Shame on themusicologist…almost a month has passed without an entry..such is 21st Century life.
Anyway time done passed and today is the 1st December which, (in themusicologist’s dwelling), means one thing…The Christmas music begins. For the next 25 days it’s nothing but the festive sounds that get flung down and bearing in mind that access to the preceding years musicology has been, (temporarily), interrupted this year I have the whole 500+ Christmas cuts from the vaults at my disposal without fear of repeating myself..so listen the ride as I grab my reindeer, hook em up to themusicology sleigh and ride out into the snow spreading the sounds of Christmas in my wake.
First up is a cut highlighted from the 1964 Verve album Christmas Cookin’ by Jimmy Smith
Last time I looked it was Thursday !! what happened? time passed and ran…ran and passed. So before I lose track of it again hold this cut from MASTER Terry Callier whose music has not only been a source of inspiration but has been a GREAT help to me through some of my DARKEST days and nights. Already featured heavily on themusicologist last year. I’m off to see him perform in person tonight at the Pigalle in My home town, (London), so I would like to pay tribute here in honour of the man and his lyrical genius. Borrowed from his most recent (2009) set ‘Hidden Conversation’.
SPECIAL request to all the Cats and Kittens who for whatever reason left the hood behind. gone but NEVER forgotten…this one’s all yours. Listen Tune…
Can’t linger too long in the semantic forest so I’ll just lay this Majestic Jazz/Funk/Rhythm&Soul cut down to get me in the mood for tonight’s excursion to see the Filthy Six, (among others), throw down at Soul, Soul, Soul. I choose this Live cut because for me it illustrates perfectly what a collective, (in both cases a sextet), are capable of when in perfect harmony, six sounds become one..anyone who knows me will testify that I’ve been banging on about the ‘Six since catching them at Vintage so I’m looking forward to seeing them weave the musicology again.
Recorded live at the Cliche Lounge in Newark on August 15th 1970 featuring not only the maestro, (Grant Green), but also the supreme talents of Idris Muhammad, Claude Bartee, Ronnie Foster, Joseph Armstrong, Neal Creque and William Rivens. The song was originally recorded by Don Covay in 1966.
Continuing with the Vintage @ Goodwood story…(can’t believe it was a week ago !!), Saturday morning after a few hours kip, (had the breakfast call at 8:30), I crept back up to the site at around 11am and drifted around on my ‘jacks’ without much purpose until I caught a mesmerising sound floating on the breeze that compelled me to investigate further. The music was so tightly woven together it was almost like one sound…harmony. Not blowing my own trumpet but I have heard a LOT of what I consider to be superb, and I try not to use that, (or any other), word lightly, music over the years and this was no exception. The location was the ‘Soul Stage’, (curated by Eddie Piller), the scene of much of the weekends entertainment as far as I was concerned and, as is often the case I allowed my ears to be my guide….The band on stage were playing what I like to call a blend of ‘Rhythm & Jazz’ in the mould of such luminaries as Grant Green, Wes Montgomery, George Benson, Eddie Harris etc. My initial interest was in the guitar playing and my intention was to just give it a listen and then float off and take in the rest of the festival but the ‘Six were SO good that I couldn’t leave until the end of their set.
Quality music does that for me..once It starts I just can’t walk away until it’s finished. It was truly inspirational made even better in that I wasn’t expecting it. Basically it set the tone for the rest of the weekend which just got better and better. To finish the story later in the day I caught up with Eddie and raved about what I had just witnessed and found out that he had just released their set on his Acid Jazz Label. I kid you not ‘The Filthy Six’ are Quality with a capital Q. So in memory of my ‘discovery’ I’m laying this one on you which KICKS from start to finish.
The Tune is a rendition of the theme tune from seminal, cult English film ‘Get Carter’ which is particularly serendipitous for me as it was the first film I composed an alternative soundtrack for many moons ago when cutting and pasting film dialogue and combining it with alternative musicology was NOT done on the computer…since then I have composed alternative soundtracks for The Good Bad & The Ugly, Quadrophenia, 12 Angry Man and The Hustler and it’s about time I got another one together…
The Filthy Six are Nick Etwell, Mark Brown, Nigel Price, Pete Whittaker, Dean Drury and Graham Fox and I’m looking forward to catching them at Soul, Soul, Soul a G Spot event next week, (Sep 3rd), at ‘home’ in Soho, (London)
Been a long time coming but after 8 months of trials and tribulations it feels like themusicologist is back in the saddle. To be honest there have been times over the past few months when I’ve asked myself whether I should continue to invest so much time and effort in the brave new world of the hyper-real as the ‘return on investment’ is almost impossible to quantify but as the months have rolled by and this new chapter in the book of life gets written I realise how essential it is, (for me at least), to have a soundtrack as well as how much the world is changing in relation to investment. As far as I can see the only life worth living is the one you want to live and not the one forced apoun us by fear, capitalism and politricks. I live and breathe music, (always have), and without it existence would be half of what it is..communication would be even more of a struggle and the continuing and ever more valuable dialogue I find myself engaging in would feel more like a monologue.
