Simone’s got talent — and she’s proved it

By Alex Kasriel, April 30, 2009

The world is full of aspiring performers. You only have to look at Britain’s Got Talent for proof. So convinced are some of their own abilities that they put their own money on the line to record albums. Most disappear without trace. Not so Simone Dinnerstein.

Two years ago, the Brooklyn-based pianist self-produced an album of Bach’s Goldberg Variations. The record became an instant bestseller, topped the critics’ charts and earned a prestigious French music award. At the relatively late age of 33, her career as a concert musician had been launched.


Zarif, Sy Kaye and Alexis Strum

By Paul Lester, April 23, 2009


Meet the upbeat Amy Winehouse. Zarif Davidson is the London-born daughter of an Iranian-Jewish mother and Scottish father who is currently wowing the music business — she has just been supporting US R&B supremo Chris Brown at the 02 Arena — with her exuberant pop-soul.


Rescuing Seder songs

By Alex Kasriel, March 26, 2009

It is a familiar story. You are sitting at the Seder table, having enjoyed a delicious meal of turkey and chrane. You have been through the Haggadah, manish tana has been sung and the afikomen hunted and found. Everything is perfect — that is, until it is time for the traditional table songs.

Versions of Chad Gadya start confidently but trail off into a quiet hum when everyone realises that no one actually knows the tune.


Shooting Iggy and Sir Paul

By Debby Elley, March 12, 2009

It was clear from the start that Howard Barlow was going to need some serious resilience to pull off a career as a rock photographer. The year was 1977 and the 23-year-old art college graduate was in the pit at Manchester’s Apollo theatre, clicking away at The Ramones. A wild, testosterone-fuelled crowd surged forward and smashed through the barrier separating stage from audience.


Mendelssohn the misunderstood

By Jessica Duchen, January 22, 2009

The bicentenary of Felix Mendelssohn’s birth, on February 3, is being celebrated worldwide, and — so to speak — not a moment too soon. For, extraordinary though it seems, Mendelssohn needs the reassessment that a major anniversary provides more than most.


The Baron Cohen trying to make Chanucah cool

By Alex Kasriel, December 4, 2008

If the droning nursery rhymes sung every year at Chanucah make you want to scorch yourself with the menorah, the alternative range of songs on a new album by Sacha Baron Cohen’s older brother might save you from third-degree burns.


The Paperboy delivers as the Jewish James Brown

By Paul Lester, November 20, 2008

The all-time soul-man greats - James Brown, Sam Cooke, Otis Redding and Wilson Pickett - may now be dead, but their spirit lives on in, of all people, a young, white Jewish boy called Eli "Paperboy" Reed.

After a year in which British female singers such as Amy Winehouse, Adele and Duffy have dominated the new-soul scene, Reed, a 24-year-old from Brookline, Massachusetts, now living in Boston, is bringing it all back home to the States, the birthplace of gritty, sweaty, horn-enhanced R&B.


How Rwanda and 9/11 moved me to write for Leonard Bernstein

By Lawrence Joffe, October 23, 2008

As monumental musical works go, little can beat Leonard Bernstein's 3rd and last symphony, called Kaddish. On stage are three choirs, a full orchestra, a conductor and a singer. Over five movements the music ranges from hints of Bach's Passion and Mahler's Resurrection to atonal modernity and playful percussive jazz.


Los Desterrados: My rock ’n’ roll moment

By Alex Kasriel, October 17, 2008

Ever since Kate Moss was caught on camera snorting cocaine in a West London recording studio, the world has been guessing what other antics rock'n'roll stars get up to in these music recording venues.
So when Ladino band Los Desterrados invited me to watch them record their third album, Miradores, I jumped at the chance.


Suicide: How the godfathers of punk kept the faith

By Paul Lester, October 10, 2008

New Yorkers Alan Vega and Marty Rev were punks before punk was invented, known in the '70s for their violent gigs and raging synth rock. Now they're hip again, with Bono, REM and Radiohead citing them as influences.

You may not have heard of American duo Suicide, but you will have heard of the groups they influenced. Depeche Mode, New Order, Moby, Radiohead - almost every techno or industrial act, or rock band that uses synthesisers, has cited Suicide as an influence.