Archive for September, 2008

Louis Jordan to Charles Mingus, Elvis to Dave Holland and Bobby Dylan to hip-hop

September 30, 2008
FREE! Music for grown-ups on the BBC in the next 10 days:

Tues 30 Sept
2230, Dazed & Confused: the Led Zeppelin Legacy – BBC Radio 2
2330 Howlin’ Wolf – BBC Radio 2 (rpt) (2/2)

Wed 1 Oct
1200 & 2200 Charles Mingus, Composer Of The Week – BBC Radio 3
(3/5, continues Thurs-Fri)

Thurs 2 Oct
2300 Bob Dylan, Theme Time Radio Hour (rpt) – BBC Radio 2

Fri 3 Oct
2100 Once Upon A Time In New York (hip hop, disco and punk) – BBC Four

Sun 5 Oct
2400 Bob Dylan, Theme Time Radio Hour (new) – BBC 6 Music

Mon 6 Oct
2315 Dave Holland Sextet, Jazz On 3 – BBC Radio 3
2330 Choo Choo Ch’Boogie: the Louis Jordan Story – BBC Radio 2

Thurs 9 Oct
2300 Bob Dylan, Theme Time Radio Hour (rpt) – BBC Radio 2

Online access: many BBC radio programmes are broadcast online, streamed. Please see the channels’ web sites for details. Archived BBC radio and TV programmes are accessible online for a short period via:

www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer

And on commercial TV:

Fri 10 Oct
2420 Elvis Presley, All You Need Is Love (part 13), More 4

Gerry Smith

Africa Now! World–class line-up in London in October

September 29, 2008
London’s Barbican – probably the leading UK venue staging music for grown-ups, from across the spectrum – excels itself next month with AFRICA NOW, featuring giants of African music like Baaba Maal, Oumou Sangare, Amadou & Mariam, Rachid Taha and many more, on 23 October.

It‘s the first time I’ve been aware of so many of Africa’s greatest artists performing under one roof. They’ll do solo and ensemble sets.

Tickets: £10-25. Giveaway!

www.barbican.org.uk

Gerry Smith

Alex Turner: outpacing Dylan?

September 26, 2008
Thanks to Martin Cowan:

“I’m not sure what readers’ stance is on trendy scallywags The Arctic Monkeys, but I find myself somewhat surprisingly commending Monkeys main man Alex Turner’s Mercury Prize short-listed side project, The Last Shadow Puppets.

“Turner’s way with a word recently led to him rubbing shoulders with such esteemed writers as Cohen, Joni and Dylan himself in the Guardian’s Great Lyricists booklet series, and it is a combination of his sharp lyrics and the impeccable classic ‘60s sound textures on the Shadow Puppets’ “Age of the Understatement” LP which has set my pulse racing these last few weeks.

“Indeed, perusing the sharp and spiky lyrical twists and turns made me wonder when Dylan, famously held up as the world’s greatest lyricist, was able to conjure up such original and poetic word play – not in recent times, I fear.

“This, from the opening title track, is offered as an appetiser for those who might dare to explore further:

“’She’s playful/ the boring would warn you/ be careful of her brigade/ in order to tame this relentless marauder/ move away from the parade.

“’She was walking on the tables/ in the glasshouse/ endearingly bedraggled in the wind/ subtle in her method of seduction/ twenty little tragedies begin’.”

All lyrics quoted are used for the purpose of criticism or review.
The Last Shadow Puppets, by Alex Turner and Miles Kane, published by EMI Music Publishing Ltd/Deltasonic Music Ltd, Copyright © and (p) Domino Recording Co Ltd 2008.

Neil Young’s legacy examined in the new issue of WIRE

September 25, 2008
Thanks to Bryn Wilson:

“I’m excited, like you, by all the new Neil Young stuff. You and your readers might be interested in a lengthy article in the latest issue of WIRE – Adventures in Modern Music, the avant-garde music monthly.

