Voices

The late Ravi Shankar became known in the West through his association with The Beatles. But there was far more to the man George Harrison called the "godfather" of world music. He was a champion of crossover in its fullest sense. His sitar spoke to all our souls.

A 'national treasure': Sitar virtuoso Ravi Shankar dies aged 92

Ravi Shankar, the composer and sitar player who befriended the Beatles and acted as bridge between Indian music and the West, has died in southern California. He was 92 and had recently undergone heart surgery.

Bille Holliday, one of the giants of jazz, performed at the Lenox Lounge

Harlem nights fall silent with loss of lounge

Last call at the Lenox Lounge in Harlem will be just that on New Year's Eve, as its owner will unplug its iconic neon sign and put away the shot glasses on the low mahogany bar for the very last time, unable to pay the $20,000-a-month rent now being demanded by the landlord.

Lucinda Williams, Royal Festival Hall, London

London Jazz Festival

My Fantasy Band: Isaac Slade, The Fray

Bass: Adam Clayton

Shabazz Palaces - inside avant rap's soul

Miguel Cullen interviews Ishmael Butler of Shabazz Palaces - the face of the avant-rap movement glamorised by Tyler the Creator - about rap selling its soul, winning a Grammy in another life and race-relations in America.

Album: Chucho Valdes, Chucho's Steps (World Village)

The master of madly chromatic Afro-Cuban piano, Chucho Valdes sounds right at the top of his prodigious form on this evocation of the jazz tradition, vamping away against drums and percussion with real fire.

Brit Jazz Festival to showcase some of Britain’s finest talent

This summer’s packed programme of music festivals continues with the Brit Jazz Festival, which kicks off tomorrow at London’s renowned jazz venue, Ronnie Scott’s.

Album: Nat Birchall, Guiding Spirit (Gondwana)

More great spiritual jazz from Manchester.

Album: Miles Davis, The Complete Miles Davis Columbia Album Collection (Columbia Legacy)

The ultimate Miles: from 'Kind of Blue' to kind of new

Black magic: Gilles Peterson on the enduring appeal of 1960s Afro-centric jazz

They were Afro-centric, space-travelling musical pioneers of far-out 1960s America. He was a DJ with a bongo habit in 1980s London. Gilles Peterson tells Nick Coleman how he fell for the art, sound and heroes of radical jazz

Album: Steve Kuhn Trio / Joe Lovano, Mostly Coltrane, (ECM)

Veteran pianist Steve Kuhn – who worked with John Coltrane in 1960 – is such a smooth and harmonically sophisticated player that for the iconic opening tune, "Welcome", he and Lovano on tenor sax seem almost too subtle for such a simple, emotionally intense theme.

Album: Kurt Elling, Dedicated to You, (Concord)

Elling is such a knock- 'em-dead singer that you're ready to forgive him anything, even this over egged tribute to John Coltrane's sublime 1963 album.

Freddie Hubbard: Virtuoso jazz trumpeter who played with John Coltrane, Art Blakey and Herbie Hancock during a 50-year career

If Louis Armstrong burst upon the jazz world like a star in 1923, then the trumpeter Freddie Hubbard became one of its biggest comets when he did the same in 1959. The incandescent moment came with the issue of an album, Sister Salvation, made under the leadership of the trombonist and Hubbard's fellow Indianapolitan Slide Hampton. Suddenly, here was a fully formed virtuoso, crackling with a full, brazen technique and bursting with ideas.

Music: Open ears and minds break down the walls of sound

The folk who commission music titles have begun to catch up with the state of our ears. Music lovers who switch happily between Bach and Björk, Miles and Monteverdi, still find that most books – like the industry – stumble along under the burden of primitive genre divisions. At last, 2008 saw two majestic works that herald a new eclecticism. The Rest is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century by New Yorker critic Alex Ross (Fourth Estate, £20) ranks as my non-fiction book of the year. Erudite but engaging, written with flair and passion, it traces the fate of composition from Mahler and Strauss through Ellington and Sibelius to the Velvet Underground. Ross has a dazzling grasp of the dialectics of taste, technology and society. Björk herself (the latest of his genre-bending heroes) lauds him on the cover – and rightly so.

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