POLiTRiCKS: Toryism Out Of Control…

It’s really saddening to find ourselves in a state where Jonathan Pie and The Daily Mash are better and more reliable sources of news than any of the mainstream screen media.

I’m a staunch supporter of the BBC, as a ‘national good’, a publicly owned and run non-politically affiliated institution, there for the benefit of all in the UK, free from commercial exploitation.

Ever since its inception most Tories have disliked the BBC, and even as they continue to disassemble and co-opt it, from within, they still caricature it as a hotbed of leftist ne’erdowells. In actual fact it has been infiltrated and taken over by bean-counting place-serving yes-men/women, appointed by the Tories for so long now I’ve lost track.

It’s gotten to the point now that even so called news items are actually party political broadcasts for the Tory agenda. I heard a piece on the NHS ‘collaborating’ with private healthcare on BBC R4 the other day, and couldn’t believe how blatantly Tory it was.

Essentially it portrayed the private sector as coming to the rescue of the ailing NHS. No examination of why this has come to pass. Nor what it means for the future of the NHS, beyond the programmes’ blatantly biased message that public/private cooperation can only be good.

But coming to Pie’s latest rant; it’s a theme many on the left are slapping their faces at. When Starmer recently took Sunak to task over the economic meltdown the Tories have gotten us into, and in particular the role of Tory self-serving greed – in the latest form of Mone – in all of this, Rishi did exactly what Pie is talking about.

Rather than address the blatant theivery of the super rich, at a time when the nation was and still is supposedly ‘all in it together’, this City millionaire instead tries to steer the conversation towards blaming those sections of the ‘lower orders’ who are having the temerity to strike, in pursuit of such outrageous demands as living wages and job security.

And let’s not forget that Toryism has always campaigned for the erosion of workers’ rights. That’s why we’ve seen a thermonuclear mushrooming of ‘zero hours’ contracts. That’s what Brexit was always really about. Removing that pesky EU red tape, aka deregulation, has always been about taking away rights and powers from those lower down the food chain in order to benefit those further up it, making it easier for them to skim off the cream.

As Mick Lynch is constantly saying, to anyone who’ll listen, these rich greedy fuckers are getting wealthier by parasitically exploiting all of us. And yet, because they have vast wealth, they brazenly use it to manufacture a ‘divide and rule’ scenario, in which the middle and working classes blame each other, and especially those at the bottom of the pile – from those fleeing poverty, persecution, war, etc, to those who actually serve us day in day out (teachers, posties, rail workers, nurses) – it’s literally fucking insane!

As The Daily Mash have noted, we’re drifting dangerously close to outright fascism. A right wing one party state, run by a wealthy clique whose rapine self-interest is gradually being set in legal stone.

Two World Wars and the sacrifices of rivers of blood, mostly the blood of the cannon-fodder workers, saw the demise of the Victorian and Edwardian era of aristocracy, and – in response to those collective sacrifices – the setting up of many national and international forms of governance.

The NHS and the EU/NATO, etc, were all born out of those bouts of unprecedented blood-letting that occurred really quite recently. And we’re seeing it all carved up, flogged off and destroyed by greedy capitalists whose self-interest and short-termism are totally unsuited to a world in which we face so many human-made (and other) threats to our collective existence.

Nuclear proliferation and war, chemical and biological (never mind ordinary) weapons, pollution, climate change, mass extinctions for which we are the chief cause, all these require strong and morally directed governance. Not rapine neo-liberal capitalism.

It’s grim out there right now. And I’m not talking about the winter weather.

MUSiC: Michael Hedges, Artist Profile (1998)

With the recent passing of Dino Danelli, and the icy frosted fingers of winter gripping us in their cold embrace, Death is in the air!

That made me think of the amazing talent of Michael Hedges. The above-linked YouTube video is a 1998 docu-bio, featuring interview footage, and music from a 1996 concert.

Right between this concert performance, and the release of the Artist Profile doc’ dedicated to him, Hedges died in an auto accident. It was 1997, and Hedges was only 43. What a loss to the world of art and music! Thank goodness for his recorded legacy.

