It’s over a year now since I started work on recording the fifth Neureille album but I still need a few more sessions before it’s finished. I’m happy with the way it’s going and contributions from Paul Wigens, Everton Hartley, Mike Dennis, Pete Judge and Jim Barr have been superb. The next session is going to involve Ant Noel if we can get it together and that then shouldn’t leave too much to do.
In the meantime here’s a couple of improvisations I recorded on Sunday – just me and the loop pedal. The 1st is about 3 and a half minutes, the 2nd 8 minutes something. I thought about adding some words but instead here are the words I was thinking of using – you can always try a voice over of your own. It seems I wrote these at 1am on 2 October 2015. My diary tells me that earlier in the evening I’d been at Jocasta’s open mic night at the Clifton Wine Bar. The text file history tells me that I then modified the words on 3 April 2016 at 11.30pm. My guess is that I then added the last 11 lines and gave the thing a title which is <em>West to East and East to West</em>
the melting preferential stripped of alternate meaning the diaspora of the circumference of the passing shroud swill bits that squirm through deltoid species the fascinating fandango of the fantastic phalanx add extra sum-ups slowly and from below the twining undergrowth of holistic chasubles dredged as if from saffron drain combustible syringes cotton-bud simplicity mixed with altruistic tendencies for symbiotic adherences turtle-clad appendages bristling with slimy tendencies for chlorine aroma aroma like sedge harvested from cocoon mocking hysteria a thimble-full and then plenty squidged through the blatant synergy of druid-built floating platforms until suppressed and supplanted by visual images of cacophanies long forgotten in boats squeaky on a high-built sea like throats weakly on a fibre tree I admit to a remote tendency for torrid themes of treachery and in-built divisions of geometry that fly up into the terrasphere and cast a shadow right to here where symbols drift and conflicts clash who cares to lift whose conduct rash and so I pause and seldom rest west to east and east to west
following on from my series of mixes dedicated to individuals here is one for thelonious monk and as usual i will write a bit about each track.
when he got a contract with riverside records in 1955 they thought it wise to start his album account with covers from the duke ellington songbook. this might have seemed insulting to someone who already had written a good number of classic bop tunes but monk liked the idea, saying later in an interview
i wanted to do it. i felt like playing that’s all. i knew that duke started playing some of his numbers more than he had as i recall
before the riverside contract he had been with prestige records and the second tune dates back to october 1951. toot was thelonious’ son’s nickname. art blakey was the drummer and gary mapp the bassist.
at the prestige session in november 1953 they were about ten minutes short of the material needed for an lp. it was friday 13 november and so that was used as the title of the composition that monk made up on the spot. listening to the track it’s fairly obvious to me why most critics dismissed the music back then. the music was way before it’s time and a lot of people thought they were playing like that because they couldn’t play properly.
brilliant corners brings us back to the riverside years to be precise 1956 and it was really the breakthrough album that started to bring a modicum of success and critical acclaim. the celeste that monk uses on the track happened to be in the studio and he set it at right angles to the piano keyboard so that he could use it on the heads and on his solo. of course the track is named after his famous rich patron pannonica de koenigswarter. the following is monk’s introduction to the track caught on a home recording some time.
it was named after this beautiful lady here. i think her father gave her that name because of a butterfly that he tried to catch. i don’t think he caught the butterfly.
in november 1957 there was a concert at new york’s carnegie hall which was a benefit for the morningside community center. as well as the thelonious monk quartet there was ray charles topping the bill, and also the bands of billie holiday, dizzy gillespie , zoot sims and sonny rollins. the concert was broadcast on the radio as a voice of america production. the recordings of the monk quartet were discovered in 2005 in the library of congress vaults.
ruby my dear started life as manhattan moods which was intially registered for copyright in 1945. sometime in the next year the name got changed. rubie richardson was an early girlfriend of thelonious’ but things didn’t work out. her parents never approved.
and so he eventually married nellie smith who he’d known since she was ten and he was sixteen. this tune dedicated to her was originally to be called twilight with nellie and it was nica who suggested using the french word instead. criss-cross now takes us to the columbia records years. the track was recorded on 29 march 1963 and the other musicians were charlie rouse on tenor saxophone, john ore on bass and frankie dunlop on drums.
