Friday, 30 April 2010


Ended up taking part in the interval session last night. I had gone out a run earlier, fully expecting to be on stopwatch duty.
But Theresa, who is injured, offered to stand in - so I got to take part.
Not sure that a full blown interval session is the best preparation for tomorrows Edinburgh to North Berwick race - but then again neither was Wednesday's hilly 19 miler!


Recently I was talking to Mr Brown and bemoaning the fact that I did not own a copy of the classic album "Somethin' Else" by Cannonball Adderley. Now that's not to say I haven't heard this.. I have many, many, many times. It's just that for years I had a tape of this and then (ashamed to say) I had an "evaluation" copy on CD (which I have since got rid of).
Anyway, like a lot of classics that I always mean to get around to replacing or acquiring there's always something newer in the shop when I have the spare cash to get it.
But on Tuesday in Fopp I noticed they had one of these "out-of-copyright-cheapo-reproduction" efforts of Cannonball Adderley's stuff. Not a crappy compilation either but two straight reproduction albums. "Somethin' Else" and "Cannonball's Sharpshooters" two albums on two CDs for £3. I really had no excuse not to...
And glad I did. Two quintet sessions that were recorded within four days or so of each other in 1958. But while "Somethin'.." was released for Blue Note, "Sharpshooters" was originally released by Mercury.
It's easy to see how "Somethin'" became the real classic that it is. It was recorded by an all-star Blue Note line up that included Art Blakey on Drums, Hank Jones on piano and Miles Davis on trumpet (on what I think was his last appearance as  a "side man" for anyone). The tunes on this are all slow moving or mid tempo ballads and the opening version of "Autumn Leaves" is probably the definitive version.
"Sharpshooters" on the other hand is a tad "rawer" and hard blowing. Cannonball's brother Nat takes trumpet credits on this one (like a lot of Cannonballs albums) and, while I really like Mile's muted sound on "Somethin'", I think I prefer this - it's just a bit punchier and cutting.
While one album is a great one to listen to for relaxing the accompanying one is more vibrant and uplifting. The sound quality is excellent as well. I know that the distributors are unlikely to have produced these from master tapes, as such, but they at least sound like copies from good quality sources.

However, given that both were packaged together for such a low price what is there to complain about?

Well... the bloody packaging. I don't know if the original artwork is still copyrighted and therefore couldn't be used. But I love the simplicity of the black sleeve with the muted green and blue font for basic details on the original "Somethin' Else" and the painted target on a wooden fence of Sharpshooters while tacky, by today's standards, still suggests the 50's. This double CD is packaged in a cheap and nasty way with a photo of Cannonball - but there isn't even any evidence that it's a photo shoot from the recording session (indeed one of the photos in the sleeve notes shows two sax players - yet on both quintet recordings Cannonball is the only sax player). It's like some cheapo Miles Davis CDs I've seen that are full of badly copied tracks from his days, as a very young man, with Charlie Parker or John Coltrane, but are accompanied by a sleeve picture of him in his "mad as a brush" electro-fusion" days! Bad marketing and lazy research...
Still. That's really just nit-picking. Excellent buy.... long overdue.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010


Life here, midway through "planet holiday" is bimbling along rather splendidly.
Even yesterday's visit to Edinburgh - a strange event for me indeed while on "R&R" saw me coming home six albums richer. A result indeed, and something to while away some of the non running hours that remain.

Went out for a 19 mile circuit this morning that took in the windfarms, the road that runs along Whiteadder Resevoir before heading back over the Lammermuirs again. VERY windy to start with and the pace was greatly reduced because of this.

As I've maybe said the windfarms at the back of our bit are almost finished. But there is still some activity up there - and so, obviously, there are still some vehicles going about. At one point in the run (I think about four mile in) there is a mile uphill - it's uncomfortable at the best of times but into a head wind it was hell.
It might also explain why I didn't hear the transit van that was following me....
Eventually noticed it so I jumped into the side (after all they are working I was just out "playing"). It was as I jumped into the side that I noticed the van was a left had drive and the passenger on the right, a young bloke, was leaning out of the side window with a small video camera! I couldn't hear, because of the wind, what they shouted as they passed. It may have been "well done" or it may equally have been "have you not got anything better to do"!
Strange... but there you go. My training efforts recorded for posterity - or maybe I was trespassing and they wanted evidence !

