Monthly Archives: January 2011

Michael Stewart: Meet The Author

Originally published on 25th January 2011 at

Michael Stewart’s debut novel, King Crow, is a tense psychological thriller that mixes the two unlikely subjects of ornithology and carjacking. We meet Paul Cooper, a kid with an unusual quality: when he looks at people, he wonders what sort of bird they might be. Moving from school to school, he finds making friends difficult, until he meets tough-lad Ashley.

As Paul falls into the wrong crowd, they get into trouble, steal a car and flee to the Lake District – Ashley fears he may have killed someone, whereas Paul wants to see ravens. One of them meets a girl, things begin to unwind and their road trip makes national headlines – for the wrong reasons.

‘Could this be the modern Kes?’ asks an online reviewer. There are certainly parallels between the film and Stewart’s novel, but perhaps the best answer comes from critically acclaimed author Melvin Burgess. ‘I’ve come across nothing like it’, he writes in the blurb. ‘It’s a fantastic example of modern fiction at its innovative best…Michael Stewart is a fascinating new voice, and King Crow is a fine debut’.

Stewart is no stranger to praise – he’s a multi-award winning author of several plays, short stories and other works for TV and radio. He’s also Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Huddersfield, and Director of the Huddersfield Literature Festival.

Michael Stewart will be appearing at Waterstone’s Wool Exchange in Bradford to sign copies of his debut novel. The event begins at 12pm on Saturday 5th February.

Stan Tracey Quartet at Seven Arts

Originally published on 25 January 2011 at

Stan Tracey is possibly Britain’s finest jazz pianist, reflected in his honorary title ‘The Godfather of British Jazz’. His unique style, influenced by Duke Ellington and Thelonious Monk, is recognised in the jazz world as being a major influence on modern jazz piano.

Tracey was the resident pianist at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in London from 1959 to 1966. Working at the legendary venue meant he accompanied many high-profile artists from the US, including Sonny Rollins, Ben Webster, Roland Kirk, Dexter Gordon, Freddie Hubbard, Zoot Sims and Al Cohn. In 1965, he recorded his best-known work, Under Milk Wood, and a year later worked on producing the soundtrack for the Michael Caine film Alfie.

After leaving Ronnie Scott’s, the following few years were a tough time for Tracey. In 1970, under pressure from his local unemployment office, he almost applied for a job as postman – until his wife, Jackie, stopped him. A former press officer at Decca Records, she helped to set up the Musician’s Action Group to lobby for better funding for musicians, and took over Stan’s promotions. His fortunes began to improve throughout the Seventies, and in 1986 he received an OBE for his services to British jazz. In 2007, he was made a CBE.

The Stan Tracey Quartet will be appearing at Seven Arts in Chapel Allerton on Thursday 10th February. The line-up features tenor saxophonist Bobby Wellins, Andy Cleyndert on double bass, and Stan’s son Clark Tracey on drums. There’s a local connection too – he’ll be playing a grand piano provided by Besbrode pianos of Leeds.

Latest writing

Since November 2010 I’ve been a writer of reviews, previews and events listings on the cultural website – here’s a list of the things I’ve written so far.  Subscribe via RSS for updates!