Categories
geology jazz mixes music

Granite The Eighteenth

following on from my series of mixes dedicated to individuals here is one for thelonious monk and as usual i will write a bit about each track.

when he got a contract with riverside records in 1955 they thought it wise to start his album account with covers from the duke ellington songbook. this might have seemed insulting to someone who already had written a good number of classic bop tunes but monk liked the idea, saying later in an interview

i wanted to do it. i felt like playing that’s all. i knew that duke started playing some of his numbers more than he had as i recall

before the riverside contract he had been with prestige records and the second tune dates back to october 1951. toot was thelonious’ son’s nickname. art blakey was the drummer and gary mapp the bassist.

at the prestige session in november 1953 they were about ten minutes short of the material needed for an lp. it was friday 13 november and so that was used as the title of the composition that monk made up on the spot. listening to the track it’s fairly obvious to me why most critics dismissed the music back then. the music was way before it’s time and a lot of people thought they were playing like that because they couldn’t play properly.

brilliant corners brings us back to the riverside years to be precise 1956 and it was really the breakthrough album that started to bring a modicum of success and critical acclaim. the celeste that monk uses on the track happened to be in the studio and he set it at right angles to the piano keyboard so that he could use it on the heads and on his solo. of course the track is named after his famous rich patron pannonica de koenigswarter. the following is monk’s introduction to the track caught on a home recording some time.

it was named after this beautiful lady here. i think her father gave her that name because of a butterfly that he tried to catch. i don’t think he caught the butterfly.

in november 1957 there was a concert at new york’s carnegie hall which was a benefit for the morningside community center. as well as the thelonious monk quartet there was ray charles topping the bill, and also the bands of billie holiday, dizzy gillespie , zoot sims and sonny rollins. the concert was broadcast on the radio as a voice of america production. the recordings of the monk quartet were discovered in 2005 in the library of congress vaults.

ruby my dear started life as manhattan moods which was intially registered for copyright in 1945. sometime in the next year the name got changed. rubie richardson was an early girlfriend of thelonious’ but things didn’t work out. her parents never approved.

and so he eventually married nellie smith who he’d known since she was ten and he was sixteen. this tune dedicated to her was originally to be called twilight with nellie and it was nica who suggested using the french word instead. criss-cross now takes us to the columbia records years. the track was recorded on 29 march 1963 and the other musicians were charlie rouse on tenor saxophone, john ore on bass and frankie dunlop on drums.

underground is in my opinion the last great album he produced and the title refers to the nickname of his daughter this time

finally from halloween 1964 (or the evening after) the quartet with a new rhythm section larry gales bass and ben riley drums playing live at the it club. throughout his career monk was famed for his eccentricity but it seemed that around this time things were reaching a peak. here’s an excerpt from robin kelly’s thelonious monk biography which provides an example.

hampton hawes, who had not seen monk since he and nellie helped him out in new york, came by the it club one night to check him out. when hawes approached thelonious at the bar during a break, “he didn’t seem to recognise me. looked over my shoulder, elbow on the bar, staring into space the way he sometimes does…i said ‘monk it’s me, hampton’. he kept staring past my shoulder as if he hadn’t heard then turned his back and went into a little shuffling dance; danced a couple of quick circles around me, danced right up to me and said, ‘your sunglasses is at my new york pad.’ and danced away”

titlealbum
mood indigoplays the music of duke ellington
little rootie tootiethelonious monk trio
friday the 13ththelonious monk and sonny rollins
pannonicabrilliant corners
nuttythelonious monk and john coltrane at carnegie hall
ruby my dearsolo monk
crepuscule with nelliecriss-cross
boo-boo’s birthdayunderground
misteriosolive at the it club
Categories
geology jazz mixes music

17 gianter steps

embarrassed at not including any john coltrane in my earlier granite mix this year i thought i’d make amends by doing this new granite mix as a tribute to the great saxophonist. these are all tracks from albums that were released with coltrane as session leader or co-leader. the recording sessions come from the period 1957 to 1963. his first session as leader was in 1957 and his last session was in may 1967 two months before his death so it was a pretty incredible body of work to put out in 10 years.

