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MAYA YOUSSEF     Syrian Dreams     Composer and performer on Qanun

Maya Youssef committed herself to the qanun as a child. She first consciously heard this magical sound machine in a taxi, driving through her home city of Damascus, the capital of Syria. Before that moment Maya had been completely unaware that such a musical instrument existed. She told the taxi driver that, one day, she would definitely learn to play it. He dismissed her ambitions as impossible, explaining that the qanun was played only by men. Yet, by auspicious coincidence, when Maya  got home that day, she was told that pupils at her school had been invited to learn to play the qanun, versions of which have been played throughout Eurasia and Africa, for thousands of years. Maya Youssef is now internationally celebrated as a virtuoso performer and composer. 

Maya Youssef was driven from her home by a vicious civil war, along with more than six million fellow refugees. She fled to London in 2012, establishing a musical career over the years which integrates classical music in the Arabic and European traditions along with jazz and folk. The themes of war, loss, grief and a lost homeland run through Maya's music. Today, for her, “home is a state of being. It’s that place where you are in peace. It’s a soft space, an open space, a beautiful space. It’s a space of healing… It’s that place where you’re completely held and completely found.”

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In the summer of  2022, Maya Youssef got together with the saxophone player and broadcaster , Jess Gillam, in her always-arresting and always-filled-to-the-brim-with-enthusiasm show on Radio 3, This Classical Life. Please click on the link above.

  ANDRAS SCHIFF     The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1     BWV 846–869     J S Bach 


  The day I posted this extended clip I had concentrated most of my time on addressing the atrocities of the Russian forces in Ukraine - as miserable and disgusting a phenomenon as one could conceive. These are events that evoke Hannah Arendt's most despairing of phrases, "the banality of evil". Her words were referring to the crimes of Adolf Eichmann, a Nazi bureaucrat responsible for the transportation of millions of people to the gas chambers, during World War II. While bearing witness to his trial at the Nuremberg triubunal, Hannah Arendt concluded that Eichmann performed evil deeds without evil intentions, a fact connected to his "thoughtlessness", a disengagement from the reality of his evil acts. Eichmann, she said, "never realised what he was doing" because of his "inability… to think from the standpoint of somebody else. Lacking this particular cognitive ability, he committed "crimes under circumstances that made it well-nigh impossible for him to know or to feel that he [was] doing wrong". A Russian conscript in Ukraine, barely out of his teens, wishing he was "anywhere but here", and half-filled with Polish vodka, is simply banal and evil in detail, not substance.

The clarity, the directness, the purity, the grace of Andrew Schiff's playing of one of Bach's most perfect of pieces is everything that atrocity is not. The Well-Tempered Clavier is possibly the most influential piece of music written in the European tradition. It is the very best of us nullifying the very worst.


And on the subject of civilisation, a personal response from one master to another.

JOYCE DiDONATO     The singer who sang at Sing Sing, and changed lives

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Joyce DiDonato was born Joyce Flaherty in Kansas City. And she has carried her Irish charm and Mid-Western directness into her life as a Diva, a term for a woman opera singer that she embraces. She explains why in an engrossing audio interview with John Wilson, in his excellent series for BBC Radio 4, This Cultural Life. Click on the link below to discover why Joyce abandoned the  voice that had got her into opera school, and spent close to two years making a new voice from the beginning. And why she sang a whole run of Rossini's The Barber of Seville from a wheelchair. But the most powerful and moving story she tells is about her experience bringing grand opera to prisoners on death row, at the forbidding Sing Sing prison, in upstate New York.


To access the interview click on the image below. If you wish to focus on the inspiring prison narrative, go straight to 30 minutes 50 seconds on the timeline.

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JOYCE DiDONATO mezzo soprano    Piangero la sorte mia, Handel


Joyce DiDonato performs the aria she had sung to the condemned prisoners in Sing Sing, It is taken from Handel's opera Julius Caesar in Egypt .

JOYCE DiDONATO master class     Piangero la sorte mia, Handel


"And then the music changes ... it was immediately like this electric bolt went throughout the auditorium. And they actually started interacting with me: 'You get him, girl! Make him pay!" They were shouting at me. It was like, the Globe Theatre of Shakespeare's time. And they were reacting to the music and emotion that I was putting out.


