Of Life (and Death?): new music from Carla Bley

The first time I saw the American composer and pianist Carla Bley perform live was back in June 1974, when she played keyboards for the Jack Bruce Band; a couple of years later; the first of her albums that I bought was ‘Dinner Music’, released a couple of years later. Thereafter, I not only made … Continue reading Of Life (and Death?): new music from Carla Bley

The 2019 London Film Festival: My Tips

As in recent years, here are some recommendations for the upcoming BFI London Film Festival. (There are of course many films in the festival I haven’t yet seen, some of which I am greatly looking forward to.) The list below – ordered alphabetically – covers a dozen titles which are among my favourites of the … Continue reading The 2019 London Film Festival: My Tips

Félix Vallotton: a remarkable artist you may not even have heard of (I hadn’t)

To be absolutely honest, I wasn’t really aware of Félix Vallotton, let alone of any of his pictures, until very recently. A few years ago I read ‘Keeping an Eye Open’, Julian Barnes’ excellent collection of essays on (mostly French) art, but his chapter on Vallotton hadn’t really stayed with me simply because, apart from … Continue reading Félix Vallotton: a remarkable artist you may not even have heard of (I hadn’t)

When Will The Blues Leave – a posthumous gem from the great Paul Bley

A few weeks ago I read something that both surprised and greatly pleased me: an announcement of the imminent release of a new CD featuring the great Canadian pianist Paul Bley (1932-2016), in a live performance recorded in Lugano in 1999 featuring the illustrious trio of Bley, bassist Gary Peacock and the late, likewise great … Continue reading When Will The Blues Leave – a posthumous gem from the great Paul Bley

The 2019 Cannes Film Festival – My Favourite Films

A couple of weeks ago I embarked upon my 32nd (!!) visit to the Cannes Film Festival, and as usual set about watching all the films in the main competition, plus a fair number of films either out of competition or in the Salle Debussy's Un Certain Regard strand. (For various reasons I didn’t make it … Continue reading The 2019 Cannes Film Festival – My Favourite Films

Photographic genius at the Tate: the remarkable work of Don McCullin

Tate Britain’s exhibition devoted to the work of the great photographer Don McCullin is, in its own pleasingly straightforward and unpretentious way, one of the finest exhibitions I’ve been to in some years. Of course, as someone who used to peruse the Sunday Times magazine in his teens, when McCullin’s strikingly vivid, often deeply disturbing … Continue reading Photographic genius at the Tate: the remarkable work of Don McCullin

Agnès Varda par…

Some hours after the announcement of the death of Agnès Varda, my friend Nick James – editor of Sight & Sound magazine – felt moved to tweet that his Twitter feed was so choked with tributes, it felt as if Varda was the Bowie of cinema. ‘Perhaps she was,’ he added. It was an intriguing … Continue reading Agnès Varda par…

Giovanni Guidi: great jazz pianist and versatile composer

Since its inception 50 years ago, the ECM label has become a haven for great jazz pianists – only last week I wrote about a new album from Craig Taborn and Vijay Iyer. But the label is perhaps especially famous for having promoted a particular kind of piano trio, where bass and percussion carry as … Continue reading Giovanni Guidi: great jazz pianist and versatile composer

Luminous meshwork: the dazzling piano duo of Craig Taborn and Vijay Iyer

A couple of years ago, to coincide with the release of his quartet album Daylight Ghosts, I posted a piece about the great American pianist Craig Taborn in which I ended by wondering enthusiastically about what he would come up with next. Well, we now have the answer in the form of a new album, … Continue reading Luminous meshwork: the dazzling piano duo of Craig Taborn and Vijay Iyer

My best of the 2019 Berlin Film Festival

In writing about my favourite films at last year’s Berlin Film Festival – which I confessed from the start was not in my opinion a vintage edition – I felt able to select 10 films to recommend you look out for. In retrospect, now that the 2019 edition has come to an end, selecting that … Continue reading My best of the 2019 Berlin Film Festival