Russia’s Putin takes Epiphany’s icy plunge with Orthodox pilgrims

Russian President Vladimir Putin braves the minus 5 degrees C water to take the annual traditional ritual marking the baptism of Jesus.(Reuters)
Updated 19 January 2018
0

Russia’s Putin takes Epiphany’s icy plunge with Orthodox pilgrims

MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin and many Orthodox pilgrims braved a bitter winter snap overnight to take the annual plunge into icy water in a traditional ritual marking the baptism of Jesus.
In some areas, the extreme temperatures — which in parts of Siberia dropped to minus 68 degrees Celsius (minus 90 Fahrenheit) — the local authorities canceled the rite which marks Epiphany.
Surrounded by Orthodox priests and glittering religious icons, and with the temperature hovering around minus 5 degrees C, Putin lowered himself into the freezing waters of Lake Seliger some 350 kilometers northwest of Moscow.
Many other Russians followed suit, submerging themselves in the freezing waters in a widely-observed ritual normally observed on 18-19 of January and which last year saw two million people take the plunge.
In Norilsk, a city beyond the Arctic Circle, local authorities on Thursday banned the extreme bathing rite “for security reasons” as temperatures hit minus 52 Celsius and strong winds whipped up a blizzard, RIA Novosti news agency reported.
Many faithful also marked the date in neighboring Ukraine and Belarus, both of which are also predominantly Orthodox, local media said.
According to Orthodox tradition, worshippers are supposed to immerse themselves three times — in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit — to remember the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan.
To mark the occasion, Orthodox priests also go out to bless rivers and reservoirs, and even bodies of water like the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea.


Chip Wickham ushers in winds of change on the jazz scene

Updated 22 May 2018
0

Chip Wickham ushers in winds of change on the jazz scene

PARIS: The hotly hyped “British jazz invasion” has been the toast of international scenesters for some months now, with breathy adjective-heavy sprawls penned on both sides of the Atlantic paying tribute to a fresh generation of musos who grew up not in the conservatoires but the clubs, channelling the grit and groove of grime into a distinctly hip, 21st century strain of freewheeling, DIY improvised music.

Now the Arab world has its own outpost in the form of Chip Wickham, a UK-born flautist, saxophonist and producer whose second album grew out of extended stints teaching in the GCC. “Shamal Wind” takes its name from the Gulf’s primal weather patterns, and there’s a distinctly meditative, Middle Eastern vibe to the title track, a slow-burning, moody vamp, peppered with percussive trills, with hints of Yusef Lateef to be found in Wickham’s wandering woodwind musings.

There’s rather less goatee-stroking to be found across the four further up-tempo cuts, which swap soul-searching for soul-jazz, soaked in the breezy bop of a vintage Blue Note release. Recorded over a hot summer in Madrid, a heady Latin pulse drives first single, “Barrio 71” — championed by the likes of Craig Charles — with Spanish multi-percussionist David el Indio steaming up a block party beat framing Wickham’s gutsy workout on baritone sax.

Having previously worked with electronic acts, including Nightmares on Wax and Jimpster, one imagines the dancefloor was a key stimulus behind Wickham’s rhythmically dense, but harmonically spare compositional approach. Phil Wilkinson’s sheer, thumped piano chords drive the relentless nod of second single “Snake Eyes,” Wickham’s raspy flute floating somewhere overhead, readymade to be skimmed off for the anticipated remix market.

In truth, Manchester-raised Wickham is both too thoughtful, and too thoughtless, to truly belong to the London-brewed jazz invasion — Shamal Wind yo-yos between meditative meandering and soulful strutting with a wilful disrespect for trend.