Monday, 31 May 2010

Luton Carnival

They say you are not a real sambista until you played at least one proper carnival. Now it is a good question what is a “proper” carnival outside of Brazil. I’ve never been to Brazil, so I can’t really say. But I suppose that in this country, Luton Carnival (“Britain’s biggest one-day carnival”) comes as close to the Brazilian standard as one can get.

(Yes there’s also Notting Hill Carnival. My most vivid memories of that event are those of enormous slowly moving crowd. I did not see much of the procession but had a very good view of horseback police. And that was on a “family-friendly” day!)

Back to Luton. Not the prettiest town in England I am afraid but totally worth visiting for a carnival! Today, Arco Iris took part in the carnival procession. That means, three hours of (almost) uninterrupted drumming! We even had some promised “sunny intervals”, for a few seconds each.

Next time we go to the carnival like this, we definitely need costumes sexier than Arco T-shirts and hoodies. And a lot of samba dancers.

More photos of Luton Carnival @ Shutterstock.

Friday, 28 May 2010

Taking a Chance on Love

by Jane Monheit

Jane Monheit can make the standards sound as if they were just written yesterday. For her. On this album, she demonstrates this perfectly. My favourite songs here are Bill, Embraceable You, Love Me Or Leave Me and Too Late Now.

Yes, this could have been a great album if only Ms Monheit did stick to a small-band format. The big band or string orchestra are not just superfluous here: they criminally destroy all the intimacy. And I didn’t care at all for her duet with Michael Bublé, I Won’t Dance. Luckily (since it won’t make to my MP3 player), I won’t listen.

Taking a Chance on Love

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Black Jack

by Timur Kulikov

Here’s a story written by Timur for his homework. No, no editing by me or anybody else, and yes, it was meant to be printed on the blood-red background. Reproduced with author’s permission.

Jack lived on the streets as a tramp for 3 years of his life because his parents died in a fire but one day he sneaked onto a ship to try to rob it. Before he got the chance pirates attacked the ship they didn’t kill him but they took him on their ship. He became a good fighter and stole his first jewels a sapphire ring and a ruby ring he put them on. Afterwards he stole a black suit and when he put it on he looked very rich. While attempting to steal a giant emerald he lost his leg. He wore an eye patch and looked fierce with it on. He once ended up fighting 3 people at once and he won. He once boarded a prince’s ship and stole one of the princes jewels. He killed over 1000 people in his life and stole over a billion pounds of treasure. He grew a long beard and never missed a fight. He fought well for his whole life. His most felonious crime was stealing a diamond the size of a football. he would never back down. If a pirate in his ship broke the rules he would be hung or marooned. His ship hoisted a red flag to show they wouldn’t stop fighting no matter what. When Jack’s captain died he took control of the ship his parrot actually attacked his foes by pecking them. This gave him the advantage because the foe would attack the parrot and he could attack the enemy while they were distracted. His most nasty foe was a man named David Green. He managed to knock him off the edge of his ship but David’s crew saved him he regretted it though. He was a pirate almost 2 years longer than Black Beard. He once tried to kill the prince himself. He didn’t succeed but killed many of the prince’s guards he wore a bandanna on his head. And usually forgot to take it off before he went to bed so he often had it on at night. His crew were very loyal and never questioned him in their lives. He was a good shot with his pistol and had skills with his cutlass. He was feared by all foes and to catch him you would get a billion dollars he wasn’t killed but he died of old age.

Monday, 24 May 2010


a film by Tsai Ming-liang

This is the most excruciatingly slow movie I’ve ever seen. I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone makes Sokurov’s films fast-paced and dialogue-rich. Luckily, I did watch the DVD in two installments, both of which still seemed to take forever.

Don’t get me wrong: it is not a bad movie. I don’t mind that, for the most part, nothing seem to be happening. It has several truly beautiful scenes, where not much happens either. The trouble is, somehow I never got emotionally engaged with the main characters. Neither did they get emotionally engaged with each other. Bizarrely, the only love affair that lasts throughout the movie is the one with an old mattress.

