Triumph of the West – The Heart of the West

In my last Triumph of the West post I stated that I couldn’t find the next in the series – the DVD was hiding. Actually I then found the missing DVD but sadly the episode I was looking for was corrupted and as yet I have not been able to salvage it. However when I ripped the other episode that was on this DVD off I became confused as just before the programme started an announcer said that this was the 3rd episode in the series, not the 6th which is what I thought must be. Basically this means that I have somewhere down the line confused the order of the programmes. Still never mind, each episode really stands on its own and the order you view them is not all that important.

This is all very boring and without further ado, here is the said episode.

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17 gianter steps

embarrassed at not including any john coltrane in my earlier granite mix this year i thought i’d make amends by doing this new granite mix as a tribute to the great saxophonist. these are all tracks from albums that were released with coltrane as session leader or co-leader. the recording sessions come from the period 1957 to 1963. his first session as leader was in 1957 and his last session was in may 1967 two months before his death so it was a pretty incredible body of work to put out in 10 years.

Granite Mix 17
Artist Title Album
John Coltrane Body And Soul Coltrane Jazz
John Coltrane & Milt Jackson The Night We Called It A Day Bags And Trane
John Coltrane While My Lady Sleeps Coltrane (1957)
Kenny Burrell & John Coltrane Freight Trane The Kenny Burrell Quintet with John Coltrane
John Coltrane Aisha Ole Coltrane
John Coltrane Big Nick Coltrane (1962)
John Coltrane Naima Giant Steps
John Coltrane Theme For Ernie Soultrane
John Coltrane Alabama Live At Birdland

the first track was recorded on october 24th 1960 which was one of 3 days in a week where he was in the studio for atlantic records. the tracks recorded made up 3 albums and most of a fourth.

his first session for atlantic was in january 1959. a session that he co-led with vibraphonist milt jackson who he had played with earlier in the fifties in dizzy gillespie’s band.

before atlantic he was with prestige and this next track is from his first session as a leader. while my lady sleeps was a favourite ballad that he often quoted in his solos and is an early example of using a pedal point which became a major feature in his work later on.

then from a prestige recording session a year or so later which was led by guitarist kenny burrell who he also had played with when he was a sideman for dizzy gillespie. according to the sleeve tommy flanagan the pianist on the session was credited as writer of freight trane but he wasn’t and burrell himself has stated that he didn’t know who wrote it.

aisha was written by pianist mccoy tyner and named for his wife. the recording session for this album was the last session coltrane did for atlantic and in fact 2 days before he’d done his first recording for his new label, impulse and that date was a grander affair with a 20 man ensemble which came out on the africa/brass album.

this next track was not initially released on the album in fact it was recorded a couple of months before the main recording sessions for this record. but it features the classic coltrane quartet with elvin jones on drums mccoy tyner on piano and jimmy garrison on bass here playing coltrane’s homage to another saxophonist big nick nicholas.

just as the fifth track is named by mccoy tyner for his wife this seventh is named by coltrane himself for his wife. both women were from philadelphia and naima was a friend of aisha’s sister khadijah. it is one of his greatest compositions and the only one from the fifties that he was still playing live towards the end of his career.

another track with philadelphia connections in that it was written by guitarist fred lacey in memory of saxophonist ernie henry who died from a heroin overdose in 1957. In trying to glean information about this track i stumbled on an interesting article by bass player steve wallace who seems to have done a good bit of research on the subject.

on sunday september 15th 1963 a large explosion at the 17th street baptist church in birmingham alabama killed four young girls who were preparing for a church service and injured many more. ku klux klan members were eventually found guilty of planting the dynamite. they escaped justice for a long time thanks to an insidious web of corruption and racism that reached right to the top of the fbi. two months later coltrane went into the studio and recorded his dedication to the victims which was one of two studio tracks included with the three live tracks on the live at birdland album released by impulse the following spring.

granite 17

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go seek it on the mountain

Last year it was the Lake District the year before the French Alps. This year’s mountain shots are from Greece. First of all the view from my room at a guest house in Makrinitsa. We are looking down on Volos and the Pagasetic Gulf. Mount Pelion on whose lower slopes I frolicked for a few days is mythically the holiday resort of the gods from Mount Olympus and it was the home of the centaurs. When I left I walked down to the city station through the hamlet that’s on the left of the photo via a little-used path.

