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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Not Playing But Drowning

It's been a busy few days but this morning I'd been invited around to the house of my twitter pal @OhBlimey (aka Tim) to thunk about on a bass guitar. Although it's just a short walk from door to door by the time I got to his house I was freezing cold thanks to a truly biting wind that was blasting in from the sea.

After saying hello to Mrs.OhBlimey I ascended the stairs and found OhBlimey himself in the studio...

He stuck a bass guitar in my hand, put some headphones on my bonce, picked up his guitar and we were off. Well, he was. I was kind of glued to spot like a rabbit in the headlights trying to remember where the notes were and how to string a few of them together.

They say you never forget how to ride a bike but I simply couldn't get the hang of how it was all supposed to work together. So, we plunked about a bit.  Although I found my general cluelessness on an instrument I used play in an OK kind way pretty dispiriting, I did at least enjoy Tim strumming about on his various guitars. Perhaps the best part of the session was watching some nipper doing amazing things on a ukelele.

For some time I've thought I might go back to playing an instrument. On the short walk back to the yellow room I realised that I'd best stick to writing about music rather than trying to play it.

Whitley Bay Daily Photo XXXI

World Book Night XXVIII

Outside a rustling and twig-combing breeze

The Usual Suspects XXV

Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Small World

Meet Thomas...

Thomas is one of our very lovely neighbours. He'd just got back from a trip to Edinburgh where he'd been giving a talk about the history and practice of a sanatorium on the outskirts of Dresden. His presentation had been at the Royal College of Physicians in Edinburgh.

Thomas called round to tell me that over a meal after the presentation, where he lived had come up in conversation. Upon hearing Whitley Bay mentioned an Edinburgh-based colleague informed Thomas that he knew about Whitley Bay through the pages of this very blog! 

Whitley Bay Daily Photo XXVI

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Cat, Of Course, Said Nothing...

Actually that old line borrowed from Kinky Friedman is not really true in the case Min. She's constantly nattering away in catspeak, especially when you sit down to try and do some work.

And if reasoning with humans doesn't work then Min generally favours direct intervention...

Whitley Bay Daily Photo XXIV

The Usual Suspects XXIV

Apropos Of Nothing III

He seemed to be one of those people, so many of whom gravitate to Pentecostal sects, who move around the West and the South and the Border states forever felling trees in some interior wilderness, secret frontiersmen who walk around right in the ganglia of the fantastic electronic pulsing that is life in the United States and continue to receive information only through the most tenuous chains of rumour, hearsay, haphazard trickledown.

Joan Didion
Notes toward a Dreampolitik
The White Album

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Eddie Henderson Realization / Inside Out

Eddie Henderson
Realization / Inside Out 
Anthology: Volume 2 - The Capricorn Years
Soul Brother

Although the Georgia-based Capricorn label was best-known for releasing The Allman Brothers, full marks to them for taking a punt on Herbie Hancock trumpeter, Eddie Henderson.  Fans of the gloriously alchemical musings of Mwandishi / Crossings / Sextant trilogy which features Henderson, will be familiar with the lengthy modal workouts interspersed with generous washes of Hancock’s echo-drenched Fender Rhodes and the occasional burst of Pat Gleason’s ARP-synth alien arabesques. The tumbling, chaotic components of 1973‘s Realization never loses their way thanks to the simmering focus of Billy Hart and Return To Forever’s Lenny White's drumming.

1974’s Inside Out holds the compositional reins a tad tighter than during Realization. With the hook-laden title track sounding at times like a close cousin to Head Hunters’ Chameleon, Henderson is in a more playful mood, sneaking quotes from Gershwin’s Rhapsody In Blue and Bitches Brew’s Spanish Key. Elsewhere, sinewy themes snake through the bustling funkish undergrowth, with Henderson’s gorgeous tone alternating between wry lyricism and a formidably bellicose abstraction.

With broadly the same line-up as Realization (with one-time Weather Report member, Eric Gravatt replacing White) there’s understandably a stylistic continuity bridging both albums. Building upon the dead-eyed certainty of Buster Williams’ bass lines, the ensemble pitch a rootsy jazz-funk skywards, audaciously parking it in a weirdly elliptical orbit between melody and structure, but never quite allowing those particular gravitational forces to hold sway entirely.

As a result these are dense, and at times, ambiguous albums that remain bizarrely accessible and all the way out-there all at the same time. Along with fiery contributions from Bennie Maupin, as Henderson’s trumpet swims out across a spacey, freeform ocean, this anthology is like discovering two brand new albums by Mwandishi-period outfit, and if that prospect floats your boat, you should purchase this set without hesitation. 

Whitley Bay Daily Photo XXII

Friday, January 20, 2012

Whitley Bay Daily Photo XX

Weather Report Live In Cologne 1983

Weather Report
Live In Cologne 1983

Weather Report
Live In Cologne 1983
Art Of Groove

Those busily writing Weather Report’s musical obituary after the departure of the legendary Jaco Pastorius had to spike their copy when old hands Joe Zawinul and Wayne Shorter convincingly re-imagined the group with Victor Bailey (bass), Omar Hakim (drums) and Jose Rossy (percussion).

Supple and focussed, this appearance recorded for German TV  contains tracks like The Peasant and Blue Sound Note 3 which convincingly rekindle the air of smoky mystery and exploratory impulses that had prompted Weather Report's formation and much of their subsequent career, but which sadly had been missing for far too long. 

Fast City is a prime slice of straight-ahead be-bop that has Shorter’s tenor setting the air alight with racing choruses that skim and bounce off Bailey’s effortlessly rippling bass.

Keyboard wizard Zawinul, though ever-present, thankfully tones down the lava-like perma-coating of synths which often overwhelm or mar the original versions of these tunes. Away from fussy studio-induced stodge, the music here  really springs about with a welcome degree of lightness, subtlety and joy.

If Weather Report were blown off-course by their unexpected star-status in the late 70s, then this double album (and separately available DVD) is the sound of the band happy and animated at having rediscovered their raison d’etre. Most certainly a cause for celebration.

Something About The Eyes II


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