Women took the Bastille – now get into Greenwich and to Oliver’s

Tonight’s featured artist is Mark Lockheart.

The shopkeepers, restauranteurs and jazz lovers of Greenwich defy LOCOG and assert their right to “group improvised music played on sequential harmony in time” (GIMPOSHIT).

 

Mark Lockheart is not only a very old friend and co-consiprator in a number of musical settings dating back to 1979, but clearly one of the most distinctive and creative musicians on the current British music scene. As a saxophonist and composer, his work often defies categorisation and crosses the boundaries of the jazz, new music and folk worlds. “Lockheart is a consummate saxophonist and a original and versatile composer” The Rough Guide to Jazz. Do please check Mark’s website, click here…

I would like to write more about Mark, (hence the reference to his website)but tonight’s gig has been somewhat overshadowed by the plight of businesses in Greenwich. As you are aware from the news, business is bad all over London. On our scene there were just 6 punters at the 606 last Sunday and Ronnie’s sent out an email last night entitled “The West End is a ghost town”. More specifically, Greenwich has been on the national news due to the plight of shop keepers, restauranteurs and the market traders who are really suffering, see below:

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-19067764
www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/olympics/london-2012/9445421/London-2012-Traders-near-Olympic-venue-bemoan-lack-of-business.html
www.greenwichtime.com/news/article/Ghost-town-London-businesses-bemoan-Olympic-slump-3753960.php

So much for the Olympics creating an economic boom for Britain. I really enjoyed what I saw of the opening ceremony but while I am a sports fan and massively behind any active participatory initiatives, we always knew that regular folk were never going to benefit financially from the Olympics. Catering workers and hotel staff across London continue to work for the minimum wage, there is no realistic improvement in job prospects for the inhabitants of East London and now the leisure industry is crippled by the restrictions imposed by corporate interests or incompetent short-sightedness of the planners. I have a friend who works for the ODA (Olympic Delivery Authority). In May he informed me that a “host borough” had yet to complete its traffic plans. Can you believe it? Judging by the lack of forethought regarding the impact upon local businesses, nothing should surprise us.

But… on a positive note… Tonight Oliver’s will present more great music. Be different, please be different, defy the norm, turn off the telly, make a choice on behalf of lasting value, face the challenge and get your butt to Oliver’s!

Tomorrow night : Joe Townsend

For full listing of the entire season, click here…

Chick Corea and Gary Burton turn to Greenwich for Fashion, Jazz… and Nadatar

Tonight’s featured band is Simon Purcell’s “Nadatar”.

Tonight’s band “Nadatar” is a reformation of a group from some time ago (a quartet with the alto saxophonist Mike Williams, bassist Ricardo Dos Santos and drummers Dave Wickins or Tom Gordon as well as the reclusive but brilliant trumpeter Paul Edmond). Now regrouped with Julian Siegel (saxophones), plus Tom Farmer and Shane Forbes from “Empirical”, the music is swinging modern jazz, very much inspired by Branford Marsalis et al.

People expend a lot of energy asserting opinions as to validity of various styles/genres of jazz. The reference points in tonight’s music will be obvious and clear to any jazz lover (bebop, the modal thing, the blues, complex and simple forms), but while fads come and go, it is ok to revisit and re-form good ideas. Nobody ever told Cannonball Adderley or B.B. King not to play the blues!

Tomorrow night: Mark Lockheart with the Simon Purcell trio

For full listing of the entire season, click here…

Miles is hangin’ at Oliver’s with Tom Farmer, Nathaniel Facey and Shane Forbes

Tonight’s featured artists are Tom Farmer, Nathaniel Facey and Shane Forbes.

MOBO Jazz Awards winners Tom Farmer, Nathaniel Facey and Shane Forbes form part of the new wave of outstanding improvisational voices emerging in London at present. Already established in Britain and abroad, the really great thing about these guys is not only their artistry and the power and voice of their band “Empirical” (with vibraphonist Lewis Wright) but the fact that they also appreciate and celebrate the origins of jazz. Whatever music they play, it is always informed by the tradition and vocal and rhythmic qualities of the music. We’re not sure just how much tonight’s music will be derived from the Empirical pad, but it will offer an important glimpse of where the music is going to be going in the hands of these three masterful improvisors.

