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The Life of Jimmy Scott

critical biography of major but under-appreciated singer I have to confess that I only heard of Jimmy Scott quite recently. Understandably so, it turns out. He’s one of the best kept secrets in the world of jazz and ballad singing. I heard his voice on a radio broadcast, was intrigued, bought a couple of CDs […]

The Blues – a very short introduction

history of blues music 1910 to the present Most people imagine that ‘the Blues’ is a form of musical expression characterised by mournful lamentations about life’s hardships or expressions of lost love. Ask any musician, and they will tell you that it’s the name of a musical form, moving from the tonic to the sub-dominant […]

Natural Selection

Gary Giddins on Comedy, Film, Music, and Books ‘A critic,’ Philip Larkin once declared, ‘is a man who likes some things and dislikes others, and finds reasons for doing so and for trying to persuade other people to do so.’ Gary Giddins has been doing this for many years. In several collections of jazz journalism […]

Maestros, Masterpieces and Madness

Secret Life and Shameful Death of the Classical Record Norman Lebrecht is a writer and pundit specialising in classical music who often appears on Radio 3 taking phone-in commentaries on what the BBC supposes to be very controversial topics such as “Should government subsidise the Arts?” and “Is the Internet taking over from print journalism?”. […]

Listen to This

essays on classical and contemporary music Listen to This is the follow up to Alex Ross’s The Rest is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century which was a huge success when it was published last year. His new book is a collection of essays which first appeared in The New Yorker where he is resident […]

Larkin’s Jazz Essays and Reviews

Jazz criticism from a major English poet Larkin’s Jazz is a collection of record and book reviews that has been assembled to flesh out Philip Larkin’s oeuvre of writings on jazz. It also seeks to correct the idea that he was a jazz reactionary — an impression he created himself by his introduction to All […]

Larkin’s Jazz

4-CD boxed set compilation of Larkin’s favourite music During the last decades of the twentieth century Philip Larkin was a sort of unofficial poet laureate – having turned down the offer of the real post on the death of John Betjeman. What many of his admirers didn’t realise at the time was that he used […]

Josephine Baker

Josephine Baker (1906-1975) was a celebrated African-American dancer and entertainer. She became famous in the Parisian Follies Bergeres, made friends with artists and intellectuals, and eventually renounced the US to become a French citizen. Her reputation was based on the fact that in addition to her being a talented singer and dancer, she also had […]

Igor Stravinsky: 1934-1971

second volume of the definitive biography The first volume of this masterly biography ends in 1934 with the death of Diaghilev, Igor Stravinsky’s composition of Persephone, his adoption of French citizenship, and his no less important decision to move his extended family from the south of France to take up residence in Paris – in […]

Igor Stravinsky: 1882-1934

part one of the definitive biography This is the currently definitive biography of Igor Stravinsky – master of European modernism whom many consider to be the greatest composer of the twentieth century. It’s a consummate and magisterial piece of work – superbly referenced and annotated; and just about every claim made within it is backed […]