Early to mid-noughties. Paper, watercolour.
Sunday, 27 February 2011
Saturday, 26 February 2011
This book traces the stories of four African prostitutes working in the Antwerp’s red light district. It has everything that Bonjour Tristesse does not: real women (that I end up liking, not just sympathising), real life, real sadness. (You understand, the only reason to oppose these two books here is that I happened to read one after another. Sorry, Ms. Sagan.) And, to quote the oldest of the “sisters”, Efe, ‘it make me tink’.
Friday, 25 February 2011
Thursday, 10 February 2011
One day, Timur asked what was the music played in the car. There was no easy answer to that because the car’s MP3 server was showing “Unknown Album by Unknown Artist”. Funnily enough, I knew what it was, who the musicians are and where exactly the CD is buried at home; and yet I couldn’t remember neither album’s title nor the name of the band.
Back home, I took the album out. Here it is. I say, what an utterly unremarkable name for a most remarkable collaboration: that of jazz trombonist Annie Whitehead and Alistair Anderson, the master of English concertina. Now last.fm says: “Northern Lights can refer to at least four different groups”, after which five different bands are described, none of them refers to Whitehead—Anderson project. As for the title, just check how many albums are named Airplay and you’ll see what I mean.
I wish British jazz/folk/experimental music was better promoted. I’m sure the musicians can do that themselves. Is it that difficult to put a couple of (complete) tracks on MySpace? (That would really help me to illustrate why this is such a brilliant record, by the way.) But no. After searching the web for a good few hours, I give up. The only professional review of the album I could find is at All About Jazz Italia (in Italian). No review at allmusic. Pathetic.
Oh well. I suppose you just have to trust me: it is wonderful. My favourite songs are In All Languages and Midnight Reel; Timur’s (so far) is Dark Blue.
Wednesday, 9 February 2011
There’s a love story, a horror story, a sequel, sort of, to The Commitments. Almost all of them have one thing in common. Someone born in Ireland meets someone who has come to live here.
The thing about short story collections is that there always is a couple too many of them; one or two I’d happily live without; the literary equivalents of those orphan chocolates on the bottom of the box. Not here. Eight stories here are all in their places. The title story, a happy-ending remake of The Commitments, is almost as good as the original. Less believable, sure, but hey. I’ve always admired Jimmy Rabbite’s musical taste. Surely he deserves a great band to manage.
Sunday, 6 February 2011
I bought this bass one warm May Saturday in 2000, in Boston, MA. Or was it in Cambridge, MA? I can’t say for sure now. It was a second-hand music shop about to close in 30 minutes. It was a perfect timing and it looked like somebody left there a perfect instrument waiting for me. I think that, ten years later, I can repeat this: a perfect instrument.
The thing about Fender Jazz Bass is that there is nothing superfluous to start with. Fretless Fender JB has even less than that. And in this case, less definitely is more. My instrument (made in Japan) also feels significantly lighter than some of American Deluxe basses I was allowed to touch, even though I have no clue how much does it really weigh. I was using Rotosound Tru Bass black nylon strings until couple of years ago when I switched to Jazz Bass flatwounds. Both are excellent strings but I would like to go back to black nylons at some point. (Just added a set to my wishlist.)
More photos of fretless electric bass @ Fotolia.
Friday, 4 February 2011
Howlin’ Wolf; Muddy Waters; Blind Somebody; Big Someone Else Entirely — that’s how the real bluesmen are named. Not Taj Mahal. Until a few years ago, I thought it to be too ridiculously ostentatious a name to give Mr Mahal a try. In fact, I still think it is ridiculously ostentatious. And I am glad that I’ve discovered his music.
Mkutano means “meeting” in Swahili. Simple as that. It is a meeting of friends, not a competition. Listen to Catfish Blues and hear for yourself: the taarab orchestra sounding as if it were the most natural accompaniment to Delta blues.
From this review, I learned something that was not in the album’s liner notes.
Some local heroes also took part. Female singer Bikidude is well into her nineties and a living legend — the most famous musical ambassador from Zanzibar. Next to her musical prowess, the myth of Bikidude is based on a number of real-life incidents. At the age of thirteen she fled from an enforced marriage into Tanzania, where she crossed the country barefoot. She left a second unhappy marriage and took a traditional dhow sailing-boat to Egypt. It was there she became a singer. She took off her veil and shaved her head. Thus, she created an alternative and somewhat provocative new role model for Islamic women in Zanzibar. Bikidude drank and smoked, she flirted and danced, she sang and played the drums. A major artist from Zanzibar still and singing on this album.Enjoy the meeting.
Thursday, 3 February 2011
- The incredible (although more believable than the Bible’s version) testimony of a Noah’s Ark stowaway, Anobium domesticum.
- The uninvited visitors board the Mediterranean cruise ship, with shocking consequences.
- Hitherto unpublished bizarre 16th-century legal case of Mamirolle villagers vs the very same A. domesticum.
- Young woman survives the nuclear holocaust on board a boat somewhere off the Australian coast, in company of two cats.
- The story that inspired Géricault’s The Raft of the Medusa, followed by the story of Géricault’s The Raft of the Medusa.
- In 1840, two Irish ladies undertake an expedition to Mount Ararat.
- Author’s encounters with Lawrence Beesley, a survivor of the sinking of the Titanic; the legend of James Bartley, 19th-century Jonah; the 1939 voyage of St. Louis.
- A film crew goes into the Venezuelan jungle to re-enact the adventures of two Jesuit priests there couple of centuries ago, with almost as disastrous a result.
- (A beautiful, rambling meditation on the nature of love.)
- An American astronaut takes a few steps on the moon and hears the voice of God instructing him, guess what, to find Noah’s Ark.
- The author wakes up and spends some years or millennia in paradise, polishing his golf skills.
I wouldn’t call it a novel; nor does it provide a history of the world. Who needs a history of the world anyway? A masterful book worthy of Borges and Lem, this one.
Tuesday, 1 February 2011
Today — just like a year ago — Arco Iris (renamed “Arco samba band” by Cambridge City Council) were supporting the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender History Month by playing at the Market Square from 12:00 to 12:30. We had a good, tight (even if I say so myself) 20-strong band, and freshly painted over the weekend drums (some of them still wet). And this time, we were announcing the raising of the rainbow flag with a drum roll! During and after the gig, scores of local paparazzi were clicking away, so I expect at least some photos and movies in Cambridge News.