This next shot is a shift to the left and is taken fairly early in the morning from the balcony below the room I was in. On the left in this shot is the neighbouring village of Portaria and I became very familiar with the 3 or 4 kilometre walk between the 2 villages. This view makes me think of a line in a song I wrote last year which is set in Greece.

the sea stretches blue
and mingles with the sky


Later on I tested my mettle in the region of the mighty Mount Olympus home of the gods itself and walked from Litochoro to the ruined Agios Dionysios Monastery and back which probably wasn’t a good idea in the July heat. You’ve already guessed that I survived but when I got back to Litochoro my hands were so swollen you could barely see my knuckles and my feet and ankles were in a similar state. This is a view up to the top of the mountain taken not that far from the town.

Finally somewhere along the way there are gorges within gorges and they’re all gorgeous.

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fifty three years ago

a couple of posts ago in this series which covered 1962-63 i did an analysis of the uk singles charts for those years. this time for my text covering this post i thought i would do a little analysis of the uk album charts of 1965. top of the charts in this period was dominated by the beatles the rolling stones and the sound of music. the beatles with 3 albums beatles for sale, help! and rubber soul, the stones with their 1st 3 albums.

but to me the main story is that of bob dylan. i think there was only 1 week when he got to number one in the album charts that year but all 6 of the albums that reach to the end of 1965 were at some point in the top 20 and frequently 3 or 4 of them at a time. the key thing i think was the release of bringing it all back home in march which was a revolutionary album that changed the world of pop music – the concept of having a serious lyric with a rock and roll format song with a beat to it.

as for the sound of music it’s another film i’ve never watched but the soundtrack album is the only one of all the albums i’ve referred to in this post that i actually own a vinyl copy of other than highway 61 revisited.

here’s the 1965 edition of rock and roll years –

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does it matter?

next week i’m going into the studio to start recording a new album that will consist of a number of songs nearly all of which i’ve written in the last four years which was when i last laid an album (yes it’s an egg-like process for me). the one exception was a song i wrote back in mmix i think which is called hermetic and a demo of that can be found elsewhere on this website in a post that is called something to do with dunwich.

creativity often outruns itself so i’m leaping ahead to the album after that and then i’m bouncing back with the idea of trying to cover a rather large backlog of songs stretching right back to the seventies so i’m spending a little time thinking about them and thought maybe i’d do some demos to see which dozen or so i could pick out.

the first one i’ve done is a song from about seventy-five or seventy-six that is called anyway. i used to write a lot of songs about writing songs and this is one of the better examples of that i think. my reasoning was that i should write songs about what i was doing right then and right then i was writing a song. if you listen to the words then you might think ultimately that i’m saying writing songs is a pointless exercise. so if there is a point then it is that even though it’s pointless i’ve done it anyway so maybe it’s not pointless after all. or something like that.

birds have been a theme for me for a long time although actually there’s only 4 songs that have a bird reference on the current album. it’s possible that this bird thing started with anyway’s flock of bullfinches. probably not but it’s a nice thought.

anyway

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Jazz Quotations 7

[He] uses the first and second left-hand fingers most of the time in single-note work; in chord work he can make use of the third and fourth fingers to a limited extent on the first two strings. He plays his famous octave passages on any two strings, with a “damped” string in between, i.e., on first and third; second and fourth; third and fifth; etc., avoiding that frenzied rushing up and down the fingerboard which would otherwise be necessary. His famous chromatic runs, if played in the first position, are fingered; if played up the fingerboard, they are glissed with one finger. He plays unusual chord shapes because of his handicap…Reinhardt‘s right hand is phenomenal. He does not rest any part of it on the guitar; it pivots from the elbow a little but principally swings from the wrist. He employs down strokes most of the time except for extremely rapid passages and notes played tremolo.