“WIRE #296, October 2008, with the Richie Hawtin cover, has a multi-page feature article in its The Primer slot: The Alternative Neil Young. It’s a comprehensive survey from a WIRE perspective, looking at Young’s discography with an original, leftfield slant – a relief from the normal mainstream entertainment view you get in the heritage rock mags.”

Five new Neil Young products imminent

September 24, 2008
Like all Neil Young fans still gnashing their teeth at having missed the highly praised European tour earlier this year, I’m looking forward to a slew of new product about to hit the streets, particularly:

* The new release, the oft-bootlegged Sugar Mountain gig, due next Monday

* Don’t Be Denied, a 60-min bio-doc due on BBC Four TV in late October

* The Riverboat, another live gig, from the Archives project, due November

* the multi-disc Archives Volume One, pencilled in for November, but serially delayed.

But I’ll be avoiding the new film chronicling the Living With War tour Young completed in 2006 with CS&N.

Gerry Smith

Led Zep to Mingus, Howlin’ Wolf to Jacqueline du Pre and June Tabor to Bob Dylan

September 23, 2008
FREE! Music for grown-ups on the BBC in the next 10 days:

Wed 24 Sept
1200 & 2200 Brahms, Composer Of The Week – BBC Radio 3
(3/5, continues Thurs-Fri)

Thurs 25 Sept
2300 Bob Dylan, Theme Time Radio Hour (rpt) – BBC Radio 2

Fri 26 Sept
1930 Jacqueline du Pre/Elgar Cello Concerto – BBC Four
2335 Roots Manuva, Elbow, Later… – BBC2

Sat 27 Sept
1600 Betty Carter, Jazz Library – BBC Radio 3
2400 Duke Ellington 1940-1974, Jazz Library – BBC Radio 3

Sun 28 Sept
2400 Bob Dylan, Theme Time Radio Hour (s2) – BBC 6 Music
0140 Masked And Anonymous (Dylan – film, with music) – BBC2

Mon 29 September
1200 & 2200 Charles Mingus, Composer Of The Week – BBC Radio 3
(1/5, continues Tues-Fri)

Tues 30 Sept
2230, Dazed & Confused: the Led Zeppelin Legacy – BBC Radio 2
2330 Howlin’ Wolf – BBC Radio 2 (rpt) (2/2)

Thurs 2 Oct
2255 June Tabor, BBC Four Sessions – BBC Four
2300 Bob Dylan, Theme Time Radio Hour (rpt) – BBC Radio 2

Fri 3 Oct
2100 Once Upon A Time In New York (hip hop, disco and punk)
– BBC Four

Online access: many BBC radio programmes are broadcast online, streamed. Please see the channels’ web sites for details. Archived BBC radio and TV programmes are accessible online for a short period via:

www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer

Gerry Smith

Jazz Magazine: if only…

September 22, 2008
Jazz rings my bell. Especially classic jazz from the USA, released between 1945 and 1975… Miles, Coltrane, Weather Report, Herbie Hancock, Charlie Parker are at the core of my collection.

Now I like a lot of London-based musos and have paid to see many deliver engaging gigs – Stan Tracy, Andy Sheppard, Alec Dankworth, Guy Barker, Alan Skidmore and the like are all very fine musicians but I don’t think even they would claim to be world-class.

I buy music mags and have tried the various London jazz monthlies. Jazzwise comes nearest to satisfying my needs, but I baulk at its bias towards Anglo jazzers. Countries tend to excel in different musics. England for the best in poprock. Germany for the best classical. Italy for opera. And America, not England, for jazz.

I am, though, deeply impressed by Jazz Magazine, published monthly in Paris: it focuses on the postwar US giants with a healthy leavening of contemporary European artists. The current issue has a Wayne Shorter cover, and recent months have seen Zappa and Hendrix, as well as Miles, Keith Jarrett and Steve Coleman on the cover: a very agreeable mix.

