Learn more Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Learn More Shop now Shop now Learn more Shop Fire Shop Kindle Learn More Shop now Fitbit
Profile for Mr. S. Cowden > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by Mr. S. Cowden
Top Reviewer Ranking: 735,616
Helpful Votes: 138

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
Mr. S. Cowden "scjazz" (Leamington UK)
(REAL NAME)   

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2 | 3
pixel
Great Interactions: Life with Learning Disabilities and Autism
Great Interactions: Life with Learning Disabilities and Autism
by Polly Braden
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £28.64

5.0 out of 5 stars An Inspiring piece of work, 23 May 2016
I encountered this book indirectly through one of its contributors Rashmi Becker. Rashmi has written a book called 'Ya-Ya and Me' which describes the profound difficulties her family had to go through to get appropriate services for her autistic brother, whose nickname is Ya-Ya. This is a moving but also quite depressing book because it reminds us on every page how vulnerable people with learning disabilities can be, and how hard we can make life for them by not listening to them and by dismissing them as people. Yet at the same time despite all the hell Ya-Ya had to go through, things did get better for him once Rashmi was able to take charge of the situation and to demand some services that properly supported him. If that is a book that shows us how bad things can get, this book here by photographer Polly Braden (which also involved Rashmi Becker) shows us how good things can be. The people depicted in this book are all people with learning disabilities whose lives are developing in creative and fulfilling ways. It does not depict people with learning disabilities are cases for charity or invite you to feel sorry for them. Neither does it pretend that people's learning disabilites don't have a profound impact on their lives both in terms of their disabilities themselves, but also in the way the rest of 'neuro-typical' society sees them. It is moving at times and very funny at times. It is also beautifully photographed by Polly Braden - the photos have been shown as an art gallery exhibition. Overall this is a very special book.


STYLEYOURMOBILE HTC DESIRE X VARIOUS PRINTED PU LEATHER MAGNETIC FLIP CASE SKIN COVER POUCH (Aztec Dark Tribal Retro Vintage)
STYLEYOURMOBILE HTC DESIRE X VARIOUS PRINTED PU LEATHER MAGNETIC FLIP CASE SKIN COVER POUCH (Aztec Dark Tribal Retro Vintage)
Offered by Style Your Mobile Limited

1.0 out of 5 stars Very Poor Service, 18 Aug. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
My interaction with this organisation was very frustrating. Firstly I ordered the wrong sort of case, so I sent the wrong one back and ordered the one I should have ordered in the first place. But each time Style Your Mobile sent a replacement to me they just sent back the one I told them i didn't want. This happened three times! They are useless - do not use them.


Lighthouse - Gwilym Simcock, Tim Garland & Asaf Sirkis
Lighthouse - Gwilym Simcock, Tim Garland & Asaf Sirkis
Price: £16.50

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Uplifting Contemporary Jazz, 6 Oct. 2012
I bought this album quite by accident - one of my kids had a shop voucher he had to spend and there was nothing in the shop he wanted, so I found this. I was aware of the work of Gwilym Simcock through "Blues Vignette", which I had borrowed from my local library and completely loved. I had recently bought "The Impossible Gentleman" after a really positive review in "Jazz UK", but after few listens it just became an album I never played. So I approached this with mixed expectations and after a few plays I have to say I am totally hooked on it - it is an outstanding achievement , and must be well on the way to becoming one of the UK Jazz albums of 2012. A distinctive feature is that it is a trio with Asaf Sirkis on drums, Simcock on piano and his old teacher Tim Garland on saxes. In the hands of lesser players the abscence of a bass would weaken this grouping, but it is striking that once into the album you barely notice this. The style is by turns energetic and soulful (there were times when Simcock's piano reminded me of the early Keith Jarrett); it is edgy and contemporary, but at the same time deeply melodic. Percussionist Asaf Sirkis is a wonderful player, who can be as subtle or as energetic as the music demands, and Tim Garland's sax playing is rich in range and timbre. The way the three players collaborate is as impressively as anything in contemporary jazz, and the collection of entirely original compositions (no standards necessary!) have a wonderfully uplifting quality.
If there is a body of work which demonstrates the distinctiveness and vitality of contemporary UK jazz, this album must be a significant part of that. If that is where your interests lie this album is well worth checking out.