I nearly called him ‘the incomparable’, but was then going to follow that up be saying ‘like a collision between Joni Mitchell, Jimi Hendrix and, er… Well, anyway, comparisons, or at least influences, can be heard. But his remains a now widely imitated style, that is, at its core, his unique extension of guitar-based music.

Hearing his soulful rendition of Bob Dylan’s All Along The Watchtower, channelled through Hendrix’s reading, and played in a Joni-esque wide and deep tuning, is really something. And then there’s all his original instrumental stuff.

I’m out doing some Amazon deliveries for a few hours later today, to top up my meagre teaching earnings. I shall be digging Aerial Boundaries and Breakfast In The Field. Even the album titles (and cover art, etc) are fab. And then there’s the music!

DRUMS: Ian Paice’s ‘Practice’ Routine.

This is an interesting video. It’s great to hear a fantastic drummer telling it, from his perspective, like it is.

It reminds me of a video in which George Harrison says he could be quite a good guitarist if he could be bothered to practice!

Although I am a drum teacher, more broadly speaking – as a musician/artist – I wouldn’t necessarily advice that anyone to do as I do, or, for that matter, as Ian Paice does.

Unlike Paice, I haven’t had a stellar career recording and performing with one of the worlds’ most successful rock bands.

What I do have in common with him, however, is noticing that when I have periods of frequent live musical activity – rehearsals, recordings, and especially gigs – my playing develops quite naturally/organically.

A much younger Paice.

But then again, unlike Paice, I’m someone who does actually positively revel in practice. Indeed, over time I’ve evolved away from the ‘just jamming’ model (what I call ‘free play’ in my teaching), as favoured by Ian, towards focussed technique-based work.

I think ideally one ought to have a see-sawing motion of balance between such free play and technical development. Both ought to inform and improve each other.

Interestingly, one of Paicey’s favourite hobbyhorse points concerns the single-stroke roll. And that in turn reminds me of a video in which Grayson Nekrutman seeks to emulate Buddy Rich’s lightning speed singles (amongst other things!)

Ian Paice believes, and I can totally see and understand why, that everything else in drumming flows from this single simple yet limitlessly challenging technique or rudiment.

Anyway, let’s treasure, celebrate and learn from Ian whilst we still have him around. What a legend!

The Mule, ‘72.

MUSiC: RIP Dino Danelli

Damn, another one off to the great Jam Sesh in The Sky!

Those outfits!

Dino Danelli is referred to, in a quote on his wiki page, as ‘one of the great unappreciated rock drummers in history.’

He’s someone I’ve been meaning to check out for years. I have a fair bit by The Rascals in my mp3 collection. But I haven’t listened to it a great deal.

I was always a bit surprised that they were lauded by the funky soul brigade. I recall reading about them in Wax Poetics, and thinking they looked a bit off that mag’s usual musical map.

Dino did the cover art for this ‘72 release.

I think that’s quite possibly largely due to their last release, 1972’s The Island Of Real. Although they had streaks of blue-eyed soul running through a fair bit of their music.

The first album I got by them was the unusual Freedom Suite. Alleged by some (allmusic.com for example) to be ‘the beginning of the end’ for the band, I’m sure I read somewhere that some of the group’s contributions to this disc were replaced by session players?

Riding the hippy wave!

One of their biggest hits – a number one in the US for 5 weeks in ‘68 – was People Got To Be Free, the groups’ comment on the murders of Martin Luther King and Bob Kennedy.

To finish this post, here’s Boom, Danelli’s drum solo feature from the Freedom Suite album:

MUSiC: Transcribing Drums – Midnight Rendezvous, Casiopea, 1979

Takashi in the studio.*

I have been digging the fantastic drumming of Takashi Sasaki for a while now. He was, strictly speaking, Casiopea’s second drummer. Their first drummer, Tohru ‘Rika’ Suzuki, didn’t record with the group (at least not on an officially released album). Hence Sasaki is commonly thought of and referred to as their first, as he’s the first to be heard in the chronology of their official recorded discography.

