I’ll Be Frank

sinatraSinatra. Whenever I thought of him – which was not often, until a few months ago – he appeared as a symbol of cultural and moral decadence, the essence of a Las Vegas that was the essence of a particular smug, moneyed ghastliness; smooth self-satisfaction with an edge of thuggishness and an all-pervasive atmosphere of sexism and casual racism; showbiz in the worst possible sense. More prosaically, when I was growing up he seemed like the dark heart of Radio 2 in the days when Radio 2 was the antithesis of everything exciting and wonderful about pop and rock and soul; something like Big Band Special felt quite harmless, albeit laughable, in its wish to pretend that the 1960s had never happened, whereas Sinatra was reactionary nostalgia weaponised. The dinner suits, the cocktails, the notion of suave, the eau de Playboy (even less appealing when adopted by the likes of Robbie Williams). Bloody My Way – the Sid Vicious deconstruction felt, to my father as much as to me, not only brilliant but necessary. Yes, I did like Guys and Dolls, but for Damon Runyon and the songs, more or less despite Sinatra; I would at the most grudgingly admit that he played a sleazy lowlife pretty well, and feel that Miss Adelaide would be better off with more or less anyone else… Continue reading

Spill Awards 2014

The show must go on! Yes, 2014 was pretty crappy in many different ways for many of us, including Dinesh (May1366) establishing an unwanted first for this community by dying, and 2015 so far doesn’t look like being much better. But it was a pretty good year for music – maybe we’re back with the dynamic of the 1970s and early 1980s, where social dysfunction and austerity sparked creativity – and anyway, what else can we do but turn our frowns upside down, pad our bras and put on our dancing shoes to dance away the heartache like a brave little toaster in the company of friends? Lights! Music! Glittery Things! The show must go on! Continue reading

Treffpunkt Stuttgart

Michał Miśkiewicz of the Marcin Wasilewski Trio in Stuttgart

Michał Miśkiewicz of the Marcin Wasilewski Trio in Stuttgart

There’s a famous track recorded by the (second) Miles Davis Quintet called Nefertiti, in which the trumpet and saxophone repeat the theme while the rhythm section solos furiously; nilpferd has written eloquently about it at some point in the past. I’ve sometimes wondered whether one might be able to find a version of this in which the lead instruments have been removed altogether, leaving just piano, bass and drums – but after Wednesday night in Jazzclub Bix in Stuttgart, I’m not sure this is necessary any more: live, the Marcin Wasilewski Trio offer just such an experience. The fragility and delicacy of their albums – wonderful, of course – is replaced by a remarkable muscularity. Many songs build into a driving juggernaut of sound, with the same relentless momentum and drama as one finds in, say, songs by the Neil Cowley Trio or the Esbjorn Svensson Trio, but whereas those groups do this through the power of repetition, the Wasilewski Trio manage it without any need to repeat phrases. I now want to start a petition for a live album from them, since this is such a difference from the records – and, assuming that I don’t simply rush off to start lessons in jazz drumming, I want a means of accentuating the drums on the records, to reproduce the experience of sitting just a yard or so away from the astonishing musicianship of Michał Miśkiewicz.

Oh, yes, this was also an opportunity for me to meet nilpferd and his lovely family, and I’m all too well aware that he’d be able to describe the concert much better than I can. I know some of you were asking for photos of this momentous occasion, but I’m afraid that hippos are shy and retiring animals, and I was much too English to insist…

The Spill Awards – Save The Date!

Happy New Year to you all! Polls have now closed, and I’m starting to get my act together for the award ceremony. I can see two likely dates: this Saturday (10th), 20:00-21:00 GMT, or the same time the following Saturday (17th). Could you let me know in comments if you have a preference? Update: it’s going to be 17th January – sorry, Leavy – as I simply have too much work to do this weekend.

In the spirit of democracy, austerity or maybe Eurovision, this year I’m going to be opening up the ceremony to as many people as possible, including anyone who isn’t actually free during the event itself. Please let me know, at abahachi(at)hotmail.co.uk, if you’d be willing to help present an award, and I’ll let you have details of what to do. This may have a bearing on your preferred date…

Spill Awards 2014: The Voting Begins

Welcome to the next stage of the 2014 Spill Awards: the voting. Nominations have been collected and scrutinised, and pretty well anything that more than one person put forward – we really are a remarkably eclectic lot – has been added to the shortlists for the different categories. You have three votes for the Album of the Year, and one vote for everything else. I’m doing this in a mad scramble, and won’t have a chance to publicise it properly, so apologies in advance… Voting continues until some time around the New Year; Awards ceremony to follow whenever I get my act together in January – I will announce the date in advance, promise. Continue reading

Spill Awards 2014: Reminder

Sorry for crashing in again, but the original post about nominations for this year’s Spill Awards was buried fairly quickly by a series of posts including DsD’s birthday, so just wanted to remind you to send me your nominations (abahachi(at)hotmail.co.uk) by the end of Sunday. Full details in the previous post, but is it worth stressing again that you can nominate more than one thing under each category – and indeed that this is a really good thing to do, as if twenty people each nominate just one album and – as usually happens – they’re all different, it’s more or less impossible to put together a decent shortlist. If you’re one of the people who’s sent me just one album of the year, feel free to send follow-up emails…

Spill Awards 2014: Nominations Open!

"A Nobel Peace Prize is okay, but I do hope I get nominated for a Spill Award again this year."

“A Nobel Peace Prize is okay, but I do hope I get nominated for a Spill Award again this year.”

It’s that time of year again… Well, maybe a little earlier than normal, but I’m so snowed under with work at the moment that I’m even going to skip the annual passive-aggressive ritual of asking whether anyone else would like to take over this year, and instead just get on with the (unnecessarily convoluted) process of setting up this year’s Spill Awards.

Here’s how it’s supposed to work. By the end of Sunday 14th December, please send an email to abahachi(at)hotmail.co.uk, listing as many nominations as you like for any or all of the following categories:

Album of the Year

Film of the Year

TV Series of the Year

Hero (male or female) of the Year

Villain of the Year

Event of the Year

Feel free to write a few words about some or all of your nominations if you wish, and to make suggestions for additional awards of any nature whatsoever. On the basis of all the suggestions received, I will put together short-lists for the different awards, and set up online polls where you can vote for your choices, with votes closing on 31st December 2014. At some point in early January, I will then work out a date and format for the award ceremony.

Everyone clear? I’d particularly like to stress how useful it is for you to put forward a decent number of nominations; in previous years, some people have ended up on the short-list on the basis of just two people mentioning them…