underground is in my opinion the last great album he produced and the title refers to the nickname of his daughter this time
finally from halloween 1964 (or the evening after) the quartet with a new rhythm section larry gales bass and ben riley drums playing live at the it club. throughout his career monk was famed for his eccentricity but it seemed that around this time things were reaching a peak. here’s an excerpt from robin kelly’s thelonious monk biography which provides an example.
hampton hawes, who had not seen monk since he and nellie helped him out in new york, came by the it club one night to check him out. when hawes approached thelonious at the bar during a break, “he didn’t seem to recognise me. looked over my shoulder, elbow on the bar, staring into space the way he sometimes does…i said ‘monk it’s me, hampton’. he kept staring past my shoulder as if he hadn’t heard then turned his back and went into a little shuffling dance; danced a couple of quick circles around me, danced right up to me and said, ‘your sunglasses is at my new york pad.’ and danced away”
plays the music of duke ellington
little rootie tootie
thelonious monk trio
friday the 13th
thelonious monk and sonny rollins
thelonious monk and john coltrane at carnegie hall
In 1967 Penguin books brought out a series of poetry anthologies aimed at a teenage audience. They were called Voices 1, Voices 2 and Voices 3. My mother spotted them I think and got me the series for which I’m thankful. This was about 1969 when I was fourteen or fifteen. These books were a great way to learn to appreciate poetry and also the way the artwork was interspersed with the words it was a great way to learn about art too because without experience these things can seem to be a bit daunting. Second hand copies of the books are easily available at very reasonable prices. If you’re interested I would suggest that your search string contains the name Geoffrey Summerfield who was the bloke who put together the series.
When I don’t change anymore then there’s no point in playing anymore – of actually trying to do anything different or trying to play modern. After you reach a certain point when you no longer improve then you just stay the same.
What I think Cecil and I did mainly–we both were familiar with each other’s work, and as Stanley Cowell so aptly put it, we co-existed. We didn’t rehearse as such–what we did was we sat down and dealt with each other as two human beings and when we found out that we could live with our own attitudes and thoughts about life and things in music and liberty and all the other things that people talk about, we knew that we could deal with each other on stage. And it was pure improvisation, we just dealt from that point of view and we knew from experience that something would happen if we went our own ways but were sensitive to each other at the same time. And I think we co-existed.
You’ve got to study each man in the band, because each has a different disposition. Actually, you’ve got to use a lot of psychology because they all have different temperaments and habits. You have to holler at some guys–others you have to joke with. Another you may have to take across the street to the bar to get your point across. You must impress them that to be a musician you’ve got to do the things that are required of a musician–look the part, play your horn; also time-making.
Some guys didn’t aspire to be soloists; others wanted to. Trummy Young was one of the latter. He was always venturing out, always wanting to play his horn. Everywhere he went he carried his horn with him. The same with Bennie Green. These men later turned out to be outstanding. Like Walter Fuller, he was another, and there are several others I can name–Omer Simeon, Darnell Howard, and, of course, Budd Johnson and Jimmy Mundy, though it finally turned out he didn’t want to be a soloist–he wanted to arrange–but he played a good horn. In the trumpet section, Dizzy stood out so much.
Carrying along that same thought, I think musicians do have a tendency to sort of copy and get on the bandwagon instead of accepting one thing for what it is and realizing that it’s another area of progress. They immediately want to emulate. Music is a very personal thing. It’s strictly an individual thing. This one tenor player comes to mind who played like another player. He just tried to play every note exactly the same. He might have been sincere in his love for the musician but it didn’t turn out that way. Eventually, he just went right down and like you never heard of him again. He was a very competent musician but it’s just like my uncle always said, “There’s only one thing that keeps us all from being rich and if we knew what that was, everybody would have a million,” and that’s probably the thing the tenor player didn’t realize — copying was just another form of saying the other man was great. You just extend more adulation and acclaim or whatever to the other guy.
