Latest Entries

387: Lara Downes

H. T. Burleigh, Scott Joplin, and Hazel Scott were brilliantly accomplished, enormously successful, and shamefully overlooked, asserts this pianist, the host of NPR’s Amplify with Lara Downes. She deftly reconciles this paradox; you’ll stain the page with your tears. Or would if you were reading this on paper.  Continue reading »


386: David Amram

In his 91 years (admittedly, some spent a baby), he’s worked with Thelonious Monk, Dizzy Gillespie, Allen Ginsberg, Langston Hughes. He scored The Manchurian Candidate, was composer in residence for the New York Philharmonic, and made an omelet for Charlie Parker. Another in our series “On Collaboration,” presented with violist Ralph Farris of the quartet Ethel. Continue reading »


385: Midori

Does learning more about music increase a listener’s pleasure? This esteemed violinist is wary of any barriers to an audience. “We can all be touched by music. Music is something that belongs to all of us.” Sure. But I’m not proposing an admission’s test at Carnegie Hall, just asserting that knowledge is rewarded with joy. But … Continue reading »


383: David Gonzalez

This Times journalist is particularly astute about New York’s Puerto Rican neighborhoods, so you’d think he’d be eager to see the new West Side Story. You’d be wrong. “I don’t like someone who doesn’t know my culture, doesn’t know my language, doesn’t know my community . . . I don’t really need to see West Side Story. … Continue reading »


381: Madison Smartt Bell

Since he achieved widespread acclaim for his trilogy of novels about Toussaint Louverture and the Haitian Revolution, his admiring readers have sent him all sorts of gifts—artwork, a meteorite. But has anyone sent him pie, and did he eat it? “I’m not recalling anything right now; I would have eaten it, though.”  The weirdly intimate connection … Continue reading »


379: Lillias White

She won a Tony for the musical The Life, an Emmy for Sesame Street, and is the voice of Calliope in Disney’s Hercules. She’s just wrapping up a Broadway run—at age 70—in Chicago. And this: “They put me up on top of the dining room table, and I would sing and dance for my family.” In 2017. No, no, no: as a … Continue reading »


378: Justin Baldoni

He became widely known playing Rafael Solano on Jane the Virgin and went on to direct a series about young people facing terminal illness and create a podcast challenging ideas of masculinity. Busy guy. Then he had an unsettling insight: “What’s actually making me happy is preventing my own happiness.” Changes were made. A conversation courtesy of the … Continue reading »


376: James McMullan

In 1976, Milton Glaser sent him to a Brooklyn disco for New York magazine, to illustrate an article that would become the movie Saturday Night Fever. Jim showed his paintings to editor Clay Felker. “Clay looked at them and he said, ‘Jim, what are you showing me here? I don’t get it. Nothing’s happening.’” But it all worked out. And not … Continue reading »