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The Lunar New Year Who, What, When and Where

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The Lunar New Year this year falls on January 22nd and it is the year of the rabbit. Lunar New Year lasts until ends Sunday, February 5th. It is a time to clean your home to get rid of the bad luck from the previous year. You eat fish, as a sign of good luck and abundance. It is time to pay respects to the older generation for health and progress into the new year. Younger people will receive red envelopes with money from their elders to show their kindness to the young generation.

During this time peace, abundance, prosperity is to be given to the whole community, so the whole country will be peaceful.

2022, was represented by the tiger, signifying bravery, courage and strength. 2023, is the year of the Water Rabbit. Oxes, Tigers, and Snakes will have a great year, but Dogs, Horses, Goats, and Pigs will have a harder time of it. Roosters and Monkeys will have to work especially hard to make headway.

In NYC Lunar New Year is celebrated with firecrackers, lion dances and Chinatown’s Chinese New Year Parade. At the Sara D. Roosevelt Park on Sunday, January 22nd,  hundreds of thousands of firecrackers will be lit to welcome the Year of the Rabbit and ward off evil spirits, decorations, giveaways, plus craft vendors and food booths where you can get your fill of traditional delicacies. It’s said that the more dumplings you eat at the celebration, the more money you’ll make in the year ahead.

The Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) is going all out for Lunar New Year with a month of free programming for all ages. The main event is MOCA Family Day on Saturday, January 21 featuring a lion dance performance, a noodle pulling demo, a candy making demo, storytime, a ribbon dance workshop, red envelope art and lots more. Check out the full schedule here.

At The Met interactive activities and artist-led workshops for all ages on Saturday, January 21. All activities are free with Museum admission, and no registration is required.

At the South Street Seaport Museum on Saturday, January 21st, a lion dance and a Chinese calligraphy workshop.

 

Suzanna, co-owns and publishes the newspaper Times Square Chronicles or T2C. At one point a working actress, she has performed in numerous productions in film, TV, cabaret, opera and theatre. She has performed at The New Orleans Jazz festival, The United Nations and Carnegie Hall. She has a screenplay and a TV show in the works, which she developed with her mentor and friend the late Arthur Herzog. She is a proud member of the Drama Desk and the Outer Critics Circle and was a nominator. Email: suzanna@t2conline.com

Broadway

Live From The Hotel Edison Times Square Chronicles Presents Maury Yeston and Victoria Clark

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I am so pleased to announce our guests for this Wednesday’s show on February 28th are two time Tony winner Maury Yeston and two time Tony winner Victoria Clark.

Yeston and Clark first worked on his musical Titanic, which was written in 1997 and he won two Tony Awards for Best Musical and Best Score and was nominated for Grammy Award. This year Titanic is part of the Encore series.

Victoria has two solo discs available through PS Classics:Fifteen Seconds of Grace and the recent reimagining of Maury Yeston’s acclaimed song cycle December Songs.

Maury Yeston

Maury Yeston is a composer, lyricist and music theorist. He has written the music and lyrics for several Broadway musicals, a classical orchestral and ballet composer.

His musical Nine in 1982, also won Tony Awards for Best Musical and Best Score and was nominated for Grammy Award. Rumor has it that this show could come back. He also was nominated for an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for two of his new songs in the film version of Nine.

His show Grand Hotel in 1989, received a Tony nomination for best score and Drama Desk Awards nominations for his music and lyrics, and one for his incidental music to The Royal Family in 2009.

His musical version of the novel The Phantom of the Opera, titled Phantom (1991), has received more than 1,000 productions worldwide and will be done in a concert version later this year.

His off-Broadway musicals include Death Takes a Holiday (2011), nominated for eleven Drama Desk Awards. Other works include December Songs, a classical crossoversong cycle commissioned by Carnegie Hall for its centennial celebration; An American Cantata: 2000 Voices (a three-movement choral symphony commissioned by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts for its millennium celebration); Tom Sawyer: A Ballet in Three Acts, a full-length story ballet commissioned by the Kansas City Ballet for the opening of the new Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City; a cello concerto, premiered by Yo-Yo Ma; and other pieces for chamber ensembles and solo piano.

Yeston was an associate professor of music and Director of Undergraduate Studies in Music at Yale University for eight years, authoring two books on music theory. He also presided over and taught the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theater Workshop in New York City for more than two decades beginning in 1982. Yeston has won two Tony Awards, two Drama Desk Awards and an Olivier Award, and has been inducted into The Theater Hall of Fame.

