Five Things I Saw & Heard This Week: Wednesday 12th December

Dave Brubeck, talking to Marian McPartland
…on her wonderful series, Piano Jazz, for NPR, about his great collaborator, Paul Desmond. “I loved listening to him, every night, and the humour—if he wanted to say something funny through the horn—would just break me up… If I did something wrong, that he didn’t like, he’d usually play I’m An Old Cowhand (From The Rio Grande) because I was raised on a cattle ranch and he’d bring that up, musically. Or Don’t Fence Me In—anything that he didn’t like, that was going on, he’d play a quote to get you back in line. It was something that was always so funny, you’d laugh—you’d never take it too badly. He could tell a complete story in quotes of what just happened, his mind was so quick… [One night they had been] arrested for speeding on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, he did the whole story; of the arrest, where they went, all in tune titles. It was amazing…

[On playing a Country Fair and Horse Show] “A guy came up on the stand with spurs on and he drug them across the stage and he walked up to me and he said, “Tell the guy playing the traps [drums] that he’s spookin’ the horses…” and Paul was in hysterics, and when he started playing, he hit some high notes and all the chickens went crazy and started cackling…Paul was going to write a book [about all these tours] called How Many Of You Are There In The Quartet?”

What? What? What Am I Not Getting Here?
Mumford and Sons, Babel
@Big Boi (of Outkast) responds to a fan enquiring after his favourite non-hip hop album of the year.

Richard Thompson, New Album, Great Quote
Electric is produced by Buddy Miller at his home studio in Nashville, TN. “We did it ridiculously quickly. It was just stupid. But it sounds great. It turned out surprisingly funky, sort of a new genre—folk-funk. It’s quite snappy, somewhere between Judy Collins and Bootsy Collins.”

Tom Waits letter to The Nation, 2002, from Letters Of Note:
“Thank you for your eloquent “rant” by John Densmore of The Doors on the subject of artists allowing their songs to be used in commercials. I spoke out whenever possible on the topic even before the Frito Lay case (Waits v. Frito Lay), where they used a sound-alike version of my song Step Right Up so convincingly that I thought it was me. Ultimately, after much trial and tribulation, we prevailed and the court determined that my voice is my property.

Songs carry emotional information and some transport us back to a poignant time, place or event in our lives. It’s no wonder a corporation would want to hitch a ride on the spell these songs cast and encourage you to buy soft drinks, underwear or automobiles while you’re in the trance. Artists who take money for ads poison and pervert their songs. It reduces them to the level of a jingle, a word that describes the sound of change in your pocket, which is what your songs become. Remember, when you sell your songs for commercials, you are selling your audience as well…

Eventually, artists will be going onstage like race-car drivers covered in hundreds of logos. John, stay pure. Your credibility, your integrity and your honor are things no company should be able to buy.”

Tift Merritt’s Red Guitar, Later
Ooooooooh, that is one great guitar, a cherry red Gibson J-45, sweetly played and with a wonderfully soft & rounded tone…


Five Things I Saw & Heard This Week: Wednesday 26th September

Then, Our Next Fixture Is Jethro Tull of Wiesbaden…
Montpellier boss Rene Girard has lashed out at the fixture schedule as his side continue to stutter in their title defence. Girard’s team have struggled in the early part of the season, while big-spending Paris Saint-Germain appear to be finding top gear. Girard was angered that his side had to play Arsenal in the Champions League on Tuesday evening and then face Saint Etienne just a couple of days later on Friday, where they managed to scrape a 1-1 draw. “I am not paranoid. I simply say that it’s a question of fairness. We played Arsenal, one of the best sides in Europe; we did not play Pink Floyd of Kiev,” Girard said scathingly. (I’m guessing that this is an amusing reference to Young Boys of Bern, who recently played Liverpool in the Europa league).

Stephen Collins vs Mumford & Sons. The Man’s A Genius!

Muse, Later, 25th September
Playing Madness, reigned in and close to the chest, they sounded for all the world like the house band in a bar in a Philip K Dick novel, with disco overtones. A Triumph!

Van The Man Sat-Nav: A Step Closer
My friend Steve phones up one evening, the sound of jazz behind him, as he leaves a message on the ansaphone: “Hi Martin, it’s Steve, I’m playing Van live and I just sort of realised the way to do the SatNav is to just play it and let me do it live… not that I can sing like him but you can do it if you’re listening to him, cos stuff occurs. But if you’re sitting there cold with a blank piece of paper you can’t do it. You realise when you’re listening to the tracks, like Tupelo Honey—“Well you can take the A45 or whatever…” and you can do it to the tune so it’s real. That’s the way we’ll do it, alright, Cheers!” So I download the set of instructions from the TomTom site and all I have to do is record Steve and figure out how to save the commands as OGG Vorbis files [what!?!] More anon…

I Saw The Splendor Of The Moonlight, On Honolulu Bay
We had a uke moment, in 1968, with the great Richard Perry-produced God Bless Tiny Tim album, then again in ’72 on Arlo Guthrie’s wonderful Hobo’s Lullaby. There were few sightings until Evan Hurd (great photographer!) gave us Israel Kamakawiwo’ole and his extraordinary “OK, this one’s for Gabby*” version of Over The Rainbow/What A Wonderful World in the early nineties. But now we have The Ukulele Orchestra Of Great Britain for all our ukelele requirements, busting their way through Ennio Morricone, Handel and Lady Gaga in a smorgasbord of styles and genres. At the Albert Hall on Friday they revisited the site of their Proms triumph of last year. Showing someone who’d never heard of them a clip on YouTube I was thrilled to catch Lloyd and I strumming Beethoven’s Ode To Joy along with 1,006 other ukes…

*That’s Gabby Pahinui, whose slack key guitar playing so inspired Ry Cooder that he went to Hawaii to make a record with him. He features heavily on Chicken Skin Music.

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