Music facilitates learning as it challenges the I to participate and question rather than just observe and obey whereas chasing financial success at the expense of all else is a fools quest..Something I have learnt along the way is that money ain’t worth the paper it’s printed on and the pursuit of it may leave you cold, bitter and empty whereas the pursuit of success as a human being opens up the possibilities to express your self and through that connect with others who are also crawling, walking or running along the road to freedom. I say fuck the money and let’s explore the love.
Today’s cut from master Guitarist George Benson, (a Cat who begun his career at the age of EIGHT playing in an unlicensed nightclub), says it all in two words.
Today will always be a very special date in my calender…our beautiful son’s birthday. The boy is 12 and I love him more than words alone could ever suggest. The kid is a constant source of joy and inspiration, (they both are), and I just want to lay one down for the kitten in an effort to express my feelings for him.
Recorded 72 years ago, (almost to the day), in New York on January 6th 1938 and featuring an all star cast of Buck Clayton, Benny Morton, Lester Young, Teddy Wilson, Freddie Green, Walter Page and Jo Jones.
Fabian this one’s ALL yours…LISTEN TUNE…..
“My first impression of you was like a sight of flowers in spring,
You were a glorious thing..to see,
My first impression of you was something indescribably new,
I stood there looking at you smiling at me,
If you had stepped right out of heaven it wouldn’t surprise me more,
I thought you were an angel from heavens door,
It may sound silly but true my heart just stopped when I caught your eye,
So overwhelming was my first impression of you”….
Today’s appropriate cut from the Legend that we know as Dinah Washington is one for those who know that the only blues is the ‘done lost my wo/man’ blues and no-one sings ‘em better than Ruth Jones….Hold this quote from Pianist Junior Mance, ( 2 year musical companion of Dinah’s), who said;
“When I went to work with Dinah Washington, I learned what the blues were all about”
That’s not to say that the Blues are all about sadness…they’re not. I wrote recently about catharsis and that is what the blues are really all about. No good suppressing your feelings as one day when you are least expecting it they will come back and tear the heart and soul out of you. Another thing to bear in mind is that as sure as the sun shines trouble don’t last always and if you don’t feel pain you won’t recognise joy when it returns into your life.
This one from Dinah is from her Roulette days, (which turned out to be her last), recorded and released in the early 60′s by which time she had been married SEVEN times, (For those who don’t know her story she died at the tender age of 39 on December 19th 1963). Amazingly there are some who felt/feel that Dinah’s voice during this period had “lost it’s lustre” !! If I was there when they said it I would have simply replied;
“you’re talking shit and you don’t have a clue about music”…Job Done.
Still ‘Moanin’ Low’ today…like to shake the blues but they seem to be stuck to me like glue. need to get my self together..breathe some fresh air and flex but the rain won’t stop falling on my troubled mind so with that in mind I’ll try to catch some catharsis with today’s cut which as I said on day 1 of the theme is the piece that kicked off my love affair with Billie Holiday way back sometime in the late 70′s. Beautiful piece of tenor sax from The President, (Lester Young), sets the tone for Billie to cut loose and then a final flourish from clarinet master Buster Bailey to finish. Fine example of a group in complete harmony.
Recorded in New York, 13 September 1937, Released on Vocalion.
Buck Clayton, Buster Bailey, Lester Young, Claude Thornhill, Freddie Green, Walter Page, Jo Jones
I’m so weary and all alone,
Feet are tired like heavy stone,
Travelin’, travelin all alone,
Who will see and who will care,
‘Bout this load that I must bear,
Travelin’, travelin all alone,
Prayers I sent to heaven above,
‘Bout my burdens, woes and love,
Head bowed down with misery,
Nothing now appeals to me,
Travelin’, travelin all alone,
Give me just another day,
There’s one thing I want to say,
Friends, the world and all it’s gold,
Leave you always when you’re old
Travelin’, travelin all alone,
“Dinah was like Judy Garland. She drew all the whores, pimps and losers. Certain entertainers draw a certain element in audiences and in friends. If a singer sings a loser’s love song, the audience identifies. ‘Somewhere over the rainbow’ is a loser’s lament. ‘Blue skies’ is another. ‘Look to the rainbow’ is another. Dinah sang those. I’ll win somewhere, she sang. Dinah figured that somewhere over the rainbow she would find a man who loved her”.
