Photos by Michael Gaylord James. Reception Wed 12/11, 5-10 PM.
Defenders of “real” hip-hop have been up in arms about Drake ever since his breakout 2009 mixtape, So Far Gone, with which he first found substantial success with brazen pop hooks and a deeply unhard image—and thereby became one of a long line of artists who’ve ruined rap music forever. His latest LP, Nothing Was the Same (OVO Sound), sometimes seems like an album-length trolling of his haters in the way it juxtaposes conservative hip-hop touchstones—Houston rap, the Wu-Tang Clan—against sensitive-guy deep thoughts that occasionally reach James Taylor levels and cover art that might as well have been stolen from a 70s jazz-fusion LP. At the same time, Drake and longtime producer Noah “40” Shebib have darkened the mood since 2011’s Take Care, with beats that are both minimalist and sonically luxurious, making Nothing Was the Same one of the year’s best headphone records. Lyrically, Drake is still wallowing in his fame while struggling with a Sisyphean series of romantic travails, but on the Majid Jordan-coproduced single “Hold On, We’re Going Home” he finds a disco-fied moment of transcendental bliss. —Miles Raymer Miguel and Future open. $59.75-$109.75
Elegantly lyrical pianist Fred Hersch rolls into town this week with his favorite working band, bassist John Hebert and drummer Eric McPherson. The piano trio is the format he most often uses—and the one that best enables him to work subversively within the mainstream tradition, packing subtle harmonic surprises and rhythmic reinventions into the most familiar standards—but it’s hardly the only kind of setting where he excels. This year Hersch has released two very different albums that show off his ability to interact meticulously and at the highest level with his bandmates. Everybody does a lot of tightrope walking on Fun House (Songlines), a haunting double-trio session with French pianist Benoît Delbecq, bassist Jean-Jacques Avenel, and drummer Steve Argüelles (Hersch is accompanied by bassist Mark Helias and drummer Gerry Hemingway). Delbecq wrote nearly all the music, but though his prepared piano and electronic manipulations take center stage, Hersch is just as invested, reacting to his fellow keyboardist with precision and empathy—their give-and-take is refined and subtle, producing a chamberlike sound that’s startling in its clarity and lack of clutter. The terse, meditative compositions are harmonically ambiguous and drift like clouds—Hemingway and Argüelles do a marvelous job reinforcing the latter effect—but Hersch helps ground and focus them. Free Flying (Palmetto), where Hersch duets with guitarist Julian Lage, is a decidedly crisper and more melodic outing, and in this case Hersch composed most of the material—some of these cozy, crystalline pieces he originally wrote for guitarists Bill Frisell, Egberto Gismonti, and Jim Hall, as well as for pianist Art Lande. But even the album’s relatively familiar covers (it includes treatments of the Sam Rivers standard “Beatrice” and Monk’s “Monk’s Dream”) privilege the rapport between him and Lage over the tune itself. When Hersch plays with Hebert and McPherson, they stick more closely to conventional roles, but the relationships they’ve cultivated within their trio are just as nuanced as anything on Free Flying. —Peter Margasak $25-$30, $45 for VIP.
I thought this was some kind of game. Now I'm locked in a room with ten strangers and a zombie. Botched experiment, mutated virus, the same way these things always happen. Not sure if we're going to make it out. The chain holding the zombie back keeps getting longer. At first, an hour seemed like plenty of time to figure out how to escape. We searched the room for clues and joked about who would be the first to die. The solution came together bit by bit. But time is running out. No more jokes now. We've almost cracked the final puzzle. Thirty seconds left. Time for one last try. If we fail, print this as a warning. —Keith Griffith $28http://roomescapeadventures.com
Bergmann, a partner at the creative design firm Bjarke Ingels Group, discusses the creative process of architecture. Part of the "Architecture Is Art…Is Architecture Art?" lecture series.
Grimes discusses her book Circle of Treason: A CIA Account of Traitor Aldrich Ames and the Men He Betrayed. $10
Luce discusses her book Three Scenarios in Which Hana Sasaki Grows a Tail.
Martin presents his book So I Bought an Air Force: The True Story of a Gritty Midwesterner in Somoza's Nicaragua.
Historian David M. Kennedy (Freedom from Fear) discusses immigration in America.
Interior designer and eco-artist Angela Mead-Crenshaw leads this craft tutorial that illustrates the benefit of using recycled material for art projects.
Bell's Brewery showcases a dozen of their finest brews, including rare offerings like the raspberry ale and the harvest ale.