Hugh Masekela 1939-2018

Submitted by Matthew on 14 February, 2018 - 12:34 Author: Bruce Robinson

South African trumpeter Hugh Masekela died aged 79 on 23 January following a recurrence of prostate cancer. He was famous internationally for his playing and singing; for blending South African musical styles with jazz and pop; and as a prominent anti-apartheid activist. Born in Witbank, a mining town near Johannesburg, Masekela started his musical career in a school run by the British anti-apartheid priest Trevor Huddleston.

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A soundtrack for the movement against Trump

Submitted by Matthew on 8 March, 2017 - 11:41 Author: Bas Hardy

Found dead people in the forest Tallahatchie River and lakes
The whole wide world is wonderin’
What’s wrong with the United States

What’s wrong indeed! Lyrics from the Staples Singer’s Freedom Highway recorded twenty five years ago still resonate. It’s now the closing track on the second solo album of Rhiannon Giddens.

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Real soldiers do feel sad

Submitted by Matthew on 8 March, 2017 - 11:30 Author: Carrie Evans

Last week saw the drop of Stormzy’s debut album Gang Signs and Prayer . Whilst the whole album is beautiful, brave and ambitious, it’s a bit of a grower and maybe not what most grime fans were expecting. It deals with themes of black identity, love and spirituality in a way mostly unheard in grime before.

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100 years of jazz on record

Submitted by Matthew on 15 February, 2017 - 1:46 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.


Submitted by Bruce on Sat, 18/02/2017 - 21:02

This reminded me of Frederick Starr's history of jazz in ths USSR, Red and Hot. He pointed to the synchronicity of jazz' s appearance as more than a local music and the Russian Revolution. He reckons the ODJB's first recordings were released five days before the February revolution. And Storyville was closed down five days after the October revolution sending New Orleans musicians across the country to find work and spread the music.

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Belligerent but beautiful songs

Submitted by Matthew on 5 October, 2016 - 11:48 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.

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

Submitted by Newcastle on 4 May, 2016 - 12:07 Author: Anthony English
Socialist Feminism gig at the Cumberland Arms in Newcastle

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

Submitted by Matthew on 20 April, 2016 - 12:43 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
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.

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Yes to free speech, no to anti-semitism

Submitted by AWL on 10 March, 2015 - 5:05 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.

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