Sunday, April 11, 2010
Today started with the best of intentions, early rise, go to the gym, make a start on my ever growing 'things to do list'. My first mistake was getting up late and starting the day by trying to clean my bike in the bathroom shower, my second was deciding to cook dinner while my bike dried.
The problem with cooking with wine is that it is physically impossible (if you have a mouth) to not drink said wine whilst cooking. Given that I was already one glass of red down by midday the chances of me ever seeing he treadmill or that thing from Empire Strikes Back that is supposed to improve upper body strength are zero.
So what to do? Well the kitchen is a mess, I have a glass of Italian red in front of me and I am now on my third 'Jazz' record of the day. That makes it 'Jazz Sunday'. I have never had a Jazz Sunday before but a good friend of mine swears by them, not every Sunday of course, the only things that should happen every Sunday are fairy cakes and 'Last of the Summer Wine'.
Anyway, onto my 'Jazz Sabbath'.
It started innocently enough when I pulled 'Brilliant Circles' by Stanley Cowell out of the racks. That was when I was busy trying to navigate my bike past the bathroom sink without taking out the mirror with a stray pedal. You don't need 'Brilliant Circles' by Stanley Cowell. It's an okay album with a great sleeve that looks lovely next to a copy of 'Black Ark' but in reality it's just that - 'Okay'. It's a shame, had it been a 'death jazz' pean to ritualistic murder entitled 'Brilliant Circles (Of Dead Children)' it would no doubt be up there in my top ten (regardless of what it sounded like).
From there we go to sublime. I picked up my first copy of George Shearing and Nancy WIlson's 'The Swinging is Mutual' at college. I was nuts deep in my Hard Core/Easy Listening phase and this is one of the few artifacts that managed stay with me until now. My interest in the 'Easy' scene was started by the LP 'I Swinger' by Combustible Edison, a band who I only ever explored because they were tied to Sub Pop. I eventually graduated from listening to the daytime cocktail soundtracks of these revivalists on to countless other musicians that you might file under said section.
The main problem with the 'Easy' scene is that the utter kack out-weighs the listenable at a staggeringly high ratio. You can beat the truth out of any 'Easy Listening' collector. You only have to pull out a few fingernails before getting them to admit to 'only being in it for the sleeves'. Anyway, water boarding Percy Faith completists aside 'The Swinging is Mutual' is a lovely record that brings to mind a time of innocence to which I was never party. Well I say innocence, I suppose technically it brings to mind a time when they hadn't thought of a name for Pedophiles and children weren't murdered but rather 'ran off to join the circus'. A time when violent loutish behavior was attributed to 'the lads just letting off steam' rather than being a of 'hoody epidemic'. Makes me wonder what the Daily Mail was doing fifty years ago? They certainly weren't killing the music industry by gluing free 'Best of' CDs to the front of their Sunday papers.
To conclude, 'The Swinging Is Mutual' is so light its almost see-through but that really isn't a bad thing and because of the likes of 'The Things We Did Last Summer' and 'Born To Be Blue' I imagine this is one of the few albums I currently own that I will still be listening to should I make it to retirement.
The same can not be said for Horace Arnold - 'Tribe'. The title track is solid self aware 'Spiritual jazz' but the rest of the album isn't exactly sure where it's going. They seem to attempt to cover too many bases without actually succeeding in getting anything in particular done.
That said the next offering 'Science Fiction' by Ornette Coleman has the same issue but it doesn't seem to matter. I have no idea what the fuck he is going on about but it doesn't seem to matter. I can't hear space ships or any Arthur C Clarke-like future worlds in here but it works. This could be because my good will is extended to full by the opener, a vocal led track that featured none other than Indian goddess Asha Puthli. The rest of side two is pretty average fayre given the awesomeness that Ornette is capable of. There is a brief moment on track three 'Street Woman' where it is easy to imagine Bundy K Brown cracking one out with one hand and pressing record on his cassette deck with the other. (Pure Tortoise).
Holy shit in a shoebox if the last song on side one doesn't just make me eat my words but throw them up and smear them all over my genitals. If that was Ornette Coleman singing he should do it more often. Tremendous. Side two seems to be in much the same vein. 'Rock the Clock' has what sounds like a bass put through a phaser and a distortion pedal. Ah! Asha's back for the next song. Liking this a lot and wondering why I haven't had it on as anything other than back ground music in the past. The rest of the album plays out in a similar pattern - Utter genius interspersed with very average OC noodlings.
Now I could be entering 'Jazz overload' here because John Coltrane's 'Meditations' sounds like a chimps fucking tea party. I picked this up in Amsterdam from 'Record Friend' a couple of weeks back because I have a thing for the spines of Impulse records (they look really good in a row). 'The Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost' (Track 1) is something of a monolith in avant-jazz circles, regardless I'm not in the mood. Could be because I ate way too much and am now stuck to the sofa contemplating another attempt at leaving the house, for air if nothing else. 'Meditations' does pick up after the initial honked and overblown assault but 5.30pm on a Sunday really should be more 'Sketches of Spain' than stretching the boundaries of what is and what is not listenable.
The rest of 'Meditations' is much more in keeping with it's name, I don't feel as if I am being challenged to some hip listening contest completely unsuited to the time of day.
So, as 'Jazz Sunday' draws to a close and I contemplate stretching an evening out as long as possible before the inevitability of another short sleep and sickeningly dull week at work. It would be nice to think I could use this new found sonic wisdom in the work place, somehow apply it to my daily routine with the hope that it might stop the days melting into one long useless stint in the waiting room of life but that's only going to happen if I get a record player for my desk and filter every work based email as spam.
Wow, that's depressing. That's Sunday's for you. Even 'Jazz Sundays'.