Tomorrow night Simon Purcell’s “Nadatar” with Julian Siegel, Tom Farmer and Shane Forbes

For full listing of the entire season, click here…

Sun Ra says – “Go To Oliver’s – it’s Martin Speake!”

“Not the Olympics” @ Oliver’s Day 3 Martin Speake Trio with Dave Green and Gene Calderazzo.

Sun Ra says “go to Oliver’s”

Do as Sun Ra advises and drag yourself away from the television and check out the scene at Oliver’s in Greenwich.

Tonight’s featured artist is Martin Speake.
Martin is the first person to acknowledge and celebrate his wide range of influences from Bird and Paul Motian to Indian Music (note his collaborations with Indian musicians Dharambir Singh and Sarvar Sabri) but tonight as always, Martin’s music will be both lyrical and highly improvised. It will also be a wonderful opportunity to hear the great bass player Dave Green who has literally played with everybody from including all the great British artists – Michael Garrick, Don Rendell, Stan Tracey, Ian Carr, Phil Seaman, through to Harry Edison, Sonny Rollins and Roland Kirk.

Enjoy.

For full listing of the entire season, click here… Tomorrow night Malcolm Earle-Smith Sings…

If Music be the Food of Love…

If Music be the Food of Love, a response to Phil’s Robson’s FaceBook post.

Kate Williams is right in her comments on Phil Robson’s original post, it is definitely a political issue. It is a matter of values, and as artists we are in the “values business”. We assign so much of our energy and intention towards an ideal, a version or subtle representation of life so clearly at odds with the value system of the corporate world and the mass collective narcissistic neurosis of celebrity.

I have thought for many years that as human beings we possess a primal impulse towards creativity, artfulness and spirituality, as much our need for shelter, relationship and sexuality. Indeed, the signs of the collective creative and expressive impulse are ubiquitous, humanity’s need to create constantly revealing itself all around us.

Creativity and artfulness are natural states. When suppressed people become ill. When suppressed for long enough, communities and society becomes ill (read the research). The Spanish philosopher Jose Arguelles wrote: “When a man is deprived of the power of expression, he will express himself in a drive for power.” It is counter to our natural state and emotional health that hoards of artists are not only unknown but under-employed, while the need for more creativity in schools is obvious for all to see (not just in art and music but in the license afforded to creative teaching across the curriculum). And then there is the workplace and popular culture… The crime is that creative talent is as common as sand yet the dominant economic, social and political paradigm would have us believe that it is as scarce as gold. Actually, it is expedient in the post-capitalist world. (American theologian Matthew Fox had contributed insights on the subject during the 1980s.)

Phil’s points about Spotify are straightforward. Free or dirt-cheap listening makes music a “free-gift disposable consumable” that can be discarded in favour of another quick/free fix. Notwithstanding the argument about free access to great music, Music is now commoditised to such an extent and consumed as automatically as junk food, listening habits and purchasing behaviours vulnerable to extensive manipulation the market. I prefer to see quality music in the same way as quality food in that:
• It can take longer to prepare.
• It can require an investment in time and commitment on behalf of both performer and listener.
• It might take longer to digest!
• It can be (generally is) better for you (food for the soul). There is much research about creative activity and improved psychological well-being, reduction in mental illness, improved immune-systems etc.

I admire Phil for taking a stand on these matters and wish that the musical community had the confidence to support and actively promote the discussion. Couldn’t we take a more collective position on behalf of music? The irony is that very few musicians make a lot of money from music in any case, and the argument that free downloads promote the sale of merchandise at large scale or stadium gigs is hardly relevant for improvising musicians. Perhaps we have nothing to lose by reflecting and proposing some alternative practices – together. It won’t work otherwise.

