The Beguiled

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Handsome blue-belly found injured in wood
Beguiles headmistress and her all-girls brood
 

“Edwina,” says the eponymous head of the Miss Martha Farnsworth Seminary for Young Ladies (Nicole Kidman) to her obedient teacher (Kirsten Dunst), “bring me the anatomy book.” Cue the Eastenders doofs. The reason for her blunt order? One of her five students, Amy (Oona Laurence), has stumbled upon an injured Unionist soldier, Corporal John McBurney (Colin Farrell), while out picking mushrooms in the wood. Remember the mushrooms for they are a game-changer.
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Fionna Duncan & Brian Kellock

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Charlie Chan Says…

With eleven songs (some new, some “roasters”)
Duncan/Kellock tears of joy not woe stirs

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In advance of his eleven gigs (and counting) at this year’s Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival, pianist Brian Kellock gave an interview with Rob Adams, the jazz and folk critic from The Herald, in which he said two things which were in abundance in his opening gig with the first lady of Scottish jazz and former vocalist with The Clyde Valley Stompers Fionna Duncan: “I love responding in the moment to a lyric, especially when the phrasing being sung isn’t exactly as it was written” and “Audiences react to spontaneity – if it’s working – because I think they feel part of what’s happening onstage”. Continue reading

April Showers

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Not my most prolific month in terms of lame limericks. The triple whammy of work, drink and ennui got in the way. Mind you, all was not completely lost for I reviewed seven films, two theatre shows, one jazz gig and wrote a lengthy piece on an LGBT attack in Holland which gave rise to the hashtag #allemannenhandinhand for the Edinburgh-based e-zine reviewsphere. Continue reading

Count Arthur Strong: The Sound of Mucus

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King of the malaprop Count Arthur Strong
Tops bill with Redcar and Hammersmith song

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To say that it went downhill as soon as the curtain rose would suggest that Count Arthur Strong’s latest malapropistic misremembrances (try saying that after a healthy slug of his “Scottish Lucozade”) is a dud. However, nothing could be further from Babe Ruth. I mean, the truth. For the opening sequence during which Steve Delaney as The Count (voiced “o”), Terry Kilkelly as the put-upon Malcolm and later the star of rage and scream Renee, and Dave Plimmer as Uncle Alan who is not an Uncle, is terrific. Continue reading

Unleashed: Carroll, Colman and Bancroft

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Delightful harmonies by jazz trio
Life-affirming as ‘O Sole Mio

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A lyric in Dan Hicks’ song I Scare Myself, sung in the second half of Liane Carroll, Sophie Bancroft and Sara Colman’s intimate gig in the bar of the Traverse Theatre, perfectly encapsulates the chemistry between the performers and the effect they had on their audience: “But it’s so so very different when we’re together / And I’m so so much calmer; I feel better”. The love in the room was tangible, the talent (singing and songwriting, musicianship and chest slapping!) top drawer and the sense of fun and playfulness infectious. But behind it all lay two qualities which elevate the great from the good: fearlessness and honesty. Hence the title Unleashed! Continue reading

Joe Stilgoe: Songs On Film

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Bequiffed balladeer pulls out all the tricks
And like his hairstyle celebrates the flicks

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Joe Stilgoe – a sharp-suited and even sharper-witted jazz musician “of sorts” (his self-deprecating words, not mine) – wrote the title track to my favourite singer Liane Carroll’s recent album Seaside which was named Best New CD at last year’s British Jazz Awards. It is a beautiful love song tinged with nostalgia about seizing the moment before it’s too late which contains the lyric “come kiss me quickly, we might not have long before all this is washed away”. Change the words “kiss me” to “see him” and you have my verdict on Stilgoe’s excellent gig-cum-show at Assembly Checkpoint in Edinburgh which runs until the 27th of August. Continue reading

Mads Mathias

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Pianist Kellock and his jazz comrades
Compliment singer/saxophonist Mads

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With his Paolo Nutini good looks, Harry Connick Jr smooth vocals and Cole Porter knack of writing deceptively simple yet tightly structured tunes which sound as though they’ve been lifted straight out of The Great American Songbook, it’s easy to see why singer-saxophonist Mads Mathias won the Danish Music Award for Best New Jazz Artist Of The Year in 2015. Continue reading