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 prolegomenonj 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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Inflation Stamps

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.

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miles of granite

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 15

Granite Mix 15
Artist Title Album
Miles Davis Mood ESP
Charles Mingus/Miles Davis Nature Boy Blue Moods
Miles Davis Nem Um Talvez The Complete Jack Johnson Sessions
Miles Davis Footprints The Bootleg Series Vol. 2 Live In Europe 1969
Miles Davis Pacific Express The Complete Miles Davis at Montreux 1973-1991
Miles Davis It Never Entered My Mind Workin’
Miles Davis Swing Spring Miles Davis & The Modern Jazz Giants
Miles Davis Johnny Bratton The Complete Jack Johnson Sessions
Miles Davis The Time Of The Barracudas Quiet Nights
Miles Davis Right Off In Concert

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.

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Salt Cafe Gig


I haven’t got a quick and catchy phrase to describe my music or that of Mike and Rob (Nichols) come to that. I did once think of describing mine as elucinogenic mouse singing but I’m yet to stick that on a poster or any other type of blurb. Overall I’m happy to have the problem that my music is hard to describe nevertheless it can be a pain.

In his Facebook Event Page, Mike has given the gig the name – Mike Flew Over The Rob’s Nest and ideally I would have spent hours on photoshop trying to make an illustrative poster instead it took me about 15-20 minutes to make the one above using what seems to be a photo taken by accident on my phone. I suppose the nest could have been a mouse nest.

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The Missing Years No 1

So far I have kept a steady consistent stream in my posting of the Rock & Roll Years series. But as I have earlier alluded there are gaps in my collection and sadly a significant gap in that 1962 and 1963 are both missing. I have always thought that these would have been 2 of the most interesting years in that it was during these 2 years that something started to happen with the chart pop music. If you look at the promoters who took charge of the early British bands then in some ways nothing much was different but there was a sudden surge of cultural creativity that – for a while at least – changed the nature of the entertainment business.

Actually most of 1962 was pretty much like the late fifties and the first couple of years of the new decade. It wasn’t until the twenty-second of November of that year that The Beatles got to number twenty-three in the UK charts with Love Me Do. Nothing of that nature had ever got into the popular music charts before – obviously it was based on the music that had been coming from the USA – Chuck Berry, Everly Brothers above all Buddy Holly, but it took elements from all of those and more and did them in a different way. This didn’t completely come from nowhere – it had been building up for a while but Epstein made sure that his band was the first to break through. Love Me Do stayed in the charts for several weeks but never got higher than seventeenth. But two months later they released Please Please Me which got to number three in the charts by the sixth of February, number two a couple of weeks after that. Then on the twenty-first of March, Gerry and the Pacemakers jumped into the chart at number twenty with How Do You Do It?. After three weeks that song got to number one which so far The Beatles had failed to do. But the week after that – April the eighteenth 1963 – The Beatles brought out their third charting single, From Me To You which jumped into the charts at number twenty-three and in two weeks knocked Gerry and the Pacemakers off the number one slot and stayed there for the next six weeks until Gerry and the Pacemakers took it back with their next hit I Like It.

Other British groups to make it into the charts in 1963 were Freddie and the Dreamers, The Hollies, Brian Poole and the Tremeloes, The Searchers and by the end of the year, The Dave Clark Five. On August the first The Rolling Stones’ single Come On reached number thirty-two but this early sortie wasn’t followed up until I Wanna Be Your Man was released and started moving upwards in November.

In the meantime The Beatles continued to dominate with She Loves You entering at number twelve in August and reaching top place two weeks later, dropping to number three in October but back at number one by the end of November.

So that’s what’s been missed. Here’s the Rock and Roll Years 1964 for your consideration

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images 2

about this time last year i posted the 1st of what i described confidently as a 2 part series. and so here is part 2. it’s a collage of photos taken randomly usually at night so a lot of it is quite dark. the soundtrack is a looped improvisation something i recorded last week. it’s 6 minutes long and as i said last time it’s best viewed full screen in a darkened room.

