 102, book style slipcase with 200-page illustrated hardbound book and 8-CD folio,

ERIK FRIEDLANDER. 50 Miniatures for Improvising Quintet. Michael Sarin, Sylvie Courvoisier, Jennifer Choi, Trevor Dunn. Each morsel delicious. Skipstone SR006, 36:32,

SATOKO FUJII MIN-YOH ENSEMBLE. Watershed. The prolific pianist/composer, with many ensembles and many CDs has put out at least three this year, but this one is my favorite. Libra,

GESUALDO. Complete Madrigals. Kassiopeia Quintet. Wonderful performances in a midprice repackage with complete texts and English translations. Globe GLO 5241, 6 CDs,,

VINNY GOLIA QUARTET. Take Your Time. Relative Pitch RPR1003,

MILES GRIFFITH/MICHAEL JEFRY STEVENS QUARTET. Only Love. Miles Griffith is, as the youth say, one sick singer. One of the wildest and best in the business, the inimitable Griffith sounds like no one else and makes you laugh with joy as you deeply feel music that is no joke. Recently "featured" on several other discs, it's about time we have another disc all his own. Pianist Stevens is a well-known quality and they're joined by bassist Dominique Girod and drummer Dieter Ulrich. Creative Improvised Music for sure. Artists Recording Collective ARC-2185,,

HéLèNE GRIMAUD. Resonances. Mozart Sonata 8, Berg Sonata, Liszt Sonata, Bartók Romanian Folk Dances. The Liszt is just good, but the rest is amazing. The Mozart and the Bartók blow the competition out of the water, and I'm talking octane, passion and dexterity. Deutsche Grammophon 477 8766,,

CHARLES IVES. Four Sonatas for Violin and Piano. Hilary Hahn, violin; Valentina Lisita, piano. These have the style and fluidity that make these works equally classical and Americana.Deutsche Grammophon B00162082-02, 66:26,

KEITH JARRETT. Rio. Yes, another Jarrett solo gig, with fifteen sections averaging six minutes, making this a collection of pieces rather than the grand swooping architecture of the Köln Concert, but by turns pensive, frisky, fluttery, and his usual gospel and boogie woogie. The only negative is the rampant applause after each and every section. Hey, why doesn't Manfred Eicher encourage Jarrett to do a disc of Villa-Lobos piano music; all being Bach-lovers it would make sense. ECM B0016119-02, 2 CDs,

SINIKKA LANGELAND. The Land That Is Not. One of the great folk voices in a folk-jazz setting. Fans of Jacqui McShee and Maria Del Mar Bonet need audition this. Swedish texts and English translations included. ECM B0016066-02,

LISZT. Sonata, Mephisto 1, Liebestraum, Lugubre Gondola, Prelude and Fugue. Khatia Buniatishvili, piano. This is the one which made me fall in love with the Liszt Sonata. Sony 88697873852, CD + DVD (NTSC) documentary short,

ALEXANDER LONQUICH. Schumann Kreisleriana, Holliger
Lonquich equals or bests the Big Names in the Schumann, and finds the perfect proportion of mystery and flow in the Holliger. ECM 2104,

TOD MACHOVER. …but not simplerNew works for the iO String Quartet including the title track, Sparkler for orchestra and live electronics is deliciously fizzy, and Jeux Deux for Hyperpiano and Orchestra. Bridge 9346, 53:36,,

MAHLER. Symphony 2. Simon Rattle, Berliner Philharmoniker, Kate Royal, Magdalena Kozená. Rattle's remake doesn't eclipse but complement his EMI Birmingham with Arleen Augér and Janet Baker, because of them, but the sonics and phrasings here are rich and worthy. EMI 6 47363 2, 2 CDs, 86:45,

MAHLER. Symphony 6. Rough, passionate, resplendent sound despite the live audience. Gritty in all the right ways. Antonio Pappano, Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia. EMI 5099908441234, 2 CDs, 38:49 + 45:59,

JESSE MANLEY. Devil's Red. The style is a wonderfully bizarre mix of indie, folk, trad ballads and Americana, delivered in a voice the love child of Paolo Nutini, Dean Friedman, Marc Bolan and Morrissey. Listen here to the Montana-born singer's "Find Your Way Home." Jesse Manley Music, 45:10,