Victoria Clark

Victoria Clark is a Tony-Award winning actress, director and educator. She is currently starring on Broadway in her Tony award winning role as Kimberly Akimbo. Her first Broadway job was understudying in the original production of Sunday in the Park with George in the same theater she plays Kimberly in 38 years ago. Ms. Clark has starred or appeared in a total of twelve Broadway shows, and countless off-Broadway and regional productions. She received the 2005 Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards for her luminous portrayal of Margaret Johnson in The Light in the Piazza, and received three additional Tony nominations for her work in Sister Act (Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle nominations), Cinderella, and Gigi

Clark is also an avid educator and director, Her breadth of experience and knowledge make her a highly sought-after star and collaborator in this country and around the world. Trained at Interlochen Music Academy, Yale University, The Mozarteum (Salzburg), and New York University’s Graduate Musical Theater Writing Program, Victoria’s experience spans across classical and contemporary idoms, encompassing both existing and new work, in plays, musicals, opera, film and television.

Other Broadway shows include The Snow Geese,How to Succeed…, Urinetown, Cabaret, Guys and Dolls and  A Grand Night for Singing. Off-Broadway she was in When the Rain Stops Falling (Drama Desk nomination), A Prayer for My Enemy, The Marriage of Bette and Boo, The Agony and the Agony, Marathon Dancing, Follies (L.A.), Ma Joad in The Grapes of Wrath, and Katisha in The Mikado, both at Carnegie Hall. International: Madame Sousatzska in Sousatzska.

In film you can find her in The Happening, Cradle Will Rock, One Royal HolidayWanderland, Archeology of a Woman, Harvest, Tickling Leo and Main Street.

In television PoseThe Blacklist, Almost Family, Law & Order/SVU, The Good Wife, Mercy, and Carrie Mathison’s mother Ellen on Showtime’s Homeland.

She is also a wonderful director, directing: “Come to Jesus,” for MasterVoices’ virtual production of Adam Guettel’s Myths and HymnsThe Dance of Death by August Strindberg (Classic Stage Company); Love Life for New York City Center Encores! (cancelled due to CoVid-19); Scaffolding by Jeff Blumenkrantz starring Rebecca Luker for Premieres! (Barrow Group Theater); Paper Piano by Mary Jo Shen (Joe’s Pub); Hansel and Gretl and Heidi And Günther (Village Theater Festival of New Musicals); Newton’s Cradle, NAMT Festival, (Best Director Award); The Trouble With Doug/Fredericia Theater, Denmark; The Impresario (Philadelphia Opera Theater); eight productions for Texas Opera Theater, the touring arm of Houston Grand Opera, introducing students of all ages to opera and musical theater; Shakin’ The Blues Away: An Irving Berlin Revue (Goodspeed Opera House).

Loving the ability to give back she is a master teacher in U.S. and abroad. She is on the visiting faculty for Yale University, Artist-in residence, Duke University, and Pace School of the Performing Arts, where she directed The Light in the Piazza.

She is on the board of New York City Center and The Kurt Weill Foundation.

But her favorite role is Thomas Luke’s mom. Victoria resides in New York with her husband Tom Reidy and their rescue Golden Retriever Ollie.

“Live From The Hotel Edison Times Square Chronicles Presents ”, is a new show that will be filmed live every Wednesday from 5 – 6 in the lobby of the iconic Hotel Edison, before a live audience. To see our first episode click here second episode click here and for our third episode click here.

Hope you can join us for what will be one fabulous musical night.

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Off Broadway

The New Group’s “The Seven Year Disappear” Is a Sweet Wonderful Lollipop of Strong Whiskey and Sadness

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Have I got the complicated guy for you?” And with that commentary from one friend to another, The New Group‘s fantastically layered cocktail of whisky and sadness dives in. It’s a deliciously adept remark, related somewhere in the midst of this time-jumping fascination that revels in art and protest; personal and political. Or so The Seven Year Disappear, written with forceful intent and intelligence by Jordan Seavey (Homos, or Everyone in America), tells us. The complication and attraction are stated by one of the many wild and wonderful interactions had by the son and manager of the world-famous performance artist, played to detailed length by the wonderful Cynthia Nixon (“The Gilded Age“; MTC’s The Little Foxes). He, Naphtali, dynamically portrayed by Taylor Trensch (LCT’s Camelot; Broadway’s Hello, Dolly!), is that guy. He’s part of the art, but this time, he has been left out of the loop, abandoned by his mother after vanishing into thin air, as he stood, introducing her to a roomful of donors at an event organized by him to announce a new creation that she has been commissioned for by MoMA.

