On April 9 of this year, the jazz pianist Keith Jarrett sat alone on the stage of an old opera house in Rio de Janeiro, his only company a piano — an American Steinway he described as "not perfect at all."
For nearly two hours, Jarrett played — as he often does — without any idea of what was coming next. It was sheer improvisation.
He says the result, now available on the album Rio, was some of the best music he's ever produced in a career spanning almost 50 years.
Have you ever read a novel that is so propulsive you don't want to put it down (not even to play with your new kitten), and so well-plotted that it doesn't reveal itself to you until its 288th page — which just happens to be the book's final page as well? Marabou Stork Nightmares by Irvine Welsh is that kind of a novel.
On first glance, if you simply picked it up and shuffled its pages, it might not look appealing to some readers.
A good friend of mine is a Marcel Proust scholar and former milliner. She had just been to see fashion icon and brewery fortune heiress Daphne Guinness's exhibition at the Fashion Institute of Technology's Museum at FIT in New York when she sent me this email:
Would you wear a perfume that made you smell like "A Day at the Beach?" How about "Baby's Butt?" If so, scent inventor Christopher Brosius can help. His Brooklyn boutique is at the vanguard of the anti-perfume movement, as you might suspect by its name: I Hate Perfume.
"I'm not out to sell millions of bottles," Brosius tells weekends on All Things Considered guest host Jacki Lyden. "My work is really about things that really do smell wonderful, but don't have a lot of the properties that commercial perfumes do."
"I don't feel like I need to tell any lies," Betty Wright says. "You get to an age where you get tired of hiding behind whatever people think is correct. You just say what you have to say, and if they don't like it, it's OK."
Wright found fame in the 1970s as the voice behind the R&B hits "Clean Up Woman" and "Dance With Me." Today, Wright is much in demand as a vocalist, coach, writer, arranger and producer. Her first album out in 10 years is out this week; it's called Betty Wright: The Movie.
Round 7 of our Three-Minute Fiction contest attracted more than 3,000 story submissions. Tasked with writing an original short story that can be read in about three minutes, contestants had to include one character arriving to town and one character leaving town.
The judge for this round, writer Danielle Evans, has picked her favorite.
This week D.C. Court of Appeals agreed with the White House that the health care law does not violate the Constitution. The court's senior judge, a respected conservative voice, wrote the majority opinion. Weekends on All Things Considered guest host Jacki Lyden speaks with James Fallows of The Atlantic about this story and others from the past week.
There's no mistaking the protagonist of "Be Brave," a song from the new My Brightest Diamond album, All Things Will Unwind. Shara Worden, the group's classically trained singer, songwriter, and main creative force, makes it clear in the refrain: "Shara, now get to work/Shara, this is going to hurt."
Hugh Jackman has had one of the most bifurcated showbiz careers imaginable. He leapt to superstardom as the mutton-chopped mutant Wolverine in the X-Men movies and won a Tony Award as the gay Australian entertainer Peter Allen in The Boy from Oz. These days, he's starring in the robot-boxing film Real Steel and appearing on Broadway in a one-man show.
A pharmaceutical company executive will lead an investigative committee that's looking at the child sexual abuse scandal at Pennsylvania State University. This new committee will be made up of students, faculty and board members. This committee's investigation is separate from the criminal investigation already underway.