Last month saw the 83rd birthday of the great Italian trumpeter Enrco Rava. You’d think that he might have slowed down a little, but apparently not. Checking the ECM website, I just saw that he has nine gigs in Italy coming up over the next couple of months; what’s more, this week he has a … Continue reading Here comes some sun: the music of Enrico Rava
It’s not often that I write about the visual arts, mainly, I suppose, because I suspect that most of you reading my posts know at least as much as I do about the subject, maybe more. But just occasionally, as happened with the Swiss painter Félix Vallotton or the Malian photographer Malick Sidibé, I come … Continue reading Ripe for (re)discovery: marvellous artist Milton Avery
There is, of course, no such thing as a greatest piece of music, any more than there might be a greatest movie, novel, painting or whatever. But we all have our favourites – though mine, it must be said, are constantly changing – and as far as classical music goes, one of my most frequent … Continue reading Back to Bach, Beethoven and others: recent classical releases
I haven’t written much recently about jazz, for many reasons, one of which was the illness and passing of David Fraser, a music publicist – also, in time, a friend – who introduced me to a great deal of marvellous music (and not just jazz). David’s speciality, as far as I was concerned, was ECM … Continue reading But Is It Jazz? (Five recent examples of suite sounds.)
Over the decades the two questions I’ve been asked most, as critic and programmer, have been what my favourite film is and what made me want to work in film. To the first, after explaining that I don’t have a single favourite film, I used to reply L’Atalante, but that often met with blank looks, … Continue reading Revisiting Hollywood’s last golden age: my part in a new publication
For the list of my best (ie favourite) films, music, books, etc two years ago, I noted the importance of taking solace from the arts at a time when Brexit, Johnson, Trump, climate change and others were cause for such anxiety, anger and despondency. Last year, of course, with Covid having taken its toll, we’d … Continue reading Best of another bad year: movies, music and other highlights of 2021.
Since a similar post seemed to go down quite well last year, and in case you’re wondering what to buy folks (or yourself) for Christmas, I thought I’d again offer recommendations of classic movies released on BluRay and DVD during the last 12 months. Many of the films listed below come in glorious restorations and, … Continue reading Just in time for Christmas, part 2: great classic movies now out on disc.
In the spring of last year, the very welcome appearance of two albums featuring previously unreleased performances of music by Mike Westbrook and Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra prompted me to blog about them; I also ended up recommending them as possible Christmas gifts in a blog posted in December. The Westbrook album, released by … Continue reading Just in time for Christmas: great new (and old) jazz.
Four years ago this month, a friend, knowing I was a big admirer of the music put out by ECM, suggested I put together a list of my all-time favourite releases on the label, in response to a New York Times list of 21 ‘essential’ ECM albums published to mark the music then newly available … Continue reading Further Gems from ECM: revisiting some favourites
You may think you know all you need to know about The Velvet Underground: the encounter of New York songwriter Lou Reed and Welsh classical violist John Cale, the bringing in of drummer Maureen Tucker and guitarist Sterling Morrison, the ‘sponsorship’ of the band by Andy Warhol, the temporary addition of Nico to the outfit, … Continue reading Not Just the Band: Todd Haynes’ The Velvet Underground