Granite Mix 17
Artist Title Album
John Coltrane Body And Soul Coltrane Jazz
John Coltrane & Milt Jackson The Night We Called It A Day Bags And Trane
John Coltrane While My Lady Sleeps Coltrane (1957)
Kenny Burrell & John Coltrane Freight Trane The Kenny Burrell Quintet with John Coltrane
John Coltrane Aisha Ole Coltrane
John Coltrane Big Nick Coltrane (1962)
John Coltrane Naima Giant Steps
John Coltrane Theme For Ernie Soultrane
John Coltrane Alabama Live At Birdland

the first track was recorded on october 24th 1960 which was one of 3 days in a week where he was in the studio for atlantic records. the tracks recorded made up 3 albums and most of a fourth.

his first session for atlantic was in january 1959. a session that he co-led with vibraphonist milt jackson who he had played with earlier in the fifties in dizzy gillespie’s band.

before atlantic he was with prestige and this next track is from his first session as a leader. while my lady sleeps was a favourite ballad that he often quoted in his solos and is an early example of using a pedal point which became a major feature in his work later on.

then from a prestige recording session a year or so later which was led by guitarist kenny burrell who he also had played with when he was a sideman for dizzy gillespie. according to the sleeve tommy flanagan the pianist on the session was credited as writer of freight trane but he wasn’t and burrell himself has stated that he didn’t know who wrote it.

aisha was written by pianist mccoy tyner and named for his wife. the recording session for this album was the last session coltrane did for atlantic and in fact 2 days before he’d done his first recording for his new label, impulse and that date was a grander affair with a 20 man ensemble which came out on the africa/brass album.

this next track was not initially released on the album in fact it was recorded a couple of months before the main recording sessions for this record. but it features the classic coltrane quartet with elvin jones on drums mccoy tyner on piano and jimmy garrison on bass here playing coltrane’s homage to another saxophonist big nick nicholas.

just as the fifth track is named by mccoy tyner for his wife this seventh is named by coltrane himself for his wife. both women were from philadelphia and naima was a friend of aisha’s sister khadijah. it is one of his greatest compositions and the only one from the fifties that he was still playing live towards the end of his career.

another track with philadelphia connections in that it was written by guitarist fred lacey in memory of saxophonist ernie henry who died from a heroin overdose in 1957. In trying to glean information about this track i stumbled on an interesting article by bass player steve wallace who seems to have done a good bit of research on the subject.

on sunday september 15th 1963 a large explosion at the 17th street baptist church in birmingham alabama killed four young girls who were preparing for a church service and injured many more. ku klux klan members were eventually found guilty of planting the dynamite. they escaped justice for a long time thanks to an insidious web of corruption and racism that reached right to the top of the fbi. two months later coltrane went into the studio and recorded his dedication to the victims which was one of two studio tracks included with the three live tracks on the live at birdland album released by impulse the following spring.

granite 17

Categories
jazz music quotations

Jazz Quotations 7

[He] uses the first and second left-hand fingers most of the time in single-note work; in chord work he can make use of the third and fourth fingers to a limited extent on the first two strings. He plays his famous octave passages on any two strings, with a “damped” string in between, i.e., on first and third; second and fourth; third and fifth; etc., avoiding that frenzied rushing up and down the fingerboard which would otherwise be necessary. His famous chromatic runs, if played in the first position, are fingered; if played up the fingerboard, they are glissed with one finger. He plays unusual chord shapes because of his handicap…Reinhardt‘s right hand is phenomenal. He does not rest any part of it on the guitar; it pivots from the elbow a little but principally swings from the wrist. He employs down strokes most of the time except for extremely rapid passages and notes played tremolo.

Billy Neill & E Gates

Everybody in this country is very neurotic now. They’re afraid to experience an intense emotion, the kind of intense emotion, for instance, that’s brought on by good jazz. There’s more vitality in jazz than in any other art form today. Vitality arises from an emotion that is free. But the people, being neurotic, are afraid of being affected by a free emotion and that’s why they put down jazz.

Since the last war we’ve been overwhelmed by a feeling of insecurity. To try to offset that insecurity, people are reaching back toward happier times. And we’re in an era of nostalgia which is being inflicted on the younger people who have nothing to be nostalgic about.

