Wednesday, 31 March 2010
In any case. I'm what you would call a "selective" misanthrope. I don't hate all of humanity. Most of it "yes", all of it? No.
Like most people I inadvertently identify with and gravitate towards certain social groupings - "tribes" if you will.
I met and struck up a conversation with one of my "tribe" yesterday. I was in "Missing", a second hand CD shop through in the *ahem* "Dear Green Place" minding my own business looking through their limited jazz section when I heard a voice that I assumed was aimed at me....
A scruffy little object, in woolly hat, manky hiking boots and an anorak that's seen better days peering at the CDs through rain soaked specs. But fairs fair it was particularly foul weather and he was dressed the same way as well! In fact it was like looking at me thirty years from now (or if you want to be unkind..now).
Anyway, I digress with detail of our tribes lack of sartorial elegance...
He was studying, with great detail a CD, when he suddenly became quite animated and turned to me..
"Pardon??" (I assumed he was not only talking to me but about me).
"Him" Wildly gesticulating towards the CD he has in his hand.
"Him!! 'Bill Evans'. He doesn't play saxophone"
Starting to understand - "Ah.... There's two Bill Evans's the piano playing one, and him - he plays sax".
"What? Two! He's no' the piano Bill?"
"So why does he call himself 'Bill Evans'?"
"It's his name!"
"Oh." Pause.... "Still a nob-end though".
"Played with Stan Getz"
"No! The real Bill Evans"
"I know. I've got a couple of their albums".
"Aye. He was a nob-end an' a'. That Stan Getz. Great player - but a nob".
"Yeesss...I have heard that. Certainly Stan Tracey didn't get on with him".
"There you go then!!....Must be true. Stan Tracey's sound".
I left the shop empty handed and with my spirits full of dread for what the future holds for me.
The tribe of second hand jazz CD collectors - a scary tribe!
Monday, 29 March 2010
Left the house this morning and it was snowing! Admittedly not a lot - but it was snowing!
Got home tonight after a particularly shitty day at work (all too familiar these days) and was at least looking forward to getting out for a run, now that the "light" nights are here.
Well. I did get a run, but it was anything but light. Horrible black, heavy, doom laden sky that looks like its about to descend and slowly crush what little joy is left out of your soul...
And rain.... Oh lordy, the rain.
With all the snow and what not we've had the first part of this year, it's easy to forget that we've actually had very little in the way of rain.
Well, it's making up for it now.. big time.
And yet..... for some bizarre reason, I did go a run and I felt really good. Just over nine miles at seven minute pace and the old HR kept nicely in the low "green zone". First part was a bit tough running into the cold head wind and driving rain, but that just meant that I had a nice tail wind to bring me back home. I may have enjoyed myself out in the rain, but I got the distinct impression that some of the new lambs were none too impressed with their first introduction to a Scottish Spring.
Lifted the mood no end (perhaps I should have gone before work).
Let that be the first of many. The sky may have sprung a leak, but spring has sprung!
Sunday, 28 March 2010
Friday, 26 March 2010
My legs are completely “empty” today, nothing left in them at all. Eight runs in six days culminated, last night, in quite an intense interval session on the track.
1 mile followed by 16 x 400m. with just over a minutes recovery between each one.
Completely knackered at the end of it, but comfort myself with the [probably] deluded belief that “it’s all doing me good”.
It’s very easy to slip into the mindset that perhaps a night in front of the telly might “do me good”.
But then again, I come into the office to listen to the gut-buckets and lard asses picking apart the *cough* intricate plot twists of Eastenders or Corrie and I think to myself – “perhaps the sore legs is a price worth paying”…..
Tuesday, 23 March 2010
Ever since I’ve been listening to jazz I’ve been a huge fan of Charlie Parker. In fact, I’d probably go as far as to say it was a tape of Charlie Parker’s music that first really got me hooked into the whole jazz “thing”.
From there I’ve moved (forwards and back) and branched out to other styles and “flavours” of jazz. But then his influence also spread far and wide.
Anyway. I was fascinated yesterday to read an article about a hitherto little known statue of Parker – that’s turned up in Edinburgh (article here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2010/mar/21/charlie-parker-julie-macdonald-sculpture ).
For what it’s worth, my opinion is that it would be nice to have this on public display, even if only for a short time or a limited period.
I think it has the quality of a death mask, so given that it was started before Parkers death this gives it a strange premonitory quality. The other surprising thing is the aura of peace and calm that it exudes, which certainly is at odds with most accounts of Parkers last few years.
I also think it looks very late-modern and therefore compliments the late-modern feel of bebop. You could look at that statue, listen to bop and know they were of the same era (well, I could).
Imagine owning that. Get it out there man, and give us all a look.
Monday, 22 March 2010
Busy doing nothing at the weekend didn’t actually equate to doing nothing.
Went out for a really good long slow run (LSR) on Sunday. While it was a wee bit chilly when I first set out I soon warmed up and luckily the weather was a lot better than had been forecast.
Started off by heading up into the hills at the back of our bit, and going round the perimeter of the new wind farm (which looks very close to completion). Starting a run like this means about two miles of climbing, so it’s a good way to keep the pace down near the start.
From there I went through the forest trail path/road that skirts along the eastern side of Crichness Law. You get really great views from this path, down into the valley towards the old circular sheepfold and right along towards Bothwell Farm. It’s a shame, in a way, that this stretch of path only goes on for a mile or so, because it really is great running. Highly unlikely every to meet anyone else
From there I just headed along the road past the farm, onto the “main” Duns to Gifford road, before turning off again and heading back the way, via Harehead and Elmscleugh.
As I was going along the road I thought it was very, very quiet.. There’s possibly a good reason for this. As I got towards Monynut Forrest I realised that about three trees were down over the road (so, that would explain the complete lack of cars). I think they’ve come down over the winter – simply because of the weight of the snow on them.
As, I got towards the end of the forest I met Ian running the other way (out for a long LSR). So rather than simply running straight on towards Elmscleugh and home I diverted slightly to run a wee bit with him back through the woods towards the wind farm again.
Left Ian at the wind farm then more or less just retraced the first few miles of my run back home.
All in, I think about nineteen miles at a very comfortable pace. Just going to concentrate on increasing the mileage over the next few weeks. Speed work can be saved for club nights.
Saturday, 20 March 2010
Now, that doesn't mean there's nothing for me to do.. but there is nothing I have to do this weekend. Nowhere to go, no people to see and no starting lines to stand behind!
First weekend in a long time, and it feels quite good to be honest.
There was the usual "coffee, cake and jazz" routine before the normal Friday house cleaning routine (Stanley Turrentine & The Three Sounds "The Complete 'Blue Hour' Sessions", since you don't ask).
There was the usual Saturday morning trip the farm shop for groceries... but after that? Chuff all.
Going to fit in a couple of runs, including a fairly long one, and I'm also going to partake of some of my other hobbies. Namely; listening to jazz (obviously), reading, watching a little telly and my other favourite... sitting on the sofa staring into the middle distance (to be fair I often multi task and do this and listen to jazz at the same time).
Wednesday, 17 March 2010
Monday, 15 March 2010
Went up and did what I wanted to do - new PB. 1:18:36.
Much like the previous week at Lasswade the conditions were nearly perfect, and that obviously helped.
Conditions for the warm up and hanging about at the start were a little on the chilly side, but once the gun went and the race started you soon warmed up.
Didn't really pay much attention to who was beside me, in front of me or behind me for the first two miles. Just concentrated on trying to keep to my own pace.
Between two and three when the race went into the first slight climb things started to thin out a bit and while the overall pace slowed slightly I managed to pass a few runners (including the first lady).
The race is a bit more "urban" than I seemed to remember it with quite a bit of ducking sharply round corners and down residential streets and for one brief moment at, I think, about mile 8 I lost sight of the runners in front which led to a brief moment of panic.
At the second drinks station I also provided a little amusement for some local kids with my woeful attempt to take a plastic cup while running at 6min mile pace (needless to say I didn't bother going back).
Last three miles or so is very familiar being the same as the Loch Ness marathon, and I ended up running with a local lad. However at one point, with about a mile to go, he was continually looking back to see if any other locals were closing in on him and I just wanted him to keep eyes front and keep working as I thought we were working quite well together and I was more interested in time than position.
As it was, when we came into the stadium at the end I knew I was going to be well within my target time. Set myself a target of sub 1:20 so I was very happy with the result.
Seven weeks, seven races. Looking forward to at least a couple of weekends that I can concentrate on long slow runs though. Just under ten weeks to the Edinburgh marathon.
Try and get the mix right between training and keeping injury free.
Went out after the race and had a meal in an Indian restaurant in Inverness. Very nice... but "vegetable" korma that was nearly all sprouts?? Deary me... if I'd had that the night before the race I probably would have got round in 1:15!!
