calling the ‘Spill police

Hello, Spillers all. Hmmm… I received a $25 gift card from iTunes for my birthday. Now, I haven’t bought a thing from iTUnes since a certain McFlah said he’d never paid for an mp3. But this seems like an interesting opportunity, because there are things it’s hard to find elsewhere. So what should I get? I can tell you I’ve spent the day listening to spotify, and the force of Saneshane, Nilpferd, Ejay, Mnemonic and others is strong with me. I listened to a lot of Aesop Rock (can you recommend an album, SS?) Cannibal Ox, Eddie Harris (I love Listen Here, what album would you recommend, Nilpferd?) Colette Magny, DJ Mehdi (Can’t find a full album), Tabu ley Rochereau… And this last is where the real questions start, because I read a bit about Tabu Ley Rochereau (Can you recommend an album, ejay?) and then I started listening to Wendo Kolosoy (and I love it)… Can ejay, or goneforeign, or anybody else that knows these things tell me where to go next with all this? Ahem. I suppose I’m asking for some direction with the vast vast vast afropop universe.

But even if you have no interest in that–if you had a $25 iTunes gift card, what would you do with it? (It’s pretty large, you could probably use it as the base for a lego skyscraper.)

All That Jazz #3: Blues

Jazz and the blues. There’s little disagreement about their close relationship, their common origins and their frequent cross-overs. Considerably more controversial is the question of whether it’s true, as some argue, that if you can’t play the blues then you can’t play jazz, or that jazz without some element of the blues ceases to be jazz. That tends on the face of it to rule out the possibility of any genuine European or other non-American jazz, and often gets brought into the argument that white men can’t really play jazz – because of course white men can’t really play the blues.

One of the reasons this is so arguable is that there’s almost as much disagreement about the nature of ‘the blues’ as there is about the true essence of jazz, and hence considerable difficulty in deciding whether or not a particular track has blues in it or not. I Don’t Know What Kind of Blues I Got, as the Duke Ellington song put it. Is it the long-suffering, “I woke up this mornin’ and wished I was dead” misery lyrics? Is it the classic twelve-bar, I-IV-I-V-IV-I structure – and how far can you start substituting more complex chords into that structure, as Wayne Shorter does, before it ceases to be blues? Is it the regular use of the blues and pentatonic scales in improvisation, and how do you stop that becoming a cliche except by using some other scales and thus ceasing to be blues? Is it the blues scream and its instrumental equivalents, the microtones and dissonance – and at what point does that cease to be blues and start turning into nasty atonal free jazz?

All of these tracks, I think, show their links to the blues pretty clearly, whether in formal terms (Shorter’s classic Footprints or the near-pastiche of Miroslav Vitous and Jan Garbarek, both using variants of the standard chord structure) or in terms of their ‘feel’ (a track from Mingus’ Blues and Roots album, recorded specifically to show that he could do roots music as well as the more sophisticated and elaborate compositions he was best known for in 1959, and, sorry GF, Ornette Coleman, for me one of the bluesiest jazz musicians going). The real challenge would be to find a track that doesn’t have any blues influence at all and yet is still recognisably and unarguably jazz, but I’ll have to think about that one. Modern Jazz Quartet, maybe.

For all those of you who were hoping that I’d forgotten all about this; sorry, just been rather busy recently…

Pixies news and gratuitous cat shot!

Just read this and wowee, Doolittle! Exciting! And Mnemonic mentioned that I should post a pic or two of Dani, our insane, characterful rescue cat, so here she is, napping in the poppies.


MONDAY, June 29, 2009 — To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the release of their 1989 album Doolittle, the Pixies – Black Francis, Kim Deal, Joey Santiago and David Lovering – will embark on a very special tour this fall – the Doolittle Tour – which will kick off with two nights at the Olympia in Dublin, Ireland on October 1 and 2. Tickets for all dates (listed below) go on sale this Friday, July 3 at 9AM.

For the Doolittle Tour, the Pixies will perform all of the songs from Doolittle and its related B-sides. Pixies’ classics such as “Debaser,” “Wave of Mutilation,” “Here Comes Your Man,” “Hey,” and “Gouge Away” are all on Doolittle’s track listing.