"And then, when the music was drifting away to nothing, the silence was like nothing I had ever heard on the stage. In that moment they were allowed to feel something, in the safety of a threatre - even though it was in a prison ...  I think they felt understood in a way."

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Recently I featured Charles Mingus on the CLIPS page, arguing that he was not only one of the greatest jazz musicians of all time, but one of the outstanding musicians of the century, whatever the category. That's a high mountain to climb, but Esperanza Spalding is well above the foothills. She too plays double bass, and holds together the whole operation with big, round, voluminous waves of sound on the double bass. And, when required, she can make her hefty instrument seem soft and delicate. Like Mingus, Esperanza draws together an ensemble of distinctive, individual talents into a roaring, climactic, thunder that lifts the spirits and sends birds into air. But what she also does is compose, write and sing extraordinary songs packed with poetry and feeling and a flood of ideas. Sometimes she goes into places I cannot follow her, but the journey is always intriguing, like venturing into a temple in a strange land.

   ESPERANZA SPALDING bass, singer/songwriter     Formwela 9  

All the tracks in this sequence come from an open recording session in lower Manhattan. There she and her jazzy quartet produced half the content for her most recent album, Songwright’s Apothecary Lab. The title is a reference to Spalding’s collaborative process in making music, not only with fellow performers but also with practitioners and researchers from fields such as neuroscience, music therapy, psychology and ethnomusicology. The aim of these collaborations is to incorporate therapeutic processes into the music itself. Each track on the album is intended to have a specific effect on the listener.

ESPERANZA SPALDING bass, singer/songwriter     Formwela 10


Esperanza says: “The well of this interdisciplinary mode of music creation is deep. We dip and dip and draw and draw and pour the best of what we find into each Formwela.” The intended effect of “Formwela 10” is, “For grieving the consequences of, becoming more alert to, and dissolving one’s own romantic-entitlement tendencies.” Now that's one of the places where I get lost in language, but if you click on this link you can see how you get on. There are certainly mysteries and delights in there, not least some contrasting videos from the other half of the album:

[If you get an error 404 message click on Homepage link]


ESPERANZA SPALDING bass, singer/songwriter     Formwela 13


The tracks on the first half of the album were recorded at sessions in Oregon, some of them apparently under the strong collaborative influence of the elder-statesman,Wayne Shorter, with whom Esperanza is writing an opera. Less direct influences, but still significant ones, are John Coltrane and Alice Coltrane, in their spiritual manifestations as much as their musical ones.


ESPERANZA SPALDING bass, singer/songwriter     Formwela 11


No words in the song, so some of Esperanza's own words here:


"i wish to channel the spaciousness, harmony and renewing power of the fecund land, channel it to the middle of the man-made fires

learn how to send it through the center of the ache, constriction, resistance, pain, stress, woe, worry…

I want to flow a music of soothing, energizing, and remembrance of life-sustaining systems through which we are each woven…

i want to carry a flow of that remembering into the center of the city…and the city of self.”

ESPERANZA SPALDING bass, singer/songwriter     Formwela 2

One of the tracks from the Oregon sessions. You can find others at

MARIAN ANDERSON     J S BACH  Ebarme dich, mein Gott - St Matthew Passion


This needs no comment, except possibly to say, there is a better America folded into its national fabric that sometimes reveals itself. But, if you would like to reflect further on what is happening here, please watch the extract below from a PBS film on the event that is celebrated in a homage to

Marian Anderson.

Erbarme dich, mein Gott,

Um meiner Zähren willen!

Schaue hier,

Herz und Auge Weint vor dir bitterlich.

Erbarme dich, mein Gott.

Have mercy, my God,

For my tears' sake 

Look hither,
My heart and eyes weep before thee bitterly.

Have mercy, my God.

DELPHINE GALOU     J S BACH  Ebarme dich, mein Gott - St Matthew Passion


A dramatic contrast. The French contralto Delphine Galou has focused her career on the many fabulous composers of the first half of the eighteenth century, when alto parts - in opera at least - could be sung by either men or women, as they are today. In this performance Delphine's voice has the power of a man's, in an aria which is now frequently sung by men. This performance may lack something of the pathos of the deeply spiritual but the intensity and magnificence of Delphine Galou's voice cancels all reservations. Similarly, the video production and the mannerisms of the conductor, François-Xavier Roth, may be rather overwrought but the music he draws out of his performers is marvellous. And that, of course, is the point.