Thursday, 11 March 2010
I was surprised on Friday at the SNJO gig to see a new CD on sale.
“Torah” by The Scottish National Jazz Orchestra featuring Tommy Smith isn’t “officially” released till the end of April, so finding it for sale on a trestle table at the last gig was a real added bonus (though a very low key “launch”).
A “jazz suite” based on the first five books of the Torah/Old Testament (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy) which form a common bond between Christianity, Judaism and Islam - it’s an adventurous task.
What’s interesting, according to the sleeve notes, is that it was written originally for Joe Lovano and first performed in 2000 by the SNJO and Lovano. It’s nice here though to hear Tommy firmly centre stage and soloing so much. If anything he seems, in the past, to have placed his own playing on hold for the greater good of the orchestra, so it’s nice to hear him up front for once.
Obvious similarities with Stan Tracey’s “Genesis” – but I’d have to say that Stan’s writing is a bit more “Ellingtonian” and the tone is also predominantly upbeat. While with “Torah”, though obviously a jazz piece, there are hints of classical influences and there are passages that are quite dark and brooding (but then, I suppose, a vengeful, wrathful god does a fair bit of “smiting”). Likewise there are a few sections where the sax sounds positively dreamlike and romantic (fair bit of “begetting” goes on as well I suppose).
I’ve listened to this a lot since Friday and I have to say it’s one of the best Tommy Smith records I’ve heard. It’s difficult to imagine what it would have sounded like when Lovano did play it, because the sound here is so recognisably Smith. Sadly, I can’t find anything about the recording on either Tommy’s web site or that of the SNJO, also I can’t find any press releases to accompany the release. Could it be that it was intended to record with Lovano? The recording was done in January 2010, but Lovano suffered two broken arms in late 2009 (not very good if you play sax for a living).
With a lot of sax players it’s all to easy to describe them by comparison – “Oh, he sounds like Stan Getz”, or “he sounds a lot like John Coltrane there”. Well, I think Tommy Smith has transcended that – others sound like him!
There’s a section of Leviticus that’s very similar to the playing on his album Into Silence. Strangely the solo ends, just before the orchestra re-entre with the sax playing the opening line of “When You Wish Upon A Star”. A musical coincidence, or is Smith likening god to Jiminy Cricket??
Interesting that this was written in 2000 but not recorded till now. Post 2001 I know a lot of artists were trying to come to terms with the whole Christian/Judaism/Islam/conflict “thing”. Whatever the delay, I’m glad he did get round to recording this.
Best not treated as five separate “tracks” but rather like one long complex piece. And, I imagine like the book, best taken in the proper order – not one for the “shuffle” button.
I’d have to say that if I’d been subjected to this “blindfolded” without knowledge of the music’s themes, names or influences I’d still be mightily impressed. As it is I do know what it’s supposed to be about – and it’s a strange thing for an atheist to say – but I love it.
There are two characters in popular fiction who are omnipresent, magnificent and in turns wrathful, benevolent, vengeful and forgiving. One is the aforementioned “god” - the other is Reginald Hill’s Andy Dalziel.
I’m reading the later on the train just now and this music suits it well!
Wednesday, 10 March 2010
"SIR Cliff Richard is moving into jazz with an album of swing covers,
it was announced yesterday.
The singer will release Bold As Brass, to mark his 70th birthday later
this year. Sir Cliff – has covered tracks such as They Can't Take That
Away From Me, Let's Fall In Love and I've Got You Under My Skin."
Two words. Jesus. Wept.
Monday, 8 March 2010
A beautiful day yesterday for the Lasswade 10 mile race. It was dry, the sun was out, little to no wind and, while it was chilly, it wasn’t as cold as it’s been of late.
Got to the registration in loads of time, picked up our numbers, had a little natter with some folk, went for a wee warm up then made our way to the start where we met up with the other Dunbar runners.
Just over 300 runners, but it seemed like a lot more, and the start of this race can be a bit of a scramble. The Lasswade 10 is “undulating”. It’s very “undulating” and any attempt to get steady split times is doomed to failure.
Because I’ve done it a few times already I’m relatively confident about remembering where most of the hills are, how much energy to try and reserve for them and where to try and make up the time.
I knew that the climb out of “The Glen” is quite tough (between miles 2-3) so I tried to just blast down the hill into the Glen as fast as I could. Might as well try and take advantage of an easy mile. This gave me my fastest mile of the race (5:21) which I know under normal circumstances is way to fast for me and I could never sustain that speed for any length of time.
