I added this collection of Hampton Hawes: Three Classic Albums plus, a year or so ago as the iTunes price was right & I love Hampton. When I was living in Sydney, Cape Breton he was my real introduction to jazz that wasn’t fusion. Traditional straight ahead inventive playing & well worth adding to any collection.
John Betsch Society: Earth Blossom (1974) – sweet postbop percussion & sax/flute pleasant. Christer Norden: Library Music (2021) – similar to Betsch – soothing, more piano oriented jazz verging on easy listening.
Babatunde Olatunji – (Nigerian drummer) Soul Makossa (1973) – This is timeless excellent African music – a jazzy mix of traditional with a great version of the title track, one of my favourite exotica instrumentals.
Count Basie: The Complete Atomic Basie (1994). I did a search for Neil Hefti – best known for his music of there 60’s Batman TV show – & read that he was a well-established jazz musician & arranger & this is an lp he produced & arranged for Count Basie. Excellent big band jazz. Could I tell Basie from Ellington? Probably not.
Limbo Party: Ivy Pete & His Limbomaniacs (1962) was an lp my folks had & I did a little iTune search & there it was full of great playful ‘limbo’ music. The limbo was a fad dance in the late 50’s early 60’s & introduced many to this world music sound. Then it was rarely listened for itself. It stands the test of time.
Next on this cd mp3 compilations are a couple of movie soundtrack. First Gerry Mulligan Orchestra: I Want To Live (1958). When I saw this film on TCM I was amazing at the soundtrack – some of the action takes place in various jazz clubs & the producers were smart enough to use real jazz musicians, so there are great scenes of Gerry Mulligan’s group playing. Good film with an excellent soundtrack.
Another, thanks to TCM, soundtrack find is Elmer Bernstein’s Walk On The Wild Side (1962). One of the most versatile soundtrack composers his use of jazz saves some films from obscurity. A strange film, check out the opening credits on YouTube, the music suits this over-heated melodrama set in a New Orleans brothel. The lp didn’t include (I guess for licensing issues) the Brook Benton songs which I also tracked down on iTunes as an ep – Walk On The Wild Side (1962). Well worth having.
What! Another poem about sex! Is that all you think about? Shouldn’t there at least be a trigger warning – innocent children might read this & have their entire sense of a moral sexual self ruined. Children who can’t tell the difference between the reality of Iron Man & the fantasy of RuPaul.
Writing about sex while keeping it erotic presents its own set of challenges. Clinical detachment vs sensuously ambiguity. No this piece isn’t ambiguous by any means but at the same time isn’t fetishistically detailed either. No smells. No tastes. (Until now that is because saying that probably brings those tastes, smells to mind.)
The piece, if you read it to the end, becomes perhaps more experiential than you may want, or leaves you wanting more vivid details, or makes you wish you had never read it at all. It might make you judge me – like judging someone by what they wear around the house as opposed to what they wear in the street. ‘Oh – so that’s what he’s really like.’
Did part of you immediately think this was a true story – that it was confessional, deeply personal poetry. Poets don’t write fiction. Write about you know, there is no room for imagination- in fact room for imagination is getting smaller – white male writers can only write from a white male pov or risk being labeled as racist misogynists.
I had a couple of Savoy Brown cassettes that I bought at Radio Shack way back in the early 70’s. They had a store in the first mall in Sydney. I bought my first stereo there. They had racks of deleted cassettes by bands I’d never heard of. One was Savoy Brown. I have in an mp3 collection Blue Matter (1969); Raw Sienna (1970); Looking In (1970); Street Corner Talking (1971).
Similar, at that time, to Fleetwood Mac they were a good bar blues band that changed as they lost members. Raw, Looking & street where the first I had. Blue I added decades later when I upgraded cassettes to mp3. The guitar sound is wonderful. Raw is my favourite. Looking, Street see the first changes in members & changes in direction as they move in a more r’n’b direction & on Street they cover songs like Can’t Get Next To You & Wang Dang Doodle. Raw Sienna is an underrated masterpiece.
