Beautiful Christmas Jazz & Longwinded TV Talk


The whole point of this posting is to direct you to some fine Christmas jazz, but we're starting off by talking about a couple TV shows. Stick with us. Or feel free to skip to the fifth paragraph. We're ambivalent about NBC's Monday night drama Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. Note that we didn't call it a dramedy, even though it's a drama set in a comedy show. As many a media pundit has observed, the show's writers are fine dramatists -- it's the creation of Aaron Sorkin, the guy behind West Wing, who also wrote A Few Good Men -- but the segments dealing with the comedy show just aren't funny. The tiniest little throwaway gag from NBC's 30 Rock is way funnier (The Gaybraham Lincoln character, for example, who delivers a lispy "four-score and seven years . . .). And 30 Rock's having real trouble attracting viewers; it's on opposite Grey's Anatomy. But seriously, you should watch it. It's the funniest sitcom since Arrested Development . Anway, both shows are on the same network. Can't Studio borrow a couple guys from 30 Rock for 10 minutes? Or could 30 Rock just e-mail them a couple leftover gags? 30 Rock's worst has to be better than Studio's best. But we're digressing here . . . Anyhow, Studio is a fine drama. A smart drama. But therein lies the problem. Watching it is like being in a roomful of smart, well-intentioned people who are hell-bent on demonstrating to you how smart and well-intentioned they are. And, as we mentioned in the digression, they're not funny. That said, this week's episode had some cool stuff. And it wasn't cool drama or comedy. The December 4 episode, tellingly titled "The Christmas Show," featured some displaced, cash-strapped New Orleans jazz musicians playing a jazz rendition of "O Holy Night" that would make angels weep. It's available at the show's website, here. It's a clip from the show, so the music is interrupted by some clunky, melodramatic, unnatural dialogue. The website links to Tipitina's Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to rebuilding New Orleans' musical culture. The Foundation's website says iTunes is going to post the song as a free download. But it hasn't yet. Maybe NBC's trying to drum up extra hits to its website first. Anyhow, the song features New Orleans' Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews, whom jazz godhead Wynton Marsalis loves. And Marsalis knows what he's talking about, so don't just take our word for it. Anyhow, we can't link to it directly, but click here, look on the left, under Episode 111, and click the "WATCH HILGIGHT" link by the guy with the trumpet. You have to sit through a brief Target ad, but at least it ain't Wal-Mart. Merry Xmas. -- D. X. Ferris

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