Two years ago, in February 2013, I wrote an adulatory review of a concert at the Liverpool Phil by the Heritage Blues Orchestra. At the time they were pretty much an unknown quantity in the UK, having only recently released their first album, And Still I Rise. Last night they were back – and gave … Continue reading The Heritage Blues Orchestra’s triumphant return to the Phil
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!
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
Erik Satie An evening in the presence of pianist Joanna MacGregor is always guaranteed to be both enjoyable and informative so we didn’t hesitate when we saw the Capstone theatre advertising ‘an evening devoted to the eccentric genius of Erik Satie’, presented by MacGregor. We were not disappointed. As well as being a solo artist who has performed around … Continue reading Joanna MacGregor and the eccentric genius of Erik Satie
John Surman Last weekend we marked the opening of the 2014 London Jazz Festival by attending concerts by two jazz greats: John Surman, celebrating his seventieth year, and Abdullah Ibrahim, now in his 80th year. On Friday evening, while upstairs Guardian journalists were beavering away producing the next day’s newspaper, we were at the elegant new(ish) … Continue reading At London Jazz Festival: John Surman and Abdullah Ibrahim
Catrin Finch and Seckou Keita (photo: Josh-Pulman) ‘The harp and the kora appear to us like old instruments, designed for quieter sparser times’, instruments which ‘can seem out of place in this cacophonous world’, writes Andy Morgan in the sleeve-notes to Clychau Dibon, the album that took the folk-roots world by storm last year. In … Continue reading Catrin Finch and Seckou Keita braid tales of Wales and Senegal
The turtle dove mourns the husband she has lost from Richard de Fournival’s ‘Bestiaire D’amour’ (1250) I don’t think I’ve ever seen (or heard) a turtle dove, a bird once common in the south of England but now increasingly rare and on the critical list of British species for familiar reasons – mechanised farming meaning there’s not enough … Continue reading Turtle doves, architecture, music and fountains of wine