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Singer Holly Cole performs March 11 at Belly Up Aspen. (Contributed photo)
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The eponymous new CD by Holly Cole is dominated by songs by the great mid-20th century American songwriters: Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, Johnny Mercer. Thus, “Holly Cole” is being described as the Canadian vocalists’ return to jazz. While there is some truth to that line ” the arrangements are well within the boundaries of jazz ” it would be a little like saying Cole had turned New Wave punk because she covered Elvis Costello’s “Alison,” or went country because she recorded Lyle Lovett’s “God Will.” The 44-year-old Cole has always looked at songs ” everything from old show tunes to Christmas songs to Tom Waits, to whom she paid tribute with “Temptation,” a full album of covers ” as vehicles to carry her voice. On the new album, Cole doesn’t look to resurrect any past era of jazz, but to give a distinct context to her voice, a blend of jazz and pop. Expect her to try out tunes from the rock, reggae, pop and Broadway catalogs when she performs on Tuesday, March 11, at Belly Up Aspen.

For the past 15 years, early March in Aspen has meant laughter as much as powder, thanks to the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival. But the festival is either dead, or moving elsewhere, or returning to Aspen under another name, with different sponsors, and in a new format. (All-pantomime is the sentimental favorite, but a long shot.) In the meantime, the Wheeler Opera House and comedian David Brenner, a former Aspenite, are keeping the town in laughs with the What’s So Funny? series of stand-up events. Brenner, who co-produced the series, has said that TV killed the stand-up star, with young comedians focused more on sitcom deals than on developing their stage routines. But that hasn’t stopped him from closing out the series with Made For TV, featuring three performers ” Dan Gabriel, Tim Northern and Tom Simmons ” who have launched careers on the small screen. Brenner appears as the headliner at the Wheeler on Friday, March 14; maybe he can explain himself then.



Why did Tamara Jenkins go nine years between making the promising “Slums of Beverly Hills” and “The Savages”? So she could make the 15-minute short film “Choices: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”? Doubtful. So her husband, Jim Taylor could write screenplays for “Sideways” and “About Schmidt”? Possibly. So she could compete in kayaking at the 2000 Sydney Olympics? No, different Tamara Jenkins. The best reason the writer-director could give is that she was waiting for the team of Philip Seymour Hoffman and Laura Linney to become available. Jenkins’ script is funny, timely, warm and observant ” but “The Savages” wouldn’t be what it is without Hoffman and Linney as the insecure, estranged siblings who pool what resources they have to care for their aged father. The film, which earned Oscar nominations for Linney as best actress, and for Jenkins’ original screenplay, shows this week in Aspen.

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