Billy Neill & E Gates

Everybody in this country is very neurotic now. They’re afraid to experience an intense emotion, the kind of intense emotion, for instance, that’s brought on by good jazz. There’s more vitality in jazz than in any other art form today. Vitality arises from an emotion that is free. But the people, being neurotic, are afraid of being affected by a free emotion and that’s why they put down jazz.

Since the last war we’ve been overwhelmed by a feeling of insecurity. To try to offset that insecurity, people are reaching back toward happier times. And we’re in an era of nostalgia which is being inflicted on the younger people who have nothing to be nostalgic about.

Nostalgia brings on anticipation because you know what’s going to happen next. When people start to anticipate, they become intense, waiting for what they know is going to happen. And this tension feeds their neuroses.
That’s why there’s such a small audience for what I’m doing. What I play is so unorthodox that when you first hear it, you don’t try to anticipate. You just sit there. You have to be very relaxed to start with before you put on one of my records. Consequently, people don’t want to hear my sides as often as, say, Garner‘s, because as a rule they won’t be in a mood that’s receptive to what I play.

Lennie Tristano

To begin with we are the music we play. And our commitment is to peace, to understanding of life. And we keep trying to purify our music, to purify ourselves so that we can move ourselves and those who hear us to higher levels of peace and understanding. You have to purify and crystallize your sound in order to hypnotize. I’m convinced, you see, that through music, life can be given more meaning. And every kind of music has an influence either direct or indirect on the world around it so that after a while the sounds of different types of music go around and bring about psychological changes. And we’re trying to bring about peace. In his way, for example, that’s what Coltrane, too, is trying to do.

To accomplish this, I must have spiritual men playing with me. Since we are the music we play, our way of life has to be clean or else the music can’t be kept pure.

Albert Ayler

I follow the improvisation the soloist has taken and when he’s through I pick up the last phrase he’s played and use this as the beginning to my improvisation on the melodic pattern of the composition. It can be very simple or very complicated and you can get unlimited rhythmic and polyrhythmic patterns and phrases. Actually a lot of solos I have taken have drum and rhythmic phrases just as a saxophonist or trumpeter will play phrases with his instrument – drums have to breathe too.

Elvin Jones

I played with Fletcher Henderson for a short time when Coleman Hawkins left. I had a lot of trouble there. The whole band was buzzing on me because I had taken Hawk’s place. I didn’t have the same kind of sound he had. I was rooming at the Henderson’s house, and Leora Henderson would wake me early in the morning and play Hawkins’ records for me so I could play like he did. I wanted to play my own way but I just listened. I didn’t want to hurt her feelings. Finally I left and went to Kansas City. I had in my mind what I wanted to play, and I was going to play that way. That’s the only time that ever happened – someone telling me to play differently from the way I wanted to.

Herschel Evans was a Hawk man. That was the difference between the way we played. He played well, but his man was Hawk like my man at the beginning was Trumbauer. As for Coleman Hawkins, I used to ride in Hawk’s car. He plays fine. He was the first to really start playing tenor. I thought Chu Berry played nice, too. He was on a Coleman Hawkins style. I think he got the job with Henderson after I left. Ben Webster had a taste of it, too. I think Ben plays fine too.

Lester Young

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granite mix sixteenth

And yet another mix of music from my collection which grows and grows. I selected a few tunes using Spotify the other night when I was round at a friend’s house which I’d never done before. Easy enough to find an artist then for simplicity’s sake I pressed shuffle play. It seemed to me that was a crap way of creating a mix. Without any knowledge the results soon debase to tedium. That’s why I have no interest in investing in a streaming service. As far as I’m concerned you’re far better in knowing and understanding your own collection. That’s not a rant just an observation.

Granite Mix 16
Artist Title Album
Echoes of Zion A Charge To Keep I Have Get On Board Little Children
Ravi Shankar Fire Night Improvisations
Bob Dylan Clothes Line Saga The Basement Tapes
Gato Barbieri El Dia Que Me Quieras Fénix
Back Door Askin’ The Way Back Door
Aretha Franklin Respect I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You
John Surman Three Aspects A Biography of the Rev. Absalom Dawe
Michael Mantler When I Run Silence
Yochanan Hot Skillet Mama Sun Ra – The Singles
Geoffrey Toye The Haunted Ballroom Miniatures (British Light Music)
Kevin Ayers Eleanor’s Cake Which Ate Her Joy of a Toy
The Velvet Underground Guess I’m Falling In Love Live at the Gymnasium 1967
Stan Getz O Morro Nao Tem Vez Jazz Samba Encore!