In the mp3 collection is also Canada’s Five Man Electrical Band: Good Byes & Butterflies (1970) they had a big hit with ‘Signs.’ The rest of the lp is solid, slightly political/ecological songs. Here too is another one-hit group: Status Quo: Picturesque Matchstickable Messages from the Status Quo (1968). Pictures of Matchstick Men was a huge psychedelic hit & the lp is full of similar period songs including a cover of Green Tamborine. Throughout their career, they never achieved the same level of success in the USA as they have in Britain.
Next is Jimmy Cliff: retitled for US: Wonderful World Wonderful People (1969). A great ska sound by this Jamaican superstar. Besides the title song this set included the often covered ‘Many Rivers To Cross.’ Uplifting songs & great ska music. Back to Canada with The Guess Who: Best Of (1971). It’s hard to believe that the band that did the ultra jazzy Undone also rocked out with American Woman. Musical diversity that made it hard to label this band. Finally Fat Mattress (1969). anchored by Noel Redding (of Hendrix fame). Fat Mattress probably would never had surfaced without his fame. The music is unexceptional folk rock in the Traffic vein. Something for completists like myself.
There is lots of truth to this piece – I can’t wash my face & hands without splashing the counter, sometimes the floor, around the bathroom sink. I’ve tried to be careful but … well … it’s no use. I’d need some sort of splash guard around the sink, but a mop up towel is less cumbersome. The same holds true for washing dishes – splish splash time to wash the floor as well as thew dishes.
I’ve yet to find a Brita filter carafe that doesn’t drip. I’ve stopped ordering tea in restaurants because no one has engineered a teapot that doesn’t dribble, so that puddle on the table isn’t my fault, really. Don’t get me started on trying to fill my coffee maker or a travel mug.
More than once I’ve accidentally knocked over a glass of water, dropped a slippery bottle of ketchup, dribbled coffee all over myself from a takeout cup with a loose lid – warning contents may be wet – Oops there goes the cream filling in my donut all over my jacket. Some foods are not meant to be eaten walking down the street, at least not eaten by me.
Clumsy is another way of saying being so preoccupied you aren’t careful with what you are doing. So, what I like most about this piece, is that last line, which I hope rewrites everything you’ve just read. How steady are your hands?
The Saturday Night Fever (1977) soundtrack is one of the best-selling albums in history, and remains the biggest-selling soundtrack of all time, selling over 45 million copies worldwide. It produced 4 #1 singles & became the catalyst for the ‘hate disco’ ‘disco sucks’ movement. The soundtrack & the movie both capture a time & place perfectly.
The Bee Gees were big stars & this propelled then briefly into superstardom. I don’t think anything they recorded after this was as ‘compelling’ or as catchy. I do have some of their early work before they went supernova but am not a fan. The songs here are well-crafted & engineered. For me the standout cut is Disco Inferno which really captures the power of disco but was too dangerous at the same time – the Bee Gees were safe & never dangerous.
It also features some Walter Murphy – his updated disco-fied classical spawned a trend for this type of cover work that quickly became pure kitsch with disco maulings of big band, tangos, Gregorian chant – who remembers the slamming version of Carmina Burana?
Another disco movie sound is Thank God It’s Friday (1978). Unlike Fever this has no real plot, no family dynamics just pretty people dancing at the disco. A more representative collection & more gritty than Fever plus Donna Summer – real disco star belting out Last Dance which went on to win her an Academy award for best song. Both soundtracks are worth having & well make you want to dance dance dance.
Often we unconsciously develop habits that we aren’t even aware of – nervous actions that become so automatic it’s nearly impossible to stop them. One of the challenging part of quitting smoking is to figure out what to do with your hands. Spoken-word writers frequently gesture with their hands as they perform, sometime to emphasize what there saying & when told to not do it, find it impossible not to do. You’d have to tie their hands down & even then their shoulders, their body language gets in the act.
Fidgeting fidgeting is another those hard-to-contain habits. constantly shaking one foot or the other, pulling at the ends of one’s hair, rocking back-and-forth while sitting in a chair. Some made worse when nervous. In high school there was a pen-clicker in one of my classes. One day a teacher grabbed the pen from his hand & threw it in the wastepaper basket. Thank God for Bic.
