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

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’

Norwegian Good II: Bjarte Eike and Jon Balke

For many years now I’ve been taking an enthusiastic interest in Scandinavian music: not just that of my long-term favourites Sibelius and Nielsen, whose work I’ve adored since I first discovered it in my teens, but more contemporary fare, particularly in that fertile territory situated somewhere between jazz, folk, chamber music and experimental improvisation. It’s … Continue reading Norwegian Good II: Bjarte Eike and Jon Balke

My Best Moments of 2017: films, music and other stuff…

What with the depressing political mess we found ourselves in throughout 2017, which tended to privilege prejudice over reason, brazen deceit over factual truths, personal profit over compassion for others, and the short-term gains of the present over the long-term requirements of the future, it could be difficult to find cause for hope. But that … Continue reading My Best Moments of 2017: films, music and other stuff…

Now Streaming… The Musical Treasure Trove of ECM

When the news broke a few days ago that ECM, the illustrious and proudly independent Munich-based music label founded by Manfred Eicher in 1969, was making its remarkable back catalogue available to major streaming services, a film critic friend sent me a piece in the New York Times which singled out 21 ‘essential’ ECM albums. Knowing … Continue reading Now Streaming… The Musical Treasure Trove of ECM

Anouar Brahem: back with another musical jewel

I first became properly aware of the musical genius of Anouar Brahem back in 1998, and like most revelations it was accidental. I had, as it happened, already heard the Tunisian playing his oud – a North African lute-like instrument – first, unconsciously, on the soundtrack he composed for Moufida Tlatli’s 1994 film The Silences … Continue reading Anouar Brahem: back with another musical jewel

Turning Tarkovsky into music: Nuit blanche

A confession: while I recognise the cinematic importance of the late Andrei Tarkovsky – his influence on certain filmmakers, and the high regard in which his work is widely held – I myself have never been a great admirer of his films. I like Ivan’s Childhood and Andrei Roublev well enough, but I have always … Continue reading Turning Tarkovsky into music: Nuit blanche

Craig Taborn: a keyboards virtuoso and composer to look out for

Ever since Manfred Eicher launched ECM almost half a century ago with the Mal Waldon Trio’s ‘Free at Last’ , the label has been notable for its sterling support of great jazz pianists.  Among its first 20 releases were albums by Paul Bley, Chick Corea and Keith Jarrett;  these day you can find such distinguished … Continue reading Craig Taborn: a keyboards virtuoso and composer to look out for

My year in movies, music and books (what I liked best, anyway)

You certainly don’t need me to remind you that 2016 was in many respects a terrible year – an annus anus, so to speak – and an extremely worrying one in terms of what we may expect of 2017 and thereafter. And I am not going to darken your mood still further by listing the many greats who passed … Continue reading My year in movies, music and books (what I liked best, anyway)

Not in Their Names: Carla Bley and Liberation Music Orchestra in London

Since I first came to live in London 40 years ago, there’s been a handful of American jazz favourites I’ve made a point of seeing on each and every occasion they’ve crossed the Atlantic to play a gig. It was certainly that way with both Ornette Coleman and Charlie Haden, and it’s still the case … Continue reading Not in Their Names: Carla Bley and Liberation Music Orchestra in London