But, she was gone, yet also, as this play spins forward and back most savagely, she is everywhere. As the timeline zips up and down in the background, giving titles to framed artworks of time, Naphtali tries in his own way to cope with the sudden disappearance and move forward, playing the game, but not aware of the rules. The play, directed with preciseness by Scott Elliott (TNG’s The Seagull/Woodstock, NY), is a masterclass of performance and creation, taught by the incomparable Nixon. She presents herself as both the artist and the art, taking on all the faces of those Trensch’s desperate son engages with during those years; friends, lovers, coworkers, lovers, and flirtations. Nixon digs in with all her might, taking on accents and postures that resonate and reveal both their harshness and their care. It’s clever and fascinating in its construct, especially as it bounces around, unleashing all the responses one could have with such a mother as this.

Taylor Trensch and Cynthia Nixon in The New Group’s The Seven Year Disappear. Photo by Monique Carboni.

And then she returns, suddenly from her disappearance act of art, taking a seat casually, requesting cooperation and involvement, when she has given him neither. Naphtali must confront her absence and neglect, something that has been painted on him from the day he was born, like a canvas. But it all comes to a centerpiece head with a request that baffles him, yet explains so much, without her answering the questions and inquires he has for her. It’s a compelling setup, that delicately transforms itself before us on that meticulously cold-formed stage, courtesy of scenic designer Derek McLane (Broadway’s Moulin Rouge!), with simple yet effective costuming by Qween Jean (TNG’s Black No More), complex and determined lighting by Jeff Croiter (MTC’s Cost of Living), solid and electric sound by Rob Milburn & Michael Bodeen (Broadway’s Sweat), and the meticulously well scrolled out projection design by John Narun (Life Jacket’s Gorey…).

It’s all “part of the art“, we are told by The New Group‘s The Seven Year Disappear, and part of the game, and it works, this sweet lollipop of art and attachment, reconstructing its own brilliantly crafted formula as a way to wrap up the discontent and connection. It’s captivating and fascinating, watching the attachment and anger flourish and recede into the performance art that is at its core. The two relish the wonderfully created interactions, finding layers of complication and attraction to interact with inside an installation of reconciliation and art. The range of ideas unspooled is relentless and ravishing in its determined approach to a mother and a son, and their complicated dance of love and misuse. And I was enthralled.

Cynthia Nixon and Taylor Trensch in The New Group’s The Seven Year Disappear. Photo by Monique Carboni.

For more information and tickets, click here.

For more go to frontmezzjunkies.com

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Broadway

Betty Buckley Returns to Joe’s Pub

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Tony Award-winning, stage and screen icon Betty Buckley returns to Joe’s Pub in New York City for six live performances on May 16-18, 2024. She is joined by her long-time collaborator and Grammy® nominated pianist/MD Christian Jacob, Tony Marino on bass and Jamey Haddad on drums.

The Joe’s Pub concerts will take place on May 16-18, 2024 at 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. (Doors open at 6:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. respectively). Joe’s Pub is located at The Public, 425 Lafayette Street. Tickets now on sale HERE.

Most recently, Ms. Buckley is co-starring in the upcoming horror film Imaginary, set for U.S. release March 8, 2024, presented by Lionsgate and Blumhouse. From Blumhouse, the genre-defining masterminds behind Five Nights at Freddy’s and M3GAN, the film explores the universal idea of imaginary friends and childhood connections to them and what otherworldly realms they may inhabit.

Additionally, Ms. Buckley wrote, narrated and produced The Mayfly, an animated short film that will have its world debut on March 24, 2024 at the American Documentary and Animation Film Festival (AmDoc Film Festival) in Palm Springs, Calif. Tickets are available to the public HEREThe Mayfly is directed by award winning animator, Sue Perrotto, and the music is composed by Christian Jacob. BluBlu Studios in Poland is the animation house.