The music of the finale song (see the clip) is Charlie Chaplin’s theme from Limelight.

Friday, 21 May 2010

Fishbourne-style Roman mosaic

by Timur Kulikov

Lately, Timur was designing a lot of Fishbourne-style mosaics (so named after Fishbourne Roman Palace in West Sussex). Waking up at 7 am, going downstairs, having breakfast and — to the computer. Finishing in the evening.

I think they are great. I will ask Timur to design the floors for our own Roman palace.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

The Pink Panther 2

a film by Harald Zwart

Honestly, I did not expect much from The Pink Panther 2. I only watched it because Yuri borrowed the DVD from the library — and I am glad he did. It’s a good old-fashioned slapstick comedy, in (many) parts very silly, with refreshingly little violence. Inspector Clouseau is easily the best Steve Martin’s role in years.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Duxford concert and Milton gig

At the annual Members Concert yesterday, Timur played The Moon Walk on the recorder, with Junior Music Club I. Yuri performed Pink Floyd’s Brain Damage with Intermediate Guitars and Inishere with Beginner Violins. And yours truly, as one half of Beginner Trombones, did the most embarrassing rendition of Colonel Bogey March (I think I hit less than half of the notes), to the rapturous applause of the audience. Still, I feel relieved about the whole thing.

This weekend Arco Iris played astounding four gigs! The gig today was to support Cambridge Oxfam Walk at Milton Country Park. We played two 30-minute sets. The sun was shining, the Oxfam people were dancing — and we’ve been even treated to free tea and ice cream!

Friday, 14 May 2010

Festive Minor

by Gerry Mulligan

I learned couple of further LilyPond tricks:
  1. To group staves, just place << >> around the staves:
      \new Staff { music A }
      \new Staff { music B }
  2. To print chord names over the notes, add \chords { chords } to the score. The chord symbols, like notes and rests, have to include durations. For instance, aes1 in the example below corresponds to A♭ that lasts as long as semibreve. The chord names can be further modified in the following way: f1:m = Fm, ees1:7 = E♭7, c1:9- = C7/♭9 and so on.
  3. What to do if a chord lasts longer than one bar but you want to show it only when the chord changes? Use \set chordChanges = ##t.
I chose Festive Minor as an example. The theme starts as a wonderful call-and-response of two instruments. It is written in F minor (I suppose the pun was intended) but of course you always can transpose it. Note that each staff is a self-sufficient bit of music, which can be modified (e.g. transposed) independently.
% ****************************************************************
% Festive Minor (Gerry Mulligan)
% ****************************************************************
\version "2.12.3"
\score {
  \chords {
    \set chordChanges = ##t
   r4. |
   f1:m bes1:m f1:m bes1:m 
   f1:m bes1:m ees1:7 aes1
   ees1:7 c1:9- f1:m f1:m 
   g1:7 g1:7 c1:9- c1:9- 
   g1:7 bes2:m6 c2:7 f1:m bes2:m6 c2:7
   f1:m f1:m  
  \new Staff 
  \key f \minor
   \partial 4. 
   c''4 aes'8 |
   \repeat volta 2 {
   f'2 r8 f''4 des''8 
   bes'2 r8 c''4 aes'8
   f'2 r8 f''4 des''8
   bes'2 \times 2/3 { r8 b'8 c''8 } \times 2/3 { des''8 c''8 aes'8 }
   f'2 r8 f''4 c''8
   ees''8. des''16 c''8. des''16( des''8.) a'16 bes'8. ees''16(
   ees''2.)( ees''8) des''8
   des''8. c''16 r4 r8 aes'8 \times 2/3 { aes'8 bes'8 c''8 }
   des''2 bes'4. aes'8
   g'2 e'8. g'16 bes'8. des''16
   c''8. aes'16 bes'8. c''16 r2
   r2 f'8. g'16 aes'8. c''16
   \alternative {
   { b'1(
     b'8.) d''16 f''8. g''16 aes''8. aes''16 g''8. f''16
     g''8. e''16 r4 r4 e''8 des''8(
     des''4) r4 r8 c''4 aes'8 
   { b'2 f'4. b'8
     bes'8 f'8 aes'8 bes'8 ces''8 bes'8 aes'8 f'8(
     f'2.) r8 b'8
     bes'8 f'8 aes'8 bes'8 \times 2/3 { b'8 bes'8 aes'8 } f'8 f'8(
     f'4) r4 r2
  \new Staff 
  \key f \minor
   \partial 4. 
   r4 r8 |
   \repeat volta 2 {
   r8 c''4 aes'8 f'4 r4
   r8 f''4 des''8 bes'4 r4
   r8 c''4 aes'8 f'4 r4
   r8 f''4 des''8 bes'4 r4
   \times 2/3 { r8 b'8 c''8 } \times 2/3 { des''8 c''8 aes'8 } f'4 r4
   r8 f'4 c'8 ees'8 des'8 bes8 g8(
   g2.)( g8) bes8
   bes8. aes16 r4 r8 c''8 \times 2/3 { c''8 des''8 ees''8 }
   f''2 des''4. c''8
   bes'2 g'8. bes'16 des''8. e''16
   ees''8. c''16 des''8. ees''16 r8 c'8 ees'16 aes'16 d'8(
   \alternative {
   { r2 des'4. f'8
     \times 2/3 { d'8 ees'8 f'8 } b4 r2
     r4 \times 2/3 { aes'8 g'8 f'8 } \times 2/3 { e'8 des'8 c'8 } r4
     \times 2/3 { des'8 c'8 bes8 } \times 2/3 { g8 f8 e8 } r2 
   { r1
     r2 r4 f'8 ees'8(
     ees'2) d'2
     des'2 c'4. c'8(
     c'4) r4 r2
And here’s the result:

