Monday, 20 July 2009

A Little Bird Told Me

by Joanna Eden

Jazz singer, piano player, songwriter and a resident of Saffron Walden: for the hell of me, I can’t figure out why I’ve never seen Joanna Eden live, an oversight I am determined to correct. (Why, she even did perform at R A Butler School last year!) I came across her debut album, A Little Bird Told Me, in Saffron Walden library. It is a beautiful collection of standards (God Bless The Child, Night and Day) and originals, such as I Don’t Smoke and Father’s Day (this latter still gives me goose bumps). For me, her version of Sea Journey is even better than Chick Corea’s.

Saturday, 18 July 2009

One Hundred Views of Mt. Fuji

by Hokusai

A few years ago, I have ordered the hardback edition of this book from the Amazon Marketplace. The book promptly arrived from America. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a paperback. I have contacted the seller who not only immediately ordered the refund from Amazon but, to my surprise, asked me to keep the book. Which was very nice.

Hokusai: One Hundred Views of Mt. Fuji
From the age of six I had a penchant for copying the form of things, and from about fifty, my pictures were frequently published; but until the age of seventy, nothing that I drew was worthy of notice. At seventy-three years, I was somewhat able to fathom the growth of plants and trees, and the structure of birds, animals, insects, and fish. Thus when I reached eighty years, I hope to have made increasing progress, and at ninety to see further into the underlying principles of things, so that at one hundred years I will have achieved a divine state in my art, and at one hundred and ten, every dot and every stroke will be as though alive. Those of you who live long enough, bear witness that these words of mine prove not false.

Friday, 17 July 2009

Father Ted

by Graham Linehan and Arthur Mathews

Father Ted was aired on Channel 4 between April 1995 and May 1998. Incidentally, that was the time we were living in Leeds and actually had a TV set, but it was not until 1998 when I saw the show for the first time. It was the first episode of Series 3, Are You Right There, Father Ted?, shown a week later than planned out of respect to Dermot Morgan. The whole series is excellent but I still think that episode is one of the best.

“I hear you’re a racist now, Father.”
“How did you get interested in that?”
“Who said I’m a racist?”
“Everyone’s saying it, Father. Should we all be racists? What’s the official line the Church is taking?”
“No, no...”
“Only the farm takes up most of the day and at night I just like a cup of tea. I might not be able to devote myself full time to the old racism.”
“Good for you, Father!”

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Five Peace Band Live

by John McLaughlin & Chick Corea

Two of the jazz fusion pioneers, Chick Corea and John McLaughlin, in one band, captured live, and a psychedelic cover. Need I say more?

Perhaps I do. The musicians are of the highest caliber: Kenny Garrett on sax, Christian McBride on bass, and Vinnie Colaiuta on drums, plus a guest appearence of Herbie Hancock (In A Silent Way / It’s About That Time). It’s all highly enjoyable stuff, but I liked McLaughlin’s compositions, Raju, New Blues, Old Bruise and Señor C.S., the most. At times, they sound as The Mahavishnu Orchestra of thirtysomething years ago, but more wise and relaxed. Closing the double-CD set is a gentle surprise, Someday My Prince Will Come, the duo of electric guitar and acoustic piano.

Five Peace Band Live (Bril)
I decline to attempt to describe this music or give it a name. But I will say that it’s a music that is made by five musicians who don’t care about what it’s called or where it comes from or what its “influences” are.
Chick Corea

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Beryl Cook: The Bumper Edition

by Beryl Cook

Have a look inside: this is an undispensable book. Beryl Cook was a genius and this Bumper Edition has 300+ of her best paintings. Better still, each painting is accompanied by a humorous text of just right length. A lesson of style for all ye fellow bloggers.

A friend told us to hurry along to this pub one night as the barmaids would shortly be dancing on the bar. What a treat. I’d never seen this before (and never have since), so I did some little drawings. Clearing the tables were handsome boys dressed only in skimpiest of shorts. Sadly, the next time we went there both the dancing barmaids and the boys had disappeared.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

La Semilla Escondida

by Sergent Garcia

The first album of Sergent Garcia I ever got, and (imprinting and stuff) it remains my favourite. Not a single weak song here.

si hemos de morir yo quiero que sea esta noche en tus brazos
yo no me asustaré
si hemos de morir yo quiero que sea esta noche
contigo yo me quemaré, contigo yo no moriré
porque contigo yo renaceré
La Semilla Escondida