If I lived in France, I’d pick up most issues from my local papetiere, j’en suis sur!

www.jazzmagazine.com

Gerry Smith

A feast of Roxy Music: encore…

September 19, 2008
The two main Roxy Music programmes on BBC Four tonight were a mixed bag.

The Roxy Music Story, a new documentary, successfully evoked Ferry’s genius – he had the vision for a wholly original new rockpop combo and the talent, drive and organization to execute it.

Roxy were one of the most important English rock bands. More enduring, to this writer at least, than the Beatles.

The programme mixed delicious performance clips with all the talking heads you’d hope for. The story was well told. The judgments were sound. Recommended.

Roxy Music: Frejus, turned out to be most of The High Road, the long-available video of the 1983 gig on the French Riviera. By then, the joins were showing.

“Roxy Music” had been watered down into Bryan plus backing musicians – a pity because Andy Mackay delivers a solo which demonstrates what a superior alto sax he could blow when the spirit moved him.

But when an American blues-rock anthem – Like A Hurricane – is the gig highlight, you knew that the Roxy magic had long gone. And – final indignity – one of the musos was wearing jeans!

Gerry Smith

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EARLIER RELATED ARTICLE

Here’s a reminder to (fellow) fans of English art rock: tomorrow sees a feast of Roxy Music, with three different programmes on BBC Four:

2100 The Roxy Music Story – a new documentary
2155 Roxy Music: Frejus (live) – interview and gig from the 1970s
0125 Bryan Ferry and Roxy Music – presumably clips from BBC shows like Old Grey Whistle Test.

They should be viewable online for a week via:

www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer

Rumours of a new Roxy album that abound don’t interest this Roxy/Ferry fan. The legacy is the quartet of early 1970s masterpieces: Roxy Music, For Your Pleasure, Stranded and Country Life. The Best Of Roxy Music (2001) is a fabulous compilation, widely available at about £5.

Roxy Music bridged the gap between pop and high culture. That’s why their art lives on, true music for grown-ups, while the work of most of their poprock contemporaries is best avoided.

Gerry Smith

A feast of Roxy Music

September 18, 2008
Here’s a reminder to (fellow) fans of English art rock: tomorrow sees a feast of Roxy Music, with three different programmes on BBC Four:

2100 The Roxy Music Story – a new documentary
2155 Roxy Music: Frejus (live) – interview and gig from the 1970s
0125 Bryan Ferry and Roxy Music – presumably clips from BBC shows like Old Grey Whistle Test.

They should be viewable online for a week via:

www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer

Rumours of a new Roxy album that abound don’t interest this Roxy/Ferry fan. The true legacy is the quartet of early 1970s masterpieces: Roxy Music, For Your Pleasure, Stranded and Country Life. The Best Of Roxy Music (2001) is a fabulous compilation, widely available at about £5.

Roxy Music bridged the gap between pop and high culture. That’s why their art lives on, true music for grown-ups, while the work of most of their poprock contemporaries is best avoided.

Gerry Smith

Cream of BBC radio relegated to the graveyard shift

September 17, 2008
Music for Grown-Ups highlights BBC radio’s varied output and spares few superlatives in praising the best of its programmes.

Two particular favourites here are Bob Dylan’s Theme Time Radio Hour (series 2) and Jazz Library. There have been few radio series as good as these – ever.

Until recently, both series were broadcast from 10pm on Friday night: I know I’m not the only listener who regarded them with gratitude as the reward for a week of toil.

So what did BBC radio do? Moved them both to midnight – Theme Time Radio Hour on a Sunday (BBC 6 Music), Jazz Library on Saturday (Radio 3).

Who in their right mind will listen to them in those slots? I’d wager that the small audiences for this delightful pair of programmes has dwindled to virtually zero. I’m an enthusiast, but even I forget to tape the bl**dy programmes at these times.

Anglo Dylan/jazz fans are badly served by these new schedules.

Gerry Smith