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Crinkle Crags

It was on a Monday that I went up Crinkle Crags. I own Crinkle Crags. Well not the actual crags, but I own the most iconic picture of the mountain which is Alfred Wainwright’s pen and ink drawing that was used in A Second Lakeland Sketchbook (1970). Here’s a scan from the book.
Anyway I’ll have to go back another time and do it properly. Because I rushed out – all I had was 500ml of water and no food – that’s not sensible when you’ve got a six mile walk before you start ascending. So I was pretty hungry and thirsty when I should have been enjoying that great high ridge walk with spectacular views. I took some snaps and here they follow :-

This is the target from the early stages of the ascent.
And this is at the same place, zoomed in a bit and landscape.
This is the south end of the crags looking northwards and it’s not a dissimilar viewpoint to that of Wainwright’s drawing.
The Langdale Pikes from the summit.
From a similar spot looking down Langdale.
And in the other direction across to Scafell and Scafell Pike.
Moving our view to the right we encounter the massif of Bowfell.
With no water left as I came to the end of the Crinkle Crags massif I aimed to head around to a footpath which is known as the Climbers’ Traverse. I couldn’t find a connecting path so just skirted round the col which is the top of the mountainside that is known as the Band. Eventually I connected with the Climbers’ Traverse and promptly bumped into a couple of climbers who had completed their climbing adventures for the day. The traverse is not for those who may get giddy or have balance problems but is good at getting you right in the middle of the spectacular parts of a mountain. I’d remembered the spring in the rocks at the bottom of Bowfell Crag as being a gush, but now it was just trickling out as a small stream. Whether this represents an accurate survey of the water table covering the period from the sixties to now I would not like to say. The water tasted a bit weird at first but my reasoning was that coming straight out of the rock as it did there couldn’t really be anything bad in it.

That was the first day of my holiday in the Lake District. On the last day I had a more dramatic and exhilarating close encounter with a mountain when I ascended Jack’s Rake on Pavey Ark.
Pavey Ark is the crag on the right in the shot above and Jack’s Rake cuts across the crag face from bottom central to top left as you face it. As the photo shows it was misty and while I was climbing the mist had come down even more. I’m not sure if that was a good thing (in that I couldn’t see the drop) or bad (in that it might not have seemed too bad if I could have seen it). Probably it was a good thing. But I discovered that I wasn’t really fit enough to do that ascent especially not in wet conditions. Still I survived and eventually got to the top. I think there was only one bit where I was clinging to the rockface and I didn’t feel I had either one really secure foothold or one really secure handhold. I can confidently assert that I’ll never do that climb again not even in dry conditions.

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Jazz Quotations 6

The new underground required a new linguistics. To “broom” meant to travel by air; the hipster figure of speech referred to the witch’s favored conveyance. Money was gold. Eyes meant willingness or enthusiasm. A pad was a bed, therefore someone’s room or apartment. Old jazzmen’s expressions, once in, were now out, and hopelessly dated the speaker. As root ideas they gave way to verbal improvisations, in the same way that old tunes served as armatures for bop compositions. Etymology remained reasonably straightforward. The intent was always the same: to exclude the uninitiated, to confound the square, to strengthen the inner community. Out of the world became gone, shorter and more allusive. Blow your top became flip your wig, leading to flipped, flipped out, wigged, wig and wiggy. Knocked out yielded gassed, as in an old-fashioned dentist’s chair. The verb gas gave the noun gas, a delightful experience (an evening at The Deuces, or uptown at Minton’s). Cool and dig served as verbs, adverbs, adjectives and nouns. Hipsters invented such portmanteau words as chinchy (cheap plus stingy). Like, already done to death in the mother tongue as adjective, adverb, verb, proposition and conjunction, now appeared in every other sentence. Sometimes it stood alone, a sentence in itself, followed by an implied exclamation point or question mark, or merely a dash and a raised eyebrow. If you were hip you dug (or used your imagination). The put down became the put on, a highly developed art, often so subtle that the victim was unaware that he was being put.

Dan Burley, the with-it columnist for the New York Amsterdam News, New York’s leading Negro newspaper, compiled and published The Original Handbook of Harlem Jive, a slightly fanciful lexicon of the new argot. It contained parodies of John Greenleaf Whittier’s “Barefoot Boy” and the soliloquy from Hamlet in jive (to dig, or not to dig, Jack, that is the question…”). Slim Gaillard began recording his musical versions of jive, liberally mixed with nonsense syllables, such hits as Cement Mixer (Puttie-puttie) and A-Reet-a-Voutie. Pod, more commonly pot, first appeared to describe cannabis, standard drug since jazz began in New Orleans, heir to a lengthy list of names: hay, golden leaf, cool green, gage, muggles, mezzirolls (after Chicago jazzman Milton Mezzrow), and shit.

Like the new music, the new linguistics revolved around fixed points and established ideas. Like the music, it was a language in motion, subtly changing from day to day, with ever fresh coinages and connotations, subject to common concepts and needs. Spoken quickly, inflected, it was a nearly incomprehensible dialect. Linguistically as well as musically the boppers had closed the door. The idea was to be on the inside looking out. That was the reason for all those heavily smoked glasses, defiantly worn in the darkest night club.

