The voice

Careers advice from on high in the FT’s interview with the queen of the Zeitgeist, Arianna Huffington:


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Morning fog, Thames


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George Orwell, “As I Please”, Tribune, 1944.

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The best world music & folk albums of 2016


My Sunday Times choices. Full details here [£]. Once again, there are a couple of discs here that don’t fit neatly into the world/folk categories. But then again, good music is good music: in the age of shuffle mode the barriers are growing less and less relevant.

1 LEYLA McCALLA: A Day for the Hunter, A Day for the Prey (Jazz Village)

2 APPLEWOOD ROAD: Applewood Road (Gearbox)

3 ELZA SOARES: The Woman at the End of the World (Mais Um Discos)

4 CHRISTINE SALEM: Larg Pa Lo Kor (Blue Fanal/Zamora)

5 VARIOUS: God Don’t Never Change: The Songs of Blind Willie Johnson (Alligator)

6 PINK MARTINI Je dis oui! (Wrasse)

7 JUDITH OWEN: Somebody’s Child (Twanky)

8 LADY MAISERY: Cycle (RootBeat)

9 BONGA: Recados De Fora (Lusafrica)

10 RANT: Reverie (Make Believe)

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The best jazz albums of 2016


My Sunday Times choices. Full details here [£].

1 JOHN BEASLEY: Presents Monk’estra, Vol 1 (Mack Avenue)

2 CHARLIE HUNTER: Everybody Has a Plan Until They Get Punched in the Mouth (GroundUp)

3 MADELEINE PEYROUX: Secular Hymns (Impulse!)

4 THAD JONES/MEL LEWIS ORCHESTRA: All My Yesterdays (Resonance)

5 ALLAN HARRIS: Nobody’s Gonna Love You Better (Membran)

6 STU BROWN: Twisted Toons Vol 2: The Music of Carl Stalling, Scott Bradley & More (Cadiz Music)

7 JOHN ETHERIDGE & VIMALA ROWE: Out of the Sky (Dyad)

8 NORAH JONES: Day Breaks (Blue Note/Virgin EMI)

9 THE HOT SARDINES: French Fries & Champagne (Decca)

10 ALLEN TOUSSAINT: American Tunes (Nonesuch)

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Winter morning

If only they were all like this.

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A trip to Birmingham to make a TV programme about people’s attitudes to Brexit leaves Adrian Chiles pondering the question of social cohesion, or the lack of it. From his column in the RSA’s house journal, which doesn’t seem to be online, unfortunately:

My one overwhelming discovery was this: people from different classes do not communicate with each other. “The thing is,” I explained to my eye-rolling daughter when I got home, “you could go the rest of your life without having a working class friend.”

We’re rightly hung up on issues concerning race, religion, gender, sexual orientation and so on, but it’s around different classes that the biggest walls still need to be scaled. Ask yourself this: when’s the last time you had a conversation with someone of a different class to yourself? I don’t mean a nice chat with someone you’ve had to deal with, be it a plumber or lawyer or Uber driver or oncologist or whatever. I mean a proper talk with a friend; someone you’ve chosen to spend time with.

It rarely happens. And in London this is particularly extraordinary because, unlike elsewhere, the different classes tend to live cheek by jowl. The road of terraced three-storey houses in Hammersmith where my children have been raised is typical. There’s a £2M house; a house converted into four flats; a crack den; a £3M house with an Olympic swimming pool in the basement; more flats; etc, etc. There are hundreds of people of wildly different incomes and backgrounds breathing the same air and walking the same pavements, yet hardly ever talking. Social connections are rarer than parking places.


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And so I hope at least to be able to fulfil one of the chief conditions of any fair portrayal of an era; namely honesty and impartiality.

For truly I have been detached, as rarely anyone has in the past, from all roots and from the very earth which nurtures them. I was born in 1881 in a great and mighty empire, in the monarchy of the Habsburgs. But do not look for it on the map; it has been swept away without trace. I grew up in Vienna, the two thousand year old super-national metropolis, and was forced to leave it like a criminal before it was degraded to a German provincial city. My literary work, in the language in which I wrote it, was burned to ashes in the same land where my books made friends of millions of readers. And so I belong nowhere, and everywhere am a stranger, a guest at best.

Stefan Zweig (born on this day),  preface to “The World of Yesterday”.

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In concert

Three recent reviews: Norah Jones at the Palladium; Charlie Hunter at Ronnie Scott’s; Madeleine Peyroux at the Festival Hall. All the gigs took place during the London Jazz Festival, although Jones’s date wasn’t actually part of it, for reasons that remain mysterious.

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