Arts and Entertainment Dai & The Ramblers, Duw Duw

Duw Duw, Just Peachy Records

Ronny Jordan: Guitarist whose version of the Miles Davis classic tune ‘So What’ became an Acid Jazz dancefloor favourite

The Miles Davis standard “So What” has been a modal jazz touchstone for 55 years, providing the harmonic canvas for myriad improvisations and reinterpretations.

Yusef Lateef: Musician

Jazz composer and saxophonist who worked with Dizzy Gillespie and whose playing influenced John Coltrane

Album review: Robbie Williams, Swings Both Ways, Island

Those who endured Williams’s recent X Factor performance need not fear: this brassy sequel to 2001’s big-band LP Swing When You’re Winning, is actually rather listenable. Not to say it’s great: he’s a karaoke kind of crooner and some of the covers here – such as “I Wanna Be Like You” with Olly Murs – should have remained the preserve of some celebrity charity ball.

Album review: Archie Shepp, I Hear the Sound, Archie Ball

Shepp’s latest release is a great 40th anniversary recreation of his famous 1972 live album Attica Blues, a black-consciousness riposte to the four-day riot at Attica prison – sparked by the death, in 1971, of the Black Panther George Jackson – which left 43 people dead.

All that jazz: Grammy winner Esperanza Spalding

With crowds low and the average fan age high, we ask: Is jazz a dying art form?

On the eve of the London Jazz Festival, Phil Johnson ponders the genre’s future

Album review: Nana Vasconcelos, 4 Elementos
(Far Out Recordings)

Maybe when you are Brazil’s most revered percussionist (Vasconcelos has played with Jan Garbarek and Pat Metheny among others) you feel obliged to stretch the bashing-and-tapping-things envelope. For there doesn’t appear to be any musical reason for what sounds like underwater conga playing or, for that matter, rigorous crisp packet shaking.

The beat goes on: Stan Tracey

London Jazz Festival: Different strokes for key movers

Kit Downes and Stan Tracey riff on the state of their art ahead of the London Jazz Festival

Jazz album review: Michael Garrick Sextet, Prelude To Heart Is A Locus (Gearbox)

With its satisfyingly fat vinyl platters, audiophile-friendly downloads and imaginative catalogue of rediscovered gems (plus new recordings), LP specialist Gearbox is becoming one of the wonders of the age.

Album review: Various artists, Red Hot + Fela (Knitting Factory)

Purists will object to the very idea of covering the late Fela Kuti’s songs, but the originals can outstay their welcome. Happily, it turns out that their angular riffs and edgy lyrics have real staying power, as was demonstrated on Red, Hot + Riot a decade ago and now again here with these often radical reinterpretations of the Nigerian legend’s best work.

Album: Janelle Monae, The Electric Lady (Bad Boy/Atlantic)

The Electric Lady extends the cyborg sci-fantasy tale of Janelle Monae’s The ArchAndroid, albeit in a less eclectic manner – the folk and psychedelic elements abandoned in favour of a more focused assault on R&B territory.

Album: Norman Watt-Roy, Faith & Grace (Cadiz)

Anyone who's seen Watt-Roy play bass with the Blockheads, before or after Ian Dury, will know what a star he is.

Album review: Rizzle Kicks, Roaring 20s (Island)

Album of the Week: Rizzle dazzle with a fast-talking slice of everyday life

Live music review: James Taylor Quartet, Ronnie Scott's, London

For a figure that has railed against the pleasantries of polite jazz, James Taylor looks suspiciously comfy in this all-seated venue where punters are still polishing off their meals as the Hammond organ king's foursome ease into the night's first tight jazz-soul groove. By the end of the first set, though, many of them have been dragged on their feet for a spirited take on Teddy Pendergrass's 'Love TKO'.

McPartland in 1970; she overcame her outsider status

Marian McPartland: Acclaimed jazz pianist and broadcaster

After beginning her career in British music halls, the pianist Marian McPartland left for the United States and became an unexpected jazz star. She forged a distinctive style, made scores of albums and composed music that was recorded by superstars.

Album: Iro Haarla Sextet, Kolibri (Tum)

Pianist/harpist and composer Haarla has been an important voice for decades (she was also the consort of the late, great Finnish bandleader Edward Vesala), and the seven pieces here reflect her absorption in the natural world, with titles such as "Nightjar" and "Spirit Bear".

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There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
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Claudia Winkleman and co-host Tess Daly at the Strictly Come Dancing final
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Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
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Elton John and David Furnish will marry on 21 December 2014
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A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
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J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
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Stacey Dooley was the only woman to be nominated in last month’s Grierson awards
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The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

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Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

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Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

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Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

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Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

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Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

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