Paul Lester



My wife ran off with the builder. And you think you’re neurotic?

By Paul Lester, September 24, 2008

Not that I want you to feel sorry for me or anything, but my wife left me last year for the chap who was doing up our house. So now I’ve got three things in common with Larry David — a neurotic dislike of most social situations, not a great deal of hair, and an ex with a predilection for Men Who Can.

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Debbie Wiseman: She scores emotion

By Paul Lester, September 19, 2008

We meet one of the UK's most prolific and celebrated film and TV composers

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It’s the Motorhead of klezmer (with jokes)

By Paul Lester, September 12, 2008

The Jewish music scene is not known for its sense of humour. Max Pashm and his group aim to inject a little laughter when they play at Simcha on the Square

 

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Review: Billy Joel: The Biography

By Paul Lester, August 28, 2008

Billy Joel has never been cool. A surrogate Elton John, Bruce Springsteen- lite, he lacks the cuddly flamboyance of the former, the gritty appeal of the latter and the critical respect of either - you will never see his albums, even multimillion-selling ones like 52nd Street, in those Greatest Ever lists.

Despite an attempt in the late '70s to present Joel as a sort of street-tough piano man, the quintessential pugnacious New Yorker, many still consider him to be the epitome of bland sophistry.

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The James Bond hitman whose lyrics fire hearts

By Paul Lester, August 8, 2008

Don Black is responsible for several classic 007 film themes, as well as a host of hot soundtracks in his 44-year career as one of the world's finest lyricists.


Did you know that James Bond was born in Mill Hill? Well, not the secret agent, but certainly some of his most famous songs. Because Thunderball, Diamonds Are Forever and The Man With The Golden Gun were all written by Don Black, one of the most prolific and successful lyricists in the history of British popular music, when he was living in that quiet north London suburb.

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Two talents to listen for

By Paul Lester, July 25, 2008

Rachael Sage and Natasha Panas are singer-songwriters ready to hit the big time. They are also proud of their very different roots.

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David D’Or: Meet Israel’s classical hero

By Paul Lester, July 18, 2008

David D’Or has sung for the Pope and Bill Clinton.


David D’Or is Israel’s Charlotte Church — only, obviously, he is male, and not married to a rugby player. But he is his nation’s best-known classical singer and has, over the years, performed for everyone from the Pope and the King of Thailand to Nelson Mandela and Bill Clinton. Not surprisingly, he believes his music can make a difference.

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Miri Ben-Ari: The hip hop violinist set to salute Israel

By Paul Lester, June 27, 2008

Miri Ben-Ari plays classical and contemporary, parties with Kanye West and supports Holocaust education. We talk to her ahead of her London gig

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Julian Velard: Sad, lonely… and loved by housewives

By Paul Lester, June 20, 2008

Julian Velard is the biggest news in music since Duffy. He is courted by top record labels and daytime TV hosts. So why does he look so miserable?

If you were impressed by the vocal gymnastics of Jamie Cullum and Michael Buble, but would rather they sang their own songs; if you enjoy Amy Winehouse’s music but are disturbed by how, well, disturbed she is; if you like Billy Joel or Elton John but wish they were not so uncool... try Julian Velard.

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Erik Satie: Gonzales, the classical rap comic

By Paul Lester, June 13, 2008

He plays Erik Satie, hip-hop and does satire on stage between songs. No wonder he has identity issues

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A musician's deep notes

By Paul Lester, June 6, 2008

Dan Kaufman has an unlikely success mixing rock music and the Holocaust

Dan Kaufman’s new album, Force Of Light, issued by American avant-garde composer John Zorn’s Tzadik label, is a pensive yet powerful response to the work of post-war poet and Romanian-Jewish Holocaust survivor Paul Celan.

The leader of the leftfield rock group Barbez, Kaufman uses to mesmerising effect extracts of Celan’s poetry, read by Scottish poet Fiona Templeton, and a variety of musical styles from experimental jazz and post-rock to Eastern European folk and classical.

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The kosher cowboy

By Paul Lester, May 30, 2008

Kinky Friedman is a singing, writing, cigar-smoking Texan. Which doesn’t make him any less Jewish

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The junkie rock star who was saved by the Torah

By Paul Lester, May 23, 2008

Depression and drugs made David Berman suicidal. That’s all over.

David Berman, published poet and singer-songwriter with American band Silver Jews, has just been reading the Torah. He does this every day for several hours, in between coming up with the country-inflected rock music and wry, confessional lyrics for his group, most recently for their sixth album, Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea.

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Review: Whatever Makes You Happy

By Paul Lester, May 9, 2008

By William Sutcliffe
Bloomsbury, £10.99

Don’t be fooled by the none-more-gentile name. William Sutcliffe is a north Londonbred Jewish boy. He was in the same year at Haberdashers’ Aske’s School in Elstree as comedian Sacha Baron Cohen and his first novel in 1996, New Boy, was a near-autobiographical mix of fact and fiction — including “real” details (such as the Habs Serve And Obey motto) — which describes a teenager’s entry into an English independent-school sixth form.

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‘I’m the ultimate Jew... Well, bigger than Bibi’

By Paul Lester, May 2, 2008

Jackie Mason, the former rabbi and diminutive, stocky motormouth with the thick New York Jewish accent, is one of the world’s greatest stand-up comedians. His routines, heavy on the differences between Jews and gentiles, have been making people laugh for over 45 years. As notorious as he is famous, he once made an obscene gesture at America’s leading TV host, Ed Sullivan, live on air. He was also allegedly threatened — with bullets — by Frank Sinatra after poking fun at his then-wife, Mia Farrow.

A symphonic array of musical variety

By Paul Lester, April 18, 2008

Israel is a new country, albeit one with roots tracing back thousands of years. So its music combines modern and ancient, with the influx of people from all over the world creating an astonishing array of musical influences, including Russian folk, klezmer, Arabic, Yemenite, Iraqi, Yiddish and Ladino.

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The day peace died

By Paul Lester, April 18, 2008

The Oslo Accords promised a new era of hope. Paul Lester talks to the rock star who saw those hopes dashed late on November 4, 1995

If The Oslo Accords of August 20, 1993, were a new ray of hope for the settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, then controversial rock star Aviv Geffen’s performance during a peace rally in the centre of Tel Aviv on November 4, 1995, saw those hopes dashed in one night.

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1995: The murder of Yitzhak Rabin

By Paul Lester, April 17, 2008

The day peace died


The Oslo Accords promised a new era of hope. Paul Lester talks to the rock star who saw those hopes dashed late on November 4, 1995

If The Oslo Accords of August 20, 1993, were a new ray of hope for the settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, then controversial rock star Aviv Geffen's performance during a peace rally in the centre of Tel Aviv on November 4, 1995, saw those hopes dashed in one night.

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The Amy paradox

By Paul Lester, April 11, 2008

Amy Winehouse: The Biography
By Chas Newkey-Burden
John Blake, £17.99

One of the problems involved in writing a biography about a super-celebrity like Amy Winehouse or her US counterpart in the tortured young diva stakes, Britney Spears, is that it is impossible to keep pace with the speed at which events in their life are relayed to us in this endlessly updated Internet-scurril age. Chas Newkey-Burden’s account takes us up to late 2007, with a brief reference on the book jacket to the five statuettes she received at February’s Grammy awards in the States.

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Review: Israel - Home Of Hope

By Paul Lester, April 11, 2008

He chose the music, wrote the words and even does (spoken) vocals. The Chief Rabbi plays a huge role in making the Israel tribute CD a success

Various Artists

The Office of The Chief Rabbi

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