Randy Newman to bring sarcasm, sentiment to Troy

He's won 6 Grammys, 2 Oscars, 3 Emmys and more
Randy Newman performs during the 2008 Jazz Fest at SPAC.
Randy Newman performs during the 2008 Jazz Fest at SPAC.

Randy Newman sings on Saturday at Troy Savings Bank Music Hall (30 Second St.). The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, winner of six Grammys, two Oscars, three Emmys and more, just released “Dark Matter,” his first (mostly) new collection in nine years. Like his film scores, these songs conjure clear mental visions: three uncles composed film music: Alfred, Lionel and Emil; as do cousins Thomas, Maria, David and Joey. Like his pop songs, they’re pungently sarcastic or sweetly sentimental.

“Dark Matter” views history through a skeptical eye: “The Great Debate” revisits the arguments of “Rednecks” on “Good Old Boys” (1974) about the south. “Sonny Boy” decries identity theft among bluesmen as cultural (and not just career) appropriation, “Brothers” portrays the Kennedys as hyper-entitled horn-dogs who staged the Bay of Pigs invasion to bring singer Celia Cruz to America, and “It’s a Jungle Out There” sounds more scary than the original (the 2004 theme song for “Monk”), now that its doleful prophecies are coming true. You can guess what “Putin” is about, but Newman casts the doubt-free dictator in an existential crisis.

After bracing gusts of sarcasm, Newman wafts breezes of gentle sentiment in “She Chose Me,” contrast conferring powerful poignancy — just as he did at my first Jazz Fest (’08) when he proclaimed New Orleans “my favorite place on earth” and mourned its drowning in 1927, completely wiping out 20,000 of us with one sad song. Newman can walk both sides of the street at once: “Lost Without You” stirs love and loss together in a fiery stew almost too pungent to taste. In short, he’s a master; and he likes the Hall where he played his first local show in decades some time back, after he’d played an opening slot at SPAC where he was so cool I can’t remember the headliner. Singing at the piano on a bare SPAC stage, he gazed bemused at the sole “effect” in his show: A spotlight operator panned his beam upward and to the right in a moonrise arc behind Newman who sneered, “We don’t need no (BIG expletive deleted) Jacksons!” 8 p.m. $74, $69, $59, $49. 518-273-0038 www.troymusichall.org


Check! — the 34th Lake George Jazz Weekend brings two days and an evening show free to fans in Shepard Park, to picnic on land or listen from their boats. There’s plenty to float your boat. On Saturday, singers rule, at first. Tucson native Cynthia Hilts starts the action at 1 p.m. with her eight-piece Lyric Fury ensemble from Brooklyn. Nigerian/British vocal powerhouse Ola Onabule follows at 2:45 p.m. Then all-star super-band the Cookers close out the sunshine portion of first day, starting at 4:30 p.m. They’re hard-bop masters: saxophonists Donald Harrison and Billy Harper, trumpeters Eddie Henderson and David Weiss, pianist George Cables, bassist Cecil McBee and drummer Billy Hart.

Saxophonist Dave Liebman plays an evening tribute set at 7:30 p.m., walking in the giant steps of John Coltrane.

On Sunday, rising star Camille Thurman (tenor sax and vocals) opens at 1 p.m.; she’s impressed at this event with Chareneee Wade, and Diva. Pianist-composer Orrin Evans (who once led alt-jazzers Tarbaby) plays at 2:45 p.m. Argentinian pianist Emilio Solla plays the last set, returning after a smash 2012 performance here with a compact band with big skills, reportedly including Victor Prieto (accordion, adding resonance to Evans’ enthusiasm for Astor Piazzolla’s tango-influenced style), John Ellis (sax), Ryan Keberle (trumpet) and others. Free; yes, free! www.lakegeorgearts.org


Hurray for the Riff Raff headlines at The Egg on Friday; similar, vocally powerful acts open: Xenia Rubinos and Carrie Rodriguez. Bronx-born, Puerto Rican singer Alynda Lee Segarra fronts and basically is Hurray for the Riff Raff. She absorbed doo-wop, salsa and punk/Lou Reed rock in New York before moving to New Orleans to stir it all together, making nine albums (including a Jazz Fest 2012 live set) with a frequently changing lineup. “The Navigator” is a tasty paisley swirl of lush voices, restless percussion and sweet infrastructure of strings, keyboards and guitars.

A new five piece road band backed her earlier this year in a London gig that “The Guardian” hailed as introducing “a new figurehead of the American resistance taking her place on a far bigger stage.” Contrasting her new crew with Segarra’s earlier Americana sound, “The Guardian” reported the band is “able to take on Segarra’s pugnacious new music, a sound redolent of her roots in urban New York, rather than her adopted south, full of humid, florid nuyorican feints and swaggering troubadour rock.”

Xenia Rubinos from Brooklyn samples a more modern, African-American big-city palette than Segarra, with hip-hop hustle and some sax behind her simmering, sinuous voice, on her swinging, ambitious “Black Terry Cat” album. Like Segarra and Rubinos, Texan Carrie Rodriguez hybridizes and cross-pollinates, swirling around a solid sense of home. As ever, she writes, sings, plays fiddle and leads her band, on her new “Lola” album. It’s her eighth, including two live sets – always a good sign. Suzuki- and Oberlin Conservatory-trained, Rodriguez came into her own after collaborating with Chip Taylor and other Austinians. 8 p.m. $29.50. 518-473-1845 www.theegg.org


Ever-restless Grateful Dead guitarist led several other bands before leaving the stage – can it be?! – 27 years ago. Like the Dead, the Jerry Garcia Band has spawned tribute crews including The Garcia Project, playing on Friday at the Cohoes Music Hall (45 Remsen St.). Led by guitarist-singer Mik Bondy, the Garcia Project replicates the Jerry Garcia Band format; like the Dark Star Orchestra (at the Palace Nov. 11), they play JGB setlists song for song. (Original JGB member Melvin Seals leads JGB at the Cohoes Music Hall Oct. 21). Acoustically Speaking opens. 8 p.m. $25 dance floor up front. $22 mezzanine and balcony seats. 518-465-4663 www.palacealbany.com

Categories: Entertainment

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