I read of a pencil chewer who contracted some sort of poisoning from the paint, or was it the preservative, in the wood of a pencil being chomped on – there was a of lawsuit which was lost because pencils weren’t sold to be eaten. I wonder if they had start printing that on them, like warnings on coffee cups ‘contents may be hot’ – ‘not for consumption.’ The things some people put in their mouths lol.
This piece is about all these ‘tics’ & also about a real person who was one of those ‘drummers’ – they would tap along with whatever music might be on in a restaurant. Once even with a spoon on the table. I once asked why they did this & they looked at me as if I said ‘stop breathing.’ Now, if they were actually in time with the music, it might not have so irritating but it was like mindless, tuneless humming. They stopped for a few minutes, then started up again & caught themselves.
“I didn’t even know I was doing that!”
I was cracking my knuckles to Beethoven’s Fifth and didn’t hear them.
What sort of ‘tics’ do you have or what sort bother you?
On the anniversary box set of the film Valley Of The Dolls is a bonus documentary about Jacqueline Suzanne & her personal promotion for the book & film. One of things she did was commission a title song for the film, which never got used, much to her disappointment. It was performed by The Arbors. I tracked it down on The Very Best of The Arbors. Think The Association lite. Easy listening harmonies is their sound. Pleasant & not as melodic as the Previn song used for the film – which to me also missed the mark for such a soapy, seedy, druggy movie. Valley wasn’t safe but the music was.
Often when I check YouTube for a video to post of a piece of music I have, I’ll come across groups I have never heard of before. One of these was After All (1969) The album is organ-dominated progressive rock with a psychedelic taint and a clear classical influence. Think Procol Harum. Enjoyable.
This is also how I found The Bards (1967) – Beatles/ Byrds folk rock fun. Bobby Taylor & the Vancouvers (1968) A Canadian soul band on Motown! solid r’n’b out of Vancouver. Captain Marryat (1974) a Scottish bar band who recorded a studio set of songs to sell at their gigs. Solid fun. Praying Mantis: Time Tells No Lies (1981) Deep Purple/Uriah Heap-ish heavy metal with progrock overtones.
Julian’s Treatment: A Time Before This short-lived progressive rock band was fronted by sci-fi author & keyboards player Julian Jay Savarin. A strange concept album about astral visitors. A dense progrock sound with operatic influences. One needs the liner notes to virtually figure out the story line but it fits in well wth countless other concept albums of the time. Give a listen on YouTube. Sam Samudio is Sam the Sham. Hard & Heavy (1971) is a solo lps he released after the Pharos rode off on their camels. This is solid bluesy rock, the voice is unmistakable but he never really developed a major career.
Procol Harum may not be obscure but Live: In Concert with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra! (1971) Let’s face it Edmonton itself is obscure lol. I remember I bought this when it was first released & I found the sound quality crappy. I hoped the cd reissue would be better but it isn’t. This lp probably started the whole Symphonic Rock trend though. The symphony merely adds strings to their songs rather than elevates them.
Finally, also not totally obscure, is ABC: Lexicon of Love Live at Hammersmith Odeon, November 1982. The studio album is one of my all time favourites – stunning use of strings & amazing production. This live concert is excellent. By 1982 remote recording techniques had advanced considerably from 1971. The strings are integral to the sound not a novelty add on. Well worth having.
Candid Camera (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Candid_Camera) was a precursor to Funniest Video & TikTok – people on camera doing usually comic things, sometimes aware of the camera & often not. Now thanks to cellphones anyone & everyone can be a filmmaker, can be a photo journalist, can hide a camera so that it makes private acts public.
I’ve seen new reports about assaults that resulted from someone recording on their cell an event, seen footage of police warning people to stop recording as they arrested someone. Privacy has become a tightrope. When I take photos I avoid having people I don’t know in them, even then I have obscured the faces of people before I blog them. In fact a couple of my favorite workshop photos are of the hands of people around the lunch table. When I take photos that have cars or houses in them I obscure licence plates & house numbers.
