I wake up definitely ill – dizzy and with an incipient sore throat.
I write a post on how to deal with small audiences (a handful of people in a club intended for tens or hundreds) for the Muses Muse site, but worry that this might be too depressing a subject to start with. I post it anyway.
I’m finding it quite difficult to concentrate, though. For the first hour or so, the Giant Cup of Coffee bouyed me up, but after that I find myself sinking down into not-very-wellness. So not ill, exactly, more Not Very Well.
I talk to Laura on the Phone re going to see Jim Hall at the QEH tonight. She mentions possibly seeing Tortoise playing at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire, which I didn’t even know about. Could be a good idea as long as we could get upstairs tickets. When we went to see King Crimson there last year, the lack of decent raking on the Stalls area meant that none of ups could see anything. People pushing past us all the time with armfulls of beer glasses. Hateful.
In the afternoon I go back to bed, occasionally surfacing.
At six I decide to have Linda McCartney vegeburgers, with chips. I go out to get the chips, but when I return find that the grill has reduced the burgers to hideous rubber objects, despite the fact that I cooked them for the amount of time it said on the packet. Perhaps I didn’t read the instructions properly, in my addled state. I eat the chips regardless, hoping that they have some nutritional value.
Thence to the South Bank. The Tortoise is looking less likely. I feel slightly hallucinogenic on the flu.
Mr Hall is on a sort of form – it is nice to see someone still on top of his game at such an advanced age (he looks like an eccentric grandfather, I suppose). He may not have the gravitas that having led a more, uh Jazz lifestyle can give a musician, but has made up for it in longevity. I really like the way that what he plays isn’t mediated through people’s expectations of what Jazz is supposed to be, as I often see at Jazz clubs proper. Apart from the saxophonist, that is – no offence to the saxophone player, but Hall works so well in ultra-chamber music conditions (famously duetting with Bill Evans and playing with Paul Desmond, both jazz classicists, as it were; I have a CD of him playing in duet with Ron Carter), that the addition of an extra tone colour (especially one that says “Jazz” so clearly) can sometimes detract from the sound – perhaps I’d prefer to see a Trio: guitar, bass and drums. The rhythm section are very good, too. As a guitarist, I find myself drawn to Hall’s comping rather than listening to the sax solos (I hope that’s just me, he didn’t seem to be barnstorming), endlessly effortlessly inventive.
His music still works along “modern” lines – angular harmonies, strange intervalic leaps, but there’s as much of the Modernism of Debussy or Bartok, particularly in the second half when he brings a string quartet on for some numbers.
Perhaps these latter pieces weren’t wholly formed and thought out – particularly one piece that was explicitly designed to set the Jazz Quartet against the String Quartet – but the nice thing about Jazz is that it’s a music of Process rather than Statement – Rock is music of Statement: the Album, the Tour of the Album, the Hype of the Album, and then round again. Jazz is a continuum and recordings are slices through it. Kind of Blue (as I was discussing with Della at the All Bar One a couple of weeks ago) is a prime example of that – as far as the band were concerned it was Just Another Date, it’s been history and fashion and critical fervour that have made it a Classic Album, but instead of being the Great Statement that we understand Classic Albums to be (cf Sgt Pepper, Dark Side of the Moon, Electric Ladyland), the Miles Davis Group of the late fifties was a great continuum of creativity, Kind of Blue a cross-section through that.
It’s nice to know that I’ve chosen a good instrument to get old with – Hall in his seventies, as is B.B. King. Les Paul is still playing, I think, in, goodness, his Nineties, it must be. Derek Bailey and Robert Fripp are still making the scariest noises imaginable from a guitar in their Seventies and Fifties respectively. Old men with guitars – it’s the new Rock and Roll.
When I get to bed, I notice that my gum (that was infected very painful at Edinburgh last year) is twinging again. Hmm. I suppose it goes with the fluiness, lower the resistance and all sorts of nasties flood in. It takes a while to get to sleep (partly because of the sleep I had this afternoon, partly the gum). We’ll see how it is in the morning.