The Slap [DVD] [2011]
The Slap [DVD] [2011]
Dvd ~ Jonathan LaPaglia
Offered by Rainbowend.Advertising
Price: £9.98

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The ABC do HBO, 2 Jan. 2012
This review is from: The Slap [DVD] [2011] (DVD)
The book of "The Slap" by Christos Tsolkias has caused great controversy in Australia; dividing reading groups across the country for or against it. It hasn't generated much interest in the UK, though it was long-listed for the Man Booker in 2011, as well as winning the Commonwealth Writers Prize the previous year. The UK version of the book comes with a rave review from Colm Toibin, but I find myself agreeing with the review of the book in the LRB August 2010 by Melissa Denes [...] which said in essence that it had some great moments but also some really weak and crudely written moments. The TV series, in which the the brilliant and ridiculous underrated Tony Ayers played quite a significant role, is much better than the book, in the sense that it takes what is best in the story and turns this into gripping drama. The Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC) has done a magnificent job of doing drama of HBO standard. What is this story about? Tsolkias holds up a mirror to bourgeois suburbia and finds a world of selfish self-obsessed narcissism. On reading the book my sister opined "But I don't know anyone as horrible as the people in his book!". The TV series has a little more subtlety (and it is interesting to note that in my view a much better film was made of Tsolkias first book; the book was "Loaded", the film "Head On"; the latter really excellent though barely known outside of Australia). Even though the TV version allows a bit more light and shade in its portrayal of the characters, this is still TV drama that packs a bloody beauty of a punch. Essentially it is about a dispute at a family barbecue in which one child, who is outrageously acting out with no boundaries set by his parents, is belted across the head by another parent at the barbecue. If you are a parent who has been to family gatherings and experienced the frisson of anxiety within yourself and amongst other parents about how their different children interact, argue, clash, then you will immediately relate to this material. In this case it gets a little more serious with the assult on the child going to court, and everyone having to line up for or against. What is so good about this drama is that it gets right inside something which could be thought of as a central feature of contemporary bourgeois family life; which is about the way people see themselves as decent and 'moral' people, while being essentially self-interested. The truth of their morality is shown in their reluctance to take moral stances that might undermine their own material interests, or to put it in more psycho-social terms, that that might undermine the carefully constructed fictions they have about themselves; which are themselves rationalisations of the 'rightness' of their position within the worlds of their professional, family and friendship circles. This is not drama that offers any redemption - that could be considered a weakness - though strangely enough it has a happy ending; maybe this is about people's capacity to forgive and to genuinely act on insights about what is authentic in relationships, rather than talking endlessly about these and doing nothing. If the show has any message it is about the way that in a world of narcissistic consumerism and the class interests that accompany that, it has become really hard for us to see what is authentic and not about our limitlessly narcissitic egos and libidos. To the extent that this story shows the youngest and the oldest chartacters seeing this, it could actually be described as optimistic.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 2, 2012 2:21 PM GMT


Soul Progressin'
Soul Progressin'
Price: £13.87

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Didn't quite live up to expectations, 9 Oct. 2011
This review is from: Soul Progressin' (Audio CD)
I was turned on the music of Lafeyette Gilchrist after hearing of his association with David Murray - Gilchist was the group's pianist for some time. Murray is for me one of the absolute greats of contemporary jazz saxaphone playing who has taken forward the legacy of Coltrane in one of the most significant and innovative ways. I have seen him live numerous times and think he is simply astonishing. So I approached this album by Gilchist through that lens, and it was in this sense that my hopes were not realised. There is no question about whether Gilchist is a prodigiously talented jazz pianist - that is beyond question. Its just that for my taste the sounds has heaviness and ponderousness which doesn't do it for me. It's not that everything I listen to has to have that driving New York sound - much as I love the work of someone like Branford Marsalis that stuff can become predictable in it own way. Gilchrist has a sound which is very the opposite of that - drawing heavily from blues, gospel and other local musical traditions. Many people who approach this album with a richer knowledge and understanding of that material may love this album - but for me it didn't really work.