There’s more comment here… www.facebook.com/simon.purcell.313

Thelonious Monk on How to Play Jazz

Everybody has their opinion about how to play the music. Monk was a one-off, a totally individual and realised artist, but he thought about it, in his own way too. This manuscript is freely available on the web (I found it at Sean Driscoll’s excellent blog - check it out). Makes a change from chords and scales…

  • Just because you’re not a drummer, doesn’t mean you don’t have to keep time.
  • Pat your foot and sing the melody in your head, when you play.
  • Stop playing all those weird notes (that bullshit), play the melody!
  • Make the drummer sound good.
  • Discrimination is important.
  • You’ve got to dig it to dig it, you dig?
  • ALL REET!
  • Always know….(MONK)
  • It must be always night, otherwise they wouldn’t need the lights.
  • Let’s lift the band stand!!
  • I want to avoid the hecklers.
  • Don’t play the piano part, I’m playing that. Don’t listen to me. I’m supposed to be accompanying you!
  • The inside of the tune (the bridge) is the part that makes the outside sound good.
  • Don’t play everything (or every time); let some things go by. Some music just imagined. What you don’t play can be more important that what you do.
  •  A note can be small as a pin or as big as the world, it depends on your imagination.
  • Stay in shape! Sometimes a musician waits for a gig, and when it comes, he’s out of shape and can’t make it.
  • When you’re swinging, swing some more.
  • (What should we wear tonight? Sharp as possible!)
  • Always leave them wanting more.
  • Don’t sound anybody for a gig, just be on the scene. These pieces were written so as to have something to play and get cats interested enough to come to rehearsal.
  • You’ve got it! If you don’t want to play, tell a joke or dance, but in any case, you got it! (To a drummer who didn’t want to solo)
  • Whatever you think can’t be done, somebody will come along and do it. A genius is the one most like himself.
  • They tried to get me to hate white people, but someone would always come along and spoil it.

Tony Levin – sad news

The great drummer Tony Levin died yesterday (February 3rd).

My impression was that Tony was one of the first drummers in the UK to have understood and developed Elvin’s thing if not the first). While these days we can access transcriptions and videos effortlessly, it is easy to ignore the pioneering work of the British jazz musicians in the 1960s and 70s, who internalised the very complex music from the USA at the time. It was certainly harder then. But Tony was also an incredible improvisor and creative musician. Typically of the British scene, I can recall some folk saying that he was too loud, but it is the usual issue of some British horn players not “getting the drum thing”. The truth of the matter is that he was active and dynamic, making things happen. Click here…

Tony was generous, kind and I wish that I could have played with him when I was considerably more experienced. In my formative years, he provided me with the opportunity to play with a host of great British jazz musicians (Ronnie Ross, Art Themen, Pete King etc) at his gig at the Barton Arms in Birmingham (in 1985 I think). There was also a thrilling night with Red Rodney.

Tony Levin was musician to whom I owe much.

Paul Desmond, a master mind and wit: some thoughts for a New Year

A poet of the music, Paul Desmond was both self-deprecating and deeply insightful. This medley of quotes might tickle and provoke us…
“I tried practicing for a few weeks and ended up playing too fast… I have won several prizes as the world’s slowest alto player, as well as a special award in 1961 for quietness”.
Regarding his tone:“I honestly don’t know! It has something to do with the fact that I play illegally.”
On why he changed his name: “Breitenfeld sounded too Irish.”

More seriously, Paul Desmond challenges students and teachers of the music: “Complexity can be a trap. You can have a ball developing a phrase, inverting it, playing it in different keys and times and all. But it’s really more introspective than communicative. Like a crossword puzzle compared to a poem.”
And most telling… “Writing is like jazz. It can be learned, but it can’t be taught.”
Sadly his perception about the jazz audience appears to remain pretty much spot on…”Our basic audience begins with creaking elderly types of twenty-three and above.”

For more Paul Desmond, click here:
www.jazzquotations.com/2010/05/paul-desmond-quotes_24.html
thinkexist.com/quotes/paul_desmond/
www.gandalfe.net/paul_desmond.htm

For a transcription of Paul Desmond’s solo on “Samba with some Bar-B-Q” click here

Swinging in 7 is hard – Ronan’s point.

There’s a lot of hot air and conflicting opinion amongst jazz musicians and within the music colleges regarding playing and improvising in odd metres. At last there are some wise and measured thoughts in Ronan Guilfoyle’s excellent blog.

Check out his recent post “Whatever Happened to Odd Metre Swing?