Posts Tagged ‘blues’

Skin Deep

January 1, 2020

Blues legend Buddy Guy and street musicians from around the world.


November 4, 2014

Brings tears to the eyes, Annie Lennox live performance of Gershwin classic Summertime from her latest album Nostalgia.

George Gershwin wrote Summertime for the opera Porgy and Bess (1935).

Summertime is possibly an adaptation of the African-American spiritual Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child.

Echo at La Pas

October 2, 2014
Echo at La Pas

Echo at La Pas

Echo at La Pas

Echo at La Pas

Blues wafting over Nicolas Tavern.

Further investigation led to La Pas.

Amazing blues duo Echo.

Well worth a trip to La Pas on Monday and Thursday night.

Picked up blues album Waifs and Strays by Echo.

Suggested make available on bandcamp.

Who’s That Knockin’ At My Door?

August 21, 2014

This is amazing, a jazz classic from 1927, transposed to Sita in Sita Sings the Blues.

Who’s That Knockin’ At My Door? The postman? Meanwhile the savage hoards are battling it out.

The voice of Annette Hanshaw singing her jazz classic Who’s That Knockin’ At My Door?

Nina Paley drew on Annette Hanshaw and the words of the Hindu epic The Ramayana for Sita Sings the Blues.

It was not easy, it took her a year and $70,000 in debt, to clear all the copyright issues to use the voice, the words, the music of Annette Hanshaw. The voice was not a problem, the words and music were, the rights held by corporate entities.

Annette Hanshaw (1901-1985) was well known in the 1920s, then fell into obscurity. The reason for the obscurity, the corporate entities who control the rights, see no profit in releasing her music.

I am reminded of my grandfather, his old 78s and wind-up gramophone, which we loved to play. Sadly all thrown away when he died.

Sita Sings the Blues

August 17, 2014
Sita Sings the Blues

Sita Sings the Blues

Sita Sings the Blues, a wonderful feature-length animation from talented graphic artist and animator Nina Paley.

An India epic and also a modern tale.

Sita Sings the Blues is based on the Hindu epic The Ramayana. Sita is a goddess separated from her beloved Lord and husband Rama.

The Ramayana is attributed Valmiki, who was drawing upon an earlier oral tradition. According to Valmiki, Rama dictated to him the story, he was merely the scribe who wrote it in Sanskrit.

The tradition then, is we draw upon what went before. That is until we enclosed the intellectual commons, and intellectual property rights reared its ugly head, having looted the commons, we then sell it back, packaged as entertainment.

To resolve all the copyright issues associated with Sita Sings the Blues, Nina went $70,000 into debt. It is important to emphasise, this was just to clear restrictive copyright issues, it was not the budget for making the film. The copyright issues took a year to resolve.

In Dark Mountain Vol 5, Strange Children written by Akshay Ahuja tells one of the stories from the other great India epic Mahabharata.

Hannah Barrett

November 26, 2013
Hannah Barrett

Hannah Barrett

Hannah Barrett, an amazing blues and soul singer. When she sings she puts her heart and soul into what she is singing. An incredible voice for a girl only 17-years-old.

A girl with talent, someone who had no need to degrade herself by appearing on X-Factor.

People are sold a lie, that it is all about success, a record label.

It is not, it is about performing the music you enjoy, slowly slowly getting known, spreading by word of mouth.

The chance of what is called success is a lottery, with about as much chance of success, as winning the lottery.

The best thing Hannah Barrett could do, is get some recording time, crowd source if need be, then release an album on bandcamp.

But she has already probably been tied up in knots, signed papers she did not understand, a condition of degrading herself on X-Factor.

Music is not X-Factor, a tacky contest between winners and losers. Music is putting your heart and soul into something you love doing. Music is creating something that others love listening to. Hannah Barrett is pretty good at both.

Hannah Barrett has been subjected to racist abuse on twitter, told she is ugly, cannot be a singer if she is black.

Trolls on twitter, block and report for abuse, never reply or engage. I hope as well she has handed a dossier to the police.

Billie Holiday, Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross, Tina Turner ….

Top Story in The Musical Express (Wednesday 27 November 2013).

Mass in Blue

June 22, 2013
Mass in Blue

Mass in Blue

Guildford Cathedral

Guildford Cathedral

When you dream, you can enjoy the luxury of being yourself. Make it a reality. — Paulo Coelho

Mass in Blue at Guildford Cathedral, with Will Todd Trio, a sax player, Bethany Halliday on lead vocals, Guildford Choral conducted by Jonathan Willcocks.

The first half was split in two.

South African songs sung by Guildford Choral. On a rough head count there was somewhere between 50-60 of them. It did not work. I would rather have had a South African choir from one of the townships.

Most of the first half was filled by the Will Todd Trio, a sax player, Bethany Halliday on lead vocals. It is a pity they did not have the entire first half as they were excellent.

They started with a haunting number that opened with the sax player. It sent shivers down the spine. He really used the acoustics of the cathedral.

Somewhere over the Rainbow, did not work, excellent vocalist as she is, Bethany Halliday had not the right voice, and the fiddly jazz bits in the background were an irritation, though the improvisation in the middle, was actually quite good.

