wed 26/11/2014

New Music reviews, news & interviews

CD: Fini Bearman - Porgy & Bess

Peter Quinn

The weapon of choice of wannabe jazz chanteuses the world over, the fact that London-based singer, songwriter and composer Fini Bearman chose to deliver the ubiquitous “Summertime” as a wordless meditation almost made me weep with gratitude.The closing song of this eight-track homage to Gershwin's operatic masterpiece, “Prayer (Summertime)” typifies the way in which Bearman and her superb quintet cast fresh light on material that has long since been imprinted on our consciousness. Beginning...

Charles Lloyd / Joe Lovano and Dave Douglas, Barbican

Thomas Rees

It’s not easy to write about a gig when you’re still shaking with adrenaline, still less so when that gig is the grand finale of the 2014 EFG London Jazz Festival, the climax to a giddy ten days of world-class contemporary music. But it’s a cross I’ll have to bear, because last night’s performance from legendary saxophonist Charles Lloyd and jazz giants tenorist Joe Lovano and trumpeter Dave Douglas demands it.Appearing as part of their Sound Prints quintet, completed by young pianist Lawrence...

Robert Mitchell's 'Invocation',...

Peter Quinn

Imaginatively constructed and endlessly surprising, this world premiere of the complete version of pianist Robert Mitchell's choral work Invocation...

CD: Mind Fair - Mind Fair

Barney Harsent

Mind Fair, whose members comprise Dean "Chicken Lips" Meredith and Ben Shenton, has released a slew of imaginative and wildly different singles on...

Kasse Mady Diabate, Purcell Room, Southbank Centre

Tim Cumming

Kassé Mady Diabaté is one of the great singers of West Africa, a member of Toumani Diabaté's Symmetric Orchestra and, more recently, the Afrocubism...

Celebrating 75 years of Blue Note, Royal Festival Hall

Peter Quinn

All-star Blue Note sextet brings the audience to its feet

CD: Susan Boyle - Hope

Matthew Wright

Boyle's in fine vocal form, but sticks too closely to the path well trodden

Reissue CDs Weekly: Jon Hassell / Brian Eno

Kieron Tyler

How Eno’s co-opting of Jon Hassell’s avant-garde style changed the course of music

CD: David Guetta - Listen

Barney Harsent

French producer Guetta boasts another star-studded line-up, but can he do mature without the cheese?

Tomasz Stanko, Barbican

Peter Culshaw

The Polish jazz train goes off the rails at the EFG London Jazz Festival

John McLaughlin / Hedvig Mollestad, Royal Festival Hall

Matthew Wright

Beautiful collaboration and beastly guitar-playing in a stunning jazz fusion gig

Bellowhead, Shepherd's Bush Empire

Tim Cumming

Ten years of riotous big band folk in one night

CD: David Sylvian - there’s a light that enters houses with no other house in sight

Joe Muggs

How Boho can you go?

Snarky Puppy, The Roundhouse

Peter Quinn

Brooklyn-based collective's stellar musicianship and melodic power wow a capacity crowd

Loop, The Garage, London

Barney Harsent

Drone-rock pioneers find new lease of life 22 years after folding

CD: Gemma Hayes - Bones and Longing

Russ Coffey

Haunting loveliness from the Irish songstress

The Bad Plus, Village Underground

Matthew Wright

Musical magpies light up Village Underground with their stolen glitter

10 Questions for Songwriter Jackson Browne

Adam Sweeting

Veteran tunesmith on politics, David Geffen and life with the Eagles

CD: One Direction - Four

Barney Harsent

Wherein it's asked whether the MOR tendencies of 1D's fourth album are wise

theartsdesk in Reykjavík: Iceland Airwaves 2014

Kieron Tyler

Breathtaking live orchestral film accompaniment, new punk and high-profile visitors at hectic musical feast

The Kooks, O2 Academy, Birmingham

Guy Oddy

Crowd-pleasing set from the unchallenging Brighton band

CD: Antony and the Johnsons - Turning

Mark Kidel

Antony Hegarty's journey into joy-filled sadness

Reissue CDs Weekly: The Velvet Underground

Kieron Tyler

Beautifully packaged but completists-only edition of the Velvet's third album

Jazz Voice, Barbican/Jazz on 3, Ronnie Scott's

Peter Quinn

Paean to the art of the song gets EFG London Jazz Festival off to coruscating start

