Everything You Could Be By Now If Sigmund Freud's Wife Was Your Mother
Oct 6th, 2001
Get in, just beating the rain by a few minutes - look out at the jaundiced sky and thank my lucky stars not just for missing the rain but for not being born an Afghan who has to sit very tight and no doubt more than a bit terrified whilst the Tomahawks rain down. Sorry peasant peoples of the, the...Middle East?...where the fuck is it now, someone get me a map.
Propaganda propaganda - try to minimise the civilian casualties, right? Of course. They claim twenty killed and, y'know what? they were all women, children and old folk - yeah, right, so they care about women? Suppose they'll starve if all the women get killed 'cause what else do they do but cook? What the hell do I know about Afghan culture, the tribes, the women and the sheep, donkeys, horses, whatever they like to keep.
We sit watching the lunch time news and I suddenly feel so damn sorry for any innocent person getting killed, but really sorry, not "Sorry, but that's war". And Jane says "well, they killed all those people in America" and I say "The people didn't kill them it's the fucking fanatics, not the people".
[Last 'Trane To Darksville]
Take The Olatunji Concert, Coltrane's last recorded gig, from it's case and place it on the tray which slides in at the press of a button - hit 'play' - played it once, just once, before, but not all the way through because it was/is too damn chaotic to sit through - try again, knowing full well that I won't make it all the way - and it starts so beautifully as only Coltrane can - 'Ogunde' - 2mins in and WHAM! you're sucked into some insane shit that seems to justify the criticisms that said he played such 'violent' music, but yeah, he was all love, and that's a fact. Rashied Ali thrashing his kit, bass barely discernible, Coltrane ablaze (ablaze?) - shit, he's just a hunk 'o, hunk 'o burnin' love, I guess. Pause.
Noise. Is this Pharoah Sanders playing? Can I tell the difference between Sanders' fire and Coltrane's? I kinda really think I should be able to differentiate, you know, because I'm supposed to know just a little bit more about jazz than the average Joe - ha, ha - but who cares? Neighbour upstairs moves about and I wonder if the volume's too high, but decide it isn't. 10.04, saxophone falls silent, making way for Alice on piano, a distinct relief after all that - isn't that what women do best? Calm the savage beast (?), make beauty, be brilliant in other ways. How macho this music is. Think: free jazz as 'ear wrestling' for intellectual wimps who like to flex their listening muscles - what?
Sky darkens. Saxophone comes in again on another trip of sheer sonic terror (wow!) - fast forward to start of 'My Favourite Things' - oh, look what they've done to my song, Ma - starts peacefully enough with a 7min bass solo by Jimmy Garrison - fast forward - Coltrane playing soprano, of course - think of his first famous, fantastic recording of this tune, and how it became a trademark, of sorts - fast forward to 13mins 28secs - fucking hell, he's GONE!
Press 'stop' button. Silence is golden, silence save for the gentle hum of this computer, car passing by...aeroplane...three months after the gig, Coltrane dead, over, finished. They'll say "It's an important document" - yeah, right, but you know what? you have to remember Coltrane for everything else he did and not this, not this. You want my honest opinion? The Olatunji Concert is impossible to sit through unless you really enjoy this kind of thing. You have to go to the Village Vanguard concerts from '61 for the truly, madly, brilliant Coltrane on stage - and that band - Elvin, Jimmy, Reggie, McCoy, plus Eric - fuck, that's a band. Or go to the Birdland gig, 'Afro Blue', maybe my favourite thing that they ever did live. So much greatness in such a short period of time. I feel my fingers beginning to freeze just thinking about it...
[You Can Put Your Arms Around A Memory]
6.30 in the evening and we know the Winter's on it's way - try not to get depressed about that...think about something else - not war. Confrontation? No, just a little disagreement, Rupert. Sorry, but I think It's About That Time is a great gig, man - dig it hippies - Columbia selling Him to the white crowd and getting the best-selling 'jazz' album of all time, Bitches Brew - why not. He said in his biog that, around this time, he 'wasn't prepared to be a memory yet' - too cool - you can't stuff this muthafucker and stick 'im in The Jazz Hall Of Fame, even though he's in his forties and rich and should be blowing really 'nice' tunes instead of killing everyone with shrieking blasts backed by some bad ass band - live/evil - oh yes. But 'leaden'? Miles live in 1970, as nasty as all his stuff over the next five years - all live - all super-excessive psycho-funk (Michael Henderson on bass? too much). Trouble was, like the cross-eyed teacher, he couldn't control his pupils - so off they went to form the new school of muso-Fuso - oh well.
[You'd Better Shop Around]
Tues. Oct 7th
9am - playing Steve Reich's 'It's Gonna Rain', because I'd never heard it before. Jane says, sarcastically, "That's nice" - heh, heh - "That's nice" - good one. It occurs to me that they should have set up sound systems all over Afghanistan and played this until public enemy no1 cracked and came out of his cave. No 'collateral' damage there, except for, maybe, a few people sent crazy by Steve's wacky minimalist tape loop trick.
Light relief from loopy music: 'Silver's Serenade', by Horace...Silver...of course. A new acquisition, part of a double purchase, the other half of which was Herbie's Takin' Off - both picked up in the HMV sale for £4.99 each (yes!). Avoided Takin' Off for years just because it has 'Watermelon Man' on it and I didn't want to hear that track ever again, having been made thoroughly sick of it back in the jazz days of the 80s - stupid reason, I know, but such is the nature of our personal reasons for wanting/not wanting certain sound, eh what? I only know now how stupid that was because despite hearing the album back then I'd forgotten how good it was, but now realise that, yes, his first for Blue Note (and first full stop) was a brilliant start to a brilliant career.
