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Redhenry (Northern England)

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Mel Torme/Rob Mcconnell and Boss Brass
Mel Torme/Rob Mcconnell and Boss Brass
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: 7.67

5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best jazz albums ever made, 12 July 2014
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I agree with Brian! I have loved this album for a long time and it would be one of my Desert Island discs - maybe the one I would pick as my favourite. The material is carefully chosen, the arrangements, as Mel says in his liner notes, are hugely original and musical and the performances are absolutely astounding - exciting, witty, dazzling, all executed with the zing and perfect timing you would expect from some of the best musicians in the world. I have listened to Mel for most of my life and he has rarely sounded better than this. Rob McConnell's fabulous band pull off a real tour de force, too, with so many examples of perfect, sparkling playing that it's impossible to list them. I'll list one, though. In the middle section of 'Don'cha go 'way Mad', Mel sings an arranged scat over the horns, setting up a really soft, melodic and sweet vibe which he suddenly gives a harder edge to before the entire band blasts back in with four massive chords which sound like four 38-ton trucks coming through your wall. A fabulous album which, as Brian says, everyone who likes jazz should have. I hope 'The Song is You' from this album is played at my funeral (not just yet though, please).


The Great North Road
The Great North Road
by Frank Morley
Edition: Unknown Binding

4.0 out of 5 stars Charming and hugely informative, but sometimes digresses a little too far, 10 Jun 2014
This review is from: The Great North Road
The overwhelming impression the reader gets from this book is that Frank Morley, son of the famous mathematician, is interested in just about everything and has an enormous fund of knowledge and anecdote. He takes the Great North Road as his theme and weaves a social history from Roman times to the post-war years. The style is rather rambling and he often follows a thread further than you would like but it's worth staying with him for the surprising amount of information you will pick up. I would like to have spent some time with Mr Morley. He comes across as a very nice man and this is a very nice book, written in an old-fashioned but engaging and thoughtful style. It is not really a travel book, more a tour of history and culture, but leaves the reader much better informed.


Special Edition
Special Edition
Offered by SourceMediaUK
Price: 26.98

5.0 out of 5 stars The best band in the land!, 9 Jun 2014
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This review is from: Special Edition (Audio CD)
I've loved the BBC Big Band for many years. Top players, all of whom bring something special to the music, top arrangements and outstanding recording quality. The opening 'Chicago' reminds me of an occasion years ago when, as a young teacher in an inner-city school, I brought my class of 12-year olds to a special music lesson for which the local authority big band had assembled in the hall. You could see the kids thinking, hey, this is just a bunch of old codgers with trombones, let's grit our teeth till it's over. The band then tore into a fast jazz standard, after which a few of the children were rigid with fright and in tears but most, including me, were absolutely manic with excitement. This album rekindled that excitement for me and is full of the BBC band's best tricks, ranging from blow-the-windows-out power to smooth and relaxing cushions of reeds and brass for the finest soloists to recline upon. Fabulous.


Captain Scott
Captain Scott
Price: 5.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Thank you for restoring my faith!, 17 May 2014
This review is from: Captain Scott (Kindle Edition)
Like one of the other reviewers, I collected Antarctic literature for quite a long time. I stopped, though, because of the controversy which had been stirred by authors seeking to 'smash the plaster saint'. I remained convinced that even if some of the criticism were true, that was insignificant when compared to the huge achievement and almost superhuman performance of many members of Scott's teams, and began to think I was clinging to an outmoded view. I grew up reading boys' fiction which was firmly rooted in the Victorian and Edwardian tradition of the stiff upper lip, getting the job done and taking it on the chin, and Captain Scott and his gallant colleagues were for me heroes in that tradition. I am delighted to have read such an authoritative rebuttal of those who would denigrate Scott. I never cared for the arguments about man-hauling versus dogs - I always tried to see the Terra Nova expedition as a great adventure which was comparable with those of any of the greatest explorers. A colleague borrowed my 1913 copy of Scott's Last Expedition a few years ago and his reaction when he returned it was, "Nobody today can have any idea of that sort of courage or stoicism. These men were gods." Perhaps Sir Ranulph Fiennes is one of the few who does have some idea, and is therefore almost uniquely qualified to judge. I am more than happy to accept his words as the end of the argument. I continue to believe that a stiff upper lip is, in today's world, a much under-rated characteristic!


Night Passage (The Jesse Stone Series)
Night Passage (The Jesse Stone Series)
Price: 1.39

5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it!, 7 April 2014
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I'd been aware of the Jesse Stone books for a long time, and had seen a couple of the TV films with the superb Tom Selleck. Spenser, though, was my guy. Witty and light-hearted in tone but punctuated by little jewels of descriptive prose. Also, Spenser, Hawk, Susan and the rest of the cast have become my friends over the years and I must have read some of the books five times. How could another series of stories compete? I watched another Jesse Stone film last weekend though and started to notice the things I liked about Spenser appearing in the Jesse Stone story. Yes, it's a TV adaptation but the snappy, economical dialogue was there, as was the real concern for ordinary people. I bought this first Jesse Stone immediately on the Kindle. Stone is as good a character as Spenser and probably easier to identify with for most people. The dialogue sparkles, the supporting cast are already developing their 'leitmotif' trademarks and the sense of place is delightful. There is a similar mix of booze, sex and violence but as with the Spenser books, Stone cares about people who are sidelined, ignored or downtrodden and there's the same idea that he is going to do the right thing regardless of the toes he steps on. I was also delighted to see a few of the minor characters from Spenserworld appearing in this story, such as Healy, the homicide commander, plus Gino Fish and Vinnie Morris. I've never come across an author who can do as much with a short sentence as Bob Parker and I am delighted to have a few more of his wonderful stories to discover.


