I was saddened to read on Normblog of the death of Fred Halliday, friend, mentor and an example to aspire to in intellectual honesty and rigour. Links to his writings are available here. He managed to combine a capacity for fearless and withering criticism with a true generosity of spirit.
The Sway Machinery is a band, much of whose inspiration comes for Ashkenazi Jewish cantorial traditions. It includes guitarist Jeremiah Lockwood of Balkan Beat Box (whose grandfather was a cantor), drummer Brian Chase of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, bass saxophonist Colin Stetson of Arcade Fire and Tom Waits' band, and the trumpet and tenor sax horn section of the band Antibalas, Jordan McLean and Stuart Bogie.
They recently played the Festival du Desert in Timbuktu Mali. Watch this collaboration: