Monday 20 August 2007

Why start a blog?

I won't claim to have any original insights; even the title of this blog is borrowed (from Francis Davis- one of the most interesting jazz commentators). But as someone who's listened to a lot of recorded jazz , attended (& promoted) a lot of gigs and bought & sold a lot of jazz on vinyl and cd- see I thought my random jottings might be of a little interest to someone. Hubris perhaps.

I was inspired by a blog I happened upon when looking for some information on a favourite saxophonist of mine, Bill McHenry- see which is so well written and insightful & put the thought into my head that it might be worth trying something similar.

I'll write about music I've heard, records I wouldn't want to be without, and the mysteries of record dealing. And not too many obituaries, I hope.

Saturday 18 August 2007

Memories of Max

I only once had the pleasure of hearing Max Roach live , at the Haymarket Theatre in Leicester when his quartet with Odean Pope did a Contemporary Music Network tour. After the gig, in which Max charmed us all with his solo 'Papa Jo' party piece, which finished with him playing the hi-hat with a cloth, a few of us were allowed into his dressing room, carrying lps for him to sign.

The guy in front of me had one of those Italian Deja Vu near-bootlegs with the black covers; 'We never got paid for this album' said Max, but graciously signed it anyway. I'd taken along the Hat duo album with Archie Shepp- the Long March; he looked up at me questioningly: 'Do you like this?' and signed it: Thank You. Max Roach 10/15/89.

It's one of the many Max Roach records I'd not want to live without, together with the Bird/Diz Koko session, the recently discovered 1945 Town Hall concert, the Massey Hall concert, Saxophone Colossus, the Freedom Suite, pretty much everything by the Roach/Clifford Brown quintet. And the trios with Bud Powell Herbie Nichols & Sonny Clark. In fact it's just occurred to me that if I could keep records featuring one drummer only, it would be Max.

Dizzy Gillespie once said : Kenny Clarke was the godfather, Art Blakey was the hurricane, Max Roach was the poet.

Saturday 11 August 2007

Memories of Paul Rutherford 1940-2007

For a while Paul taught at De Montfort University; one lunchtime he gave an impromptu solo trombone concert to students and a few of us who'd got to hear of the gig. In his Guardian obituary John Fordham describes his style as 'glancing, elusive' and that sums it up well- little snatches of melody coming at you from all angles, short passages of multiphonics. After 2 longish sets the applause was loud and sincere, then Paul said: I think I'll play a bit more. In the bar afterwards I asked him to name his favourite trombonist; he replied Honoré Dutrey (& and now I'll never know if he was putting me on.)

The last time I heard him was when Leicester Jazz House promoted Elton Dean's Newsense (ie the new edition of Ninesense) at the Y Theatre. There were problems; the BBC recorded the gig and had to drill a big hole in the outside wall to accommodate cables; the theatre decided to hang on to all of the BBC location fee which we had hoped to keep a slice of, and the piano tuner failed to turn up, which did not exactly please Keith Tippett- we finally got him there at half time. But all this was forgotten when in the second set the trombone section: Paul, Annie Whitehead and Roswell Rudd was let loose.

Paul was a proud man, well aware of how important a musician he was, and angry that he did not receive the recognition he deserved; he would point out that although Albert Mangelsdorff was credited with introducing multiphonics to trombone improvisation, he himself was there first. He was an unreconstructed Leninist, refusing to accept that his hero had any part in the degeneration of the 1917 revolution into tyranny.

Fordham reports that Paul's last job was as a doorman in a working men's club; shame on us.

Thursday 9 August 2007

Krakow July 2007

Having previously visited Tallinn and Budapest, I thought I'd add Krakow to my portfolio, especially as the Summer Jazz Festival was on. I got to see the excellent guitarist Jarek Smietana at the Pod Baranami jazz club, and the Rashied Ali Quintet at Radio Krakow. The Ali band played pretty straight ahead freebop- band-members unknown to me apart from the bassist Joris Teepe. The front line was exciting if a little incoherent- I kept thinking of Lester's question: Can you play me a song? The last number they played was from The Wizard of Oz: If I Only Had a Brain (played with Giant Steps changes and renamed If I Only Had a Gig!)

Vinyl pickings were thin; before leaving I'd left a message on asking if anyone knew of vinyl shops there: no replies. I found one shop, with a few hunded lps of various kinds and a few cds locked away in a cupboard. I bought a few albums (of course) paying in most cases more than I should have done. Mostly US musicians recorded in Europe- festivals etc- and a nice Namyslowski record. They'll appear in the November listing (yes, the September & October lists are already full- the results of a very good collection I bought in Cardiff a few months ago.)

Piotr the shop owner was pessimistic about the Polish record industry: It's a mess! and characterised all the other record shops in town as 'rubbish', but Music Corner near the huge market square had a good collection of Polish jazz cds, including all the Komeda and Stanko albums I'd naively hoped to find on vinyl! (Piotr said he had some 'special records at home' but when he mentioned the price he wanted for them I decided not to take him up on his offer.)

So I was left with a few zlotys to spend on Bison Grass Vodka.