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Wishbone Ash @ The Junction

Two words: Wishbone Ash.

Although only Andy Powell remains of the original line-up, the band sounds as if they all were jamming together since 1970s. That’s The Quality. You can’t get classic British prog-rock more classic than that. Incidentally, of the four rockers, my favourite musician tonight was Finn, Muddy Manninen.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

The Opposite House

by Helen Oyeyemi
You know what, if you want to talk about your original country, if you want to be serious about it, fine. But you don’t need to pretend that you love the place. People need to stop using love of some country that they don’t live in as an excuse for their inability to shut up about it.

Honestly, I wanted to like this book, I did. I went as far as actually finishing it. And was it worth it? No. Reading should be a pleasure, not a struggle. Sometimes I had to re-read a page two or three times to extract some minimum of sense. The worst bits are those about “somewherehouse”: pretentious writing reminiscent of Salman Rushdie but without an interesting (or, rather, any) story to tell.

And it is a shame. Her writing betrays Oyeyemi to be a very talented author. It would be great if she cared about her readers too.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

L’amore in città

a film by Michelangelo Antonioni, Federico Fellini, Alberto Lattuada, Carlo Lizzani, Francesco Maselli, Dino Risi and Cesare Zavattini

Of six short films that comprise L’amore in città, the obvious winner is Un’ agenzia matrimoniale. The dream-like search of the marriage agency in a huge house (only children appear to know where it is) and the scene with the former police officer who works in the agency are classic Fellini. The final segment, Gli Italiani si voltano by Alberto Lattuada, is a hilarious observation of, well, Italian men who stare at beautiful Italian women. It gets a bit creepy toward the end. There are some charming moments in Paradiso per 3 ore by Dino Risi and Zavattini’s Storia di Caterina but, all in all, this movie did not age well.

Monday, 3 May 2010

Welsh Encontro 2010

Yes! We did it to Welsh Encontro 2010 in Cardiff — and back. Arco Iris played two slots, on Sunday in front of Kemi’s Café Bar and on Monday near Techniquest. I think today’s busk was better, maybe because of sun, maybe because, just after it, we had a jam with Samba York. On the contrary, the mass busk (“Sambadrome”) at 2 pm today was a bit of an anti-climax: it looked (and sounded) like too many people had quite enough of samba and just wanted to go home.