Nostalgia brings on anticipation because you know what’s going to happen next. When people start to anticipate, they become intense, waiting for what they know is going to happen. And this tension feeds their neuroses.
That’s why there’s such a small audience for what I’m doing. What I play is so unorthodox that when you first hear it, you don’t try to anticipate. You just sit there. You have to be very relaxed to start with before you put on one of my records. Consequently, people don’t want to hear my sides as often as, say, Garner‘s, because as a rule they won’t be in a mood that’s receptive to what I play.

Lennie Tristano

To begin with we are the music we play. And our commitment is to peace, to understanding of life. And we keep trying to purify our music, to purify ourselves so that we can move ourselves and those who hear us to higher levels of peace and understanding. You have to purify and crystallize your sound in order to hypnotize. I’m convinced, you see, that through music, life can be given more meaning. And every kind of music has an influence either direct or indirect on the world around it so that after a while the sounds of different types of music go around and bring about psychological changes. And we’re trying to bring about peace. In his way, for example, that’s what Coltrane, too, is trying to do.

To accomplish this, I must have spiritual men playing with me. Since we are the music we play, our way of life has to be clean or else the music can’t be kept pure.

Albert Ayler

I follow the improvisation the soloist has taken and when he’s through I pick up the last phrase he’s played and use this as the beginning to my improvisation on the melodic pattern of the composition. It can be very simple or very complicated and you can get unlimited rhythmic and polyrhythmic patterns and phrases. Actually a lot of solos I have taken have drum and rhythmic phrases just as a saxophonist or trumpeter will play phrases with his instrument – drums have to breathe too.

Elvin Jones

I played with Fletcher Henderson for a short time when Coleman Hawkins left. I had a lot of trouble there. The whole band was buzzing on me because I had taken Hawk’s place. I didn’t have the same kind of sound he had. I was rooming at the Henderson’s house, and Leora Henderson would wake me early in the morning and play Hawkins’ records for me so I could play like he did. I wanted to play my own way but I just listened. I didn’t want to hurt her feelings. Finally I left and went to Kansas City. I had in my mind what I wanted to play, and I was going to play that way. That’s the only time that ever happened – someone telling me to play differently from the way I wanted to.

Herschel Evans was a Hawk man. That was the difference between the way we played. He played well, but his man was Hawk like my man at the beginning was Trumbauer. As for Coleman Hawkins, I used to ride in Hawk’s car. He plays fine. He was the first to really start playing tenor. I thought Chu Berry played nice, too. He was on a Coleman Hawkins style. I think he got the job with Henderson after I left. Ben Webster had a taste of it, too. I think Ben plays fine too.

Lester Young

Categories
geology mixes music Uncategorized

miles of granite

for the xvth granite mix i decided to feature the artist who i have most recordings of, miles davis – it’s a long mix – nearly an hour and a half. instinct led me from one track to another. here’s the mix and after it the details and then some comments on the tracks.

granite 15

Granite Mix 15
Artist Title Album
Miles Davis Mood ESP
Charles Mingus/Miles Davis Nature Boy Blue Moods
Miles Davis Nem Um Talvez The Complete Jack Johnson Sessions
Miles Davis Footprints The Bootleg Series Vol. 2 Live In Europe 1969
Miles Davis Pacific Express The Complete Miles Davis at Montreux 1973-1991
Miles Davis It Never Entered My Mind Workin’
Miles Davis Swing Spring Miles Davis & The Modern Jazz Giants
Miles Davis Johnny Bratton The Complete Jack Johnson Sessions
Miles Davis The Time Of The Barracudas Quiet Nights
Miles Davis Right Off In Concert

first of all one of my favourite tracks from one of my favourite albums. esp was the first album of what is known as the 2nd great miles davis quintet which was somehow a perfect band when this was recorded tony williams was 19 herbie hancock was 24 and wayne shorter was already doing some of the best writing that was going on in the mid sixties. ron carter was writer or co-writer of 3 tracks on the album including this one and they’re all good. after that he didn’t contribute any compositions to the following 5 albums he was involved with possibly due to the fact that he was an incredibly busy musician during the period he was with the quintet playing on over 50 recording sessions for albums with other artists.

