Archive for December, 2008

Freddie’s Dead

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , , , on 30 December, 2008 by Ally
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Hub-Tones -- a fine example of Blue Note's brilliant sleeve designs

It must be the time of year when people just quit. I read that Freddie Hubbard has passed. He was an influential trumpeter, and an outstanding sideman on some of my absolute favourite records — John Coltrane’s Africa/Brass, Eric Dolphy’s Out To Lunch (“pfft, I’ll say he is!”), Ornette Coleman’s Free Jazz and (one of my recent discoveries) Oliver Nelson’s The Blues and the Abstract Truth. Not to mention his own post-bop classic Hub-Tones, to which I am now listening in order to pay my respects.

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R.I.P. Ann Savage

Posted in Film with tags , , , , , , on 29 December, 2008 by Ally
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Ann Savage as Yank Magazine pinup girl

I just read the sad news that iconic femme fatale actress Ann Savage has passed away. She was the star of cult classics like the low-budget noir Detour (1945) and Guy Maddin’s “docu-fantasia” My Winnipeg (2007). She will be sorely missed.

Song of the Day: Stolen Moments

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , on 17 December, 2008 by Ally
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Oliver Nelson

The Internet is a wonderful thing. It’s also a terrible thing, but that’s not why I’m making this post, so moving swiftly on… It was thanks to the Internet that I found Oliver Nelson and his wonderful 1961 album The Blues and the Abstract Truth. I discovered it thanks to the involvement of Eric Dolphy, a multi-instrumentalist who played on far more than his fair share of fucking great jazz albums — including classics by John Coltrane, Charles Mingus, Ornette Coleman and Max Roach.

So, song of the day… I’m sure you can’t wait. Stolen Moments is the first track on the album, and it’s (to quote some nonsense from Annie Hall) transplendent. There are only four horns playing, somehow it sounds like far more. Ahh, it’s just great. Words constantly fail me when it comes to music. Have a listen instead:

Oliver Nelson – Stolen Moments (on last.fm)

Form 696

Posted in Music with tags , , , , on 9 December, 2008 by Ally

From The Independent:

Teenage kicks will be harder to get if publicans and managers of other small venues are forced to comply with a new piece of bureaucracy called Form 696, a former punk rock star has warned.

The form demands that licensees give police a mass of detail, including the names, aliases, private addresses and phone numbers of all musicians and other performers appearing at their venue, and the ethnic background of the likely audience. Failure to comply could mean the loss of a licence or even a fine and imprisonment.

The police say they need the information demanded on Form 696, which runs to eight pages, so they can pinpoint which acts and venues attract troublemakers, and make sure venues are safe. But Feargal Sharkey, who rose to fame during the punk era as the vocalist on the single “Teenage Kicks” by the Undertones, is so angry about what he sees as a threat to live music that he is consulting lawyers about how to stop it.

I am truly stunned and sickened by this development. That the government feel entitled to such control over live music is worrying enough, but to specify ethnic background as a cause for concern is massively offensive. It is institutionalised racism, plain and simple.

You attend concerts at your own risk. It is the police’s responsibility to protect the public, but not at the cost of our civil liberty. Preventative measures should not be in the form of constrictive and racist laws, but in the upbringing of a nation of people wise enough not to perpetuate unnecessary violence. Pushing thugs out of music venues simply relocates violence, like leaving the roots of weeds in the soil. Not only that, but it will lead to the disenfranchisement of decent, innocent people who merely want to hear, play or promote live music.

One of the few outlets of uncompromised creative expression is in serious risk.

Mingus Mingus Mingus

Posted in Film, Music with tags , , , , on 8 December, 2008 by Ally

First off, I must apologise for the recent drought of material. It’s been so long since my last post, I actually have to get accustomed with the new WordPress layout — how dare they change it while I wasn’t looking?

I’ve been so uninspired of late, it takes wildly unpredictable music to capture my stale imagination. To that end, I have been listening to plenty of Mingus. Charles Mingus, don’t call him Charlie or he’ll knock you into next week and you won’t be able to play the top octave on your trombone no more. One particularly interesting Mingus release is the Jazz Icons DVD of filmed rehearsals with his 1964 ensemble, featuring fellow angular jazz freak Eric Dolphy. The three dates have pretty similar setlists, but the improvisation keeps it interesting enough to watch the whole two hours in one sitting. The first version of “Meditations on Integration” is particularly interesting, with one passage sounding rather like surrealist classical music — Mingus creates sounds by tapping, rubbing and scratching his bass, as well as throwing things into the open lid of the piano.

It is fascinating to be able to watch the group, see how they interact (and how they deal with Dannie Richmond’s crash cymbal falling over mid-song). Being a big Eric Dolphy fan, I watched him particularly closely. You can see his thinly-veiled desperation as he waits for his turn to play. There are stories of him practising on his instruments literally all day — alto sax in the morning, bass clarinet in the afternoon, and then an evening in the park playing flute with the birds. Ironically, a concert would mean less playing for him.

On a different note, I have placed an order for a new television. No longer will I strain to see actors’ faces, as the size of my screen will have more than doubled! (This is due more to the pitiful size of my current television than the extravagant proportions of the new one.) It’s full HD too, meaning all I need now is a Blu-Ray player. And… well, all the other stuff that a Blu-Ray player necessitates.

I’ve been rather frustrated whilst browsing the Blu-Ray discs on offer. There are a good few films released on region-locked discs in America that haven’t yet made their way to these shores — particularly classics like The Third Man and Casablanca. I’m tempted to track down some sort of region-free player, but the expense and inconvenience may be considerable, especially for films I do already own on DVD. Still, I look forward to seeing films in greater clarity than I had previously been able to enjoy at home.