Ms. Buckley will also perform in a tribute concert A BROADWAY BIRTHDAY: Sondheim, Lloyd Webber, and Friends! in Costa Mesa, Calif. The show takes place at the Segerstrom Concert Hall on Thursday, March 28 at 8 p.m. Joining her in performance are Kerry O’Malley, Liz Callaway, Aaron Lazar and Alex Joseph Grayson. Visit www.scfta.org/events/2024/sondheim-lloyd-webber-and-friends for tickets and more information. Her upcoming calendar includes a Master Class and concert at Mercyhurst University in Erie, PA on April 19 and an evening with Christian Jacob at Adelphi University in Garden City, NY on May 11.

Betty Buckley is a legendary, multi-award winning actress/singer whose career spans theater, film, television and concert halls around the world. She is a 2012 Theatre Hall of Fame inductee and the 2017 recipient of the Julie Harris Awards from The Actor’s Fund for Artistic Achievement and received The Lifetime Achievement Award from The American Songbook Association in 2023.

She won a Tony Award for her performance as Grizabella, the Glamour Cat, in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s CATS and received her second Tony Award nomination for Best Actress in a musical for her performance as Hesione in Triumph of Love.  She received an Olivier Award nomination for her critically acclaimed interpretation of Norma Desmond in the London production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Sunset Boulevard, which she repeated to more rave reviews on Broadway.

Ms. Buckley co-stars in the film Imaginary for Blumhouse Productions and to be released by Lionsgate in March 2024.  She co-starred with James McAvoy in the M. Night Shyamalan hit film Split, one of the top international box office hits of 2017.  She received a Saturn Award Nomination for Best Featured Actress for her work in the film.

Her other films include her debut in Brian de Palma’s screen version of Stephen King’s Carrie, Bruce Beresford’s Tender Mercies, Roman Polanski’s Frantic, Woody Allen’s Another Woman, Lawrence Kasden’s Wyatt Earp and M. Night Shyamalan’sThe Happening.

Her other Broadway credits include 1776, Pippin, Song and Dance, The Mystery of Edwin Drood and Carrie.  She headlined the first National Tour of the new Broadway production of Hello, Dolly! in 2018/2019.

Off-Broadway credits include the world premiere of Horton Foote’s The Old Friends for which she received a Drama Desk Nomination in 2014, White Lies, Lincoln Center’s Elegies, the original NYSF production of The Mystery of Edwin Drood, The Eros Trilogy, Juno’s Swans and I’m Getting My Act Together and Taking It On the Road.  Regional credits include The Perfectionist, Gypsy, The Threepenny Opera, Camino Real, Buffalo Gal, Arsenic and Old Lace, The Old Friends at Houston’s Alley Theatre and Grey Gardens at the Bay Street Theatre in Sag Harbor, NY and The Ahmanson Theater in Los Angeles in 2016 for which she received an Ovation Award Nomination.

In London, she starred in Promises, Promises for which she was nominated for An Evening Standard Award and in the 2013 British premiere of Dear World.

On television, Buckley has a recurring role on “Law & Order SVU” for NBC and guest starred on the Fox/Warner Bros. TV show “The Cleaning Lady.”  She co-starred in the third season of AMC’s hit series “Preacher” and has guest starred on The CW hit “Supergirl”, the NBC Series “Chicago Med” and ABC Family’s “Pretty Little Liars.”  For HBO, she has appeared on “Getting On”, “The Leftovers”, “The Pacific” and for three seasons on OZ.  She starred as Abby Bradford in the hit series “Eight is Enough.” She appeared twice on The Kennedy Center Honors and was a guest star in numerous television series, miniseries and films for television including Evergreen, Roses for the Rich and Without a Trace. She has been nominated for two Daytime Emmy Awards® for her work on Taking a Stand, an After School special.

In 2022, she released the compilation recording Betty Buckley Sings Stephen Sondheim as a tribute to the late composer. The recording comprises 24 songs Buckley has recorded of Sondheim’s music over the span of her career.  She has recorded 18 CD’s: including Ghostlight, produced by T Bone Burnett released in 2014, Story Songs in 2017 and Hope in 2018.  Buckley tours in concert worldwide with her ensemble of musicians and in 2015 was featured in the Royal Albert Hall concert of Follies, in celebration of Stephen Sondheim’s 85th birthday.

She received a Grammy Nomination for Stars and the Moon, Betty Buckley Live at the Donmar. She received her second Grammy Nomination for the audio book The Diaries of Adam and Eve.