“We wanted to do something special for Doolittle’s 20th anniversary,” said Black Francis, “and we thought his was a good opportunity to play all of the songs from that album, something we don’t normally do at a regular gig.”

With the first date still three months away, the band is brainstorming on Doolittle-related surprises that will also comprise the nights’ entertainment.

Dates for the Pixies’ Doolittle Tour, and appropriate links to purchase tickets are as follows:

1 Olympia, Dublin, Ireland
2 Olympia, Dublin, Ireland
4 SECC – Hall 4, Glasgow, Scotland
6 Brixton Academy, London, England
7 Brixton Academy, London, England
8 Brixton Academy, London, England
9 Brixton Academy, London, England
11 Jahrhunderhalle, Frankfurt, Germany
13 Heineken Music Hall, Amsterdam, Holland
14 Forest National, Brussels, Belgium
15 Zenith, Paris, France

And now a little something for the grandmas and grandpas in the crowd

Wolfgang’s Vault: A free treasure trove of live rock performances, the Vault acquired the Bill Graham Presents master recordings of live concerts from the Fillmore East and Winterland between 1965 and the late 1980s.
Added to that are recordings of the King Biscuit Flower Hour; the Record Plant and Dawson Sound catalogs; and modern sounds from Daytrotter and Noise Pop. Everything from the Allman Brothers to Zookeeper–all free.


I thought that this week, given the RR topic, we’d be inundated with pet pics, Shane had a go as did Carole and Shoey, but it never took off the way cats did, have we exhausted the subject? So to get my best mates their international internet 15 mins of fame here they are, Seamus, Jasmine, Marley, Biko, Chips and the brown cat.

Seamus is the world’s best dog, no argument, he’s a German Shepherd, about 12+ years old, we’ve had him since a pup, he’s amazingly intelligent and does everything except speak English. That nose is like radar, ditto those ears; I used to pull a weed and toss it out into the field, 40-50ft and he’d chase after it with his nose glued to the ground going round and round in ever decreasing circles until he found it, then he’d bring it back to me. All that based on the fact that I’d touched it for about a second! During all that recent Pink Floyd listening I didn’t pick up on the ‘Seamus’ cut on the Meddle album until it was mentioned at RR, my Seamus does a way better wolf howl than the PF dog, everytime an ambulance goes by it triggers him and Marley together.

Jasmine was the runt of the litter so we got her free, she’s his best friend and has an absolutely wonderful personality, she doesn’t just wag her tail ecstatically to greet you, she wags the entire read end. She goes insane. The frog was also her best fiend for a while, totally inseparable.

Marley you met about 10 months ago, now he’s working at becoming a handsome young man, we bought him so there would be a continuity when Seamus died, he’s not as smart but he’s going to be OK.

Biko; he adopted us in Long Beach in about 1988, he was an alley cat, thin as a rail and used to eating out of trashcans, when he found us he thought he’d died and gone to cat heaven; a warm bed and regular meals. We used to travel a lot in an RV, he came everywhere with us, he’d prowl backwards and forwards across the 6ft wide dashboard absolutely intrigued with that huge world out there. He died of old age some years ago but is very fondly remembered.

Chips, AKA Sascha depending on who’s talking to him thinks he’s a dog, he follows me everywhere, if I go into the kitchen to make a cup of tea he’ll follow me and sit at my feet ’til I’m done, then he’ll follow me back; he spends a lot of time sitting on my lap having his ears rubbed when I’m at the computer.

BrownCat is very afraid of something, probably from a prior lifetime, he sleeps upstairs all the time only showing his face at meal times, I’m trying to get him to let me get close to him, sometimes he lets me touch him.

OK, so there they are, I think if you click on ’em they’ll get bigger, does anybody else have pets to share?

Count this as a bonus ps; I recently came across this pic in my photo file. I’ve long been an admirer of Morton Subotnik, one of the early electronic musicians, in the late 80’s I saw this picture of him in the LA Times, I couldn’t believe it, he looked exactly like me, so I had a friend take this pic of me in the same pose, I always wanted to send it to him but never did.