back to 1955 for a track from a session that had problems according to miles in his autobiography

something went wrong at this session and nothing ever really clicked, so the playing didn’t have any fire. I don’t know what it was – maybe the arrangements – but something definitely went wrong…

but I’ve always enjoyed this track, written by proto-hippy eden ahbez, first recorded by nat ‘king’ cole, frank sinatra recorded a version in 1948 and it’s worth recording miles’ frequent assertion that his phrasing was heavily influenced by sinatra, although also worth bearing in mind that he gave a lot of credit also in this respect to charlie christian. as in another quote from the afore-mentioned book

charlie christian influenced my approach to the trumpet and also influenced the phrasing of frank sinatra and nat ‘king’ cole

next is one of 5 versions of this tune by hermeto pascoal that have been released, 2 from a session on may 27 1970 and 3 from a session shortly after on june 3 (although one of them ended up with a different title – selim). given that there were apparently at least 19 takes on the 1st session there could be a few other versions hanging round in the vaults. ian carr doesn’t even bother to mention the 2 that were released when he wrote his critical biography of miles and in paul tingen’s miles beyond he describes them as ‘ear-grating’. much as i like the latter book i find this opinion like a lot of tingen’s other critical opinions are not worth heeding.

the 1st of 3 live recordings in the mix is a version of a wayne shorter composition – probably his most famous. in the sleeve notes (written by josef woodard) to the set that contains the track there is the following quotation from an interview 20 years later with miles

you could tell what part of the note, what part of the sound you could play off of. wayne had some different, each run had. we used to play footprints and the way we were playing it, nobody else could play it like that except for me and wayne.

it’s july again only 16 years later. this is a john mclaughlin composition that was briefly in the setlist. there was an afternoon set and an evening set on the 14th – both long sets, over 2 hours. this track is from the evening set. a week later the band similarly played 2 sets in london at the royal festival hall – i’m pretty sure i was at the 2nd set. ian carr was also there with a backstage pass and he relates seeing miles at the end of the last set

as soon as he got down the two short flights of steps and out of the audience’s sight, two large men were waiting for him, and each grabbed an arm and supported him as he suddenly sagged and almost caved in

given that wayne shorter has already featured on 2 of the above tracks you would expect me to include at least one track featuring john coltrane but sadly this has not happened i didn’t plan it that way. this is the only track in the mix which was at the period of the 1st great quintet. but on this track chosen late at night reflectively the saxophone laid out.

this comes from another controversial recording session. some reports reckoned that there was a fight between miles and monk.

…i just told him to lay out when i was playing, because i wasn’t comfortable with the way he voiced his changes…i wanted to hear space in the music…so I just told him () to come into the music a little after i played. and that’s what he did. there wasn’t any argument…monk was a gentle person, gentle and beautiful, but he was strong as an ox. and if i had ever said something about punching monk out in front of his face – and i never did – then somebody should have just come and got me and taken me to the madhouse, because monk could have just picked my little ass up and thrown me through a wall.

i love all of these tracks that I’ve put on this mix. obviously. but this is another of the great sessions. i wish monk and miles had recorded more together. listening to this session was the 1st time i heard both of them and at the time monk knocked me out more than miles. his solos seemed to come from another mysterious dimension.

and johnny bratton is the 3rd appearance of john mclaughlin in the mix if you include his composition pacific express. recorded on february 27th 1970 this is the sort of thing that some people fail to understand. here’s a good clip that deals with this subject.

from an album reviled by the man himself but which nevertheless has some great moments. this tune was also recorded on the gil evans album the individualism of gil evans and miles got a co-credit for the arrangement. in the end that is a better track but he doesn’t actually play on it and despite the history taken in isolation this is a great track and there’s something actually quite unique about it. if they’d had time and money to complete the album properly this would be a masterpiece and maybe it is anyway.

finally another album written off by various critics or in my words vastly under-rated. when i first heard it back in the early seventies i immediately thought it was brilliant. to me it was great that the instruments were all levelled out in the mix and i assumed that this was deliberately done and i still do. producer teo macero wasn’t an idiot and they wouldn’t have put the record out if they hadn’t got decent quality recordings. it needs to be listened to loud ideally through headphones. with open ears and an open mind. carlos garnett on saxophone and cedric lawson on keyboards for example maybe didn’t go on to have brilliant careers but i don’t think they let the side down at this gig.