For over forty years, Ms. Buckley has been a teacher of scene study and song interpretation, giving workshops in Manhattan and various universities and performing Arts Conservatories around the country.  She has been a faculty member in the theatre department of the University of Texas at Arlington and teaches regularly at the T. Schreiber Studio in New York City, The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, TX and in Los Angeles, Denver and Oklahoma.

In 2009, Ms. Buckley received the Texas Medal of Arts Award for Theater and was inducted into the Texas Film Hall of Fame in 2007.  In 2015, she was awarded The Stephen Bruton Award by The Lone Star Film Festival for her work in film and music. In 2018, she received the Sarah Siddons Award for outstanding theatrical performance in a Chicago theatrical production. She has two honorary doctorates from The Boston Conservatory and Marymount College and has been honored with three Lifetime Achievement Awards for her contributions to theater from the New England Theater Conference, The Shubert Theater in New Haven and the Terry Schreiber School in NYC.

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Off Broadway

The Connector at MCC

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Journalism as a background topic seems never to fail to please an audience, from The Front Page to All the President’s Men and Network, and now to The Connector. MCC Theater has delivered a gut-punching story, the kind you’ll be talking about at your next party. The basic plot is simple enough, and a thoroughly capable and engaging cast directed by Daisy Prince tells the story succinctly, crisply and effectively.   

I would be remiss if the set design were not in the spotlight. The title is projected onto a scrim the size of the stage in letters 75% the height of the space moving across like the Times Square Zipper. On this scrim one can see pages of the  titled magazine neatly displayed. This partially obscures the orchestra.   

Banker boxes of paper flank the stage and are used to simulate additional office space. 

Lighting on the floor of the stage helps define the space from office to meeting space to cocktail lounge and works like a part of the set design. Hats off to Beowulf Boritt and Jeanette Oi-Suk Yew for a bit of magic before the actors set foot on the stage. 

Ben Levi Ross and company By Joan Marcus

The audience must confront the following statements throughout, and they arrive like a splash of cold water in the face.   The whole world changed and everything stayed the same. Truth is not about the facts—they can be manipulated.  The whole world changed but the truth remained the same. Who cares if it’s true–is truth the same as fact?   Truth is not what you say it is. We believe what we believe.   

Ben Levi Ross By Joan Marcus

The main character is Ethan Dobson (Ben Levi Ross), a wunderkind whose secondary speciality is the ability to ingratiate himself with everyone of consequence.  He is also an excellent writer. His boss Conrad O’Brien (Scott Bakula) sees in Ethan his younger self and becomes his champion. All this is observed by Robin Martinez (Hannah Cruz), a copy writer who feels neglected and underappreciated.    

Shake these characters up a bit and they could be Perry White, Lois Lane and Clark Kent. It would be a disservice to reveal the ending, but suffice it to say that it is predictable while shocking. Elements of this work could have been ripped from newspapers now, which only underscores the eternal truth of the more things change, the more they remain the same. 

The music by Jason Robert Brown works effectively to tell this tale and is modern and true to the times and topic.  The audience was very receptive to it. Jonathan Marc Sherman’s book is riveting, and Daisy Prince keeps this fast-moving train on track beautifully. The ending is quite moving, and there is an element that could be regarded as a gimmick, but unlike most, it works beautifully and will not soon be forgotten. Nor will this play – see it now! 

The Connector: MCC Theater Space, 511 W 52nd Street, through March 17th.

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Book Reviews

The Glorious Corner

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G.H. Harding

GORDON OH GORDON — (from The Guardian) In the 1960’s and 70’s, no serious rock fan viewed the drummer Jim Gordon with anything but awe. By the 80’s, none of them viewed him with anything but contempt, a 180-degree turn that led to his virtual erasure from the culture. Even four decades later, when the veteran music journalist Joel Selvin first tried to sell publishers on a book meant to tell Gordon’s story with nuance and depth, they balked. “They would debate it for months and then say, ‘Nope, can’t do it,’” Selvin said. “It was almost impossible for them because of what he had done.”