The piece is also about boundaries & how often those who feel what they are doing is harmless & lighthearted or truthful, should be allowed to cross any boundary: Don’t be a spoil sport – I was only kidding – You take yourself too seriously. It’s only tickling. It’s all fun. But you are fat. If you don’t like xxxx it’s your fault not mine for refusing to respect your boundary. Get over yourself.
It becomes victim blaming as opposed to taking responsibility for one’s actions. ‘You’ll ruin his life if you press sexual assault charges.’ ‘You shouldn’t have been walking home alone in dark.’ ‘Just because they couldn’t take a joke doesn’t make it hate speech.’ Language spins are endless.
Jazz runs the gamut from easy listening to complex challenging. There is the from the gut playing of John Coltrane to the intellectual work of Anthony Braxton. There are those who argue that ‘instrumental’ is pap – is Lawrence Welk big band or ‘instrumental’ pap? If it’s too popular does it lose creative credibility?
Mingus and Monk are two jazz masters who have never attempted to be popular & no one questions their credibility. Both can be ‘difficult’ because they both challenge conventional jazz structures & tonalities. First is Charlies Mingus (1922-1989) – I have Mingus Dynasty 1960, Me Myself and Eye 1970, Mingus: a two lp compilation 1972. My first exposure to Mingus was either Haitian Flight Song as performed by The Pentangle, or Good Bye Pork Pie Hat. Both are his most frequently covered compositions. I remember buying the double-lp on one of my record buying visits to Halifax (from Sydney, where there was no real jazz selection). Dynasty is a dense, big band workout – dissonant at points with fun, if disjointed, rhythms. Me Myself is similar – Larry Cornell shows up with a great, but out-of-place guitar solo. An excellent introduction to Mingus would be Money Jungle – the great set he did with Duke Ellington as a trio with Max Roach on drums.
Thelonious Monk (1917-1982) Thelonious Himself (1957), Gerry Mulligan Meets Monk (1957) Monk’s Dream (1963), Big Band & Quartet in Concert (1963), Solo Monk (64-65). A good introduction would be the live sets from 1957 that he did with John Coltrane. I’d also recommend the Winston Marsalis album ‘Monk’ for a solid representation of his work.
Monk is a wild piano player – his style is often blocky as opposed to smooth – minor keys, seemingly erratic rhythms & an ability to dissemble a melody & put it back together again – altered yet recognizable. Like Mingus this music is more intellectual than gut level – not that they lack sensuality but not simply background music either.
Rounding out the Monk mp3 cd is Stanley Turrentine with Shirley Scott: Blue Flames (1964) – this is fine, sexy sax playing cushioned perfectly by Scott’s jazz organ. Oh yes, there are lots of women jazz musicians 🙂 Finally saxophonist Courtney Pine: The Vision’s Tale (1989) – a nice set of originals & unexpected covers – from I’m An Old Cowhand to a great take on Coltrane’s Giant Steps.
This was written during the first covid19 lockdown amidst the constant conflict between which set of facts was most ethically important – keeping the economy growing, our personal freedoms: no one is going to make me wear a bloody mask, understandable statistics, differing medical opinions. Now, years later, these issues are still in the air but with the need to keep the economy moving being the winner. We still have ‘sides’ calling each other deniers.
The numbers have been skewed by renaming – much the same way that the civilians killed in war become ‘collateral damage’ – covid deaths became ‘respiratory failure.’ ‘Vulnerable’ apparently means those already having underlying health issues will catch whatever is going around. The vulnerable become responsible for protecting themselves from those who are invulnerable enough not to wear a bloody mask.
To minimize the discomfort that the statics were causing it was decided not to report them – it created a paranoia that wasn’t good for business. Except of course for the pharmaceutical industry – who, according to one conspiracy, were behind the outbreak. How many drugstores were saved by booster shots?
Add to which we gravitate research that supports our personal biases. Masks are most effective if they are worn properly is evidence enough for some to say ‘masks don’t work’ rather than watch a YouTube video on how wear them. That video is ‘fake news’ while the one supporting their contentions is accurate.
Statistics don’t lie. But like history itself, truth is in the mind of the teller, not in the facts. I’ve read that statically 80% of statistics are made up on the spot.