Categories
birds geology mixes music

granite mix 6

Paul Bley‘s first album came out on Debut Records label. It’s DLP 7 – Introducing Paul Bley. Debut Records was a label set up by Max Roach, Charles Mingus and Mingus’s wife Celia. A brave attempt by artists to control the commercial aspects of their careers which also produced some classic music and highly collectable if you can afford the original vinyl. Here‘s some of the cover art including this album.

I’m not sure that any of the vinyl that Harold Budd‘s music is contained on has a lot of market value. I expect a few things might have. Luxa I have on cd and the only cds that will keep any sort of value will have very distinctive packaging. I guess this track is named after the Mandan tribe.

I know absolutely nothing about James Earle Hines but I’ve managed to find you a link if you’d like to know something.

The first Laotian music I heard was on BBC Radio 3 sometime in the late 70s and I taped the programme with it on. I may still have it somewhere but this is from a cd I got later. As a special treat I’m also embedding a youtube video to show how this sort of thing is created. You know I only give you the best.

Abraham Ellstein wrote only one opera – The Golem. I’d really like to hear that actually. According to Amazon it has been recorded but sadly it’s unavailable.

According to Wikipedia, Blind Lemon Jefferson recorded 79 songs over a 4 year period 1925-1929. He was in his early thirties and he died in 1929. He was a Texan. For me the greatest musician to come from Texas is Ornette Coleman, but Blind Lemon isn’t too far behind. He’d been playing as a professional musician since his teens and until his recording career happened mainly made his money as a busker although busking was probably a bit different then.

But boxing is and was my heart

Miles Davis : Miles The Autobiography

During the first few months of 1970 around the time of recording the soundtrack to Jim Jacobs’ documentary about the legendary boxer Jack Johnson, Miles named several tracks after some of his favourite boxers – Johnny Bratton, Sugar Ray (Leonard),(Muhammad) Ali, Archie Moore and finally the track featured here (Roberto) Duran, which rightly should be Durán, otherwise known as “Manos de Piedra” in his native Panama. This track is about 9 minutes long.

I was fortunate to see Dawn Upshaw once performing with the Kronos Quartet. Unfortunately her throat was bad and she could only sing about three pieces. Still I suppose that should be more valuable like a stamp that’s mis-printed.

Dock Boggs who is the subject of this superb song by Chicago band Califone was born on February 7 1898 and died on February 7 1971 on his 73rd birthday.

I had the craziest dream last night. An owl kicked its way under my blanket in the middle of the night and insisted that it needed to get warm. I’d never conversed with an owl before and I couldn’t really believe that it was telling the truth. Astrud, help me on this one. Could it have been a burrowing owl?

GZA Here’s a youtube link to one of his masterful 50 Cent disses which is nice because the words are given below the video. Sheer Genius.

One of the best gigs I ever went to was seeing David Rudder at the Fleece & Firkin in Bristol. He and his band were stupendous and it was a privilege to be able to see that in such a small and intimate setting. This track isn’t David Rudder but it was as a result of seeing him that I bought the record with this on. It turns out to be interesting in that Gypsy is Winston Edward Peters who is currently Minister of Community in the Trinidad & Tobago government. Couldn’t happen in Britain could it?

And then what do you know? More calypso, I didn’t really plan that. Lord Kitchener was an earlier generation though not the earliest of recording calypso artists. In 1942 he first recorded a song called Green Fig and supposedly Princess Margaret bought 100 copies of it. Maybe she bought 100 copies of lots of things though. I mean if you can afford it you may as well do it.