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ANDREAS SCHOLL     J S BACH  Ebarme dich, mein Gott - St Matthew Passion


Another contemporary voice in the contralto register, only this time a male voice. Andreas Scholl is perhaps the most celebrated of all countertenors (as high-register male voices are called) singing today. And this HarmoniaMundi recording is one of the most highly-praised of recent times. Philippe Herreweghe conducts an outstanding orchestra of period instruments and the impeccable Collegium Vocale Gent, with all six vocal soloists performing at the highest level. Yet this recording not mixed like a star-studded performance. The soloists are set back with the orchestra so that  Bach's music and the intensity of Christ's Passion become the story, not the the celebrity of its interpreters.

KATHLEEN FERRIER     J S BACH  Ebarme dich, mein Gott - St Matthew Passion

Herbert von Karajan conducts the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra

Another recording from Harmonia Mundi, this time of another historic performance, from 1950. Kathleen Ferrier had a meteoric career , during which she gained cult status. For some people, even today, that status survives.  She was born in 1912, the daughter of a village schoolmaster in the industrial county of Lancashire, in north-west England. Like so many of her contemporaries, Kathleen left school at 14. She worked in the telegrams department of the General Post Office and then as a switchboard operator. But she was also an enthusiastic amateur pianist, winning prizes in regional competitions, and she gave lessons to local children. She took singing lessons herself.


When Kathleen entered the prestigious Carlisle Festival in1937, as a pianist, her husband bet her a shilling that she would not dare to enter the singing contest as well. She took up the challenge and entered the contralto class, where she won first prize. She also won the prize for the best singer at the festival. A fairy tale had begun. Kathleen soon gained the support of the leading English conductor, Malcolm Sargent, and quickly established a concert and recording career. Yet the outbreak of war meant that she spent much of her time - and energy - touring church halls, cinemas and factories across the land, to help maintain the morale of the population. For this - and for her deep, mellow and somehow very English voice - the nation gave her their devotion.


In the post-war years her career became spectacular. She sang in Covent Garden and at the Royal Albert Hall, and toured widely across Europe and the United States. Benjamin Britten wrote an opera with her in mind and, together with the German conductor Bruno Walter, she helped to rebuild the lost reputation of Gustav Mahler. Them in 1951 Kathleen Ferrier had a malignant tumour removed. The cancer did not remit, and for the next two years she went from concert hall to hotel to hospital, getting weaker all the time.  She died in1953. 

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"The man who watches and waits, the man who attacks because he’s afraid, and the man who wants to trust and love but retreats each time

he finds himself betrayed. Mingus One, Two and Three. Which is the image you want the world to see?’

‘What do I care what the world sees, I’m only trying to find out how I should feel about myself. I can’t change the fact that they’re

all against me – that they don’t want me to

be a success.’

‘Who doesn’t?’

‘Agents and businessmen with big offices who tell me, a black man, that I’m abnormal for thinking we should have our share of the crop we produce. Musicians are as Jim-Crowed as any black motherfucker on the street and the ... the ... well, they want to keep it that way.’


Charles Mingus

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Charles Mingus was often angry. Sometimes dangerous. Always volatile. But many people who knew him loved him. And many more saw him as a genius. In 2022, his centenary year, we should not let him slip into obscurity. For me, he is one of those intersectional musicians, in whose work many traditions and idioms seem to come together and meet. Even musics not yet invented can leave their trace. Miles Davis is another intersectional musician, so are Duke Ellington,

Franz Schubert and Gustav Mahler. The list is a long one.


Like Ellington, Mingus created ensemble music that was as much about the distinctive character and personal voice  of each individual he was creating with as the notes on the page.  And, more effectively than any other jazz musician I know, he seemed to integrate countless pasts and numerous futures into his instantly recognisable repertoire. GD

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This is the first track on what I consider to be the greatest of all Mingus's ensemble albums. In fact, I believe it to be one of the greatest jazz albums ever recorded. No, let's go further: it is one of the greatest pieces of music of the twentieth century, in any genre. It has an intensity and shock value that echos Stravinsky's Rite of Spring. It has the emotional punch of another emblematic work of Modernism, Jackson Pollock's vast painting, Blue Poles (see above). That too brought me to tears when I first saw it. Mingus's song cycle without words (or a dance suite for a ballet yet to be choreographed) is the piece most obviously influenced by Duke Ellington, yet it goes to places - often dark places - that Ellington rarely visited. The union of soloist and ensemble has never been bettered, yet two soloists on this album reach stratospheric heights - Charlie Mariano on blistering alto saxophone and Quentin Jackson on powerhouse trombone. Charles Mingus himself, on double bass, generates the often racing pulse for the entire magnum opus.

