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.
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.
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.
[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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Echoes of Zion
A Charge To Keep I Have
Get On Board Little Children
Clothes Line Saga
The Basement Tapes
El Dia Que Me Quieras
Askin’ The Way
I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You
A Biography of the Rev. Absalom Dawe
When I Run
Hot Skillet Mama
Sun Ra – The Singles
The Haunted Ballroom
Miniatures (British Light Music)
Eleanor’s Cake Which Ate Her
Joy of a Toy
The Velvet Underground
Guess I’m Falling In Love
Live at the Gymnasium 1967
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
I’m reading a biography of Kurt Weill by Ronald Taylor and when I reached the subject of hyper-inflation of the German currency during the early 1920s it gave me the idea to resurrect my stamps series. Desiring to keep it simple I won’t go into the possiblities of how the severe reparations of the Treaty of Versailles led to the rise of Nazism and any parallels between then and the world today. Here’s an excerpt from the book –
The urban middle classes, traditional exemplars of thrift and custodians of family welfare, who regarded themselves as the most loyal and stable elements in society, had their savings wiped out. They were powerless victims of forces over which they had no control, and they knew it. Mark values were becoming increasingly meaningless, and only goods, property or foreign currency provided a basis for setting real prices and values. With inflation at its height, a day’s work would earn a factory worker a pound of margarine, six weeks’ wages would buy him a pair of boots, and twenty weeks’ wages, a suit.
Let’s start with the simple 15 pfennig stamp. A reasonable amount to pay for a letter or postcard one would imagine back in 1920. There were 100 pfennigs in a mark.
Now a series which depicts the early days of inflation.
Obviously it got to a stage when as soon as a stamp was printed it was redundant. So new amounts were printed on top of the out-dated ones.
And finally we work up to the half a billion stamp that is the latest one I have.
for the xvth granite mix i decided to feature the artist who i have most recordings of, miles davis – it’s a long mix – nearly an hour and a half. instinct led me from one track to another. here’s the mix and after it the details and then some comments on the tracks.
Granite Mix 15
Charles Mingus/Miles Davis
Nem Um Talvez
The Complete Jack Johnson Sessions
The Bootleg Series Vol. 2 Live In Europe 1969
The Complete Miles Davis at Montreux 1973-1991
It Never Entered My Mind
Miles Davis & The Modern Jazz Giants
The Complete Jack Johnson Sessions
The Time Of The Barracudas
first of all one of my favourite tracks from one of my favourite albums. esp was the first album of what is known as the 2nd great miles davis quintet which was somehow a perfect band when this was recorded tony williams was 19 herbie hancock was 24 and wayne shorter was already doing some of the best writing that was going on in the mid sixties. ron carter was writer or co-writer of 3 tracks on the album including this one and they’re all good. after that he didn’t contribute any compositions to the following 5 albums he was involved with possibly due to the fact that he was an incredibly busy musician during the period he was with the quintet playing on over 50 recording sessions for albums with other artists.
back to 1955 for a track from a session that had problems according to miles in his autobiography
something went wrong at this session and nothing ever really clicked, so the playing didn’t have any fire. I don’t know what it was – maybe the arrangements – but something definitely went wrong…
but I’ve always enjoyed this track, written by proto-hippy eden ahbez, first recorded by nat ‘king’ cole, frank sinatra recorded a version in 1948 and it’s worth recording miles’ frequent assertion that his phrasing was heavily influenced by sinatra, although also worth bearing in mind that he gave a lot of credit also in this respect to charlie christian. as in another quote from the afore-mentioned book
charlie christian influenced my approach to the trumpet and also influenced the phrasing of frank sinatra and nat ‘king’ cole
next is one of 5 versions of this tune by hermeto pascoal that have been released, 2 from a session on may 27 1970 and 3 from a session shortly after on june 3 (although one of them ended up with a different title – selim). given that there were apparently at least 19 takes on the 1st session there could be a few other versions hanging round in the vaults. ian carr doesn’t even bother to mention the 2 that were released when he wrote his critical biography of miles and in paul tingen’s miles beyond he describes them as ‘ear-grating’. much as i like the latter book i find this opinion like a lot of tingen’s other critical opinions are not worth heeding.
the 1st of 3 live recordings in the mix is a version of a wayne shorter composition – probably his most famous. in the sleeve notes (written by josef woodard) to the set that contains the track there is the following quotation from an interview 20 years later with miles
you could tell what part of the note, what part of the sound you could play off of. wayne had some different, each run had. we used to play footprints and the way we were playing it, nobody else could play it like that except for me and wayne.
it’s july again only 16 years later. this is a john mclaughlin composition that was briefly in the setlist. there was an afternoon set and an evening set on the 14th – both long sets, over 2 hours. this track is from the evening set. a week later the band similarly played 2 sets in london at the royal festival hall – i’m pretty sure i was at the 2nd set. ian carr was also there with a backstage pass and he relates seeing miles at the end of the last set
as soon as he got down the two short flights of steps and out of the audience’s sight, two large men were waiting for him, and each grabbed an arm and supported him as he suddenly sagged and almost caved in
given that wayne shorter has already featured on 2 of the above tracks you would expect me to include at least one track featuring john coltrane but sadly this has not happened i didn’t plan it that way. this is the only track in the mix which was at the period of the 1st great quintet. but on this track chosen late at night reflectively the saxophone laid out.
this comes from another controversial recording session. some reports reckoned that there was a fight between miles and monk.
…i just told him to lay out when i was playing, because i wasn’t comfortable with the way he voiced his changes…i wanted to hear space in the music…so I just told him () to come into the music a little after i played. and that’s what he did. there wasn’t any argument…monk was a gentle person, gentle and beautiful, but he was strong as an ox. and if i had ever said something about punching monk out in front of his face – and i never did – then somebody should have just come and got me and taken me to the madhouse, because monk could have just picked my little ass up and thrown me through a wall.
i love all of these tracks that I’ve put on this mix. obviously. but this is another of the great sessions. i wish monk and miles had recorded more together. listening to this session was the 1st time i heard both of them and at the time monk knocked me out more than miles. his solos seemed to come from another mysterious dimension.
and johnny bratton is the 3rd appearance of john mclaughlin in the mix if you include his composition pacific express. recorded on february 27th 1970 this is the sort of thing that some people fail to understand. here’s a good clip that deals with this subject.
from an album reviled by the man himself but which nevertheless has some great moments. this tune was also recorded on the gil evans album the individualism of gil evans and miles got a co-credit for the arrangement. in the end that is a better track but he doesn’t actually play on it and despite the history taken in isolation this is a great track and there’s something actually quite unique about it. if they’d had time and money to complete the album properly this would be a masterpiece and maybe it is anyway.
finally another album written off by various critics or in my words vastly under-rated. when i first heard it back in the early seventies i immediately thought it was brilliant. to me it was great that the instruments were all levelled out in the mix and i assumed that this was deliberately done and i still do. producer teo macero wasn’t an idiot and they wouldn’t have put the record out if they hadn’t got decent quality recordings. it needs to be listened to loud ideally through headphones. with open ears and an open mind. carlos garnett on saxophone and cedric lawson on keyboards for example maybe didn’t go on to have brilliant careers but i don’t think they let the side down at this gig.