Jazz Piano Essentials - the Music of Jerome Kern
Jazz Piano Essentials - the Music of Jerome Kern
Price: 12.90

4.0 out of 5 stars A good selection with a couple of gems, 7 Mar 2014
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I agree with the previous reviewer, Peter, that some of the versions of standards on the Concord Jazz Piano Essentials series are not immediately accessible, but they do serve up a broad selection of styles and have functioned for me as an introduction to some jazz pianists. On this disc, most of the players retain the spirit of the lovely Kern tunes and there is comparatively little music which would find a welcome in the Fast Show' s Jazz Club. Gerry Wiggins' 'All the Things You Are' is tuneful and inventive throughout, as is Richie Beirach' s reprise of the same tune. The tracks by Walter Norris, Cedar Walton and Jessica Williams are, for me, rather too cerebral but there is a gorgeous version by Dick Hyman of 'The Folks who live on the Hill'. DH is joined by Ralph Sutton for a truly astonishing 'Ol' Man River' which, as well as showcasing their trademark stride duet tour de force, is an excellent illustration of how to play a well-known tune for five minutes and leave your audience wishing it would go on for another half-hour. This collection is worth the modest price but if you're keener on the tune than on the improvisation, you could do worse than download those I've recommended.


Music in the Castle of Heaven: A Portrait of Johann Sebastian Bach
Music in the Castle of Heaven: A Portrait of Johann Sebastian Bach
Price: 7.31

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An extraordinary achievement, 16 Jan 2014
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Anybody who is aware of Sir John Eliot Gardiner will know of the Bach 'Cantata Pilgrimage' of 2000. It's impossible to read this wonderful book without being conscious of the impact of that year and of how deeply the cantatas and the spirit permeating them affected the author. I've read many descriptions of music written by knowledgeable musicians, but Sir JEG's accounts of Bach's church music are remarkable. They are the best insight I have ever come across into the force which drives a great musician and here I refer to JEG as well as to JSB. Not in any way a forbidding, dusty, wordy tome, this is a joyous book, bursting with enthusiasm and experience. It is also funny, passionate, astonishingly erudite and, if you want to roll up your sleeves and get really involved with probably the greatest music ever written, this is for you. Not a book to be picked up casually, it is a thorough and quite rigorous education and as befits a good education, some of it is great fun while parts are quite tough and demanding. Apart from the fine writing and musicianship, the memorable thing is that Bach and his music are seen in the context of Lutheranism, the Thirty Years' War, of stifling social and small-town mores and of many other factors which I, for one, had not considered. I'll be starting it again soon - some of the footnotes are worth a week's research on their own! I always snigger in my stuffy English way at the Americans' casual use of the word, but this superb book really is AWESOME!


Robert B. Parker's Wonderland (A Spenser Novel)
Robert B. Parker's Wonderland (A Spenser Novel)
Price: 2.79

3.0 out of 5 stars It's definitely a Spenser, but..., 30 Dec 2013
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.... too many people in it, and the storyline had a few too many twists. All the other Spenser novels rely on a regular cast and a reasonably straightforward plot. This one, while preserving the smart dialogue and economical descriptions, has quite a complex plot and too many people about whom the reader doesn't care much. I enjoyed it, but prefer the Parker formula.


8 Classic Albums
8 Classic Albums
Price: 13.44

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful, 25 Dec 2013
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This review is from: 8 Classic Albums (Audio CD)
(That's a weak pun on the title of her first album, by the way). Four generous discs, almost 100 wonderful songs, delivered by that delicious voice and supported by top bands and musicians. These are the albums recorded from 1956 to 1959, with hits like 'I'll take Romance' alongside some songs which are rarely heard today. The third and fourth albums, 'Eydie swings the Blues' and 'Vamps the Roaring Twenties' give her a chance to stretch out a bit, but for me, the seventh album, 'Love is the Season' is the stand-out set, with twelve songs mentioning months or seasons, such as 'I'll remember April' and 'June in January', which are perfectly executed. It's strange, listening to Eydie singing, to reflect that this epitome of love and youth and spring was destined, like anyone else, to grow old and die, which she did in August 2013. She was one of those singers who, like Mel Torme or Carol Sloane, convinces you while you listen that this is the definitive recording of this song. No details supplied, unfortunately, but this is a very small amount to pay for a large amount of extraordinarily lovely music, tastefully remastered. I'd love to add that the level of skill, taste, class, versatility, imagination and sheer musicianship evident on any of these songs is something that most modern pop 'divas' could not even conceive of, but hey, I'd just come across as uncool and intolerant.
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Spenser's Boston
Spenser's Boston
by Kasho Kumagai
Edition: Hardcover

4.0 out of 5 stars Repays repeated readings, 1 Dec 2013
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This review is from: Spenser's Boston (Hardcover)
When I bought this book a few years back, I was disappointed with it. The photographs seemed strange choices to serve as a visual representation of Spenser's Boston. However, I have re-read it a few times now and, as a much more seasoned Spenserphile (I've read all the novels at least twice), the pictures mean more to me. Some are quite dark, some are like snaps from a car window and some are almost like something you catch a glimpse of from the corner of your eye, but that works in most cases. Treat the book as a series of moments from the novels and you will be more on photographer Kasho Kumagai's wavelength. Definitely not postcard photos! Some nice pictures of Bob Parker in his favourite haunts and some of the pictures of Boston and surroundings are lovely. I particularly like those of Lynnfield in autumn. A nice book to have for the serious Spenser fan, with a great city tour written by Mr Parker. This book may fit a definition of art - it doesn't hand an experience to you on a plate but definitely gets better when you get to know it and expend some thought on it.


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