CHARLES MINGUS and ERIC DOLPHY at the Palais de Congress, Liege, Belgium (1964)


A curiosity. Not an ensemble piece but an almost classic quintet recording with two artists - Dannie Richmond on drums and Jaki Byard on piano - who had contributed to the THE BLACK SAINT recording. The tenor saxophonist Clifford Jordan adds strength to the front line. This film is, above all, a rare and wonderful chance to witness Mingus in an intimate setting, evidently enjoying himself. No danger here. He is in the excellent company of Eric Dolphy, who was soon to die at the age of 36. His was a loss almost as profound as the equally early death of Charlie Parker. Here we have chamber music of a kind, with at one stage Mingus and Dolphy bravely stretching the notes off-tune and challenging the classical avant grade. Maybe this was the influence of being in Europe. But most of what happens here is jazz being stretched and bent into the most marvellous shapes and colours. 

STROMAE        L'ENFER, from the album MULTITUDE

This is the first mention of Stromae on amaze. It won't be the last. He was born Paul van Haver, in 1985, to a Rwandan father and Belgian mother, and has established himself internationally as a rapper, singer, dancer and songwriter. His 2022 album is called Multitude, and the title reflects the way he draws elements from all over the world. Diversity of origin is a running theme through all his work. His breakthrough album was  Racine Carree, which translates from French to English as "square root". It also echos the recurrent theme of racial and cultural identity and the positive power of "difference". Stromae's Racine Carree world tour in 2014 and 2015 was global, and it propelled songs from the album to mass popularity all over the world, apart from those countries barricaded in by the insularity caused by the English language. Sadly, the tour also exhausted Stromae to the extent of pushing him deep into mental illness, including longterm depression. It took him several years before he could get to work on his next album, Multitude. As this track reveals, although Stromae has been creatively active in recent years, the demons still stalk through his life.


I first came across Stromae by chance, via this fabulous one-shot video on You Tube. At the time I was searching for clips of Cesaria Evora (1941- 2011). She was renowned as the Barefoot Diva from the Cape Verde islands, a woman with a powerful voice in the Bessie Smith or Ma Rainey tradition. But her songs were closer to Portuguese Fado than the Blues - a softer, more romantic kind of torch singing than the raw courage and frequent cynicism of early New Orleans and the Delta. The Cape Verde archipelago, off the coast of West Africa, is still influenced by its centuries as a Portuguese colony. And the sound of Cesaria Evora still rings through the streets of its capital, Praia . [You may have already seen Stromae's hymn of praise to Cesaria Evora wonderful performer. More than 29m people have viewed it on You Tube, yet it certainly rewards another look and listen.] GD

CESARIA EVORA            PETIT PAYS, Cape Verde

CESARIA EVORA            SODADE Paris 2004

PAUL LEWIS piano            SCHUBERT:Sonata in Gmajor D894

One of the best things to happen to me in 2021 was to spend a couple of hours in the company of

Paul Lewis, in an intimate concert hall in Wells, the city-in-miniature where I live in south-west England. This English pianist - widely agreed to be one of the best if his generation - played works by three composers of contrasting character, linked tightly together, without breaks. I have been a fan of Paul Lewis for years and, yet again, I found that his playing made me hear the music in completely new ways. In this video, from 2014, he plays a single, unified piece in which the composer provides contrasts enough by himself. And Paul Lewis offers those qualities I have come to expect from him - intensity, control, concentration and implicit, almost withheld, passion - with an extraordinary wealth of colours and dynamic range. It seems to me that he and the piano are one.