MELOS ENSEMBLE. Icon Series: Music Among Friends. Half of it twentieth-century compositions. EMI 9 18514 2, 11 CDs,

SZILáRD MEZEI WIND QUARTET. Innen. My favorite find of the year. The leader's viola is joined by a tubist, a trombonist and a clarinet/bass clarinet/alto saxist who embody the true meaning of ensemble in a program of by turns fascinating, haunting, and delightful paprika-flavored compositions played with free improvisation. I will without a doubt explore his extensive back catalog. Ayler Records AYLCD-122, 76:23,

MONTEVERDI. Vespro della Beata Virgine 1610. L'Arpeggiata, Christina Pluhar cond. My favorite is still the noble and haunting Parrott, also on EMI, but this single-disc performance has a panache that is totally irresistible and could happily serve as one's only version. EMI 509999 6419940 5, 75:11,

ORCHESTRA PHILHARMONIQUE DE LIèGE. Intégrale 1960-2010. Flemish and mainstream classical composers, but a great (and inexpensive) way to get your Tournemire symphonies, plus lesser-known Lekeu, Jongen, Vierne and Gossec works. Cyprès CYP7650, 50 CDs,

PACIFICA QUARTET. The Soviet Experience, Volume 1. Shostakovich SQ 5-8; Miaskovsky SQ 13. Çedille CDR 90000 127, 2 CDs, 57:35 + 60:05,

WILLIAM PARKER. Solo Bass: Crumbling In The Shadows Is Fraulein Miller's Stale Cake / Testimony. It's delightful to hear such a variety of music covered over three discs of solo bass. Two discs of new material plus a reissue of Testimony. Centering/AUM Fidelity 1005/1006/1007, 3CD box, 65:43 + 62:22 + 78:27,,

LOU REED and METALLICA. Lulu. I'm a fair-weather Reed fan, know nothing of Metallica's music, and know Lulu via Alban Berg and Pabst. Probably the most controversial disc of the year, but I find it to fit easily within Reed's oeuvre. It's not Berlin, but Reed's vocal monotone droning above the band droning and simple metal changes is appropriate. Warner Bros., 2 CDs,

AULIS SALLINEN. Complete Symphonies, Concertos and Tone Poems. Midprice repackaging of essential 20th century works. Ari Rasilainen, cond. cpo 777 640-2, 5 CDs,

ELLIOTT SHARP and MICHIYO YAGI. Reflexions. E#'s Koll 8-string guitarbass and Yagi's kotos make a delightfully strung set. Not all tracks are up to the hypnotic "The Jumblies" and delicate "Dreaming Darkly," but this is one very cool record which rewards close listening. Idiolect/Bomba Records (Japan) ID-04, 64:06,,

MATTHEW SHIPP and JOE MORRIS. Broken Partials. Morris on acoustic bass. NotTwo MW 851-2,

SKALLER/HOLT DUO. Music of Mark Dresser. Phil Skalter and Danny Holt, both new to me, turn in riveting performances of five Dresser tunes, performed on pianos, celeste, toy pianos, melodica and percussion, on the little label that could. pfMentum PFMCD062, 51:13,

CANDI STATON. Evidence: The Complete Fame Records Remasters. These 48 tracks of southern soul easily replace the bootleg single disc I had. Ace/Kent's usual exemplary notes and photos. Kent CDKEN2 353, 2 CDs,

JIMMY SPELLMAN. Doggonit. (Gonna Shake This Shack Tonight series.) 28-track compilation of this smooth-voiced rockabilly and country crooner's original Dot, Vik and Viv discs, with Bear Family's typically great 40-page booklet of all_English notes and photos. Bear Family BD 16528AH, 57:28,

WILLIAM STEINBERG. Icon: The Complete EMI Recordings. Underknown, unless you're of a certain age, Steinberg's conducting is by turns frisky, playful, riveting, even if he and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra often do not play it as straight as others. EMI 0 026486 2, 20 CDs,