And finally John Coltrane‘s version of the lovely Irving Berlin song, Russian Lullaby. What more can I say?

here’s the mix

Granite Mix 6
Artist Title Album
Paul Bley The Theme Introducing Paul Bley
Harold Budd Mandan Luxa
James Earle Hines & His Goodwill Singers Get On Board Little Children Get On Board Little Children
Molam Lao Lam Pthuthay Music From Southern Laos
Abraham Ellstein Abi Gezunt Great Songs Of The Yiddish Stage Vol 1
Blind Lemon Jefferson Teddy Bear Blues Black Snake Moan
Miles Davis Duran Directions
Dawn Upshaw Stravinsky: The Rake’s Progress: No Word From Tom Knoxville – Summer Of 1915
Califone Dock Boggs Sometimes Good Weather Follows Bad People
Astrud Gilberto I Had The Craziest Dream Beach Samba
GZA 4th Chamber Liquid Swords
Gypsy Sing Ram Bam This Is Soca
Lord Kitchener Kitch In The Jungle London Is The Place For Me
John Coltrane Russian Lullaby Soultrane
Categories
literature

Reading list

Since 1983 I’ve been keeping track of the books I have read. I can’t remember why I started doing it, but it’s a useful exercise for me for a number of reasons which I don’t intend to divulge at present. As it’s nearly the end of 2012 I thought I would reveal this year’s details with a few appropriate or possibly inappropriate comments.

Wintersol,  Eric Thacker & Anthony Earnshaw (II)

The II in brackets indicates that this is a 2nd reading. Actually in this case it might be more than 2 since I’ve had the book for a long time, or there again it might have been the 1st time I read the whole book through in 1 go. The principal reason for this re-read was to write something here in the Nonsense category.

Red Room,   August Strindberg

I’m a big fan of Strindberg‘s dramas since I saw a student production of Miss Julie back in about 1973, but I’d never read any of his novels. I’m not sure exactly what I think about this book which I downloaded from the Gutenberg Project. I’m inclined to think that Strindberg is a better dramatist than he is a novelist but I will definitely try some of his other novels before being sure about that.

St Joan,    Bernard Shaw (II)

Can’t remember why I re-read this one perhaps I just happened to notice my old Tauchnitz Edition on the bookshelf and thought I needed some Shavian dialectic in my headspace. It relates to the item above in that Strindberg was one of the biggest influences on Shaw’s work. For me it’s not one of his great plays but there again I’ve never seen it staged so can’t properly assess it. Nice fence this isn’t it?

Great Works of Jewish Fantasy,   Ed. Joachim Neugroschel (II)

This is the Picador edition which I bought pretty much when it came out in 1978. I have therefore put this down as a re-read. The story is that actually I lost the book and that was probably before I’d finished reading it – I think I may have left it on a train.

The King of the Pirates,     Daniel Defoe

Another Gutenberg download – this is a fairly authentic (in my opinion) imagination of the real life of a pirate in the 17th century. Defoe defies definition.

Beefheart: Through The Eyes of Magic,     John French

John (Drumbo) French is not a great writer and he often comes over as naive not just when he was in his early 20s but also later when he was writing the book, but this is well worth reading if you’re interested in creativity, the act of creation etc. You have to know a bit about the music and its place in the history of music. After reading it I wrote a song which I called ‘fore done because I thought if ever I needed a pun it was then.

Excavating Kafka,      James Hawes

I cannot recommend this book which I read as part of a lengthy delve into the world of Franz Kafka. Strindberg’s novel & Neugroschel’s Great Works of Jewish Fantasy both were read in relation to or inspired by Kafka’s Diaries which I actually started to read last year but in effect they took up much of 2012. Similarly with the Kropotkin, the Goethe and the Canetti below.

The Hole,    NF Simpson
A Resounding Tinkle,   NF Simpson
The Form,   NF Simpson

3 short plays I read for another of my Nonsense category posts.

Pullman Car Hiawatha,   Thornton Wilder
The Long Christmas Dinner,   Thornton Wilder
The Happy Journey,   Thornton Wilder

Having found the short plays section in the library I also read these 3. I think maybe 2013 will be a The Eighth Day re-reading year. I hope so.

Memoirs of a Revolutionist,    Peter Kropotkin

See here for more about this.

Angelica Lost And Found,   Russell Hoban

The last book of the great writer who died last year. You can club together the last 8 or 9 of his novels together (sometimes known as the London novels) and while they are not necessarily of the calibre to be called great literature I find them engaging and inspiring as a blueprint for creating a work of art which is also a reflection of a life.