There is, on YouTube, another Paul Lewis performance of this sonata, recorded back in 2002. Essentially, it is the same Paul Lewis, as a pianist and as a persona, but the dozen years that fall away reveal the appearance of Romantic hero, which the director seems obsessed by. He also has the appearance of a dancer, where such looks are often required. And there are moments where he skips through the music with the lightness and agility of a Baryshnikov. The rights holders of this video do not allow me to share this performance with you but, when you have time, a click across to YouTube might well rewarding. But here, following the sonata, there are three shorter pieces by Schubert that bring their own rewards.  GD

PAUL LEWIS piano            SCHUBERT:Klavierstücke in E flat minor D946 no.1

PAUL LEWIS piano            SCHUBERT:Klavierstücke in E flat minor D946 no.2

PAUL LEWIS piano            SCHUBERT Allegretto in C minor D915

SOUAD MASSI vocals, guitar            YA KALIBI  

The Algerian-born Souad Massi slips smoothly between Arabic and Berber songs of love and sadness and their French equivalent, Chansons. Although she misses her homeland, decades of threats from ultra-conservatives make it inevitable that she lives in Europe.

SOUAD MASSI vocals, guitar            GHIR ENTA 


A classic from the early two-thousands, from her first internationally successful album, DEB.           


The international cellist Yo-Yo Ma conceived Silkroad in 1998 as both a touring ensemble comprised of world-class musicians from all over the globe, and a social impact organization working to make a positive statement across borders through creative expression.  This initial gathering of artists was rooted in a simple, initial question: “What happens when strangers meet?”  Santur player Siamak Aghaei and violinist Colin Jacobsen arranged a traditional folk melody that was inspired by mythology. "Ascending Bird" tells the popular legend of a bird attempting to fly to the sun. After two failed attempts, the bird finally makes contact with the sun, losing its physical body in fire, and in this way achieving a metaphorical spiritual transcendence. This performance was recorded at Harvard University in 2011.

SILKROAD on the Road          LOVE ON 139th Street in D


Kinan Azmeh: Love on 139th Street in D   2018

Kinan Azmeh, Syria, clarinet   Jeffrey Beecher, USA, bass   Mike Block, USA, cello Nicholas Cords, USA, viola   Sandeep Das, India, tabla  

Johnny Gandelsman, Israel/Russia, violin   Joseph Gramley, USA, percussion

Cristina Pato, Spain, Galician bagpipes   Shane Shanahan, USA, percussion          Mark Suter, Switzerland, percussion 

YO-YO MA               BACH CELLO SUITES Tiny Desk Concert


Yo-Yo Ma is a great cellist. He is also a great communicator and a great democrat. So the NPR (US National Public Radio) Tiny Table Concerts are a perfect venue for him - although Carnegie Hall is pretty good too. His first piece of two in this micro recital has the duration, verve and approachability of a pop single ... yet the majesty of one of the greatest composers ever.




Three more remixes to add to the Source:We Move remix clips posted below - adding several new dimensions to Nubya Garci's already inventive music 



NUBYA GARCIA x 3           LA PERLA (KAIDI TATHAM REMIX)                       

Nubya Garcia is one of the most prominent of the many young women who have been breathing new life into the London jazz community. Born in Camden in 1991, she has played sax with leading artists on both sides of the Atlantic, and now leads her own band and composes her own material. Nubya's 2020 album Source has been widely praised for both its coherence and diversity, as she inventively engages with jazz and a host of other forms that extend the Afro-Caribbean tradition. According to Paul Simpson, at all, Source "harmoniously blend(s) dub, reggae, cumbia, neo-soul, and several other genres into a powerful meditation on family history and identity." In a subsequent release, Source: We Move, other artists join with Nubya to remix and remake tracks from the original album. La Perla (above) is a rich and beautifully-arranged reworking of "La cumbia me está llamando" by the broken beat pioneer Kaidi Tatham. The two videos below present an earlier Nubya, playing with her regular collaborators, and a more straight-ahead approach.


part of NPR (US National Public Radio) Tiny Desk series


Performed at Gille Peterson's Worldwide Awards 

ARLO PARKS             BLACKDOG            

As Christmas looms, with all its contradictions and, yet again, all the now familiar demands of the Pandemic, it feels like a moment to share Arlo Parks' simple and sincere expression of sympathy and concern. A song written from the inside.

     ANOUAR BRAHEM Oud + 3.                   STOPOVER IN DJIBOUTI          

Anouar Brahem was born in Tunisia where he studied the oud and the wider traditions of Arabic music, in which then our plays a vital role - as vital as the violin family or the piano in the European tradition. The oud, or al ud in Arabic, is an ancestor to the lute, although with a fatter soundbox and a smaller neck, and minus the frets, with only five strings. (Say the words al ud and lute together and you'll hear the connection. Anouar Brahem has embraced the musics of the Balkans and the old Ottoman Empire as well as the the Arab world, and he has fused them together with jazz, creating some of the most elegant inventive improvisation around - often balancing the Arabic instruments with clarinet or saxophone. He has contributed many fine albums to the

ECM label.

