Arts and Entertainment Robbie Williams is to release a new album called Swing Both Ways

Robbie Williams is getting back into the swing of things with a new album mixing cover versions of classics and his own songs.

We love to buy records and Monsieur Aznavour loves to make them - again and again ...

Research carried out on albums and singles released this year shows that the number of recordings put on to the market reached an all-time high. There are also some startling statistics, for example the artist with the most album releases in 1996 was discovered to be French crooner Charles Aznavour. He was responsible for no fewer than 28 albums, including re-releases and compilations.

Classical / Renee Fleming The Queen's Hall

Renee Fleming's debut recital at the Edinburgh Festival was generously conceived and enthusiastically received: Lieder by Schubert and Schumann were followed after the interval by recent American settings of poems by Emily Dickinson, five melodies by Faure and Joaquin Turina's rather less well-known Tres Poemas. This soprano wields an astonishing, rich voice which is capable of dazzlingly varied colours. She also possesses a formidable technique and has the potential for a career on the concert platform as great as on the stage. Her manner is both engaging and authoritative.

Pop Albums: Riffs: John Martyn on Billie Holiday's `Strange Fruit'

I first heard `Strange Fruit' in 1964 in the company of Hamish Imlach, who was busy with my musical education at the time. We were also busy getting stoned. I'd never heard of Billie Holiday or the song, so it had considerable impact on me, especially as it was the first protest song by a black woman I'd heard.

The sunny side of the street

JAZZ: She was the First Lady of Song - but, more than that, she brought happiness to millions. Robert Cushman pays tribute to Ella Fitzgerald, who died last week

When Maya Angelou met Billie Holiday

FIRST ENCOUNTERS SOREL AND SOREL Two women from the wrong side of the tracks who found fame. The third in a series of memorable meetings drawn by the distinguished American illustrator Edward Sorel and written by Nancy Caldwell Sorel. Last week, Oscar Wil Charlotte Corday and Jean- Paul Marat

BOOKS: THE RISE AND FALL OF POPULAR MUSIC by Donald Clarke, Viking £22.50 Hard facts about easy listening

A LITTLE knowledge is a dangerous thing. This might seem an absurd dart to hurl at Donald Clarke, who after all compiled the Penguin Encyclopedia of Popular Music, but in many ways The Rise and Fall of Popular Music is an absurd book. Clarke's big idea - to reclaim the idea of popular music from "the post-Beatles industry that separates adolescents from their pocket money" and give it back its historical context - is a fine one. His book might, and sometimes does, trace changes in the ways music is produced and consumed through the developing apparatus of commerce and technology. More often though, the author chooses to ride his team of hobby horses off the track and into the sunset.

Slowly does it, as Little Jimmy hits the big time again

BLESSED with the voice of Billie Holiday in the body of Jimmy Clitheroe, Little Jimmy Scott is the most affecting singer of slow, sentimental ballads there is. A doll-like figure, whose flailing arms act out the psychodrama of each song as if the shop-worn lyrics told the story of his life (and if they possess enough pain and loss, they do), Scott is just about the last of his line - the lachrymose- jazz-meets-R&B vocalists of the Forties and Fifties. Now aged 69, with three decades of bad luck and obscurity behind him, he's happily enjoying a late renaissance. He has an excellent new album (Dream, Sire), and this week he plays the Purcell Room in the South Bank's 'Now You See It . . .' season, an imaginative mixture of music, dance and performance linked by the promise that the artists involved will be taking risks rather than taking stock. (See Jazz, below, for details.)

Fatal adventure

Paul Jackson, nine, died after falling 30ft from a rope swing in woods near his home in Washington, Tyne and Wear. Police said it was 'an adventure game that went tragically wrong'.

BOOK REVIEW / Lady Night, Lady Day: 'Wishing on the Moon: The Life and Times of Billie Holiday' - Donald Clarke: Secker, 20 pounds

I'M SQUEAMISH about drugs. Like one of Billie Holiday's friends, the drummer Roy Harte, I could faint at the sight of a needle; and Wishing on the Moon is a bit tough in places for 'those of a nervous disposition'. That's not the only reason I approached the book with trepidation: Donald Clarke, who claims much greater accuracy than in earlier books about Lady Day, previously edited The Penguin Encyclopedia of Popular Music, and if that book is as inaccurate throughout as in the bits that I know something about it should be taken with a very great deal of salt.

Obituary: Abner 'Abby' Greshler

Abner 'Abby' Greshler, talent agent, died 30 December, aged 83. President of Diamond Artists talent agency for 35 years, he represented Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis as well as Al Jolson, Danny Kaye, Benny Goodman, Eddie Cantor, David Janssen, Jack Klugman, Vince Edwards, Marcel Marceau, Eva Marie Saint, the Monkees, Jayne Mansfield and Milton Berle.

MUSIC / Swing song: Nick Kimberley on New Year with the King's Consort

It was standing-room only for the King's Consort's New Year's Eve Celebration at the Wigmore Hall, and no wonder: not a Strauss waltz, nor a Tchaikovsky pas de deux in sight. Instead, wall-to-wall baroque from a leading period instrument ensemble - a cleansing purgative after the seasonal excesses.

Obituary: Max Jones

Ronald Maxwell Jones, jazz journalist and author: born London 28 February 1917; married Betty Salberg (one son); died Chichester 1 August 1993.

Obituary: Aubrey Frank

MAY I add to your obituary of Aubrey Frank (by Val Wilmer, 29 June) some account of his time in the RAF Fighter Command Band, which he joined in 1941? writes John Gardner.

CINEMA / Very cardiac, quite arresting

IN Tony Bill's Untamed Heart (15), Christian Slater plays a busser in a Minneapolis diner who claims to have a baboon's heart. His dicky ticker was operated on in his childhood and a nun in the orphanage where he was raised spun him a yarn about the Lord of the Apes visiting. Within minutes, a baboon-sized metaphor is on the loose, swinging from scene to scene, beating its breast. The dialogue has an uncommon cardiac awareness. People say things like: 'You've got too good a heart.' Or: 'I'm going to give you my heart.' Slater, whose character is a sort of noble savage, living in a book-lined shack, is wild yet vulnerable - yes, an untamed heart.

SHOW PEOPLE / Able to turn minus into plus: 65. Michel Petrucciani

MICHEL PETRUCCIANI arrives for his concert at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in a wheelchair, propelled down the bleak corridors by his manager. His son Rachid, aged five but almost as tall as his father, goes ahead, running, skipping and carrying the crutches that Petrucciani will need to make his way to the piano later this evening. When Petrucciani hobbles gamely but awkwardly over to the enormous grand piano, discarding the crutches to climb onto the stool, the audience applauds ecstatically. Petrucciani's disability can't be ignored: born with osteogenesis imperfecta or 'glass bones' disease, he stands only three feet tall and weighs about five stone.
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