Is there ANYONE out there today who can hit, (and hold), the note Dinah hits at the end of this piece? if so I beg you to bring me in…
Apologies for yesterday’s absence. Truth is I am feeling low and was unable to find whatever it is in me that makes themusicologist happen. For a few reasons life is on me like a concrete suit at the moment and even though I tried most of the day to post a cut both the words and the music eluded me so today I’m just going to lay a slice down, try not to get too wrapped up in the language of my solitude and let the two legends speak. But before Billie steps up for today’s piece of musicology hold this quote from nightclub owner Barney Josephson who was quoted to have said about her
”She never had a really big voice-it was small…..like a bell that rang and went a mile..”
Recorded for Brunswick in New York on November 1936 featuring Teddy Wilson & Orchestra; (Jonah Jones, Benny Goodman, Ben Webster, Allan Reuss, John Kirby and Cozy Cole)
Dinah Washington…for themusicologist, the greatest female singer to ever record. Yes there are others such as the sublime Mahalia Jackson, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn, Aretha Franklin, Randy Crawford and a whole host of magnificent vocalists to consider but for me Dinah wears the crown.
Not sure how much importance it has to anyone else, (but for me it has resonance), Ruth Lee Jones was born August 29th 1925 under a sign I am inextricably drawn to..Virgo…I know and love too many, (more than any other sign), to dismiss it as coincidence. Not sure exactly why but in my experience honesty is a key trait of those born under the sign and for me that alone is magnetic…when Dinah sings I listen.
Her career begun in 1940 but it wasn’t until hooking up with Lionel Hampton, (who had previously been part of Benny Goodman’s trailblazing quartet along with Teddy Wilson), on December 29th 1943 that her star began to rise. Much has been written about Dinah’s battles with various substances as well as her seven husbands !! which considering she died at the tender age of 39 says plenty about her credentials to sing about the Joys and Pains of love with such authenticity and passion.
Quincy Jones, (who knows a thing or two about musicology !!), described Dinah’s style with this eulogy saying she “could take the melody in her hand, hold it like an egg, crack it open, fry it, let it sizzle, reconstruct it, put the egg back in the box and back in the refrigerator and you would’ve still understood every single syllable.”
Today’s cut is Dinah at her best singing a song written by master songwriter Irving Berlin.
So, the end of another year and on reflection what a year it has turned out to be, (at least for me). This time last year themusicologist was on, (what turned out to be), our final family holiday. Today a year later ‘farce has become history’.. doubt that Baudrillard was thinking in terms of a major relationship disintegrating into nothing when he penned that fragment but nevertheless it springs to mind. No point pretending that at times the pain wasn’t almost unbearable but as I sit here today, (alone), at the start of a new decade I can’t help but look back and say I am glad to be alive. Been a steep old learning curve, (that’s for sure), and although it’s been a white knuckle ride I wouldn’t have it any other way and after all… “Endings are beginnings of beautiful things”
Certainly didn’t want such a deep and profound journey to end the way it has but as I have already mentioned…for me it’s not what happens to us along the way it’s how we respond and I do believe that “every time it rains, it rains…pennies from heaven”.
Which brings me to the first theme of 2010 featuring two of the greatest vocalists to grace the 20th Century..neither should need an introduction but I’m going to drop one anyway.
First up to the microphone stand is perhaps the most influential singer to have ever recorded. A woman whose phrasing changed the face of so called popular music forever..Eleanora Fagan otherwise known as Billie ‘Lady Day’ Holiday who, along with Louis ‘Satchelmouth’ Armstrong, revolutionised the musical landscape. Brother Armstrong rocked the Mic but it was said, and no doubt in my heart it’s true, that when Lady Day first took the stand in a Harlem joint in the early 1930′s penniless and destitute and sung ‘Travelin All Alone’ such was her authenticity that Cats broke down and cried. I first heard Billie, (and that song), sometime in the 70′s, (as a child), and I promise you it shook the ground I stood on and begun a musical love affair that will last forever. It was the early Billie that I first heard and it’s the early Billie, (up to ’45), I connected to. Why Billie? why now?..in two words: Authenticity and Inspiration.
Listening to Billie bare her heart and soul provides me the strength to follow mine in the knowledge that to be in love is reason enough to live. Not, I have subsequently learnt, to be loved, (beautiful though this is), rather…to love. A feeling that doesn’t carry the burden of expectation or demand a return. Love is a language and, (as Erich Fromm so eloquently wrote), an Art and one I intend to do my best to continue learning along with the help of those who inspire me to want to.