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ANCIENT ROMAN LEATHER SANDALS           Hunterian Museum, Glasgow               

We all know that the Italians are the most stylish makers of the most stylish clothes. OK, let's concede couture to the French but, when it comes to designing and making clothes that people want to wear, everyday, then the Italians must surely take the lead. But 2,000 years ago? Apparently so. These amazing leather sandals are on display at the Hunterian Museum in Glasgow (...which gives us a rather dumb link to the previous CLIPS posting. Sean Shibe, the guitarist, was born and grew up in Scotland.)  So maybe the person who made these amazing examples of shoes to die for were designed and crafted by someone who was also born and grew up in Scotland. But I can't really believe that. I am sure that they arrived (months after they were despatched from Rome, or maybe Milan) packed in a pretty box, nestling in tissue paper. Or, if tissue paper hadn't been invented then, nestling in silk. [Reposted from Instagram.]


         SEAN SHIBE guitar.                  CORAL by Federico Mompou on CAMINO          

Monks in many traditions shed their hair as a symbol of their decision to depart from everyday pleasures and distracting preoccupations. They choose to fully focus their attention. Regain their concentration.  Change. This is surely one of the messages that Sean Shibe, the Scottish guitarist of Japanese and English heritage, is

sending out to us with his current album, CAMINO.  Another message is that this album is a response to the Covid pandemic: 

"Over the last year and a half I have gone through periods of believing that recording my feelings of isolation and solitude would be worthwhile, but it didn’t take very long before I realised that I’d taken in enough meditations on loneliness for a lifetime. Instead, I’ve recorded something closer to the opposite. Some of these pieces are from my childhood; others reference a sort of ideal childlike state; but everything on this album has given me deep comfort and sustenance over a difficult and traumatic period."

 The album CAMINO is structured as a musical conversation between France and Spain. The focal piece is composed by the Catalan, Federico Mompou, who provides  a still and reflective musical tribute to the pilgrimage destination of Santiago de Compostela, Among the other pieces in this beautifully assembled recital there are the Spanish composer de Falla’s moving tribute to the French composer Debussy, Poulenc’s introspective “Sarabande”, a  handful of Satie's singular works for piano and Ravel’s “Pavane pour Une Infante Défunte” - all of them played with a spaciousness, a luminosity and a clarity that gives the listener a chance to depart - at least for a while - from everyday pleasures and distracting concerns. Perhaps even to fully focus their attention. Regain their concentration. Change. 

    SEAN SHIBE guitar and tape     ELECTRIC COUNTERPOINT Steve Reich          

Sean Shibe performs Steve Reich's joyous and ever-fresh Electric Counterpoint in the warm and welcoming acoustic of the Wigmore Hall, London. And no coughing and shuffling from anyone in the audience! Sean, Scottish born to Japanese and English parents, brings the same elegance and relaxed control to the Fender as he does to the classical guitar. He brings the smiles out in Steve Reich's sonatina, written in 1987 for Pat Metheny. The soloist pre-records as many as 10 guitars and 2 electric bass parts and then plays the final 11th guitar part live against the tape.

 SEAN SHIBE guitar         SUITE in E-minor BWV 998 iv Sarabande  by J S Bach          

This trio of clips from Sean Shibe reveal just some of the extraordinary range and depth he brings to what must be the world's best loved instrument, being in played in its most intense and intimate form. Two recent reviews confirm the feeling that this is music being played at the highest level, but with a delicacy and sensitivity that makes it completely approachable, even friendly:

“The best ever Bach recording of [guitar] … There seems to be no limit to Shibe’s characterful melodic instincts, with flourishes of rolling arpeggiations, exquisite harmonic placements and all kinds of textural delights. … the most interesting voice on the guitar for a generation”


“The greatest performers always push the boundaries, and that 28-year-old Sean Shibe […] is already in their select company. The spell, as always with Shibe, was total; no other guitarist that I know of is working at this artistic level.”


