Friday, August 29, 2014

Waiting for the trumpeter

My mate Roger Atmore is a big jazz fan - such a big fan, in fact, that when his partner gave birth to a boy, he urged, successfully, that the lad be named after a certain trumpeter from St Louis, Missouri.

I'm starting to wonder whether my forthcoming son shouldn't also be named Miles, because of his insistence on making a delayed entry into the world. He was due last Saturday, but is keeping everyone - parents, midwives, assembled impatient relatives, and constantly-texting friends - waiting.

I'm reminded of the way that Miles Davis delayed his entrances to many of his songs. At concerts, Miles would often hang out backstage while the members of his band laid down a groove and took turns playing solos. Audiences would clap distractedly, and wonder whether the man they had paid to see would ever appear. Finally, Davis would step onstage, stoop slightly, and, ignoring the cheers of his relieved fans, breathe the first notes of 'So What' or 'In A Silent Way' or the obscenely gorgeous 'Filles De Kilimanjaro'.

The audience is waiting. It's time to take the stage, little Miles...


Blogger Richard said...

Another! Life is unstoppable it seems.

My latest grandson was late coming. It is a concern. Was concerning.

My son was 'around the wrong way' in 1972. This meant, for some reason, I had to give permission for an epidural injection. Then the doctor, who was concerned about me, and really very kind, asked me if he could help me in any way. I asked him for $10. He pulled out the money straight away. I earned $50 in 1972 at a paint factory, so that $10 was a God send. That was at the now gone St. Helens near Western Springs. It was a long birth.

Life, nature, cant be timed so well, or controlled - it never will be.

I could never listen to jazz for long except long some distracted moments.
(Although I tried - I think I used to like Brubeck for a while).

My parallel would be Karpov, ex World Chess Champion, who, in (the video of) his match ca 1990 with Kasparov turned up a few minutes late for every game: these days the rule is you lose even if you are late by any amount (a stupid rule, as are many of the new rules)...but you could call your boy Anatoly. As well as chess, he is very well read, he mentions Pushkin when commentating on one game - although I suppose all educated Russians read that great poet.

Or, you could name him Richard! Great name, a name of Kings! It means, via German: hard ruler - Reich hardt !!

Miles is, well, is hard: with my son it was hard to find a name that didn't remind me of someone I didn't like or it had some dubious connotation. Nowadays there are some strange names, the Yanks go in for some bizarre names in that destructive and mongrel nation...

12:01 am  
Anonymous Scott said...

This baby's to comfortable, I think, Richard - he doesn't want to leave the cosy ambiotic ocean!

It surprises me yo';re not a jazz man. Davis was a big fan of some of your favourite composers: Dvorak, Stravinsky...

7:22 am  
Blogger Richard said...

Never been big on jazz although I started piano lessons again (I never got very good but I can play the piano at a pinch, but there is a tendency to slip into the main harmonic chords or chromatics (all the notes in line kind of) - which I think are closer to jazz, Bach did some great stuff with the chromatic chords) a long time ago as my friend's brother in GI ca 1968 was playing great jazz stuff and I did like the idea of the improvisatory nature of it as did many of the Langpos and indeed Loney who was in a jazz group I believe. I'm more like Olson in that I prefer Bach: who was deeply conservative in his formal practice! In his music there is "no interest in getting through to the end, it is the endless, eternal moment that is paramount in Bach's music" (loosely quoting Glenn Gould who was 'quoted' in 2000): and there is that sense. Sometimes that is also in jazz, it becomes simply an endless stream of repeating themes and so on, but I tried some of those famous jazzers and they had no or little effect on me.

Nor do I like noisy crashing stuff that young people play on radios in their cars, Christ I would love to be able to smash all those stereos they have. The Tongan neighbour keeps running his car and stereo for just long enough to nearly drive me to homicide but not long enough for the call to the Council, but noise like that was a big problem when I lived in Clover Park in the 70s and I had to get the Council out to either ask them or even, in some cases, destroy the stereos they were blasting this terrible disruptive noise from.

I've heard Dvorak for many years so that he is no longer a novelty, nor Stravinsky whose Rite of Spring is one of the greatest works.