Suite ...
Suite ...
Price: £9.87

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnifique!, 9 Oct. 2011
This review is from: Suite ... (Audio CD)
I was turned onto this album by a jazz companero of mine who spends quite a bit of time in France, and who saw this guy live in Paris, and then got this album for me. It took me a few listenings to become totally absorbed in it, but then I was hooked - even my kids love it! Since discovering the work of Baptiste Trotignon I have done a few internet searches on him and what people are saying is that there is a 'hard-bop' tradition which has to a large extent died out in Britain and northern Europe generally (ECM have done some great stuff but there is a shed load of protestant angst in their stable!) which is alive and well in France and Belguim, and to which British (and other) listeners should do well do engage with. This totally concurs with how I experience Baptiste Trotignon - he and the group who play on this album (and it is very much a collective enterprise at the level of their sound) have a fantastic sense of 'groove'; this is not material that floats around the beat - they swing, they sizzle - the groove is totally there in the best jazz sense of the word. At the same time Baptiste is one of those rare beasts who has made the transition from classical to jazz. My sense of him is that he has absorbed the whole French romantic tradition (Debussy, Satie) but taken that sensual richness into jazz. In other words this is music which has many different sides to it. The band on this album are tight, passionate and kicking, and as a live album it is a fantastic introduction the work of Baptiste. Indeed after getting into this album all you will want to do is have the live experience of this wonderful group of musicians for yourself!


First As Tragedy, Then As Farce
First As Tragedy, Then As Farce
by Slavoj Žižek
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring and Energising, 14 July 2010
I came to this book with a degree of scepticism - along the lines of what can people like Zizek actually offer to the task of reconstructing left wing politics from the dismal fatalism that defines much of the demoralised project that once was the left. I came away deeply impressed with both Zizek's incisiveness and his capacity to be inspriring, even if, as previous reviewers have noted, he avoids directly adddressing the question of what people who want to change things should actually do.
The book is divided into two sections - the first addressing the question of ideology, and the second a concise restatement of how Communism needs to be and must be the banner of those who stand against the present order of things. The first chapter is impressive for the way he so accurately nails the ideology of neo-liberalism in all its poisonous pervasiveness. Like all really good critique, he makes the enemy both visible and ridiculous in its brutality. As previous reviewers have noted, he goes back to Hegel and Kant to develop his critique of contemporary neo-liberalism - this may be off-putting to some readers, and this book demands too high a degree of literacy for it ever to become really popular. Nonetheless the tonic of his argument about the way we are constantly interpolated by an essentially utopian vision of neoliberalism which at the same time repudiates all non-capitalist utopias is brilliant.
The second half of the book is equally powerful and simply restates the idea of Communism, almost as something immanent within capitalism, but at the same time as the set of ideas which really takes on and at the same time poses a genuine alternative to capitalist social relations.
Will this book actually become the touchstone for re-inspiring the campaigning activist movement we so desperately need at the moment? It is too early to say, but in the meanwhile, give this book a serious read.


So Near So Far: Musings for Miles
So Near So Far: Musings for Miles

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Absolute Classic, 5 Feb. 2010
All of the four musicians featured on this album - Joe Henderson, John Scofield, Al Foster and Dave Holland are outstanding artists in their own right, and to bring them together on one album doesn't necessarily mean its going to be outstanding - but in this case it is undoubtedly so. The tracks on this album are subtitled "Musings for Miles" - yet while this album is a wonderful tribute to the genius of Mile Davis it is so much more than that. One of the distinctive features of the album is its sound - while Miles Davis often played in quartets it was rare for him to place a guitar rather than a piano in the rhythm role. This is what this quarter does and in doing so they offer a whole new way of understanding the jazz quartet. Henderson is the leader here and is totally out there in his playing. Scofield is subtle and understated in a way that is often untypical, yet works beautifully with Henderson. Al Foster is outstanding in the way he interacts with the others, raising the temperature, then bringing it down, and playing around the beat in the style pioneered by Elvin Jones. Dave Holland on bass is holding the whole thing together - yet as always with Dave Hollands playing, the bass becomes more than the bass, and speaks in its own rich mellow and intensely rhythmic voice. In other words this is a tribute to Miles which takes Miles work as a starting point for a whole series of wonderfully inspiring improvisations. I play this album all the time, yet it will always speak to me in a new way.


