Interview: Lucinda Belle

By Paul Lester, July 1, 2010

It would probably be easier to list the things that session musician, recording artist and all-round busy bee Lucinda Belle has not done. She has toured with the Pet Shop Boys and Annie Lennox, been Robbie Williams's backing singer and harpist at the BBC Electric Proms, performed a duet with Mel Brooks and jammed with Tom Jones.


The moment when Matisyahu lost his cool

By Paul Lester, June 17, 2010

This is probably not the ideal moment to be interviewing Matisyahu, unless you enjoy the company of fired-up pop stars. Because it's the Tuesday after the Gaza aid flotilla incident and the Chasidic reggae artist and rapper - staying at the Holiday Inn in Brent Cross as he promotes his latest album, Light - is not happy.

The rangy New Yorker, 31 at the end of June, prowls around his hotel bedroom in kippah and green jogging pants. He places his tallit under his crumpled white T-shirt and sits down on the couch. In between mouthfuls of vegan curry, he assesses the events of the weekend.


The music the Nazis couldn't destroy

By Jessica Duchen, June 10, 2010

Terezin: the name inspires both horror and wonder. This Czech garrison town, also known as Theresienstadt, was home to one of the most extraordinary cultural phenomena of the Second World War. The inmates of its Jewish ghetto included swathes of the intelligentsia of Prague and Brno who were deported there. Confined within its walls, desperately overcrowded, disease-ridden and malnourished, a generation of composers, writers, artists, musicians and actors turned to their art to keep their spirits alive.


In tune with the East End

By Jessica Elgot, June 10, 2010

The Jewish Community Centre has commissioned three composers, one Jewish, one Muslim and one Christian, to write works to be performed at the Spitalfields Music Summer Festival in London's East End this weekend.

The Radio 3 presenter and world-music fanatic, Max Reinhardt, has taken on the challenge of writing a piece inspired by the area's Jewish history, which he has called Fifth Quarter.


At 17, Janis Ian was snorting cocaine with Jimi Hendrix

By Jonathan Wingate, June 3, 2010

When a shy-looking 15-year-old Janis Ian finished performing her song, Society's Child, on Leonard Bernstein's television show, Inside Pop - The Rock Revolution, in 1967, Bernstein beamed at her with palpable pride. "You're a great creature," he gushed. "I think that's quite a remarkable job for a girl of your age, and I congratulate you on what's going to be a brilliant career."


The gospel truth about the church music that's Jewish

By Jessica Elgot, May 27, 2010

No one could accuse Jewish music of not being diverse. There is Jewish reggae and hip hop, Jewish folk, even Jewish heavy metal. But despite Judaism's eclectic modern sound, Jewish gospel still feels like an oxymoron.

Not so, says black Jewish gospel singer Joshua Nelson. The impassioned choir music most commonly associated with church singing groups is actually one of the most inherently Jewish sounds around.


When fame means having a full stomach

By Elisa Bray, May 6, 2010

'Nowadays when people ask me how I define success I'd say it was being able to order anything on the menu," says Joshua Radin.

The New York-based singer-songwriter, who says that for years he was a "starving artist", can certainly order any dish he likes in any restaurant in the world. His first album to be released in the UK, Simple Times, went straight into the top 10, and he has just completed a sell-out UK tour, while his songs have been heard on more than 70 episodes of television shows, including Scrubs and Grey's Anatomy.


Paul Weller's favourite kibbutznik

By Paul Lester, April 28, 2010

Geva Alon has been called "the Israeli Neil Young", his plaintive voice soaring above gentle acoustic guitar or the fuller sound of a band.

His newly released third album, Get Closer, was produced by Thom Monahan, who has worked with alternative folkie Devendra Banhart, Americana types such as The Jayhawks, and the grungier likes of Dinosaur Jr.


Israel's jazz legend owes it all to his mum

By Anthea Gerrie, April 22, 2010

A gothic chapel in Islington may seem an odd place for a Jewish boy to play his double-bass, but for Avishai Cohen the north London venue for his concert next week could not be better.

"I've had nice offers from Ronnie Scott's, but I don't play clubs anymore," explains the 40-year-old who has become a huge presence on the Israeli jazz scene. His music has become so spare and unplugged, churches and concert halls - where the acoustics are such that every note can be heard perfectly - are the only spaces where he feels comfortable performing.


An indie band that's Yuck, but in a good way

By Elisa Bray, April 8, 2010

At a Seder night a few years ago, a teenager was talking about his schoolmates who had won a battle of the bands and were now being hotly tipped by the music press. To the guests' delight he suggested the band in question, the five-piece, Cajun Dance Party, all from north London, be renamed Kosher Dance Party, so Jewish was their make-up.

Since then, Cajun Dance Party have split up, and singer Daniel Blumberg and bassist Max Bloom have formed a new band called Yuck.