A more sedate 12 miler tomorrow. Rest on Friday then the Edinburgh to North Berwick (if I can get in on Saturday).

Monday, 26 April 2010


Woke up in a good mood today. Very strange event -even more so for a Monday.
Probably got something to do with the fact that today is the first day of just over a weeks holiday!! :-)

Not planning on doing hellish much. Though I am going to go for a few long(ish) runs and try to get some miles in. Been looking back at the old running log and I'm not too happy with the amount of long runs I've done so far this year (or lack of, to be more accurate).
So. Nice long runs at a nice steady pace this week - then try to top it off with the Edinburgh to North Berwick race on Saturday (if there's still places left). Try to get a high(ish) mileage week in next week then start the taper for Edinburgh.

Yesterday we were at Brian and Theresa's, along with Ian and Jane, trying to spot any club mates among the crowds at the London marathon. Didn't manage to see anyone.
Mind you it doesn't help when the BBC do their usual - concentrate on the really "elite" elite (coverage of which it has to be said they do do well). But then once that race is over they jump right back in the field to the plodders and folk dressed up as rhinos and what-nots. I honestly don't mind that either.
But would it really hurt them to show some of the club runners a bit more??

Thursday, 22 April 2010



My run in the <cough> “Dear Green Place” takes me under a few bridges. Never my favourite part of the run.

Something different today though…

A strange ethereal sound is emanating from under the bridges. At first I thought there was someone under the bridges singing, but by the time I got to the third bridge I noticed the speakers that were hanging down from the decking.

Apparently it’s “art” – an “installation artist” (moronic term) has strung up speakers that are playing three different versions of a 16th Century Scottish lament.

Hmmm…. Don’t know if it’s “art”. Don’t know that I like it. But it does appear to be keeping the cider drinking trolls and junkies away – so for that reason alone I hope they keep it permanently. Though changing the tape every now and then for a wee bit of Ella would be nice.

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Wednesday, 21 April 2010


Picked up a rather lovely little cd the other day.
I was flicking through the selection in Leith’s British Heart Foundation shop when my eyes were drawn to a striking black and white image of Duke Ellington.
My first reaction was that it would be yet another of these cheap and nasty compilations of his very early works copied direct to CD from someones old scratchy 78’s….how wrong was I?
It’s a collection of duets of [mainly] Elington standards by Danish bass player Niels-Henning Ørsted Pederson (NHØP) and American pianist Mulgrew Miller. What you get here is some of Ellington’s best know tunes, but stripped right back and minimal. Very relaxed and laid back. Beautiful music, "Come Sunday" is a particular favourite.
This is the type of jazz that really works on two levels. You can really sit there and listen to it note by note, or just sit back and let it wash over you. At times NHØP's double bass playing is almost guitar like. Mulgrew Miller was a member of the Duke Ellington orchestra from 1976 (under the leadership of Duke's son Mercer). So is obviously really at home with these numbers.
The recording quality, the production and the clarity of the sound are amazing.
Every note seems to be as clear as a bell. Which isn’t really a surprise when you discover that the album was produced as a Bang and Olufsen promo (if I wanted to give away a CD to advertise and hopefully sell, frankly, over priced HiFi's I'd want the sound to be clear as well).
I’ve found a couple of references to it on t’internet and discovered that the reviewer from gave the track “Caravan” 100/100 (a tad over generous perhaps).
Surprised that this recording hasn’t found a main stream release.
Anyway the best £1.99 I’ve spent in a while.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010



Despite the fact that I’m going out a run with the club tonight I decided that it was too nice a day through here in the <cough> “Dear Green Place” not to go out for a run at lunchtime.

So…6.7 miles. 3.35 there and 3.35 back again (with a quick “u” turn just after the Dalmarnock Bridge. Decided to run it at tempo today and managed it in 6:50 pace. Quite nice and hopefully not that fast that I won’t have the legs to keep up tonight if the pace picks up.

