Thursday, February 27th

This week sees me engage with social media via the medium of Instagram. We’ll see how that plays out. I was on Twitter for a few weeks around an exhibition that we were putting on and it was by turns exhilarating (when you’d found something cute to post) and exhausting (when you hadn’t, and felt in danger of falling off the whole slippery platform…) I learned of Choral Dub this week, where you cross dub reggae with renaissance choral music (here for some examples). I remain agnostic. Lately, there’s been a few nice things about Jazz in Britain, but let’s start with an exhibition that has only a day to run in NYC.

{ONE} DANA, TUPAC & BIGGIE
There’s a great app called Art Passport, by GalleriesNow, that provides 3D walkarounds of shows on in art galleries the world over. At GRIMM, New York, until Feb 29th is Dana Lixenberg: American Images. Dana’s a great photographer who I almost got to work with (she came in with her portfolio one time, but I couldn’t find the right job in the right place). As Eyewitness News from ABC! says, “New exhibit in New York City gives rare glimpse into hip-hop royalty.” She made really interesting large-format images, very against the grain of the time, which was high-key and dynamic. Dana’s work was about a quieter, caught moment, or a slightly unsettling context (see Steely Dan outside a jail cell, for instance)

{TWO} CASS, MOON, TARA, & JOHN
Three interesting articles about the 60s and beyond.
a) The house in Mayfair where Keith Moon lived, and Mama Cass died, by Rob Baker at Flashbak. “It’s interesting to note that Mama Cass, a person who struggled with her weight nearly all her life, died from trying not to eat, with a heart fatally weakened by too many diets. Keith Moon, a man with a prodigious appetite for alcohol, died from an overdose of medicine prescribed in an attempt to stop him drinking.”
b) Tara Browne and the writing of The Beatles “A Day in the Life” by Kit Ward at These Islands. “Six months before his death, his doting mother arranged a lavish twenty-first birthday party for him at the family’s Gothic pile in the Wicklow mountains in Ireland. The Lovin’ Spoonful, his favourite group, were flown in from California to perform, a snip at $10,000. The Rolling Stones were all there but the Beatles had to pass as they were in the thick of recording the Revolver album. It was a druggy do. Mick Jagger took LSD for the first time, though he didn’t enjoy it, Anita Pallenberg remembered it as ‘all pretty heavy’ and Marianne Faithfull saw it as a kind of turning point for many of the party-goers: ‘the start of a quest for decadence among these people.’”
c) The Fascinating Life and Times of John van Hamersveld by Benito Vila at Please Kill Me (Thanks, Bob). On his sleeve design for Exile on Main Street: “Norman Seeff was there and over the weekend, he had shot The Stones in a Hollywood studio late at night. Keith showed up for the shoot totally high, pants half off, and falls, bringing down the whole set. It was a loss in a way because what they were going to do was take a set of stills and, now, what they have are pictures of the set crashing, a sequence in motion. I’m sitting at the table with Jagger; meanwhile, Keith is across the way with his mirror glasses on, really loaded. Keith takes his hands and puts them together, and then opens them up and says, “It should be like a postcard fold-out,” and then he falls to the floor. We take his postcard fold-out idea and that becomes the thing that was inside the album, what Jagger called the bags.”

{THREEa} KEN, BILL, BERYL & OUCH!
Richard sends me this hilarious paragraph from a Steve Voce piece in Jazz Journal, about Chris Barber: “In between that band and the Halcox/Sunshine group, of course, came the Ken Colyer band. Ken’s taciturn lack of ability to communicate was compensated for by his immensely voluble brother, also in the band and who, in the manner of a ventriloquist, did Ken’s talking and rivalled Beryl Bryden if not in size then in bad washboard playing…” And this week, my aunt gave me these three 78s from her record collection as a gift. Now, who’s got a 78rpm deck…5-lonnieken

{THREEb} LONNIE, CHRIS, ALEXIS, KEN & BJÖRN?
Loved this keen reminiscence by Björn Ulvaeus in the Guardian’s Farewell Europe issue, and wondered if Chris and Ken and Lonnie and Alexis had been a subtle influence on Abba! “For as long as I can remember, the Swedes have loved the UK. A one-way love? I don’t think so. I’ve always felt so incredibly welcome, ever since I had a summer job in an office at 1 New Oxford Street in London. I was 15, and the trad jazz clubs along Oxford Street were heaven for a small-town boy from Sweden.”

{FOUR} LAURIE, BENNY & TEDDY…
Another Jazz Journal piece has this affecting obituary of drummer Laurie Morgan, the first British jazzman to witness Bird live, by his son Simon. It includes this paragraph: “Here [at Club Eleven, Britain’s first modern-jazz club] in 1949, Benny Goodman’s pianist, Teddy Wilson, scouted Laurie to play London Palladium and possible European shows with the King of Swing. ‘Teddy chose me because I wore a beret and sunglasses’, laughed Laurie. ‘He thought I looked the typical modernist, and wanted some of that in the show. In fact, I was disguising a head injury I got diving into the Serpentine!’ However, the Musician’s Union stopped the 22-year-old drummer playing as his dues had lapsed.”

{FIVE} MARTIN, GIBSON, HARMONY & STELLA
I think that I need a copy of this, The Times 2019 Music Book of the Year, by John Stubbins. Mostly because it asks questions like this: Why did music written for the parlor guitar in the 1800s travel into the Delta? How did Spanish and Vastapol tuning sow the seed for Delta blues? How did a big band banjo player influence the modern finger style acoustic guitar. Why were German and Bohemian violin makers so important to the development of English beat music? It is, however, such an extraordinary labour of love, and so beautifully designed that it has a £200 price tag.

{EXTRA} SOPHIE, HEARTS & MINDS…
Sophie Ellis-Bextor for NHS Organ Donation.

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Comments

  1. mick gold says:

    That Hugo Williams account of Tara Browne is priceless, “He smoked and drank but he hadn’t got on to joined-up handwriting yet.” I remember back in early 1970s writing a chapter on Sgt. Pepper for a book on The Beatles that never got published. (I think the publisher Studio Vista collapsed.) I traipsed out to Colindale to the British Museum Newspaper Library as it was then called. Imagine my joy at finding The Daily Mail from 17 January 1967 which contained a story about Tara Browne’s death. And also a story about the council in Blackburn having to deal with 4,000 holes. It’s a surreal juxtaposition but what carries A Day In The Life is the quality of Lennon’s vocal. Sardonic, wistful, alienated. Utterly unique as a song.

  2. It is, isn’t it – the pinnacle of art-rock before art-rock was even a thing, a conceptual masterpiece.

  3. For your consideration, Martin.

    Trust your keeping well in these grim times.

    Regards Kevin C

    >

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