Ross Russell – Bird Lives

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Kool G Ran It For Teen

there isn’t really a theme to my 14th granite mix, but one thing i tried to do was to keep the tracks short. here’s the mix and after that a table with track listing and then some comments and links and stuff below that.

granite 14

Granite Mix 14
Artist Title Album
John Cale King Harry The Academy In Peril
Nino Rota Notturno O Mattutino La Dolce Vita – Soundtrack
Ralph Vaughan-Williams The Bell Ringers Epithamalion
Joseph Spence Lay Down My Sword & Shield Gospel At Newport
Larry Young Alive Lawrence Of Newark
Armando Trovajoli El Negro Zumbón hit song from film Anna
Captain Beefheart I Love You Big Dummy Lick My Decals Off Baby
Ahmad Jamal I’ll Take Romance/My Funny Valentine Ahmad Jamal At The Blackhawk
Howe Gelb Belly Of Fire Down Home 2002
King Curtis Cuban Twilight Have Tenor Sax Will Blow
Kool G Rap 4,5,6 4,5,6
Federico Mompou Impresiones Intimas No. 9 Gitano Impresiones, Scenes, Charmes, Fêtes Lointaines

the academy In peril is not a particularly well-known work in the john cale canon and is almost as famous for its record sleeve as it is for its music. unfortunately i don’t own a copy of the original album but have a later re-release which doesn’t have the half-gatefold with the cut-outs that the original had but I have seen that original cover in fact the 1st time i heard the album it was at a friend’s house near uxbridge or thereabouts maybe ruislip and he had the sleeve i remember it well. the other thing that is well known about the cover is that it would have been worth a lot more if it had been in black and white which is something that the song a dream from the lou reed/john cale album songs for drella teaches us.

a vast expanse of the roman countryside, to one side are the ruins of the san felice aqueduct, towering arches that come striding across the land. two thousand years ago those arches brought water to the city, but now there are many gaps where whole sections of the aqueduct have fallen in. directly in front is a soccer field, the goal posts dwarfed by the height of the aqueduct. in the distance the sound of motors is heard. a speck in the sky grows rapidly larger. it is a helicopter, and beneath it is a hanging figure. a second helicopter follows close behind. as the ‘copters pass over the field the figure suspended below can be clearly seen. a large statue of christ the labourer swings from a cable. the shadow of the ‘copter and this incongruous figure flashes across the walls of the aqueduct. the helicopters pass on.

federico fellini – screenplay for la dolce vita

why does ralph vaughan williams haunt me the way he does? Is it something to do with the ark tempers of medieval lines? who can tell in this age of imaginativeness?

as soon as i heard joseph spence’s take on utterance i was bewitched as if i had crossed several salt seas of despondency and come at last to fresh water.

at a certain time freedom mixed with sonority to produce several subversely subservient dramaturgy/diatribe/dialogue/dichotomy diptychs

el negro zumbón is complicated. usually attributed to silvano mangana she only mimed to the song in the film anna. it was written by italian composer armando trovajoli and the female singer is flo sandon’s

i’m grateful to samuel andreyev for his fascinating work on captain beefheart and the magic band – definitely one of the joys of youtube which despite my earlier diatribes i am overall in admiration for for its democratic all-inclusiveness. i certainly look forward to more from samuel.

maybe i’ve already written about the time i went to see ahmad jamal the only time i saw him but i’m proud to be able to say even that and if i haven’t written about it then no doubt i will repeat/not repeat it again in the future when my marbles start to lose their shine.

i’ve been to 3 howe gelb gigs but the 1st was something special. during the interval i was standing outside with my friend neil armstrong not the astronaut but maybe even greater in many ways. there was no-one else around and suddenly howe stepped out of the main entrance. he was about 40 metres away from us he looked around with a bewildered expression and then went back into the building. strange.

here’s a fantastic clip of king curtis

as a weather report fan in the mid-70s if i was to choose a favourite track mysterious traveller would be one of the top tracks in my opinion from that era and when i first heard 4,5,6 from kool g rap i recognised the sample straight away. it’s not one of the highlights of my hip-hop collection but is just in the end another of the great tracks that came out in the mid-90s an era that i have covered in the past.

finally what do i find so great about these gentle piano pieces that the catalan composer dreamed scored and deployed. apparently some say that there are superior representations of these pieces by more accomplished pianists than mompou was himself. to my mind who is going to interpret someone’s work better than that person themselves? i don’t know i just don’t get it.

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