Monday, 13 July 2009

Il y a longtemps que je t’aime

a film by Philippe Claudel

Yes, another French movie. It is very minimalistic. It develops slowly; there are no special effects, no flashbacks, no dramatic music. No sentimentality. ‘Only’ brilliant acting — of course, by Kristin Scott Thomas, but brilliant acting throughout. Lise Ségur is wonderful as P’tit Lys. A lot of sadness, but also quite a few humourous scenes. I would drop the end-credits song though.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

The Big Weekend

Yesterday, we (now that I played three gigs with Arco Iris, I can start saying “we”) were playing at the St. Ives Carnival. It was a success, in spite of drizzle and rather chaotic organisation of the event. The Carnival Procession started about midday. The 15-strong band (yes, only 15, but strong all the same) paraded in between two carnival floats. In the beginning, we were told by one of the marshalls to “close that gap” which I thought was not very considerate: we could walk and play only that fast. Oh well, it was only 1.7 miles anyway. The procession ended in Warner’s Park, where the prizes to the best floats were announced — to our surprise, we got the second place! Later in the afternoon, we had a 30-minute arena slot (in the draft timetable, we were described as “High Brow Brazilian Band”.) By that time, the band has shrunk to 11 hardcore players, but I think we did well, for such a small line-up.

Today was different. It was about 35 of us at the Main Stage on Parker’s Piece The Big Weekend thing. Sitting in front of the stage, Yuri and Timur looked thoroughly bored. So would be I, if I had to watch more or less the same show three times in a row. But this afternoon, while going to the playground, they had a discussion between themselves. Apparently, they appreciated our show(wo)manship after all, especially the bit when “they were waving the sticks above their heads”. (It was quieter a bit, for sure.) In any case, they had no choice but listen to us, so they could as well enjoy it.

Friday, 10 July 2009

Night Lights

by Gerry Mulligan

In mid-’80s, a friend of mine brought me a vinyl record of Gerry Mulligan from (then) East Germany. It remains my favourite album of Mulligan, and probably my favourite cool jazz record of all time. It has a beautiful interpretation of Chopin’s Prelude in E Minor; one of the best versions of Manhã de Carnaval ever; and Mulligan’s own masterpiece, Festive Minor.

I do not know what happened to that vinyl — most likely, it is still in Moscow. I had it on tape for a number of years until, couple of years ago, I bought the Japanese “vinyl replica” paper sleeve CD.

Thursday, 9 July 2009


by Hazmat Modine

I first learned about the band called Hazmat Modine about three years ago from this review (complete with two songs!) in Rock Paper Scissors. So I got the album and introduced a few of my friends to it. It starts with blues and proceeds through variety of sounds and genres, and forms an unlikely harmonious whole. This live version of Bahamut was shown on Russian television. (Funnily, until I saw it, I pictured myself the singer as a big African-American guy, a bit like Howlin’ Wolf.)

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Diving Girls

by Jo Mazelis

I believe the sole purpose of the cover photo of this book by Jo Mazelis is to induce a male reader to buy this book. Or at least to borrow it from the library. In any case, the trick worked on me. Some of the stories are mildly disturbing, all are remarkable and none is like another. My favourites here are Flock, Too Perfect, The Diving Girls and Siriol. This last reads as a pure fiction, but apparently (as I just learned) both “Siriol, She-Devil of Naked Madness” and “Loelia, World’s Most Tattooed Lady” are the paintings by Peter Blake (who is never named in the story). A work of the master.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

The Commitments

a film by Alan Parker

A novel by Roddy Doyle, music by Wilson Pickett, directed by Alan Parker. What else could you wish for? I think The Commitments is the funniest — and the rudest — of all Parker’s movies. I suppose the only place you could look for ruder dialogue is the novel itself. The whole audition sequence is simply brilliant.
“What d’yeh play?”
“I used to play football at school.”
“I mean what instrument?”
“I don't.”
“So what are yeh doin’ here?”
“Well, I saw everybody else linin’ up, so... I thought yeh were sellin’ drugs.”
“What’s your name, pal?”
“Joseph Fagan. Joey ‘The Lips’ Fagan.”
“And I’m Jimmy ‘The Bollix’ Rabbitte.”
“I earned me name for me horn playin’. What did you earn yours for?”

Monday, 6 July 2009

Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs 3-D

a film by Carlos Saldanha

Yesterday, we went to see Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs with kids. I think Ice Age 2 was awful and feared that Ice Age 3 will be even worse, if that is possible at all. It turned out much better than I expected. It probably makes the best use of ‘3-D’ effect in animation I’ve seen so far. On more than one occasion, the plot gets too ridiculous to be funny, even for a sequel. But the dialogue is quite good, and the whole thing is very entertaining for both kids and adults alike. The new character, Buck the crazy weasel (Simon Pegg), is the best.