Found myself, not so much in a group, but running in a small strung out line of about 4 runners that included Wull Hynd of Moorfoot, a chap from Carnethy, me and a runner in a white “non-club” vest. Mr Hynd remained at the front of this line for most of the race while the rest of us jockeyed for position. I actually find the two miles or so after the bridge at Auchendinny and up through Auchendinny mains towards Rosslynlee the worst and the pace really slowed down there.
Once over that though we all seemed to pick up, but some more than others and the Carnethy runner started to pull away in the last couple of miles and just passed Wull. By about 8.5 miles though it was clear to me that I wasn’t about to make the jump and close the gap between us, but I still had the feeling I could get a fairly good time.
Just gritted the teeth and dug in, crossing the line in 59:43 which, according to the results, made me 17th overall and 3rd vet. So.. all in all, quite chuffed with that (new 10 mile PB).
However, that’s six weeks and six races and I’m starting to feel it a bit. Got the Inverness half next weekend (so that’ll be 7 in 7), so I’m going to try and have a bit of an easier week.
Sunday, 7 March 2010
Wednesday, 3 March 2010
Neither he nor I came away disappointed. An excellent afternoons haul that included a few tried and trusted "safe bets", one I've been after for a long time and an excellent "new" discovery (i.e. "new" to me).
The "safe bets"? Well, first of an early piece by Wynton Marsalis "Black Codes (From The Underground)". I've a sh*t load of stuff by Wynton and like damn near all of it ("Blood On The Fields" his "jazz opera" was bloody awful though i.m.h.o). This is just great mainstream jazz by a quintet that includes brother Branford on sax.
Next up Ahmad Jamal live at The Olympia. His 70th birthday concert. Here his trio is joined by fellow "oldie" George Coleman on sax on five extended covers and one original. Crystal clear beautiful piano.
Not a completely "safe" bet but Terence Blanchard's "Wandering Moon" is a great trumpet led ensemble piece that, again includes, the great Branford Marsalis and also Dave Holland on bass (who even gets his own solo track). This predates his album "A Tale Of God's Will" by 7 years or so, but has many of the same qualities - mournful, plaintive, bluesy, ballads.
The one I've been after? Well, anything by Red Rodney to be honest. Bebop trumpet player who played with Charlie Parker for about 18 months starting in 1949. Being a red haired white guy made it a bit difficult when Parker booked the band into venues in the deep south that did not allow mixed race acts. The answer? Parker advertised Rodney as "Albino Red" claiming he was an African American who had lost his natural pigmentation! This episode is portrayed in the film Bird. However, the film, while mentioning Rodneys drug problems, ends with the viewer under the assumption that he spent the rest of his days "clean" and as an ideal citizen. In reality he was in and out of prison on drugs and fraud charges right through the sixties and into the seventies. This album was recorded in 1976 (think he remained free from then).
Unlike a lot of his peers and contemporaries who moved away and beyond bebop he seems to have lived with the belief that "if it ain't broke don't fix it". This is pure bebop from one of the guys who was there, if not at the beginning, then very early on. There is one track Yard's Pad that's a theme based on Parkers Yardbird Suite. Listened to this a few times already. I love it.... So, by the way, does my neighbours cat Fatso who sat stock-still on our back wall this morning for about 40 minutes while it was playing, just looking up towards the window where the music was coming from and only got up and walked away when I changed the CD!
The "new find"? Well. I picked up a CD in Oxfam for £1.99 "Triple Exposure" by pianist Mark Edwards. I noticed from the sleeve, that there were cover versions of tunes by Horace Silver, Thelonious Monk and Miles Davis. I thought it would be pretty standard piano, bass and drum trio. Far from it. This is exceedingly well executed and edgy.
Edwards is joined by Mick Hutton on bass and Bryan Spring on drums and when you read on the sleeve notes who they've, individualy, played with it reads like a who's who of jazz over 40 years - Tubby Hayes, Humph, Stan Tracey, Frank Ricotti, John Taylor and John Surman!
Can't find any more by this trio on the internet - but I do notice that drummer Spring is joined by Edwards on his own trio offering, so I'll keep an eye out for that (sadly they are not joined by Hutton).
I get the impression that these guys are like Über-session musicians with work on hundreds of albums - but never (or seldom) as leaders in their own right and this particular CD was a sort of foray into the limelight. And it works! More!!!