Arts and Entertainment

A genuinely odd collaboration, this, between the classical pianist Dinnerstein and the country singer-songwriter Merritt.

Imelda May, Royal Albert Hall, London

“He’s a big bad boy,” lustily croons six-months pregnant Imelda May on “Johnny’s Got a Boom Boom”, the saucy rockabilly song that catapulted the singer to instant fame.

Black by Design: A 2-Tone Memoir, By Pauline Black

Pauline Black's earliest memory is of vomiting, at the age of four, on to a pile of sheets that had been cleaned, starched and ironed by her mother. "She was not amused but then again it was her own fault," says Black. "She shouldn't have told me I was adopted."

Leading article: Lost greatness

The news of her death was shocking, but sadly no one could say it was unexpected. That precocious, extravagant talent which brought Amy Winehouse success and critical acclaim was matched by her capacity for self-destruction. In an example of the enigma of human creativity, she was able to use the chaotic darkness of her addictions – drink, drugs and toxic relationships – to create music and lyrics which channelled her hurt and despair into great songs which immediately spoke to millions. And she delivered them in that astonishing voice, one of the greatest of modern times, as powerfully and immediately moving as those of Billie Holiday, Edith Piaf and Maria Callas.

Album: Madeleine Peyroux, Standing on the Rooftop (Emarcy / Decca)

Her last album introduced the concept of Peyroux the full-blown auteur.

Album: Billie Holiday, Four Classic Albums (Avid)

Pure gold: nearly three hours of classic 1950s Holiday (mostly recorded for Norman Granz on Clef), for about a fiver.

Encounters with legends: 'I was Douglas Adams's flatmate'

What was Dudley Moore like in bed? How would you feel if you were asked to stand in for Billie Holliday? What kind of man would share a flat with Douglas Adams? And what sort of girl would hit the road with Ernest Hemingway?

Warpaint, Scala, London

Warpaint walk on stage to a room full of expectation: it has been a big year for the all-girl quartet from Los Angeles. Despite forming six years ago, the past 12 months have seen the online music community put the band on the metaphorical pedestal that comes with being just that pretty and just that good.

Barclays Cheltenham Jazz Festival, Town Hall and other venues, Cheltenham

An annual festival rounds up some fab singing, and a great discovery

Album: Amira and Merima Kljuco, Zumra (World Village)

This album's roots lie deep in the Balkan tradition of sevdah, the urban folk music of Bosnia-Herzegovina, which touches on sadness, but is mostly about making love by moonlight.

Album: Carmen Souza, Protegid (Galileo Music)

The poetic voice is as original as the musical one.

Herb Ellis: Dextrous and distinctive guitarist who worked with Oscar Peterson, Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday

Les Paul, doyen of guitarists everywhere, was in no doubt about Herb Ellis. "If you're not swinging, he's gonna make you swing. Of the whole bunch of guys who play hollow-body guitar I think Herb Ellis has got the most drive."

Album: Ljiljana Buttler, Frozen Roses, (Snail Records)

Whether her reputation as "the Billie Holiday of Gypsy music" proves useful or not (and she closes this set with a killer version of "Gloomy Sunday"), Bosnian singer Ljiljana Buttler is one of the great female vocalists of our time, with a deep voice full of woe. A legendary figure in Eastern Europe whose career suffered under the post-communist onslaught of vulgar "turbo-folk", she continues her recent resurgence with this superb acoustic album, backed by an excellent cast of musicians.

Album: Various artists, Sound of the World Presents: Beyond the Horizon (WCJ)

Never mind Womad or the Radio 3 awards, the highlight of any self-respecting world music enthusiast's year should be Charlie Gillett's annual compilation. As ever the 34 tracks from 28 different countries make for a compelling and cohesive listen thanks to the DJ's ear for a strong melody, a compelling vocalist, and a rhythm track which is far removed from the staple kit-drum labourings of most Western pop music. Only a few of the usual suspects are present, such as Orchestra Baobab and Manu Chao, but fear not, this is all quality merchandise and you'll enjoy the journey.

Album: Joan as Police Woman, To Survive (Reveal)

Just as Antony Hegarty first came to prominence as one of Lou Reed's backing singers, Joan Wasser started out as one of Antony and the Johnsons' backing singers before renaming herself Joan as Police Woman.

Album: Karen Dalton, Green Rocky Road (Megaphone)

Karen Dalton hated the tag "folk music’s answer to Billie Holiday". What she would have made of being labelled "the best singer you’ve never heard of" by a broadsheet last year will remain anyone’s guess, since Dalton died in 1993.

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Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on