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Arco Iris @ Harston

The Harston and Newton Primary School Fête today featured vintage cars, children fancy dress competition, bouncy slide, tug of war, barbeque, beer and Pimm’s — in other words, everything that one normally expects of English village fête on a nice Summer day. Except of one (but very loud) thing: Arco Iris. It was a low-key affair, by Arco Iris standards: only 16 people turned up. But then, it was rather an achievement, since by this Thursday there were only ten people on the list. There was nobody for a mid surdo, so I decided to give it a go. In the end, I got to play high surdo today. (Luckily, I was not only one on high surdo, otherwise I would be lost. The main rule here is: “Look for those who seem to know what they do, and copy them”.)

So... I think it went rather smoothly, considering that it was my first gig with Arco Iris. I am looking forward for more of that. Watch this space.

P.S. A dialogue at the drinks stall.
“A pint of beer, please.”
“Sure. One Pimm’s here!”
“I did not ask for a Pimm’s. Do I look like a bloody Pimm’s drinker?”
“Sorry, mate. It’s your hat.”

Friday, 3 July 2009


by Sara Tavares

This was the first song and video of Sara Tavares I ever heard, and I loved it instantly — I think I ordered the album the very same day. The music is both catchy and gentle, even understated. It was not until last year when I saw the other side of Sara Tavares. We were on holidays in Figueira da Foz last August and, by some coincidence, she was playing in Casino da Figueira da Foz on 21 August. The concert started at 11 pm and went until 1 am or so. I thought I knew what to expect — I did expect it to be good. I did not expect it to be awesome. As the encore, the band played another (reggae!) version of Balancê. Somehow it was completely different song. There was no understatement any longer. Everybody was standing and swaying and singing and dancing. I never saw so many happy people before.

como vi dançar no zimbabwé
quero também contigo gingar ué
uma dança nova,
mistura de semba com samba,
de mambo com rumba tua mão na minha
e a minha na tua

balancê, balança
swinga para lá, swinga para cá
balancê, balança
maria josé swing no pé
se não, chega p’ra lá

somos livres para celebrar
somos livres para nos libertar
como crianças brincando, crianças sorrindo
crianças sendo crianças
como crianças brincando, crianças sorrindo

balancê, balança
swinga para lá, swinga para cá
balancê, balança
maria josé swing no pé
se não, chega p’ra lá

adoro quando te deixas levar assim
fechas os olhos e danças só para mim
uma dança tua mistura de não vem que não tem
com um sorriso porém
que me diz que o teu desdém
é só a manha de alguém
que diz que vai, mas que vem
me engana que eu gosto

Thursday, 2 July 2009


by Deodato Siquir

Early evening of 9 May 2008, as I was rather aimlessly wandering around Berlin, a dark-haired lady stepped in front of me and addressed me in English. Without much ado, she asked: “Are you free tonight?” As a matter of fact, I was. Not that she left me any time to respond. “Because, you see,” the leaflet was thrusted in my hand so I would see, “there is a jazz concert tonight, and I’d love you to come.” Wow. Was it written on my face that I would be interested? “It is not far from here,” she said, waving her hand somewhere in the behind-my-back direction. (Incidentally, the building just behind my back was Beate Uhse Erotik-Museum. But no, the gig actually was in Quasimodo, Berlin’s oldest jazz club.) “See you tonight at 10.”

That’s how I found myself at the concert of Deodato Siquir & Balanço which was a part of the Copenhagen in Berlin (!) Jazz Festival. “So, you did it after all.” The brunette sounded pleasantly surprised. Apparently, she did a great job: the cellar of Quasimodo was full. And deservedly so.

Balanço is the name of the band as well as Deodato Siquir’s debut album (good thing I bought it then and there: it does not seem to be available at Amazon), and the wonderful salsa-like title song.

Eu quero ver você mexer
e sentir se mais pra qui
pois o balanço chegou estás a ouvir mon ami
é pra ti!

Gostava de ver você mexer
e sentir se mais pra qui
pois o balanço chegou estás a ouvir mon ami
é pra ti!

Foi sim foi o senhor
Quem me mandou trazer pra ti
Pra te animar um pouquinho...

Pra começar te animar balançar com calor

A marrabenta não está má
pois ela vai te convencer
a descolar da parede e mexer
teu pézinho pra dançar

Segura a barona não deixa a cair
Segura a maninha não deixa a cair
Segura a menina não deixa a cair
Segura a maninha...

Wednesday, 1 July 2009