Jazz Cultures (Roth Family Foundation Music in America Book)
Jazz Cultures (Roth Family Foundation Music in America Book)
by David Andrew Ake
Edition: Paperback
Price: £23.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sociology of Jazz, 4 Jan. 2010
As someone with a passion for both Jazz and Social Theory/Sociology I was intruiged to come across this book. As the author David Ake notes, writing on jazz is dominated by biographies, autobiographies, and studies of single artists or periods in jazz. This book offers by contrast a more sociological focus on the cultural contexts in which jazz is produced and received. It is the sense of looking at the way particular musician's critical reputation is constructed that is my most abiding impression of the book, and David Ake's explorations of this are perceptive and thought provoking.
To give you a feel of the book let me briefly summarise the opening chapter; a discussion of the development of jazz in New Orleans. Rather than seeing jazz as a kind of higher level development of a folk blues tradition, Ake argues that the musical mileau of New Orleans was characterised by a sharp tension within the African diasporic communities between the "Uptown" Francophile culture of the Creoles, and the "Downtown" blues oriented culture of English speaking slaves and their descendants. He then goes on to analyse the music of Sidney Bechet as a synthesis of these traditions, which itself was a considerable achievement, and which took time to take shape. Jazz emerges in this chapter, which could have been developed into a whole book in its own right, as a syncretic and dialogic music. This is highly significant for an understanding of the politics of 'race' in jazz, a point which remains of major significance in the theory and practice of jazz. This book marks out a path between if you like a 'white-washed' history of jazz in which the politics or 'race' are barely discussed or seen as incidental, and Afro-centric black nationalist readings of jazz of the sort argued by Leroi Jones/Amiri Baraka in "Blues People", as well as the musician Wynton Marsalis (whose work and approach are discussed in a later and equally interesting chapter), which present jazz as a self-evidently "black" music.
This approach is developed in relation to different 'instances' - Louis Jordan, Coltrane, Bill Evans and Keith Jarrett, Marsalis and Bill Frisell - in a series of highly interesting chapters, which explore the constuction of each particular musicians oevre, and the way this is presented to the listening public. Essentially this a book for people who are immersed in jazz and who are interested in thinking about its meaning at the meeting point of aesthetics and politics. I found it a really enjoyable read and my only criticism was that many of the chapters were too short, with material developed seeming to conclude too soon. In the same vein I would say the book lacks a conclusion which draws out some of the more political conclusions which are implied throughout its pages. These are however secondary criticisms and if you have an interest in these sorts of issues, you will find this book full of insight.


Jazz Guitar Structures: Boosting Your Solo Power
Jazz Guitar Structures: Boosting Your Solo Power
by Andrew Green
Edition: Paperback

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The real thing, 17 Oct. 2009
Like many reviewers in this section I have purchased many different books seeking to develop means of making my improvisations sound more interesting. I would say that this book has given me more techniques and concrete strategies than anything else I have previously looked at - and that is quite a few. While I would acknowledge that a book like Mick Goodrick's "The Advancing Guitarist" (I am talking as a guitarist here) is in many respects a profound book where I could really see what he was trying to get across, I found it too difficult to use. Maybe you need to work through a book like that with someone else - but this book I was using almost straight away in my improvising.
I would conclude by saying that if you are an intermediate improvising jazz musician this book will as it says on the tin, boost you soloing power in very concrete ways, and I would recommend it. It is a hard book to work through at the same time and it demands serious study, but it is worth it. Andrew Green has also done a CD "Narrow Margin" which is fabulous, and if you like that kind of playing, well here are the lessons from the master.
Recommended for the intermediate player.


Page: 1 | 2 | 3