To The Wedding,   John Berger

My first introduction to John Berger was in 1972 when his tv series ways of seeing changed the way I thought about things. But for some reason this is the 1st novel of his that I’ve read. It’s short, very powerful and the last few pages are incredibly moving. And yet still I have not rushed out to seek more of his novels – strange?

The Marlboroughs,   Christopher Hibbert

I bought this 2nd hand as something to take away on a journey. I’ve already read Hibbert’s life of Samuel Johnson so I knew he could write a decent book. It’s a pretty interesting story. As a practitioner of war, Marlborough was probably no worse than Alexander the Great when you take into account the challenges of the age. Julius Caesar would enjoy the sordid details of how you finance, equip and keep motivated an army in the late 17th early 18th centuries.

Agents and Patients,    Anthony Powell (II)

Another 2nd hand purchase that I couldn’t resist because of its classic design and evocative Osbert Lancaster cover.

Thomas Mann – A Life,    Donald Prater

Covered here.

Wilhelm Meister,    Johann Wolfgang Goethe

Actually I’ve only read about 10 chapters of this and then there has been a hiatus of several months, but I do intend to read it and will probably have to begin again at the beginning, or at least skip through it as a reminder.

Memoirs of Hadrian,    Marguerite Yourcenar

Wow. I think I just found this in a 2nd hand bookshop and it completely bouleversed me. It’s brilliant. Now I want to visit Mount Desert Island in Maine.

The Razor’s Edge ,   W. Somerset Maugham (II)

I approached this with trepidation because it was a life-changing book for me back in 1968 or 1969 when I first read it. I believe my mother bought it for me as she knew I enjoyed all the short stories in The World Over collection. Recently reading the Isherwood Diaries I have been reminded of the book again. Maugham consulted Isherwood and probably Heard and Huxley as well to get some of the material he used in writing the book.

Alfred the Great ,  Asser et al (II)

Actually this is on the list but I think I basically got the book down from the shelf and had some brilliant idea about something I was going to do related to it but I can’t remember now what on earth that was. I’m definitely going to re-read it soon though.

Coltrane – the story of a sound,    Ben Ratliff

I’d love to read a full, well-written biography of Coltrane. Probably something like that exists, but this is not it. Nevertheless it’s a decent read and provides much healthy food for thought.

Last Journals,    David Livingstone

As recommended by Sun Ra.

The Sacred & Profane Love Machine,     Iris Murdoch (II)

Iris published 26 novels. I have read most of them twice and some more than that. I don’t rate this as one of her best. Ok so you want to know which ones do I think are her best? Fair enough. Under The Net;A Severed Head;The Unicorn;The Black Prince;The Sea, The Sea;The Good Apprentice and The Message To The Planet. I may be prepared to add more to that list on further re-readings.

Kafka’s Other Trial,    Elias Canetti

Funny that Iris Murdoch should end up next to Elias Canetti. This is a very short book but is probably one of the highlights of the vast domain of Kafka criticism. Maybe best to just stick to this one and the 2 Walter Benjamin essays.

Catlin’s Indians,    George Catlin

I was excited about finding this book in the Oxfam shop at the top of Park Street in Bristol and paid £8.99 for it. One of the things that really interests me is the clash between primitive societies and more developed ones. The writing isn’t brilliant and I’m not sure about the art, but it’s still a fascinating document.

Travelling Light,     Tove Jansson

Awww, she’s so great! I just want to put her on a pedestal.

Liberation (Diaries 70-83),    Christopher Isherwood

How to live. How to die. Above all – how to write.

Stuart England,    JP Kenyon

I haven’t finished this one yet. I’m just past the disastrous campaign against the Scots and heading pell-mell towards Rebellion, Civil War and Regicide. This is part of the Pelican History of England series – a recent 5th addition I have of the series of 9. Only about a 3rd of the way through – it’s an interesting age, but this is assuredly not one of the best volumes of the series. Ok so you want to know which ones do I think are the best? Well tough I’m not going to say right now.

Voices of Time, Eduardo Galeano

The only living creative writer (he’s 72) I really care about. For me he’s an all time great, I love his work. I’ve just started this so can’t really comment. I don’t think I’ll be disappointed.