The above photo is my route… Past the lovely sewage works at about three miles then four again on the way back, and through “Glasgow Green” – a popular spot among the locals for an alfresco  Buckfast brunch on a sunny day (the piquant bouquet compliments a Greggs sausage roll wonderfully). The six mile marker on the way back (about .7 on the way out) takes the runner past the “delivery door” of the High Court. Fun to listen to the curses coming from inside the Reliance van. J

Runners of a literary bent may want to take time to consider some of the pithy graffiti on the walls between miles 2 and 3 (though I actually fail to believe that a man of the Pope’s age can manage what was suggested).

Sunday, 18 April 2010


Decided, once more, not to let the threat of airborne volcanic stoor hold me back, so I tootled out for a nice long steady run (LSR) today.
21 miles all in. Part on road and part ... well "off" road (obviously). Quite hilly in parts so just took it easy. Started off heading out towards Pitcox, then went on to Biel Mill and then into Dunbar via the chicken farm and West Barns. Headed back from Dunbar by more or less following the start of the Doon Hill race route.

Didn't help that the rain decided to make itself felt today. Horrible conditions. Felt sorry for anyone doing the half marathon in Edinburgh today. However I've got this theory - Pumice stone = volcanic stone used to scrub dry skin. So... rain + volcanic stoor + long run = free exfoliation of the face and legs!! Though checking in the bathroom mirror after my run I'm thinking that I maybe should have tried about 40 miles!

Broke up my run, briefly, to pop into the train station and buy my tickets for next week. Bloke in the ticket office was telling me that while Dunbar hasn't been much different Edinburgh train station is feeling the strain of increased demand with all the people who would normally travel by air. Found out yesterday that one of our club mates who's running in London next weekend is stuck in Hong Kong till Thursday at the earliest... oh dear.

Saturday, 17 April 2010


In a strange sort of way I'm quite thankful for the recent volcanic eruption in Iceland and the resulting grounding of all Europe's planes. At least there's now something else on the news other than the arse numbing banality that is "Election 2010".
What has surprised me a bit though is how everything about this ash cloud, on the news, has been about air travel. And leisure travel at that. Little so far about air freight etc. Though the owner of the farm shop we go to did warn us that some fruit may become a bit more expensive soon (I wanted Anne to "panic buy" and hoard grapefruits - but she wouldn't).
Even less on the telly about health risks? Are there any?
Only thing I've seen so far states that if you get sore eyes or a runny nose etc "stay indoors". Should I be running?
So. In the interests of science I thought I would "suck it and see". Went out a run for about 14 miles.
It's hard to tell, where I live, if there is any "volcanic ash" or not. I suspect not and anyway it would simply get lost among the mass of indigenous "stoor"that we have all year round. It comes off the roads after tractors have been hurtling about them and all the big lorries going up and down to the wind farm. Even on dry days when my legs aren't caked in mud I'm still aware of a fine coating of stoor clinging to the sweat.
Anyway, today, other than feeling a bit short of breath at one point I felt fine. Though the shortness of breath may have been due to the fact that I was going up Starvation Brae with a heart rate of 165 at the time!

Seriously though - if you do suspect there is volcanic ash near you please take sensible precautions... Never leave CDs out of their sleeves or cases for any length of time and use a lens cleaner on your player regularly!

