Arts feature

Let there be light | 13 July 2017

If you’ve never heard the John Wilson Orchestra, it’s time to experience pure happiness. Buy their 2016 live album Gershwin in Hollywood — seriously, just do it. Play the first track: a medley arranged by Ray Heindorf for Warner Brothers’ 1945 Gershwin biopic Rhapsody in Blue. One by one the great melodies glide past and

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A tale of two artists

Wherever one looked in the arts scene of the 1940s and ’50s, one was likely to encounter the tragicomic figure of John Minton. Whether he was dancing to the trad jazz of his pupil Humphrey Lyttelton — who recalled his style on the floor as ‘formidable and dangerous’ — or drinking at the Colony Room

Yes sir, we can boogie

It’s dance — but not as you know it. A giddy mass of flying limbs, sashaying hips and pouty faces. Hands now stretched up high and fluttering as in flamenco, now on the ground buttressing cantilevered bodies and holding on to legs that seem to want to escape their owners. ‘I saw things I never

Jay-Z: 4.44

Grade: B – All criticism is pointless, I suppose, given the sheer magnitude of the Shawn Corey Carter machine — his billions of dollars, his millions of sales, his ubiquity. This is the rapper even whitey can git down to, big pal of the Obamas, bad-ass Bedford-Stuyvesant gangsta made good. But even when Jay-Z and


The good Palestinian

Shubbak, meaning ‘window’ in Arabic, is a biennial festival taking place in various venues across London. The brochure reads like an A to Z of human misery. All the tired phrases from the Middle East’s history lurch up and poke the onlooker in the eye: ‘revolution’, ‘dystopia’, ‘cries of pain’, ‘ruins’, ‘waking nightmare’. The agony


Risk assessment

Someone at the Buxton International Festival had a wry smile on their face when programming this year’s trio of operas. To sandwich together Verdi’s Macbeth and Mozart’s Lucio Silla — charged tales of political tyranny, both — with Benjamin Britten’s Albert Herring is a juxtaposition as canny as it is risky. Dictatorship takes many forms,


Candid camera?

Channel 4’s Catching a Killer offered the rare TV spectacle these days of a middle-aged white male copper leading a murder inquiry. Then again, it was a documentary rather than a drama. In its resolutely sober way, it also proved a riveting one, if at times piercingly sad. The programme followed the Thames Valley police


This charming man | 13 July 2017

Sofia Coppola’s The Beguiled is set during the American Civil War and is about a wounded Union solider, Corporal John McBurney, who seeks refuge in a girls’ school in Virginia and basically sets a sexual bomb under the place. It’s based on a 1966 novel by Thomas Cullinan, which was first filmed by Don Siegel


Stitches in time

When Martha Ann Ricks was 76 she travelled from her home in Liberia to London to meet Queen Victoria. The daughter of a slave, who had purchased freedom for his family from his American owner and taken them to west Africa, she wanted to honour the Queen whom she believed had played a pivotal role