tue 11/05/2021

New Music Features

Cilla Black, 1943-2015

Adam Sweeting

The term "beloved entertainer" might have been coined with Cilla Black in mind. Her career trajectory, from a working-class Irish Catholic background in Liverpool's Scotland Road through pop stardom under the auspices of Beatles manager Brian Epstein, and thence to mainstream TV and nearly 20 years as hostess of LWT's Blind Date and Surprise Surprise, was a classic fable of determined self-betterment.

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theartsdesk in Tuscany: Musical landscapes

alexandra Coghlan

“Treeless and shrubless but for some tufts of broom, these corrugated ridges formed a lunar landscape, pale and inhuman.” Lushly green and densely planted, today the view out over Tuscany’s Val d’Orcia is unrecognisable as the blasted landscape first witnessed by author Iris Origo in 1923.

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theartsdesk at Førdefestivalen: Music and the midnight sun

Tim Cumming

The first thing that strikes you at 3am is the light, that strange disembodied glow of Norway’s midsummer midnight sun casting its rays over a landscape soaked in fantasy proportions –  sheer glacial drops of greenstone, sweet-water fjords cutting deep into the land, the forests of spruce and pine desending from steep mountainous peaks to the meadow grasses of the valley below.

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theartsdesk at Love Supreme: Van Morrison & Dianne Reeves

Matthew Wright

Love Supreme, now in its third year, feels like the best of both worlds. Set in the spectacularly rolling scenery of Glynde Place, outside Lewes, it’s only a champagne cork’s flight from Glyndebourne opera house, and if you’re not camping you can share the train home with the penguin-suited picnickers. Yet the format and layout are every bit greenfield rock festival, albeit – how posh is this – with flushing toilets.

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theartsdesk in Orkney: St Magnus Festival

David Kettle

Ebb of Winter felt about right. It’s one of Peter Maxwell Davies’s most recent works, a yearning for the brightness and warmth of spring at the end of an Orcadian winter, written in 2013 for the Scottish Chamber Orchestra’s 40th anniversary.

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Ornette Coleman (1930-2015), Jazz Liberator

Matthew Wright

Like John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, who died this week, was both a defining and divisive figure in jazz history.

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Arise, Sir Van, Sir Lenny and Sir Kevin. Dame who?

Jasper Rees

If the honours system is used to award deserving individuals, its other job is to provide an aspirational marker for the country as a whole. This, it tells us twice a year, is who we want to be: inclusive, non-sexist, colour-blind. From the look of the awards dished out in the arts for the Queen’s birthday honours list, in the summer of 2015 it looks very much as if we want to be a society which favours male privilege. Don’t hold the front page.

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Jazz FM Awards 2015

peter Quinn

Hosted by self-confessed jazz nut John Thomson, a.k.a. The Fast Show's “Jazz Club” presenter Louis Balfour, the winners of this year's Jazz FM Awards were announced on Wednesday evening in the atmospheric setting of the Great Halls at Vinopolis.

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theartsdesk in Fes: Has the magic gone?

Peter Culshaw

More than anywhere else, the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music has been the place where I have gone annually for most of the last 20 years to retune my ears, to find inspiration and connections, and to discover new international music. For fans, it was always more than a mere music festival; there was a visionary, idealistic element.

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theartsdesk in Bergen 1: Jazz in a sardine factory

Kieron Tyler

Reggie Watts has a few things to say about Norway. In Bergen to play Natjazz, the annual jazz festival, he’s concerned about the local predilection for fish soup. Be careful, he warns, it can be dangerously hot. Then there are trolls and the Norwegian crispbread knekkebrød, which is especially impressive as it can keep fillings dry. Sandwiches can be eaten in the rain – and it rains in Bergen. A lot. Watts is fascinated by the countryside cabins Norwegians take off to in the summer...

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