Wednesday, 14 April 2010


I do like a bargain you know. It’s even nicer when it’s a sort of “double” bargain – and that’s just what I got yesterday.
“Missing”, the second hand CD shop – possibly the only good thing about the *ahem* Dear Green Place. Even here though you have to watch what you wade through and pick up. A lot of the “offers” look surprisingly new and bear a striking similarity to what’s on offer at the Fopp record shop round the corner (the one with the bad security that always seems to attract a lot of Neds) – not that I’m insinuating anything.
Actually you have to watch as quite often what they have for sale “second hand” can be bought cheaper, new, in Fopp. But I digress.
Yesterday I came across a CD by Benny Golson. One of those “2LPs on 1CD” thingies. Now I have not seen this one before and thought it would be worth a punt.
Golson is one of those people who have always been on the periphery of my “jazz radar”. Been aware of him as a composer, arranger and sideman. But for some strange reason I didn’t have any of his own stuff.
At two for the price of one I thought this was an opportunity too good to miss. One of the “problems” with second hand shops is that if you do see something you pretty much have to get it there and then – you can’t guarantee it’ll be there next time.
Anyway. The first LP is one from 1958. “The Philadelphians” and features a quintet with Golson and four of his friends and compatriots from, you guessed it, Philadelphia. Lee Morgan on trumpet, Ray Bryant on piano, Percy Heath Bass and “Philly” Joe Jones on drums. Six pretty fast paced bop numbers make up a nice but not spectacular album. I don’t rightly know why, but this album was originally released by United Artists (this one) but was later released by Blue Note (with a much better sleeve). Sadly, the sleeve notes don’t mention producer etc. But if it’s now on Blue Note I suspect that Rudy Van Gelder would have been involved in the original recording. Certainly most of the other musicians are Blue Note regulars.
Anyway. It’s the second of the two albums packaged onto this CD that, to me, is the interesting one. “Take A Number From 1 to 10”. A “concept” album no less.
However, the “concept” does not refer to some recurring theme or topic in the tune titles or overall subject matter but rather a “concept of form”.
Ten tracks on the album. For the first (“You’re My Thrill”) Golson plays solo tenor sax, on the next (“My Heart Belongs To Daddy”), he’s joined by Tommy Williams on bass, then joined by drums on the next etc. etc etc.. Until the whole thing ends in a ten piece band playing an original piece called “Time”.
A strange wee album this. First off it reads like a who’s who of late 50’s early 60’s bop (Freddie Hubbard, Cedar Walton, Art Farmer to name three), but on listening it’s best listened to as a whole (not one for the “shuffle button”).
Obviously the difference between solo, duo and trio were obvious and striking, but I found myself getting to a point (I think after about 5) where the addition of another player didn’t make an obvious difference between each track, but I was still aware of an overall sort of “growth” as the thing progressed.
Strange that this “album” was presented as the second part of the CD as the listener is now presented with 6 songs by the quintet before being suddenly presented with a solo, duo, trio etc.. Sort of detracts in a way. To overcome this I’ve “ripped” the original albums separately to my music library.
A nice wee find.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010


I was at a strange gig at the weekend. Strange, but wonderful.
“The Music Of The Gods” featuring the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra and the Mugenkyo Taiko Drummers.
If I had been wary about going to see the SNJO with John Scofield previously, I had been very, VERY wary about this one.
You’d think by now though that I would be more confident of Tommy Smith’s abilities and his knowledge of what his audience want and like.
My only previous experience of this type of drumming is during the London marathon! At one point, where you go through an underpass, there is a group of drummers "giving it large" on their big drums. The pounding is so loud you don’t hear it – you feel it in every part of your body. It even has an effect on the heart rate!
So, as I said, I was wary…. Drums like this?? And "jazz"??

The gig started very slowly and theatrically with a Shinto blessing of the Drums that segued into a tenor sax solo by Smith that was full of imagery of a call to prayers from some isolated mountaintop monastery.
And then something quite breath taking happened two of the drum troupe took to pounding out a rhythm on a couple of the middle sized of their big drums (pardon my lack of knowledge and proper terms). This was soon taken up with real glee by Alyn Cosker on the “traditional” drum kit. The orchestra kicked in behind with what I can only describe as a 40’s swinging riot. The comparisons between this and Benny Goodman’s band belting out “Sing Sing Sing” to a pounding Gene Krupa beat were obvious. If this tune had been a suit of clothes it would have been a Zoot suit, complete with unfeasibly long key chain and wide brimmed hat! I loved it. For one crazy moment I thought the Japanese drummers were going to start jitterbugging about the stage.

All of the other pieces (each one based on a Shinto god) were wonderful. I had feared that the drums, including one very big one, were going to drown out and over power the rest of the music. Thankfully, other than one or two brief patches, they didn’t. Which was just as well, as the jazz was, at times, mellow, quiet and thoughtful. The “drummers” also did quite a lot with other percussive instruments.
Mr Smith has attempted to place Japanese themes and influences into his jazz compositions. He seems to have succeeded and the music has the feel of the orient without being stereotypical or jokey or cartoonish as is often the case (I know it not jazz but Gilbert and Sullivan’s attempts at “doing Oriental” in the Mikado are just wrong).