A boring jazz number, where all jazz sounds the same.

I have seen Gershwin murdered, as two pianists did last year, they even managed to murder Bernstein, but can Gershwin be improved upon? I would have answered no, until I heard the Will Todd Trio and friends perform Summertime. Another number that sent shivers down the spine. They captured the pathos of the piece.

It is a pity Will Todd Trio and friends did not occupy the entire first half. House of the Rising Sun would be an excellent number to add. Sunshine of Your Love another.

All can be found on Sounds of Freedom.

I picked up Sounds of Freedom. I was a little disappointed. Nothing wrong with it, the quality of the recording is excellent, but studio always lacks something of a live performance. And it does not have the sax player. Ironically, Somewhere over the Rainbow, is better on the album than it was live. An absolute must is a live recording with the sax player, released on bandcamp. But still an album worth having.

The second half was Mass in Blue, written by Will Todd. He said think of jazz crashes into Latin choral. Will Todd Trio and friends, plus Guildford Choral conducted by Jonathan Willcocks.

Will Todd explained that this has by far been his most successful composition, and he wondered why. Put yourself into the music, and be true to yourself. Exactly, do not bastardise yourself just to get a record deal (to then get ripped off by the record company).

Jazz meets choral yes, but more blues than jazz. A strong Gershwin influence could be heard.

An encore was needed. I suggested with the line-up, Stairway to Heaven.

I do not know who introduced the concert, I do not think it was the Bishop, but who ever it was, he said feel free to dance. That is what was missing, dancers. They needed a few dancers at the front.

Looking at the jazz line-up, the Will Todd Trio, Bethany Halliday and the sax player, add Steve Lawson (bass) and Zoe Keating (cello) and it would make an amazing line-up for a concert in St Mary’s, or at the Wimbledon Music Festival in November.

To Will Todd’s credit, he was down to earth, explained what he was doing, then after the concert, he mingled, chatted, and signed CDs.

Long gone are the days when musicians can stand aloof from their audience. If people have gone out of their way and paid to attend a concert, the least the performers can do, is mingle, as without the support of those people, they would not be able to do what they love doing, which is to play music.

I had a long chat with both Hannah who was selling the CDs and Will Todd.

I said for the future use crowdsourcing and community supported music. Not to be confused with sponsorship. Corporate sponsorship is killing culture. Release music on bandcamp.

Bandcamp is an absolute must, as people can hear the music in its entirety, a few seconds mp3 lofi sample on iTunes or Amazon is a waste of time. And for the quality of the recordings Will Todd is making, you need FLAC, a non-lossy compression format.

And people can share. They can go to a concert, with one click, share with their friends what the music they enjoyed that evening.

Will Todd is currently working on an opera relating to Alice in Wonderland, which should be interesting. He has released one track on iTunes. Er, no, the ideal place for single tracks, or work in progress, is soundcloud.

After the concert I picked up signed copies of Sounds of Freedom and Mass in Blue, signed by Will Todd and Bethany Halliday.

I lit a candle for Paulo Coelho and Annie.

Synchronicity: Speaking to Hannah, she said she had read Eleven Minutes. I have just finished reading Eleven Minutes.

Will Todd (1970- ), composer and jazz pianist, has been playing the piano since he was three and composing since he was seven years old. The Will Todd Ensemble recorded Mass in Blue with the Vasari Singers for Signum Records. The Call of Wisdom was commissioned by St Paul’s Cathedral for the Diamond Jubilee Thanksgiving Service in June 2012. Sounds of Freedom is jazz with Will Todd Trio. Will Todd is currently working on an opera for Alice in Wonderland.

Blues Before Sunrise – John Lee Hooker

September 22, 2012

Blues Before Sunrise by John Lee Hooker.

AVO Session

September 17, 2012

AVO Session, Mark Knopfler, Festsaal Messe, Basel, Switzerland, 12 November 2007.

Amazing performance of Brothers in arms, brings tears to the eyes.

Synchronicity: A couple of days later I turned on the radio to find an entire programme devoted to Brothers in Arms!


September 16, 2012
Tempest - Bob Dylan

Tempest – Bob Dylan

Released last week, Tempest is the 35th album from Bob Dylan, 50 years on from his first album.

I picked up a copy last week, the deluxe limited edition version, from Record Corner during an afternoon in Godalming.

I had a listen this evening, or at least a quick flip through the tracks, as that was as far as I got.

It is rubbish, money down the drain.

The deluxe limited edition is a rip-off and waste of money. All you get extra is poorly put together note book with pictures of magazine covers featuring Dylan over the last fifty years.

The CD itself has a simple folded over sheet, no booklet, no additional information.

It is easy to see why CD sales are falling.

In UK has shot straight to No 1, but that would be Dylan fans on a nostalgia trip, and they were in for a grave disappointment.

It is a collection of poorly recorded hill billy songs, Duquesne Whistle a pleasant enough little ditty.

Where is the Dylan of Blowin in the Wind, Like A Rolling Stone, Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door?

As I was writing I was listening to AVO Session, Mark Knopfler, Festsaal Messe, Basel, Switzerland, 12 November 2007. Far, far better.

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