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Wednesday, April 29,2015

Alone together

Rodney Whitaker is fine company ‘When We Find Ourselves Alone’

by Lawrence Cosentino
There is a beautiful paradox in the title of bassist Rodney Whitaker´s new album, “When We Find Ourselves Review Alone.” Whitaker is a singular artist in a plural universe. As a bassist, Whitaker is at the top of his art, but his instrument almost always puts him in harness to a group. As the director of jazz studies at MSU, teacher and mentor to a generation of young jazz artists, community builder in East Lansing and family man with seven children, he has chosen a path that is anything but lonely.
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Thursday, April 23,2015

Stringing it together

Colombian harpist fuses jazz, Latin and folk

by Lawrence Cosentino
THURSDAY, APRIL 23 — Edmar Castaneda can turn his harp into a trellis of flowers or a barge full of fireworks. Forest waterfalls and urban skylines shimmer from its vibrating lines. The Colombia-born harpist throws folk, Latin and jazz rhythms and melodies into a gorgeous mélange that is completely his own invention.
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Thursday, April 23,2015

Monuments and machine guns

Tour explores Capitol building’s connection to Civil War

by Lawrence Cosentino
THURSDAY, APRIL 23 — In the wake of the Civil War, one particular tour of Michigan’s brand new state Capitol building got a little too lively. Chicago historian Matt VanAcker can show you an obscure entry off the west lawn — the only one with double doors — that opened into the an armory, a military storehouse containing small arms, gun carriages and a Gatling gun.
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Wednesday, April 22,2015

A horse and his man

Historian explores Lansing’s connection to the capture of John Wilkes Booth

by Lawrence Cosentino
Who says you can´t milk a horse? Chalk up another daring deed for Lansing´s Luther Byron Baker, the detective who led the militia unit that tracked down and killed John Wilkes Booth. For years after Baker returned to Lansing, Baker was a fixture at the Decoration (Memorial) Day parade, mounted on his trusty horse, Buckskin. When the horse died, Baker had him stuffed and trotted him out on wheels. At personal appearances, Baker sold an “imperial sized” postcard emblazoned with a photo of horse and rider. An “autobiography” of Buckskin, written from the horse’s point of view, was included on the back.
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Wednesday, April 22,2015

Flags of our fathers

Historian offers a rare look at historic battle flags

by Lawrence Cosentino
At a recent Civil War roundtable commemorating the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War, Chicago historian Matt VanAcker pulled out a battle flag from the 24th Michigan “Iron Brigade,” which suffered 80 percent casualties at Gettysburg. “Nine men died carrying that flag,” VanAcker said. “It has bloodstains on it.”
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Wednesday, April 15,2015

UPDATED: Rocked by the living and the dead

Two local concerts mix silent films and live music

by Lawrence Cosentino
Two exhilarating greater Lansing events mixed silent film and live music last weekend. Saturday´s mashup of the Lansing Symphony Orchestra and the Capital City Film Festival was great fun, but the sleeper was Sunday´s energized screening of Buster Keaton´s masterpiece, “Sherlock, Jr.,” at MSU, presented with an original score for piano and string quartet.
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Wednesday, April 8,2015

His name is Mudd — got a problem?

Descendant of vilified Civil War doctor kicks off month of Civil War events

by Lawrence Cosentino
The Historical Society of Greater Lansing and local partners are pulling out all the stops for a monthlong series of events and exhibits, turning up a surprising number of Lansing-area connections to one of the bloodiest and most fateful of our national dramas.
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Wednesday, April 1,2015

Containing the containers

Dart hustles to recycle itself after New York City bans plastic foam

by Lawrence Cosentino
Tour the Mason headquarters of Dart Container Co., the world´s largest maker of foam cups and take-out food containers, and you´d think the corporate cup runneth over. The glassy 110,000-square-foot administration building that opened last fall still smells of new carpet and wood. It houses Dart´s offices, engineering and IT departments, a fitness center and dining complex. Nearby, a new half-millionsquare-foot warehouse is almost finished. Renovations and additions are going on everywhere you look.
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Wednesday, April 1,2015

'Not of this moment'

Michael Rush, founding director of MSU’s Broad Museum, dies at 65

by Lawrence Cosentino
Time-based art, especially video and performance art, was an obsession for Michael Rush. The first exhibit Rush curated as founding director of MSU´s Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum captured dozens of elusive moments in a haunting array of photographs, paintings and videos called “In Search of Time.” Time caught up with Rush only two and a half years after landing his dream job as director of a spectacular new contemporary art museum. Rush died Friday, at 65, after a twoyear battle with pancreatic cancer.
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Wednesday, April 1,2015

Bookends and deep ends

Grand piano disc starts with Schubert and sails into the unknown

by Lawrence Cosentino
Sailing off the edge of the map into unknown territory might seem like a quaint idea in the age of GPS. Here there be dragons — ha ha! That was nervous laughter. Have you seen the news lately? Been to a hospital or a cemetery? The third part of “The Ends of the Earth,” a grand, terrifying and beautiful new work for piano by Honolulu-based composer Thomas Osborne, heaves like ocean swells, shudders like the crack of doom and tolls like a mariner´s bell. It´s a fantastic foretaste of the storms at life´s uttermost margins — part ecstasy, part fever.
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