Apparently, and I believe it, this is the first “fusion” of jazz and Taiko Drumming. If it is then it deserves a much, much larger audience than its current run of four dates is going to provide. Ideally it should be recorded – but at the very least it should be toured more extensively.
Oh. Tommy Smith lives in Lanarkshire. The Mugenkyo Taiko Drummers are from? Lanarkshire! He told a story about how he had the idea then how long it took to track down suitable drummers!
It's called "Google" Tommy. It's quite handy really.

Sunday, 11 April 2010


Woke up to a beautiful morning. Blue skies, warm (for a change) and hardly a breath of wind..... ideal weather for popping down to the borders and a wee shot at the Gala 10k. To be honest the weather was just an added bonus, as we would have been going even if it was freezing cold, piddling down and howling a gale!
Now. Early on this morning I'd decided that I was going to give this race my best shot (no point in going otherwise), but I just didn't feel 10k ready or "fit". Sometimes you get up and get ready for a race and you just think - "no it just isn't going to happen today"...
Anyway. Got down and registered. Met up with some of the other Dunbar crew who were doing the race. Got changed, went for a last minute toilet break and then went a [probably far too short] warm up.
Lined up with the other runners, listened to the race directors instructions and we were off.....
Found myself right up "in the mix" at the front of the field as we came out of the playing field at the start and onto the road. Even after the first half km I knew I'd gone off too fast. I'd managed to get past Portobello's Mr Jarvie and found myself passing the first km sign at about 3:20 !! Far too quick for me.
For the first three km I felt crap. Breathing was laboured (to say the least) and at one point I even considered having a wee skoosh of my Ventolin inhaler "on the go" - but didn't. However, by the time we had crossed the river and started to double back for the first time (it's a two loop route), I started to feel that I was settling into the race. So from about 3km to 7km I actually started to feel quite comfortable.
However, I was to pay for my fast start. On the second lap, by the time we reached the slight climb I was aware I was slowing. I just had to hang in and try to salvage what I could.
I got passed by a couple of guys - including the aforementioned Mr Jarvie, who had ran a more evenly paced and sensible race, and a bloke from Moorfoot.
The last 500m or so, on the soft grass, was slow and soul destroying and by the time I crossed the line I was completely empty.
And now the strange bit...
Last year at this race I ran what was, for me, the best 10k I've ever done. Well paced, relatively comfortable and a PB at 35:38 (which made me 17th).
Today. Felt I had a terrible race. My time? 35:38 (which made me 10th). I actually thought I'd missed my PB by a few seconds - but on checking I've discovered that I've matched it - on the same course!

Friday, 9 April 2010



Friday at last (T.F) and a day of rest – no running!

Haven’t really done any l-o-n-g runs this week, but done a few long(ish) including a couple at tempo (the blue zone).

Then last night, after doing an earlier 11 mile at 6:45 pace, I went down to the club expecting to “hold the watch” while everyone else did the interval session (I was then going to go for a gentle 5k “bimble”). However, my plans were thwarted as Theresa, who had also been out earlier in the day, offered to take the session – so I could take part J.

So. Nowt today – running wise. A complete day off. A day to replenish the bodies essential carbohydrates and sugars by ensuring that I don’t neglect the most important of the five essential food groups – “cake and chocolate”!

