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Saturday, July 31, 2010

Waving Goodbye

Today Debra, Sam and Alys are driving down to Wales to spend a week with Debbie's father as well as saying hello to other members of the Welsh branch of the family...

After waving them off I had to seek solace in the 5.1 version of King Crimson's Islands.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Thinking It Through

Another opportunity presented itself for me to head up to Newcastle and savour the atmosphere of the Lit & Phil...
I know I've said it before but this place is so conducive to work and, just as importantly, thinking about the work....
The presence of Bernard suggests I'm not the only one who takes this view...

Very often I find I'm scrabbling about trying to hit a deadline that the words just have to be put in place at an intuitive level. Sometimes I don't think about what I'm writing because there isn't time - it just needs to be written. Today, the word count wasn't very high but I was pleased with the results and being able to think it through.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Let's Hear It For The Cast

Yesterday more work was needed on the Paul Jones sleevenotes so I headed off to Newcastle. You know the drill by now...

A couple of hours in, and I was joined by a triumphant Alys!

She was clearly thrilled at having had the pin taken out of her hand and the great big clunking plaster cast removed and replaced with something a bit more manageable.

A celebration was called for so I packed up and we all headed out for something to eat.

Afterwards, Debra and Alys went off for some retail therapy and I decamped to the spacious bar in the Tyneside Cinema...

More celebrations were called for when Debra and Alys joined me later. Dandelion and Burdocks all round!

We were there to see A Bout de Souffle, or Breathless as I prefer to call it on the basis that I can actually pronounce latter whereas when I try the former, it always comes out sounding as if its a movie about light, fluffy cakes.

I first saw this film at what was then Newcastle Polytechnic around 1979 or 1980 as part of my big crush on French cinema. At the time I remember thinking almost every shot in the film was wonderfully stylish. I'd sold this one to Debra and Alys on the basis that it was a solid gold classic.

As we emerged from the screening it was clear to me that my love of the cinematography had clouded my mind as to the absolute bollocks of the script and the variable acting. You could park your bike on the punky perma-sneer of Jean-Paul Belmondo's lip! That said, it was good fun and I still thought it was beautiful to look at.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Podcast From The Yellow Room XXX

More adventures in music that combines the interesting, the esoteric, the obscure, the weird and the frankly wonderful.

This extended edition explores the music of Soft Machine during the Karl Jenkins era. Sid and pal, Chris Taberham, burble on about how exciting hearing this music was in concert, getting to see the band backstage, and the fun to be had pretending to play cosmic tinkles on your parent's dining table.

Music featured includes tracks from...
Chloe and the Pirates (buy it here)


Nettle Bed, Snodland, The French Lesson
(Buy it here)

NDR Jazz Workshop 1973

Down The Road
(buy it here)
Soft Machine Seven, Bundles, Softs, NDR Jazz Workshop and

BBC Radio 1971 - 1974

The Man Who Waved At Trains
(Buy it here)

Bundles, The Floating World

Ban Ban Caliban

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sleepy Sunday

I popped around to Lesley and Bernard's house to deposit a fresh loaf of bread and a pint of milk prior to their return from a week's break in Madrid. Before leaving the house I asked Tom and Joe if they fancied a walk, and to my utter astonishment they did! So, we took a walk around to the leafy idyll that is Bernardstrasse...

Items deposited and the pile-up of mail sorted out, we locked up and left for the wide open majestic space that is Whitley Road on a sleepy Sunday...

towards the Co-op for provisions...

and back out into Margaret Road, tracing the route we three used to walk when I picked up the boys from school when they were little nippers...

The little nippers aren't so little these days of course...

Back in the yellow room, Min is thinking about Rob Young's excellent Electric Eden...

whilst Alys is desperate to have the pin taken out of her hand and the ungainly and incredibly inconvenient cast removed...

Friday, July 23, 2010

Remembering The Memory

For the first time in a fortnight, thanks to a winning and unrelenting combination of illness and pressing deadlines, I was able to slip out of the yellow room and head up to Newcastle and spend a day at the lovely Lit & Phil...

I'm transcribing the interview with Paul Jones and working on a couple of pitches for other work. The change of scenery is a definite boost to one's creativity. I mean, how could you not have your game lifted in this kind of environment?

I was joined by a visiting Chris T...

Chris had arrived for a remembrance and book launch...
Blue Horizons is a memoir about jazz in this country refreshingly told from the provinces rather than the usual London-centric accounts which tend to dominate such accounts.

Chris Yates was part of the fittings and fixtures of jazz in Newcastle until his sudden death (on his way to a gig) last year. Back in the 70s, attending my first jazz festival or side gigs, it was often Chris Yates who would make the announcements or set the scene.

I wouldn't describe his mike technique as comfortable, or argue that his on-stage listings of forthcoming events were the epitome of brevity, but his hard work in Jazz North East was a key ingredient in keeping the Jazz scene active in the face of adversity or indifference.

Alan Twelvetree,who used to host a jazz show on local radio which Chris and I used to listen to in the '70s, had been due to give a talk sharing his memories of Chris Yates and some views on Chris's book. Sadly, family illness prevented him attending. Nevertheless, Lance from JNE and curator of the excellent blog, Bebop Spoken Here, stepped into the breach at the last moment.

Afterwards, Chris and I got talking about the local jazz scene and how good some of our indigenous musicians were. Amongst our favourites were pianist Malcolm Saul, who could turn his dexterous hands to blues, Monkish abstraction, Horace Silver grooves and whatever the occasion demanded with an economic elegance. He was often joined by a brilliant double bass player, Pete Stewart, whose playing I would watch and listen to in awe. He remains for me one of the great double bassists I've seen. Yet outside of a few hundred people in the north east, nobody will have heard of these world class players.

Together with drummer Ronnie Pearson (ex-Last Exit - Sting's last Newcastle group), they would often work in the foyer of the old University Theatre during the jazz festivals, sometimes putting the main acts firmly in the shade.

The odd postscript to all of this is that whilst Chris and I recalled Chris Yates, Malcolm Saul, the old days in UT jazz festivals, with real clarity, during Lance's talk a gig with Steve Lacy was mentioned. I thought I was there. Chris T thought he was there. Afterwards as we talked, neither of us could recall where the gig was. Normally such details are so firmly embedded (especially with Chris) yet the pair of us stumbled around like a couple of lost amnesiacs trying to find our way home.


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