Of Old Songs and New Beginnings: three terrific new jazz albums

I’ve been listening a lot recently to three terrific new jazz albums which illustrate just how widely varied the musics covered by that term may be. I’m not using the word in the almost ludicrously catch-all way deployed these days by the London Jazz Festival, where virtually anything that isn’t classical music might get a … Continue reading Of Old Songs and New Beginnings: three terrific new jazz albums

The 2018 London Film Festival: some personal recommendations

As last year, here are some recommendations for the upcoming BFI London Film Festival. There are, of course, many films in the festival that I haven’t yet seen, some of which I am greatly looking forward to (for me Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma, the Coen Brothers’ The Ballad of Buster Scruggs and Mike Leigh’s Peterloo are … Continue reading The 2018 London Film Festival: some personal recommendations

At last: Doctor Atomic on CD

For my first three decades, even though I liked classical music (my main interests were then pop, rock and jazz), I would tell friends – and, indeed, myself – that I had no time for opera: that it was a mish-mash of inferior drama, inferior poetry and inferior music. Naturally, I’d reached this absurd conclusion … Continue reading At last: Doctor Atomic on CD

Bologna discovery: the films of John Stahl

My annual visit to Bologna’s Il Cinema Ritrovato festival – which specialises in rarities, restorations, forgotten fragments and other filmic arcana – usually turns up a few gems, and often provides a welcome opportunity to get better acquainted with the work of a director with whom I was hitherto barely familiar; last year, I especially … Continue reading Bologna discovery: the films of John Stahl

Glimpses of a guitar great: meeting John Abercrombie (on film)

Those of you who have visited my website more than once or twice may be aware of my enduring interest in much of the music released by ECM. One of the mainstays of the label over the years, alongside the likes of Keith Jarrett, Jan Garbarek, Norma Winstone,  John Surman and others, was the great … Continue reading Glimpses of a guitar great: meeting John Abercrombie (on film)

Faces and far more: the photographic genius of August Sander

I’ve had a good week, exhibition-wise, kicking off with a visit to the Tate Modern’s pleasingly not-too-crowded ‘Picasso 1932’, followed by a first-day (and therefore extraordinarily quiet) encounter with the Royal Academy’s historical survey of summer-show landmarks, ‘The Great Spectacle’. I can recommend both shows, but it was a third outing that gave me the … Continue reading Faces and far more: the photographic genius of August Sander

The 2018 Cannes Film Festival: My Top 12 Movies

While last year’s Cannes - the 70th edition of the Festival – was a little underwhelming, this year’s event turned out to be pretty rewarding, at least in terms of the main competition. While I wouldn’t claim that it produced any indisputable masterpieces, there were many very good films on offer, and around five or … Continue reading The 2018 Cannes Film Festival: My Top 12 Movies

Stops Making Sense: Organ music with a difference

Year in, year out, Easter throws up gigs galore with music that’s good for the soul: Bach, of course – especially the Passions, for obvious reasons – but also masses, motets and so on by the likes of Pärt, Pergolesi or Poulenc, Tavener, Taverner or Tallis, not to mention Handel’s inevitable Messiah. Evidently, the profound … Continue reading Stops Making Sense: Organ music with a difference

The 2018 Berlin Film Festival – my top ten movies

The 2018 edition of the Berlin Film Festival was not, by any stretch of the imagination, a superior vintage; like myself, most critics I spoke with agreed that there were few if any truly outstanding films, though a couple whose opinions I respect did tell me they had discovered a masterpiece in  the Forum strand … Continue reading The 2018 Berlin Film Festival – my top ten movies

Reworking music from the movies: Norma Winstone’s ‘Descansado’

‘It’s always good if you can find a theme for an album. In this case, what happened was this: Glauco often plays little tunes during sound-checks, and when you ask him what the music is, it frequently turns out to be from some film. So I thought it would be nice to take music which … Continue reading Reworking music from the movies: Norma Winstone’s ‘Descansado’