Echoes of Zion a gospel quartet have been going since 1930. No upcoming events but they did a gig in October at Zion Grove Baptist Church in Atlanta.

I once sat a couple of rows behind Ravi Shankar at one of his daughter’s gigs. My first exposure to his music was probably his soundtrack to Jonathan Miller’s TV version of Alice in Wonderland in 1966 which was probably responsible for fostering a love of Indian classical music in me.

I’m not familiar with Bobbie Gentry’s 1967 hit song Ode To Billie Joe but after all you can enjoy Dylan & The Band’s song just for its own quirky calm inanities.

Gato Barbieri here in his usual passionate style swoops down with a version of Carlos Gardel’s eponymous song from his 1935 film.

In the summer of 1972 friends and I would range out to the North Yorkshire Moors to a lonely pub called the Lion on Blakey Ridge to see a band play in a packed bar. It was a classic case of being in the right place at the right time and listening to tracks like Askin’ The Way which they used play then brings it all back to me.

I love a lot of female singers but Aretha is the greatest.

The first John Surman album I bought was Westering Home which came out on a low-priced Island LP series, not brilliant quality vinyl but it still plays ok now I think – there was a distinctive black inside sleeve. He was already using overdubbing techniques then which were further developed during the S.O.S. (Skidmore, Osborne, Surman) days. This country it seems to me has never properly recognised one of its greatest musicians.

I’m very fond of the 3 words and music albums that Michael Mantler did. I think he did at least another one but I don’t have it and maybe it doesn’t exist, but the 3 I’m thinking of are No Answer, The Hapless Child and Silence from which this track comes. The last one is my favourite.

In the sleeve notes to the double CD of Sun Ra – The Singles there is the following description of Yochanan by blues researcher Dave Whiteis

He had an elastic face with big bulging eyes. He would contort his face into odd expressions and roll his eyes. He was very comical, very creative. Yochanan wore loud colored clothes – bright reds and yellows, or sun colors. He wore a turban and wore sandals all year round even when it was snowing. He never wore an overcoat no matter what the temperature. Never needed it he said because he was ‘the man from the sun’.

Geoffrey Toye’s ballet music is the oldest piece in the mix dating back to the thirties when it was produced with contributions from the legendary figures of Ninette de Valois and Robert Helpmann. It also goes the furthest back for me because this was a piece of music I heard frequently in my childhood, so when I rediscovered it when I bought a secondhand album called English Music some twenty or thirty years later it evoked an involuntary memory.

I first heard this song by Kevin Ayers on the Harvest Records sampler double album – Picnic – A Breath of Fresh Air. In my opinion it’s the best song on that album along with Syd Barrett’s Terrapin, but I would think that wouldn’t I.

I only heard for the first time the live recording of The Velvet Underground from 1967 last year, but all the tracks are great and it should be much better known. I particularly like the instrumental version of The Gift but didn’t choose that for this mix because… well probably because I often choose tracks by just randomly keying in some letters as a search string.

But I think I decided specifically to end the set with Stan Getz for some reason. Maybe not the nicest of guys by most accounts but he was a great musician and a great interpreter of the work of Jobim/Moraes.

granite 16

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North Will Rise Again

recently my sister wrote me and told me she was looking at a book of memories that my mother had written a few years before she died. she asked me if i had the photos that i’d done when i sent out the memories thing and i couldn’t find them anywhere so i scanned all the photos i had related to my mother’s 1st thirty years 42 of them in total. having done that i thought i’d add a post to my ancestry category which i created once and then never used again. until now. the first one i’ve chosen for this post is one of the oldest. my mother’s mother’s mother martha wood née peters. martha’s portrait speaks for itself i’ve nothing trite to add.