So with that in mind hold this first cut from a lady who definitely lived and learnt a thing or two about the art while travelin’.
Recorded in New York, (November 1937), and released on a Brunswick 78. Featuring the combined talents of the majestic Teddy Wilson in complete harmony with luminaries Buck Clayton, Prince Robinson, Vido Musso, Allan Reuss, Walter Page and Cozy Cole.
Apologies for not uploading the Jackie Wilson cut until this morning…butterfly mind got the better of me. Not that I’m complaining or making excuses as the butterfly has led me down many interesting and fruitful paths along the way.
Last night it was football with the chaps..weekly game down the New Den on the indoor pitch. Being a striker my job is to hold the ball up and score goals. Bagged 5 last night and held the ball up so all told…job done. My cousin was on our team last night which is always a pleasure as we have the synchronicity that flows.
Today’s slice of the yuletide pie is courtesy of the swinging Count Basie Orchestra featuring of course the Count himself tinkling the ivories.
Have to throw down early today, (didn’t happen !!) as we, (kids and I), are off on a little excursion up to the beautiful Lake District, (Ambleside to be precise), for a few days to kick back before Christmas and I don’t think the internet has reached there yet !! so themusicologist won’t be able to throw down until returning to the big smoke.
STOP PRESS……in fact I’m throwing this down from Ambleside in a coffee shop with free Wi-Fi..i’ll keep it as brief as possible..our daughter is on me like a rash to get on facebook but it’s, (proper), snowing up here and the junior musicologist and I have climbed a mountain today, (look out for the pics…soon come)
Today’s fine cut is courtesy of, (in my subjective opinion of course), one of the greatest singers to have ever graced the mic. A voice overflowing with expression and emotion, drawn from the deep well of existence, (and essence), when Dinah Washington opens her heart and sings even the birds stop to listen and nod in appreciation. Born Ruth Jones, she first came to the attention of Lionel Hampton in 1943 and for the next 19 years waxed some of the most heart wrenching slices of musicology known to wo/man. Personally speaking…it’s her Mercury output that brings me to my knees, trembles my marrow and brings tears to my ‘minces’ but I could never turn Dinah off no matter what the period. (This one is from the Mercury 78)
What is it with 1964?? 3 out of 4 so far from that year…hmmm. Anyway on with the Christmas showdown with a cut from Organist supreme Jimmy ‘The Cat’ Smith with a piece that just gets better and better as the tune unfolds. We all know his qualities so no need to wax lyrical about them….Recorded for and released on Verve. Step up Jimbo and let the people know what time, (of year), it is.
Top ranking slice of the Christmas pie courtesy of three swingin’ Cats, Butterbeans & Susie, (Jodie Edwards and Susie Hawthorne), a long standing and much loved Vaudeville duo who teamed up in 1916 !! and Jazz pianist Eddie Heywood….who went on to play with such luminaries as Billie Holiday, Benny ‘King’ Carter and Coleman Hawkins as wel as performing in his own right. Recorded in New York City, (ahhh…New York…what memories), on Wednesday August 13th 1930 and released on an OKeh 78.
Even though I have MANY slices of musicology to choose from in all sincerity, for me, this is the one which authentically nails the way I feel TODAY which, let’s face it..is all there really is….A man once proclaimed, (musicology #363)
“The aristocrats live in the past, the proletariat live in the present and the poor bourgeoisie live for the future”
Well..I don’t think you need me to tell you that tomorrow never comes and as sure as the sun shines you will die waiting for it. while looking back and living for, (and in), the past will fuck your heart, mind or both beyond repair.
so with that in heart…hold this cut from the majestic Terry Callier. 1998 cut borrowed, (again), from his Timepeace set..what a poet.
One from the ‘Trane…A Giant whose drive to communicate his feelings using the universal language is, (as far as I am aware), almost unparalleled. Technically there are other great musicians but something about John Coltrane feels unique. I am no Coltrane or Jazz scholar and his music only found me when I was searching for something that could define my deeply complex feelings about a deeply profound life experience, (musicology #6)
The piece that found me was from one of his masterpieces ‘A Love Supreme’ and since that day, (which inspired me beyond belief) his spirit sits among the pantheon of musicologists who I am honoured to call guide.
This cut, (recorded in 1960), was released in 1964 on an Atlantic album called Coltrane’s Sound and features the backbone of the quartet that took music somewhere new, pianist McCoy Tyner and drummer Elvin Jones, (along with bass player Steve Davis)
Hold this quote from Elvin Jones
“To me he was like an angel on earth. He struck me that deeply. If there’s any such thing as a perfect man, I think John Coltrane was one and I think that kind of perfection has to come from a greater force than is here on earth”