My best movies, music, books and other moments from 2022

As regular readers will know, I’ve been posting my personal ‘year’s best’ lists ever since I started writing here in 2016, and each time I’ve prefaced the survey of my favourite movies, music, etc, with complaints about the dreadful state of British and international politics followed by the expression of (mostly forlorn) hopes for an … Continue reading My best movies, music, books and other moments from 2022

Just in Time for Christmas: Some Great Jazz Revisited

Sometimes a musical blast from the past is so exhilarating, I feel moved to share my enthusiasm; such has been the case, in the last few years, with releases or re-releases of works by major jazz figures like John Coltrane, Charlie Haden, Paul Bley, Graham Collier and Mike Westbrook. So I’ve been delighted by the … Continue reading Just in Time for Christmas: Some Great Jazz Revisited

Maidan: A Musical Prayer for Ukraine

In mid-March of this year, I attended a concert by the pianist Boris Giltburg. Came the time to announce his encore: a lovely Bagatelle by the great if sadly too-little known Ukrainian composer Valentin Silvestrov, who at the age of 84 had just a week earlier been whisked out of his homeland and taken, via … Continue reading Maidan: A Musical Prayer for Ukraine

Giving Voice: Heiner Goebbels’ ‘A House of Call’

There have been quite a few extremely rewarding ‘classical’ releases on CD in recent weeks, ranging from Robert Levin’s seven-disc set of the complete Mozart piano sonatas performed on the composer’s very own fortepiano (ECM), through Igor Levit’s selection of pieces by Liszt, Wagner, Mahler and Henze on Tristan (Sony) and Christian Immler and Andreas … Continue reading Giving Voice: Heiner Goebbels’ ‘A House of Call’

Here comes some sun: the music of Enrico Rava

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

Back to Bach, Beethoven and others: recent classical releases

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

But Is It Jazz? (Five recent examples of suite sounds.)

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.)

Best of another bad year: movies, music and other highlights of 2021.

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.

Just in time for Christmas: great new (and old) jazz.

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.

Further Gems from ECM: revisiting some favourites

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