Tomorrow evening I was planning on seeing John Renbourn play at the Floral Pavilion, New Brighton, one stop on a tour he was doing with guitarist Wizz Jones. This morning I opened the paper to learn that he was dead. With Bert Jansch, John Renbourn co-founded Pentangle in 1967, the brilliant band of musicians which burst … Continue reading John Renbourn: buckets of tears
Professor Longhair, Fats Domino, Allen Toussaint – three of the piano-player greats who have emerged from New Orleans, that laboratory of musical invention, the city where every stream of American music has converged and shape-shifted. None have transmogrified the music to the same degree as a fourth pianist, Mac Rebennack who reinvented himself as Dr John, fusing voodoo psychedelia … Continue reading Dr John at the Phil, Liverpool: Such a Night!
Last month Bob Dylan spoke at a benefit in his honour, organised by the MusiCares Foundation, an offshoot of the organisation that puts on the annual Grammy awards which provides medical care for musicians in need. They were honouring Bob Dylan as their Person of the Year, and, unusually, he spoke at length about the formative influences … Continue reading Dylan’s American music history lecture – illustrated
Yet another gem emerged from the cornucopia of ECM Records last month – The half-finished heaven, the fourth album that Sinikka Langeland, the kantele player, singer and composer from Norway has recorded for Manfred Eicher’s label. It’s a gorgeous record from an artist I first encountered in 2006, when she released her first ECM recording, Starflowers. Like … Continue reading Sinikka Langeland’s mix of Norwegian folk, jazz and poetry
Hard to believe, but this year it will be half a century since Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, Ron McKernan, Phil Lesh and Bill Kreutzmann agreed that the Grateful Dead would be a cool name for the band in which they had been playing together for several months. For a man in his sixties, I’ve spent … Continue reading Sunshine Daydream: The Grateful Dead 50 years on
James Karales, Selma-to-Montgomery March for Voting Rights,1965 Watching Ava DuVernay’s film Selma which takes as its subject the 1965 Selma to Montgomery voting rights marches brought back memories of how, as a teenager growing up in a Cheshire village at the time, the Civil Rights Movement and the music associated with it played a key part in … Continue reading Songs of Freedom: the Selma playlist
This week marks the 50th anniversary of the release of John Coltrane’s album, A Love Supreme, ‘easily one of the most important records ever made’, in the estimation of Sam Samuelson at AllMusic. A Love Supreme was recorded by John Coltrane’s quartet on 9 December 1964 and is generally considered to be Coltrane’s greatest work. The story … Continue reading Coltrane’s A Love Supreme 50 years on: symbol of black pride