I like either Bach or the more contemporary innovative composers of the 20th to 21st Century (which is paradoxical as Bach wasn't really an 'innovator' in music)...

I like Schnittke, just answered a criticism of my view that he wasn't "gloomy" in his music because of the political situation (I don't even see him as dark and gloomy). I see the art as coming from inside the artist-writer-musician to transcend weaknesses...although Bach's music I would never listen to with a translation, in German his choral work is profound, but against someone who extolled Haydn Creation's lyrics (he wrote it, or used English but it was translated into German then back into English as it was in England that musicians such as Handel and Hayden attracted not only Royalty but huge crowds of people in the large English cathedrals: whereas in Vienna a steady, but smaller, interest...but for me it (Choral or Operatic music) is better in German or Italian. Although T. S. Eliot uses Wagner's lines to good effect in The Waste Land.

Charles Ives and many other composers (Dvorak) were influenced by popular songs, jazz, or even bird songs (Bartok and Messiaen): Stravinksy certainly was.

I have no ear for music but I read a big book on the history of music as a teenager and more recently one on more contemporary music. I like the ideas of people such as Cage and in fact others of his ilk (his silence thing had been done before by a German composer I think, for different reasons).

12:12 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

It's strange this business of human's or anything coming out of, in a sense, ultimately, nothing. And we have no idea if they can feel anything or think, and how they learn to think and speak: this is where say the theories of Kant say (partly) contra Locke and Hume bridge the Platonic (or Socratic?) theories to those of the Empiricists et al. The psychologists add: but as Arundati Roy says in interviews about the dam building and displacement of millions of people (many are the indigenous adivasi or the Dalits) in Gujarat etc , inter alia, that there was one mountain unclimbed in the Himalayas, and her friend and others campaigned that it should be left alone. She says:

'I don't mean to take and extreme position and say that science is bad. But there ought to be a balance between curiosity, grace, humility, and letting things be. Must every thing be poked at and prodded and intervened in and understood?'

A similar idea is in the protagonist of Richard Ford's great book 'The Sportswriter' where he thinks about the way it is good not to know certain things. We need mystery, wildness, undeveloped places. We can never know everything so we need to learn what 'not to know' which I think is what Richard von Sturmer meant (somewhat) when he commented how W. G. Sebald's great writing has the effect, via memory, of inducing forgetfulness in the reader of his work which are about things decaying and disappearing or about perhaps unknowability, as well, of course, as he tackles the German Problem. Which Walter Abish also has a whack at, along with Grass, Boll...

Do go on...I will....

When these strange things emerge they are described by women, who fiercely represent the "selfish gene", as cute, but we men have learnt since Freud, we all know, we have read the Greek plays: they are all out to get us. Each birth reminds us of our death to come. We are not fooled by the lovely little beings...

12:30 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...

I haven't seen you today Scott; so perhaps the trumpeter has arrived?
A midwife once told me babies are never late; they come when they are ready. Two weeks overdue is the record I have heard of within my orbit!
Jazz came late to me, Now I couldn't live without it. With your background in the South Pacific you will be aware of the concept of Va'a - I think it's called- the space in between. Thelonious Monk was a master at this, musically, to my ears. Try 'Straight, no Chaser ' or Ruby My Dear. Monk had some great titles - Crepuscular with Nellie!.
The tradition of improvising, and re-interpreting are jazz hallmarks. This fascinates me. Take the corny folk tune Bye bye Blackbird for example.It morphs into a jazz tune in the early 1930s I think- it must have fitness as a meme to do this. Then Miles grabs a hold of it... and transforms it into something so utterly sublime. Magic. I guess it the most abstract of the arts - and artists have responded to music in kind. Hotere entitled a work 'Round Midnite', another Monk tune, also covered by Miles Davis.I now see all three artists in my minds eye when I see that work.
So a nice segue on your part to link jazz with a new life Scott. Something is passed on, the old is linked with the really is best lived mostly improvised.
All the best

10:02 pm  
Anonymous Scott said...

Beautiful comment, Bill - ta!

3:46 pm  

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