Look, man, all I am is a trumpet player. I only can do one thing — play my horn — and that’s what’s at the bottom of the whole mess. I ain’t no entertainer, and ain’t trying to be one. I am one thing, a musician. Most of what’s said about me is lies in the first place. Everything I do, I got a reason.
The reason I don’t announce numbers is because it’s not until the last instant I decide what’s maybe the best thing to play next. Besides, if people don’t recognize a number when we play it, what difference does it make?
Why I sometimes walk off the stand is because when it’s somebody else’s turn to solo, I ain’t going to just stand up there and be detracting from him. What am I going to stand up there for? I ain’t no model, and I don’t sing or dance, and I damn sure ain’t no Uncle Tom just to be up there grinning. Sometimes I go over by the piano or the drums and listen to what they’re doing. But if I don’t want to do that, I go in the wings and listen to the whole band until it’s the next turn for my horn.
Then they claim I ignore the audience while I’m playing. Man, when I’m working, I know the people are out there. But when I’m playing, I’m worrying about making my horn sound right.
And they bitch that I won’t talk to people when we go off after a set. That’s a damn lie. I talk plenty of times if everything’s going like it ought to and I feel right. But if I got my mind on something about my band or something else, well, hell, no, I don’t want to talk. When I’m working I’m concentrating. I bet you if I was a doctor sewing on some son of a bitch’s heart, they wouldn’t want me to talk.
well i’ve had a few computer issues that have complicated my ability to produce film and music so i thought i’d think of something easy that didn’t require too much technology and that turned out to be a review of all the banners i’ve used on this website since i started using wordpress. apologies by the way for the fact that this is so recondite a place not seeking to engage in the vast whirl of social media but that’s how i like it.
when i first set it up i used an image from the wordpress library and then i took the detail of a photo i’d taken of a flower i think of a banana tree. it was just a holder really. and i’m not going to show it here – i’ve lost the original shot it’s taken from. maybe.
then i thought i should be able to draw my own banners even though my draughtsmanship and drawing is poor. so here are the 4 i did. i think i like the 1st one best. the 1st 3 were created on january 1st 2012 at about midday. must have been a resolution or something. i then must have used them for the 1st half of the year and then on july 13th i did the 4th one.
anyway obviously i’d had enough of doing drawings and in october 2012 i struck out in a new way by taking a detail from a scan that i’d done sometime which was held in a folder called scans from books. this details comes from a scanned image from a book, peasant paintings from huhsien county and it’s called new mountain scene. here’s the banner and also the scanned image i took it from.
this was an approach i liked and i’ve pretty much continued in that vein. the next banner i did was from another image from the same folder and this was of some cakes and biscuits from an old book of woman’s own cook book i still carry round because it helps me regress to the fifties if i ever feel that need. again here are both the images.
the next step was to start using images that i’d downloaded from the internet which is something i do rarely now but used to do fairly regularly once upon a time. i downloaded some sidney sime illustrations on august 10th 2009 including the one below and on january 4th 2013 i cropped out my 7th banner, a rather gruesome one which illustrates the story of the hoard of the gibbelins.
the paul nash photograph i used for the 8th banner is not a very high resolution and so it’s not great quality but it’s a redolent image for me. i downloaded it on february 8th 2010 and created the banner on january 16th 2013 just 14 days after the last banner was created. i’m not sure if i was changing them that frequently – that would seem a bit obsessive but i certainly blogged more then, you know 2 or 3 posts a month. it’s hard to keep up that commitment. i’m not sure why i still do now. oh well.
number 9 is a weird one. i went back to the scans from books and took a detail from an advert i’d scanned from an old book or something. it was a pretty crap banner but i kept it up there for a month.
i’m not going to go on with this for ever and this is the last banner i’m doing for now anyway. this could be a series that i continue or it could just disappear like some others have in the past. back in september 2012 i was reading a book called catlin’s indians by george catlin including this one of the pipestone quarries in minnesota and at some point downloaded some images from the web including this one.
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.
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
Body And Soul
John Coltrane & Milt Jackson
The Night We Called It A Day
Bags And Trane
While My Lady Sleeps
Kenny Burrell & John Coltrane
The Kenny Burrell Quintet with John Coltrane
Theme For Ernie
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.
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.