 MICHAEL BARENBOIM violin.              ANTHEME 2 by PIERRE BOULEZ           

I heard this, by chance, on the radio ... chance being one of the essential pleasures of listening to the radio. The piece leapt out with clarity and zing that surprised me. The striking energy created by the dialogue between solo violin and live electronics woke me up on a slow-starting Sunday morning. Antheme 2 emerged gradually out of Boulez experimenting with a short violin solo he wrote as a competition piece in the early nineties. At IRCAM, the musical laboratory he created at the Pompidou Centre in Paris, he and his colleagues introduced a conversation between the the violin and electronics which sounds as vivid today as it must have done when it was premiered in the late nineties. This performance os from a BBC Promenade Concert from 2014. How I would like to have been there.



Two artists touched by greatness. Both are sons of great musical dynasties, where they were taught to extend a great tradition. Sometimes greatness is just the word you need. Yet this is greatness without vast numbers and big noise, and the crushing weight of celebrity. This is the greatness of forest streams and soft winds, building to thunderous showers. Above all things it is the most attentive of conversations.


"Every time you step out on to the stage, you learn something which helps you grow and be a better communicator. It’s not like you’re the master. You’re always a student." ZH



Can there be anyone in the world quite like Barbara Hannigan? She's long

been a brave singer, with a fabulous vocal range and a taste for adventure

that takes her to the extremes of musical possibility. She has worked and

played with the songs of composers on the edge, and has then taken them

further still. And for the past ten years she has worked closely with orchestras

to create a new kind of performance conducting that combines devising

shaping and singing with an infectious sense of freedom. Often humorous, but with no fear of being serious

Barbara created this performance, Crazy Girl Crazy, out of the one of the classic musicals of George and Ira Gershwin. Crazy indeed, but fabulously so. Her collaborative band here, and often in others contexts too, is the LUDWIG Orchestra. The  superb arranger is Bill Elliott.

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MAKONDA is taken from Montparnasse Musique's debut self-titled EP, and features Kinshasa band Konono No1. It will be released on limited edition neon orange vinyl on January 14, 2022. Filmed on the streets of Kinshasa by award-winning documentary filmmaker Renaud Barret (Systeme K, Benda Bilili!), the music video offers a glimpse of the Congolese capital city’s unique street art movement — a fitting visual accompaniment to the sound of Montparnasse Musique, which connects the acoustic grit of traditional Africa with the pulse of modern Johannesburg through collaborations with Congotronics innovators such as Konono No1 and Kasai Allstars.


Featured in the video are members of the Bakoko collective, a group of fashion designers who combine their unique art with body performance. In their weekly ghetto catwalks, the performers pay homage to the Congo’s famous La Sape movement, representing it in a brand-new way. The costumes are inspired by the ancient Kingdom of Kongo — the Bakoko collective’s interpretation of an era for which there is very little documented evidence. The garments are exclusively made of bamboo and Mayaka seeds (a plant particularly associated with the area of Lake Mai Ndombe, in the western part of the Democratic Republic of Congo.


The name ‘Bakoko’ means ‘spirit of the ancestors’, and the collective’s primary creators Arnold Mbo and Pipiyu see their creations as a political statement, and part of a process of de-alienation. They urge Congolese youth to reconnect with ancient spiritual values instead of diving into heavy consumerism and imported spirituality of the ever-growing Evangelical churches. Their work is also dedicated to great historical figures of the Congolese rebellion against colonisation such as Maman Kimpa Vita and Simon Kimbangu. Lyrically ‘Makonda’ conveys the message that ‘man is all alone in the face of life and death’. It features the first new music from acclaimed Kinshasa-based band Konono No1 since 2016, with frontman Menga Waku.


Download, stream or pre-order on vinyl:


PANTER (featuring Kasai Allstars) is the debut single of Montparnasse Musique, an electronic production duo comprising Nadjib Ben Bella (Les Amazones d'Afrique) and South African DJ Aero Manyelo.       

Filmed in Kinshasa by Renaud Barret and edited by The Bow.

Co-produced with Mukalo Production.

Vocals: Muambuyi (Kasai Allstars) Backing vocals: Kuyinda (Basokin) Guitar: Mopero Mupemba (Basokin) Percussion: Diesel Mukonkole (Basokin) Bass/synths: Ben Bella / Manyelo Production by Ben Bella Jazz Recorded and mixed by Kwezydoctor at Khaima studio Mastered by Oli Jacobs at Real World Studios.

On Real World X, an imprint of Real World Records. 


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