In 1983, he entered his mother’s house and began to attack her with a hammer, crashing it into her skull four times before grabbing a knife and stabbing her repeatedly, the final time with such force it pinned her to the floor. Soon after her resulting death, Gordon was arrested, charged and convicted of murder, and spent the next four decades in prison, before dying this past March at 77. Over the years, several prominent articles have been published that tried to trace the outlines of Gordon’s story, ascribing his heinous act to an diagnosed case of schizophrenia that forced him to hear voices and experience hallucinations. Yet only in Selvin’s new book, Drums & Demons, does the reader get a feel for the full horror of his disease and the mess it made of his mind. “In one of his hallucinations, he thought he was in a jail cell that was on fire,” Selvin said. “To me, that was a metaphor for Jim’s whole life. For him, life was a jail cell that was always on fire.”

Despite the chaos that created, both for Gordon, and increasingly, for those around him, Selvin aimed to tell his story with empathy. Only after the drummer’s death was, he able to finally convince a publisher to go along. “The guy got so little compassion,” he said. “I wanted readers to know just how impossible Jim’s life was and how brave he was in battling the disease.”

At the same time, the author meant to “restore Jim’s peerless legacy. Who has done more to put his mark on our music than Jim Gordon?” Selvin said. “What a playlist he was on!”

Just tracing the surface of Gordon’s contributions reveals more than 100 classic songs powered by his invention and finesse. In his early studio work, he appeared on an entire chart’s worth of pop hits, by acts like the Beach Boys, Ike & Tina Turner, the Byrds and Glen Campbell. By the 70’s, he became a key member of pivotal rock bands, including Delaney & Bonnie, Mad Dogs & Englishmen, Derek and the Dominos and Traffic. Growing up in the San Fernando Valley of California, Gordon became entranced by the power of the beat from childhood. He played in bands by puberty and, by 17, helped flesh out demos for the publishing arm of Liberty Records. That same year, he joined the Everly Brothers on a tour of England and, afterwards, became part of the storied Wrecking Crew, a loose collection of studio musicians who played on a dizzying range of 60’s hits. “Back then, there were loads of great studio drummers,” said Lenny Waronker, a legendary producer and record executive whose career started in the same west coast studio milieu of the 60’s. “Jim was able to plow through that. All the other musicians were amazed by him.”

Gordon’s role on those storied sessions extended way beyond the simple task of keeping time. “He wasn’t just a backbeat guy,” Selvin said. “He was a fully musical drummer who embedded his playing into the core of the composition.”

For instance: in the 70’s hit, Grazing in the Grass, by the Friends of Distinction, Gordon’s drum elaborated the song. “Even though there was a chart in which every note was written out for him, he added a Latin boogaloo feel that exploded the whole record,” Selvin said.

The fills and intonations he added to Carly Simon’s You’re So Vain contoured the melody and directed the listener’s ear to the record’s subtler touches. “Jim orchestrated that entire song from the drum stool,” Selvin said. In Maria Muldaur’s number one smash Midnight at the Oasis, he added a key samba groove, while in Steely Dan’s Rikki Don’t Lose That Number, the tricky beat he devised deepened the song’s debt to jazz. In doing so, “Jim became an important part of the hit-making process,” Selvin said.

Mark Lindsay, frontman of the hit group Paul Revere & the Raiders, immediately noticed Gordon’s gift after he was hired to drum on their song The Great Airplane Strike. “He was doing this polyrhythmic thing with a kick, a snare and a high hat, accented by tom-toms,” Lindsay said. “He changed the song up so much that I wound up rewriting half of my lyrics to fit was he was doing! Jim became the conductor of the track.”

Waronker recognized the same level of creativity on Sundown, a song he produced for Gordon Lightfoot that became a number one hit. “His drum part made the song move in its own way,” he said. “It’s a specific rhythm that Jimmy picked up from Gordon’s guitar. It became one of the most important parts of the song.”

In the 70’s, Gordon expanded his range to work with rock’n’roll’s most cutting-edge bands on the road. “When you listen to his live work with Mad Dogs & Englishmen or Derek and the Dominos, he’s unleashed,” Selvin said. “The ideas just flow from him.”

At the same time, the voices that were roiling inside his head began to find disturbing external expression. In an infamous incident on the Mad Dogs tour, he hauled off and punched his then girlfriend, the singer Rita Coolidge, in the head. “Here was a guy who was noted for being gentle, smiling and laid back,” Selvin said. “But that was just the mask he wore.”

Some people were already beginning to see through it. “[The singer] Claudia Lennear said she always wondered about that smile,” Selvin said. “It was too simple. She felt he was hiding behind it.”