anyway her daughter married the man who is in the top right of this 2nd photograph. unfortunately i never met him as he died before i was born. this picture was taken in 1890 and possibly has some connection with the boer war. by all accounts my grandfather was a very genial man. he spent most evenings in the pub much to the chagrin of my mother as she was growing up and that contributed to her signing the pledge before she was a teenager. sometimes i think about all the money i would have now if i’d done the same. maybe i’d have spent it on something else equally wasteful. and also maybe it wasn’t a waste maybe it kept me sane. one other thought i have about this picture is one about being able to recognise family similarities in a group like this. the 1st time you see a photo like this you can be asked which one do you think is your grandfather. i can’t remember if that happened to me with this photo but i’ve got a feeling that it did. usually you’re going to get this right. i often think about seeing people here and there and thinking maybe they could be family. the further you go back the more you have in common.

and here’s another daughter of the 1st lady. martha wood née peters had twins one of which was my grandmother and then there was her sister emily pictured here with her daughter olive my mother’s cousin and my second cousin. in the dim and distant past i have met both emily and olive. the 1st 2 photos are 19th century photos but this is obviously if you think about it a 20th century photo and it supposedly dates to 1927. it is the 3rd oldest of the 42 by 3 years.

and finally here is the 4th oldest and is the earliest photo i have of my mother though i’m sure there must be some somewhere of her younger than that. this is from 1930 when she was 9 or 10 (depending on the month). this is the failsworth lavender-lady float and she’s the girl in the middle.

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triumph of the west v

the whole triumph of the west series as reproduced on this website has gone wonky in that i seem to have lost a dvd which may have had episode 4 on it i’m sure it’s around somewhere but just in a paper sleeve so could be very discreetly hidden so instead i’ve jumped ahead to episode 5 but that unfortunately has the first eight nine ten or so minutes missing apologies for that but basically you miss the prolegomenon and just get the dénouement otherwise known as the guts or the inner substance

this episode investigates the limits of the borders of the continent that is currently known as europe which conveniently end in the west at the atlantic ocean in the south at the mediterannean (at least until we reach asia minor) but the eastern borders dissolve away into asia at which point we may well ask for many it matters little still let’s leave them out of the equation for now

it seems to me that if the human species should manage to last a few centuries more then hopefully this will become totally unimportant even though it may be sad to lose some of that individuality

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palabras sin fronteras

Sometime back in the 1990s I was browsing in the second-hand bookshop Bookmark in Falmouth. I came across a book that interested me and for a couple of quid I bought it. Here’s a scan of the cover.


Genesis is the first book of a trilogy Memories of Fire by Eduardo Galeano which tells the history of Latin America in a series of short pieces in a way which defies categorisation. As the author puts it in his preface,

I don’t know to what literary form this voice of voices belongs. Memory of Fire is not an anthology, clearly not; but I don’t know if it is a novel or essay or epic poem or testament or chronicle or… Deciding robs me of no sleep. I do not believe in the frontiers that, according to literature’s customs officers, separate the forms.

I looked out for the other volumes in various second-hand bookshops but with no success. So I bought the 2nd volume, Faces & Masks on the web. By the look of it I’d say it was a new copy. Again here’s the cover.


The 1st volume had been published by Methuen (UK Version) and my copy dated to a 1987 publishing date. This 2nd volume bought new was published by WW Norton and company and came out in 1998, by agreement with Pantheon Books. Finally came my purchase of the 3rd volume Century of the Wind again bought on the web but this time a 2nd hand copy from Pantheon’s 1988 publication. Here’s the cover of that.

So Galeano became my favourite living writer. I haven’t got all of his books but there again I’m not dead yet. Unfortunately death did come for Galeano in 2015 but his last book Hunter of Stories has just been published in the UK and I have my copy though I haven’t started reading it yet. I expect to finish it before the end of the year. It won’t take long once I get started. Reads itself really. Nation Books has published this one and happily they seem to have taken on most of Galeano’s oeuvre. Finally here is a comment from Naomi Klein on the new book, taken from Nation’s website.

This is Galeano’s parting gift, arriving to us, like a message from another dimension, from beyond the grave. It is more generous, wise, and wonderful than I dared hope.

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