Happy 50th birthday, ECM!

‘In Munich I used to frequent a record shop where the owner liked jazz, and he gave me some money to make some recordings. It was all quite accidental, and I’d no idea about business or money. I’d worked as a production assistant with Deutsche Grammophon, and I’d already met, in New York, musicians like … Continue reading Happy 50th birthday, ECM!

My best movies, music and other moments from 2019

This time last year, in introducing the lists of my favourite films, music, etc, etc of 2018, I expressed the admittedly somewhat forlorn hope that 2019 would give us less reason to have to seek solace in such things, and that peace, tolerance and reason would prevail. Well, it didn’t quite work out that way, … Continue reading My best movies, music and other moments from 2019

Movies and music for Christmas 2019 (and beyond…)

In December 2017 and 2018, I posted brief pieces highlighting some of my favourites movies and music which had been released on disc during the previous 12 months; I hoped they might prove helpful for anyone wondering what to buy for Christmas presents. The posts seemed to go down quite well, so this year I’m … Continue reading Movies and music for Christmas 2019 (and beyond…)

Great Women Filmmakers: A Few Further Thoughts

The recent announcement of the results of two polls – one conducted by the BBC asking a bunch of critics for their favourite films directed women, won by Jane Campion’s The Piano, the other Sight & Sound’s annual look at the films of the year, won by Joanna Hogg’s The Souvenir – got me thinking … Continue reading Great Women Filmmakers: A Few Further Thoughts

How Garbarek Got His Groove Back (plus a Gig by Joe Lovano)

It being 50 years since Manfred Eicher first set up his ECM label, it was perhaps unsurprising that this year’s London Jazz Festival should mount an ‘ECM day’, with three concerts featuring artists associated with the label. I missed the first, by the Julia Hülsmann Quartet, but managed to catch the second and third, and … Continue reading How Garbarek Got His Groove Back (plus a Gig by Joe Lovano)

Hills, vales, plains: new photographic work by Cristi Puiu

A couple of years ago, while serving on the jury of the Transylvanian International Film Festival in Cluj, I had the good fortune to visit the first ever exhibition of photographs by Cristi Puiu, one of Romania’s finest filmmakers and, indeed, one of the most interesting writer-directors in the world today. (His best known work … Continue reading Hills, vales, plains: new photographic work by Cristi Puiu

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