Wednesday, 7 April 2010


A recent acquisition of mine is the new Brad Mehldau double album “Highway Rider”.
Got quite a bit of his stuff already. Mainly trio recordings, one solo and a couple where he duos with guitarist Pat Metheny.
Here though, over the span of this large work, he’s in various set ups; with at time’s Joshua Redman on sax (who’s inclusion on this album was one of the reasons I was keen to get it), in familiar territory with the traditional trio set up, with a full chamber orchestra or with various combinations of all.
Overall the album has the feel of a [dare I say it?] “concept” album. It’s almost a musical description of a road trip – real or imaginary. Why the trip was made the listener will probably never know – certainly more extensive sleeve notes would have been nice. . You’re either making a trip to find something/get somewhere or to get away from something/somewhere.
But there seems to be an overall feeling of melancholic sadness or loneliness about it. That said there are one or two lively burst of spontaneous happiness.
Favourite so far, after limited listening, has to be “Don’t Be Sad”, a full ensemble tune with Joshua Redman taking centre stage in a really mellow, slow, country-waltz style number. It’s got a real sort of Mid West feel about it that, to me, is very similar to the kind of thing Dave Bruebeck did so well. Is it classical, is it country or is it jazz? Well all three to be honest and it really works well.
Thankfully this album doesn’t descend into cheesy “With Strings” territory (though there’s nothing wrong with that every now and then).
But is it too much of a good thing? Overall I think this is a great album and I’m certain it’s going to be one that gets repeated airings for a while to come. So why does it leave me wanting to revisit the earlier, sparser sound of the Trio albums? I think they really hold the kernel of what I like about Mehldau’s music.

Sunday, 4 April 2010


What it looks like from the WRONG end of a starting line.... eventual winner Ken Chapman "makes some final adjustments"...

Yesterday saw me at the wrong end of the starting line as I helped out with the clubs annual 10k.
"Helped out" may be a slight misnomer to be honest, as running about in a panic while everyone else calmly gets on with things is probably more of a hindrance.
Always a bit fraught when your club's organising a race, but even more so when its a new route (as it was yesterday). But everything seemed to go OK and some pretty respectable times were posted despite the "little" hill that we threw in at the 5k mark.

The day always seems to pass in a blur at these events. I'm conscious of lots of people I know round about me... but I never really get a chance to stop and talk to anyone, other than a few quick words.

The only real disappointment in the day? I couldn't find my gun!! The storage area that we have at Hallhill is a tad on the untidy side and despite my best efforts I couldn't find my starters pistol. Boo-hiss... I enjoy walking about with a gun twice a year (the 10k and 10 mile races).
Instead I found this evil looking spring-loaded-rat-trap-"clapper"-type-snappy-thing.
Jesus. It's lethal. I was terrified that I was going to loose a finger! If I can't find my gun by the next race I might have to resort to a whistle.

Anyway, a few quick words to the runners (and here tradition dictates that no one listens anyway.... you could stand there with a megaphone and recite poetry to be honest) a quick "snap" of the lethal finger terror and they were off...

From a race organisers point of view the 35 minutes or so after the start of a race is probably a bit like watching and episode of "One Man And His Dog"... pretty boring really, and when the first runner does come home "through the gate" your pretty certain that the rest will follow safely and sheep like anyway. Sadly, yesterday I didn't even see the first runner come home. I was in Hallhill helping to look for some misplaced car keys, came outside and was astonished to see that a few dozen runners were back already. The course record of 47 minutes that was set on our "dry" run on Tuesday had been toppled.

Once the runners started to come back I scuttered off to get on with the results. You'd think that with about 20% of the runners coming from Portobello the team prize would be easy to figure out - but I still got that wrong (well..I got the right team, just the wrong team members - sorry Mr Jarvie).

Still managed to get home and get the results posted before the new Dr Who started.

Want to get back to the right side of the starting line next week. I fancy the Heaven and Hell half in Perth, but Anne quite fancies the Gala 10k....
Gala' here we come then.

Friday, 2 April 2010


On Tuesday night, when we got back from the club, the weather was almost apocalyptic. With the wind, rain, snow, hail and sleet it was like the first twenty minutes of "The Day After Tomorrow". Bloody awful.
Still, we had just been out with the club and had the final "dry run" of the new route for Dunbar's new 10k (pardon the pun). If we can do it in that weather - anyone can!
However, the weather did slow us down a little and I'm pretty certain that the course record of 47 minutes that we set will be beaten tomorrow!
Got back to the clubhouse absolutely chilled to the bone. I don't think I've ever felt so cold in a long, long, time. In fairness this may be due to my own stupidity in the morning assuming that the weather was "going to be fine" and packing nothing other than a pair of shorts, a tee-shirt and a the flimsiest of my jackets.
Despite a hot shower and then sitting in a warm bar I was shaking and shivering for ages.
The things we put our bodies through for our "sport"