“Jim had such genius,” Lindsay said, “but I sensed there might be something lurking behind the curtain.”

To Selvin, Gordon’s talent can’t be separated from his torment. “The level of intuition that Jim displayed

in his playing requires a certain electro-chemical makeup,” he said. “His highly personal style had to come from the same place in the brain that produced his schizophrenia.”

At the same time, the focus and power involved in playing drums gave Gordon a refuge from the cyclone of thoughts whipping through his head. “The combination of the resonance of the drums and the rhythmic entertainment of the groove produces a hypnotic feeling that can lift you out,” Selvin said. “Nothing calms a schizophrenic faster than a Walkman and a pair of headphones. For Jim, the drums provided a place where the voices couldn’t follow.”

Strangely enough, the herculean amount of recreational drugs Gordon took at the time also had a calming effect. “You would think that the massive amounts of cocaine he did would make things worse,” Selvin said. “But I talked to psychiatrists who said that it would normalize his dopamine levels. He was doing blow to feel normal.”

Similarly, the crazy rock’n’roll lifestyle of the 70’s, which Gordon exemplified, served as a cover for his increasingly aberrant actions. “The rock scene of the time was nearly indistinguishable from psychotic behavior,” Selvin said with a rueful laugh. “Jim just blended into the background.”

It helped that, at the time, he was still soaring creatively. In 1973, Gordon devised a pair of drum patterns that proved crucial to the development of two separate genres. His work on the Hues Corporation’s smash Rock the Boat, with its high-hat syncopations and danceable beat, helped patent the rhythms of disco. Similarly, his extended break on the song Apache, paired with the congas of King Errisson, became a foundational pattern in hip-hop that was later sampled ad infinitum. “When Kool Herc found Jim’s long drum break on Apache, he discovered that he could make it bound from one turntable to another forever,” Selvin said. “He was driving crowds nuts with that sound.”

By late in 1973, however, Gordon’s beat, and sanity, were beginning to seriously waver. He viciously attacked his wife Renee Armand, cracking several ribs in the process, ending their marriage. His work with the would-be country-rock super group Souther-Hilman-Furay Band grew so erratic they had to sack him. While he managed to keep it together in the studio for a few more years, by 1978 Gordon proved too unreliable to be employed.

In a reporting coup, Selvin acquired research that helped fill in Gordon’s inner life during that pivotal time. He found two women who, in the late 80’s, had gained the drummer’s cooperation for a book that never got off the ground. The notes they took gave Selvin access to jail house interviews with Gordon along with his medical records and related court documents. (Selvin sent several written requests to interview Gordon himself but they went answered.) Regardless, the research he acquired from the women allowed him to put the reader deep inside the musician’s roiling mind.

The voices Gordon heard shamed him so deeply, he rarely told anyone about them, which contributed to him never getting a proper diagnosis. His mother, one of his closest witnesses, believed that drinking and drugs were his problem rather than a symptom of something far more corrosive. While Gordon began to imagine that many people were torturing him at the time, the main voice in his head was his mother’s. “Because Jim’s father was a practicing alcoholic, his mother became the sub rosa leader of the household,” Selvin said. “That’s why she became the major figure in this panoply of voices hectoring him.”

As a result, it was her voice that he felt the most urgent need to silence. Once details of the subsequent murder came out, some observers who knew Gordon in his high functioning days were floored. “When I knew him, he was a tremendously nice person,” Waronker said. “He was the all-American boy.”

Selvin’s book describes what led up to the murder in granular detail, but he doesn’t write much about Gordon’s subsequent decades in prison because, he said, he found it undramatic. Often keeping to himself, Gordon became a virtual zombie due to the anti-psychotic drugs the prison pumped him with. Rare as Gordon’s particular case was, one key reason Selvin said he wrote his book was to let readers know how common various forms of schizophrenia are. “To me, the single most astonishing fact of the research I did was that schizophrenia affects one in 100 people,” he said. “Let that sink in: Multiple sclerosis affects one in 10,000! We see these people out in the street, hearing voices all the time. Their world is totally frightening. And I have nothing but compassion for them. Unfortunately, society doesn’t.”

The other key reason Selvin wrote Drums & Demons, he said, was to restore Jim Gordon to the popular music world. “He’s gone,” he said, “and he needs to come back.”

Drums & Demons: The Tragic Journey of Jim Gordon is out on 27 February.

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