So I was standing looking at the sale albums and noticing a young black girl who was doing the same. I watched her pick up Coltrane's Blue Train and thought 'No, don't get that, get Horace's Song For My Father', which was also in the sale. This is the second time in two months that I've seen someone pick up Blue Train, probably because it's always mid-priced and everyone who's thinking about buying Coltrane for the first time seems drawn towards it, even though it's not his best by a long chalk, well, how would they know that? The first time it was a young guy who also pulled out Mingus's Black Saint, which I couldn't help but urge him to get. He sniggered, thinking, perhaps, 'Who is this joker? And what does he know about jazz? Can he be trusted?'. He ignored me in the end, which is his loss. I don't blame him for not trusting a stranger anyway, because this is London and anyone who speaks to you for no apparent good reason, even recommending an album, is quite likely to be mad and should be avoided.
I say nothing to the girl, even though I sense she's struggling, searching for greatness amongst all that jazz, and the very best example on offer is Song For My Father. I sneak a look at what she's holding and see a Nina Simone album, which is fair enough. But she needs Song For My Father! I just about manage to say nothing and walk away.
Photo in The Guardian of Britney on stage with a snake draped over her shoulders - one for the locker room, eh boys? Pop tart. The cruelty we inflict upon animals...terrible...still, snake's have virtually no hearing, I suspect, which is a small mercy. Seeing that reminds me of the cover to Tighten Up Vol 6, which features a young naked (!) black model performing the old snake-as-phallic-doo-dah routine way back in the early 70s - fuelled the fantasies of many a young suedehead, no doubt. Me? I've had this album since those Olde days, which makes it pretty amazing since there's only one other LP that's been with me that long and it's another Tighten Up comp (Vol 3).
There were no fab young black chicks in the Buck's village of my birth, but there were grass snakes in the fields. In fact, back then I even captured one and tried to get my girlfriend to recreate the cover to the Trojan album, but she declined, surprisingly. OK, that's not a fact, it's a downright lie.
Picked up FSOL's Accelerator album, from '91, because it's just been re-released, but more because it was a promo copy for a mere fiver - hey, call me crazy. I wasn't there in the first place, but going back is fun, sort of - interesting? - in a way. Simon Reynolds called FSOL 'art wank' in his book, 'Energy Flash', because they weren't 'ardcore enough for him. Oh sure I get the idea that too much 'artiness' in dance isn't necessarily a good thing, but I don't follow his line that only the 'ardest is 'authentic' therefore, important. In retro soundsurround Accelerator is pretty good I reckon, because it was 'art wank' and therefore has more to it than boom-bang-a-bang. You know the difference between 'art wank' and 'ardcore? One lot have read a few books and listened to Stockhausen (probably), and the others haven't.
Continuing the creative/masturbatory theme, I felt so optimistic the other day that I even bought the new Fridge album, Happiness (the opposite emotion to the one I actually felt as the first tracks unwound before my very disappointed ears). With titles like 'Melodica And Trombone' and 'Cut Up Piano And Xylophone', I thought it might be interesting. Will I ever learn? 'M & T' straight off demonstrates the awfulness resulting from blokes who can't play pretending to be blokes who can pretending that they can't because they learnt the rules and feel free to break them - you know the difference. Before launching into lengthy dismissal of this, the worst example of 'post-rock' trying to be Steve Reich that I've ever heard, I'll shut up. Life's too short.
[Happiness Is A Warm Bun And Lisa Carbon]
Toasted tea cakes dripping in butter - is there a finer snack? Surely not. To accompany the taste sensation, the sound of Lisa Carbon's Trio De Janeiro album, which has just been revived (from '97). Bought during the same bought of optimism that lead to (un)Happiness, Lisa surprised me with her talents. What a lounge chick (no, that's not why I bought it, although she does look divine, darling, on the cover, on that settee, in that outfit). Having a taste for Easy I was curious to hear what she'd do with it in a modern style but, to my surprise, there's more musicality here than first meets the eye. A track like 'Hot Lips' is more authentically fused funk than most supposed New Fusion boys fiddling with their Rhodes. Lisa's does 4/4 and beat-hop, along with rhythms more suited to dancers with numbers on their backs. She does, really, overall, sound something like Dick Hyman jamming with the MJQ and Jimi Tenor (minus any dodgy vocals). Sophisticated, fun, intelligent, confident, cool - I think I'm in love.
[East Coasting - Promotional Item]
The best night in London Town, Coast To Coast, ended at the old venue (The Cask & Glass), but is moving to a new one, On The Rocks, at 25 Kingsland Rd, E2. The first night is on Sat, Nov 10th, then Dec 8th, Jan 12th and Feb 9th. It'll be 9 till 2, adm £3 before 10, then a mere £4. I mean, can you really think of anything better to do on these Saturday nights than dance to the finest in ska, soul, R&B and boogaloo? Is the tv that good?
The wonky wooden floor and the less than sanitary toilets of the Cask & Glass will be missed, of course, but new pastures promise a fresh phase for Cello and his devotees. We'll be there, doin' the Jerk, Mashed Potatoes, and Hitch Hikin' like we just don't care. Jane will be telling me to "stay in time" as I embark on a series of complex improvisational moves which, despite being taught time by the late great John Stevens at college, she fails to appreciate. So put on your red dress, baby, and fellahs, do make an effort, please.
Robin Tomens 2001