TRIO MEDIAEVAL. A Worcester Ladymass. These three women have a rich blend, and have seamlessly interpolated into this construction a Credo and Benedicamus Domino from Gavin Bryars. Excellent musicological notes and sung texts in addition to ECM's expected elegant artwork. ECM New Series 2166, 50:25,

MIKOLAJ TRZASKA CLARINET QUINTET (IRCHA). Lark Uprising. I saw Trzaska live with Joe McPhee, who is in this quintet, and they were remarkable, as is this quintet. A must-have. Multikulti Project MPT001, 43:13,

ERKKI-SVEN TüüR. Symphony 6 "Strata." Noësis: Concerto for clarinet, violin and orchestra. Anu Tali conducting the Nordic Symphony Orchestra; Jörg Widmann, clarinet; Carolin Widmann, violin. Although the 32-minute symphony can't be considered avant-garde, there's plenty of life left in this genre, with tectonic plates of sound, Messiaen-ic wind rhythms and bells, strings melting up and down, ominous brass. Good stuff. ECM 2040, 53:19,

LISA ULLéN. Catachresis. Amazing piano, some of it prepared, which should appeals to fans of John Cage as well as of Cecil Taylor. Nuscope cd 1025, 53:28,

DICK WOOD. Not Far From Here. Post-Mingus avant-noir ensemble includes Hal Onserud on bass and Mark Trayle's live electronics. Don't let the dull cover fool you into thinking this is generic mainstream swill. pfMentum PFMCD065, 47:55,

NATE WOOLEY. 8 Syllables. Solo trumpet with amplifier, adapting the International Phonetic Alphabet into sound. Absolutely striking. Peira PM09, 49:07,,

WUORINEN. Scherzo. String Quartet No.1. Viola Variations. Piano Quintet No. 2. Peter Serkin, piano; Lois Martin, viola; Brentano SQ. Naxos 8.559694,


KATIE BULL. A riveting concert of material from her new album (see above) with Landon Knoblock, Jeff Lederer, Joe Fonda and George Schuller. Evolving Music Series, Clemente Soto Velez, NYC, June 27, 2011.,

ALEXIS COLE, BARRY WALLENSTEIN: Songs of Pepper Adams. Poet Barry Wallenstein wrote new lyrics to the music of Pepper Adams, which Alexis Cole sang to the manner born. Check out her great CDs. Cornelia St. Café, NYC.,

RAMBLIN' JACK ELLIOTT. His ramblin's alone are worth the price of admission. Oc tober 5, 2011, Highline Ballroom, NYC (excellent food!).,

KAGEL NACHT 2011: A SOUND AND PERFORMANCE EVENT DEDICATED TO COMPOSER MAURICIO KAGEL. Rick Burkhardt, Stephe Cooper (producer), Sam Kulik, Jordan Maclean, Jason Mears, Roberta Michel, Geoff Nosach, Sam Sowyrda, Dennis Sullivan. Roulette, May 1, 2011.

INGRID LAUBROCK AND TOM RAINEY DUO. Clemente Soto Velez, NYC, July 25, 2011.,

PETER MAXWELL DAVIES. Kommilitonen! Premiere of a striking new opera by Sir Peter, comingling three stories of political struggle and resistance: the Chinese Cultural Revolution, American segregation, and Die Diesse Rose, a German resistance group. The music itself is not in the least polemic. Libretto and direction by David Pountney, Anne Mason conducting the Juilliard Orchestra and the Juilliard Opera. Juilliard School of Music, Peter Jay Sharp Theater. NYC.,

EL NICHO / FESTIVAL AURAL/ FESTIVAL DE MEXICO. March 2011, México City. Highlights were Kan Mikami, a Japanese avant-blues vocalist who gave me the shivers, and John Edwards' astounding 18-minute bass solo, in a corner of a wood and marble room in the Casino Metropolitano, as prelude to a Germán Bringas/Evan Parker duo and Chris Corsano solo. Newly subtitled in Spanish was Alan Roth's film Inside Out In The Open about ESP Records.,

VISION FESTIVAL 2011. NYC. Highlights include the aptly named Pulverize the Sound (trumpeter Peter Evans, Tim Dahl's murderous electric bass and Mike Pride on drums); the Remi Alvarez Quartet with Dom Minasi, Ken Filiano and Michael TA Thompson; Amir AlSaffar's Within/Between; and the amazing festival finale, wherein William Parker led a large ensemble in an extended tribute to Billy Bang that ended with everyone on their feet dancing.,,,,

DOROTHEA SCHüRCH with TIM HODGKINSON. Musical saw and vocals with clarinet. Downtown Music Gallery, Oct.2, 2011.,,

ALEX WARD and DOMINIC LASH. Clarinet and contrabass. Downtown Music Gallery, October 23, 2011.


