Music

100 years of jazz on record

Author: 

Jim Denham

It was fortunate for both jazz and the phonograph industry that their emergence co-incided: the improvisational music that is jazz was caught in its early days by the phonograph, and jazz repaid the industry a million times over in sales of music that owed its existence to early jazz.

Is the fact that the first jazz records were made by five white guys a practical demonstration of racism, even in the foremost art-form developed by African-Americans?

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Belligerent but beautiful songs

Author: 

Janine Booth

When I grew into adulthood in the 1980s, the Tory government's onslaught saw us staring into a bleak future unless we fought back. So we did, and our fightback had a soundtrack.

The better-known voices of that soundtrack — the Paul Wellers and Billy Braggs — are still playing to this day. But one of the less known, and to me one of the best, died last month at the too-young age of 60.

Billy Franks led the Faith Brothers, writing belligerent but beautiful songs of working-class lives and battles, and playing them to an ardent congregation who lived those lives and fought those battles.

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Bread and Roses - an evening of Socialist Feminism in Newcastle 2 May 2016

Socialist Feminism gig at the Cumberland Arms in Newcastle

Author: 

Anthony English
An excellent evening of music, performance and poetry celebrating the often overlooked role of women in class struggle

With a spiraling list of performers and an unconfirmed set-list, our evening celebrating all things socialist and feminist was beginning to make Live Aid look like a lot of fuss about nothing.
However, as history has so often taught us, triumph can be found lurking in the jaws of disaster.
So it was that on a bank holiday Monday at The Cumberland Arms in Ouseburn, a veritable feast of music, poetry and drama unfolded before us.

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Singing for the underdog

Author: 

Gerry Bates

The country and western singer Merle Haggard, who has died, is best known for The Fighting Side of Me, a song in which he expressed the feelings of American patriots against the Americans who opposed US involvement in Vietnam:

I hear people talkin’ bad
About the way we have to live here in this
country
An’ gripin’ ‘bout the way things oughta be...
An’ I don’t mind ‘em switchin’ sides
An’ standin’ up for things they believe in...
When you’re runnin’ down my country, man
You’re walkin’ on the fightin’ side of me.

Country music is too often despised even by socialists who like folk music and blues. Yet it is the music of the American white working class.

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Yes to free speech, no to anti-semitism

Author: 

Bruce Robinson

A concert by the controversial Israeli-born jazz saxophonist Gilad Atzmon has been cancelled by the Royal Northern College of Music on the spurious grounds of threats to “safety” of the audience. This followed a petition from the North West Friends of Israel calling for cancellation on the basis of Atzmon’s anti-Semitism.

A concert by the controversial Israeli-born jazz saxophonist Gilad Atzmon has been cancelled by the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester, on the spurious grounds of threats to “safety” of the audience. This followed a petition from the North West Friends of Israel calling for cancellation on the basis of Atzmon’s anti-Semitism.

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Growing into socialism

Author: 

Cathy Nugent
Becoming a socialist in 1970's Cambridgeshire.

Many children have an acute sense of injustice, will feel righteous anger when they don’t get a “fair go” at an activity or when their opinion is dismissed by an adult. A child’s sense of injustice is egocentric but reasonable and it’s probably essential if the individual is to develop a wider sense of injustice in the world.

From as long as I can remember I had that wider view. The root of it is in my family history, and specifically my mother’s recollections of her childhood.

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