CD: Bryan Ferry - Avonmore

Adam Sweeting

The song remains fairly similar... but that's OK

The New Arts Desk Radio Show 8


Bamako, Mali, Fukushima, Rio, Jerusalem, and into outer space with Peter and Joe

Kate Tempest, The Haunt, Brighton

Thomas H Green

UK hip hop label Big Dada's star turn heads out on her first headlining tour

CD: Flight Facilities - Down to Earth

Thomas H Green

Australian dance duo's eagerly anticipated debut fluffs rather than thrills

Susheela Raman, Jazz Cafe

Peter Culshaw

Indo-rock siren provides suitably climactic end to LIAF Festival

Footnote: a brief history of new music in Britain

New music has swung fruitfully between US and UK influences for half a century. The British charts began in 1952, initially populated by crooners and light jazz. American rock'n'roll livened things up, followed by British imitators such as Lonnie Donegan and Cliff Richard. However, it wasn't until The Beatles combined rock'n'roll's energy with folk melodies and Motown sweetness that British pop found a modern identity outside light entertainment. The Rolling Stones, amping up US blues, weren't far behind, with The Who and The Kinks also adding a unique Englishness. In the mid-Sixties the drugs hit - LSD sent pop looking for meaning. Pastoral psychedelia bloomed. Such utopianism couldn't last and prog rock alongside Led Zeppelin's steroid riffing defined the early Seventies. Those who wanted it less blokey turned to glam, from T Rex to androgynous alien David Bowie.

sex_pistolsA sea change arrived with punk and its totemic band, The Sex Pistols, a reaction to pop's blandness and much else. Punk encouraged inventiveness and imagination on the cheap but, while reggae made inroads, the most notable beneficiary was synth pop, The Human League et al. This, when combined with glam styling, produced the New Romantic scene and bands such as Duran Duran sold multi-millions and conquered the US.

By the mid-Eighties, despite U2's rise, the British charts were sterile until acid house/ rave culture kicked the doors down for electronica, launching acts such as the Chemical Brothers. The media, however, latched onto indie bands with big tunes and bigger mouths, notably Oasis and Blur – Britpop was born.

By the millennium, both scenes had fizzled, replaced by level-headed pop-rockers who abhorred ostentation in favour of homogenous emotionality. Coldplay were the biggest. Big news, however, lurked in underground UK hip hop where artists adapted styles such as grime, dubstep and drum & bass into new pop forms, creating breakout stars Dizzee Rascal and, more recently, Tinie Tempah. The Arts Desk's wide-ranging new music critics bring you overnight reviews of every kind of music, from pop to unusual world sounds, daily reviews of new releases and downloads, and unique in-depth interviews with celebrated musicians and DJs, plus the quickest ticket booking links. Our writers include Peter Culshaw, Joe Muggs, Howard Male, Thomas H Green, Graeme Thomson, Kieron Tyler, Russ Coffey, Bruce Dessau, David Cheal & Peter Quinn

Close Footnote

Subscribe to

Thank you for continuing to read our work on For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 7,000 pieces, we're asking for £2.95 per month or £25 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take an annual subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a gift subscription?


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters

latest in today

Sci-Fi Week: Scoring the Impossible

How can music express the unimaginable?

Sacred Monsters, Khan/Guillem, Sadler's Wells

Dance approaches religious experience in the hands of two truly magnificent...

OAE, Tognetti, Queen Elizabeth Hall

Australian live-wire violinist leads classical and romantic string music wi...

Stations of the Cross

Austere German drama of extreme religion packs a bleak punch

Dara Ó Bríain, Touring

Irish comic is on cracking form on home turf

CD: Fini Bearman - Porgy & Bess

Compelling arrangements breath new life into classic material

DVD: Mood Indigo

A subterranean film about the factory of the self

Posh People: Inside Tatler, BBC Two

Entertaining enough, but this three-parter is about as vapid as its subject

Listed: Science Fiction in Videogames

Nearly all videogames are fantastical, but few are interestingly fantastica...

Saxon Court, Southwark Playhouse

Brassy office comedy recalls the early days of financial crisis