BARRY WALLENSTEIN. Tony's World. The first poetry volume for some time which I reread the way I re-listen to record albums. Tony's World is a world of jive and passion, a bit of Runyon flavor but major Wallenstein. Read my review in Big City Lit:,


ANGELS IN AMERICA: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes by Tony Kushner. Cast: Robin Bartlett (Hannah Pitt), Christian Borle (Prior Walter), Bill Heck (Joe Pitt), Zoe Kazan (Harper Pitt), Billy Porter (Belize), Zachary Quinto (Louis Ironson), Robin Weigert (the Angel) and Frank Wood (Roy Cohn). Directed by Michael Grief. Signature Theatre, NYC. The texture and tone remain fierce, and the slight revisions refocus on the contemporary and "national themes."

H4 by William Shakespeare. Henry IV done as a television miniseries, to powerful effect. Adaptation by Michael Chmiel, Allegra Libonati, Michael Nathanson and Brian Sillman. Directed by Allegra Libonati. Resonance Ensemble, Clurman Theatre, NYC.,


THE ILLUSION by Tony Kushner. Revival of an early work, a French-style farce with wit akin to Stoppard.

JERUSALEM by Jez Butterworth. One might think Mark Rylance's tour de force overshadows the play, and perhaps maybe, but the whole has a unity, reality and desperation that carries you away with the undertow. Kudos to Mackenzie Crook as Ginger. Directed by Ian Rickson. Music Box Theater, NYC.

KILLING JOHN GRISHAM by Jack Moore. Hysterically funny on-the-edge tale of a frustrated author taking matters into his own hands. Perfect ensemble directed by Nicole A. Watson. Fringe Festival 2011, NYC.,

THE LADY'S NOT FOR BURNING by Christopher Fry. Great ensemble acting in a spellbinding revival of this mock-1400s dark comedy of a man who demands to be hanged, for that would be better than life. Directed by Brian Close. Parenthesis Theater Company, Walkerspace, NYC.

LEMON SKY by Lanford Wilson. The movie is a pale attempt; this production was my first Lemon Sky (Wilson is a favorite of mine, The Fifth of July being indispensible), and it floored me. Keith Nobbs embodies the protagonist Allen with such seemingly-easy realism that one doesn't feel in a theater at all. Directed by Jonathan Silverman. Keen Company, Clurman Theatre.

MOTHERFUCKER WITH THE HAT by Stephen Adly Guirgis. Bobby Cannavale, Chris Rock, Elizabeth Rodriques, Annabella Sciorra, Yul Vasquez. Directed by Anna D. Shapiro. Schoenfeld Theatre, NYC.

THE NORMAL HEART by Larry Kramer. Joe Mantello, Ellen Barkin, Jon Benjamin Hickey and the rest of the cast, directed by Joel Grey and George C. Wolfe, make the medico-political circumstances surrounding the AIDS epidemic (I hate the phrase "AIDS crisis") just as relevant as this riveting play was its first time around. John Golden Theatre, NYC.

ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDENSTERN ARE DEAD by Tom Stoppard. Adam Aguirre (Rosencrantz), Jordan Gray (Guildenstern). Jeremy Weber (The Player King). Dorothy Strelsin Treatre at the Abingdon Theatre Arts Complex, NYC.

SHLEMIEL THE FIRST, adapted by Robert Brustein from the play by Isaac Bashevis Singer, lyrics by Arnold Weinstein; music by Hankus Netsky. A totally delicious, through-sung folk-farce with clever sets and staging, great klezmusic and faux-naïve wit. Theatre for a New Audience, National Yiddish Theatre - Folksbiene, New York University's Jack H. Skirball Center for the Performing Arts.,,

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