His style is light, tight, intricate and highly musical. His chops are extraordinary. With a mastery of dynamics – the range between his ghosted notes, standard hits, and accents, make his playing very hard to accurately emulate – and a penchant for a style Weather Report infamously described as ‘soloing all the time without ever soloing’.

Looks like an album cover or sleeve montage?

He can and does get busy at times, but he always grooves like a mother! Some of his fills are truly ballistic. And, occasionally, they’re almost impossible to decipher. This is particularly true of a few fills (and possibly even grooves?) on the super tasty Midnight Rendezvous.

Even using Moises to isolate the drums, and ASD to slow them down, there’s a fill at around the 3.00 mark that is doing my noggin in. I initially thought perhaps it was in fives, or something like that. But repeated listening leaves me stumped. I need to have it running as a slowed-down and visual (wave-form) loop, methinks. I’ve not tried that as yet.

My score for this is a work still in progress.

It’s taken me a good few hours to get down the first two pages of what will, I think, be a four page score. And even the fifty or so per-cent I’ve done so far will, undoubtedly, be subject to some revision.

I’ve got as far as the end of the (very tasty) guitar solo. Next up is the keys solo, under which Sasaki does some very light and intricate stuff. I’ve blocked in some of this latter section. But I’ve yet to get in there and tweak it.

Sketched out, and still needing fine tuning…

All the cats in this band are just utterly phenomenal. They play in that deliriously groovy sweet-spot, where instrumental prowess and sheer good taste, when it comes to musical choices, collide.

Once I’ve finished the transcription, I intend to learn to play the whole piece as best I can. I’d like to do a YouTube video cover of it, and share it online.

It’s funny for me, as a primarily self-taught drummer, who’s only learned to read drum music ‘on the job’. Stuff that ‘classically trained’ musos might find obvious and easy can sometimes fox me. Transcribing stuff is proving a great way to teach myself written music. Albeit I’m still dealing in timing only, and not pitch/harmony, etc.

A master at work. What became of him?

Here’s a specific example of how I’m learning on the job: there are some quick ‘crushed bounce’ style left hand-doubles – sometimes such stuff is played as a buzz; but oft-times you can clearly hear these as a double – and I initially thought, ok, just turn a single 1/16th into two 1/32nd’s.

But that just sounded so wrong! So instead I turned the ‘&-a’-notes from two 1/16ths (or more [in]accurately one 1/16th and two 1/32nd notes) to a group of three 1/16 note triples. The resultant ‘4-e-&-trip-let’ subdivision sounds and feels sooo much better. And that’s how he plays it. Learning on the job!

* Those tom angles!? They look awful… like a school-kid’s drum set up. Still, the sounds he gets, the feel he achieves, that’s the proof o’th’ puddin’. Just goes to show there’s no single right way. Each to their own!

MUSiC: Herbie & co. Danish TV, 1976

Loving the montage effect! And the vivid colours!

Great near 40 minutes of Herbie and co on Danish TV, from 1976.

Herbie - Keys
Bennie Maupin - Sax, etc
‘Wah Wah’ Watson - Guitar
Paul Jackson - Bass
James Levi - Drums

What terrific music. Such a great combination of funky groove, and jazz, with the perfect balance of instrumental prowess and structure, creating instrumental sounds that absorb and uplift. Truly music that is both high art and tasty home-cooking.

Setlist (taken from the YouTube post)

Herbie Hancock and his band perform cuts from the albums “Man-Child” and “Secrets”:

1. Hang Up Your Hang Ups (from Man-Child, 1975)
2. Gentle Thoughts (from Secrets, 1976)
3. Spider (from Secrets, 1976)

When I was running my own jazz funk group, I had all three of these tunes on my setlist wish-list. We did occasionally play some of the usual suspects: Watermelon Man, Canteloupe Island, Chameleon. And one or two less frequently covered numbers, such as Wiggle Waggle, and that one Dee-Lite sampled (I forget the title!).

Others that I really wanted to do include Actual Proof and Tell Me A Bedtime Story. Oh, Herbie! What a talent. And surrounding himself with folk like Paul Jackson, Bennie Maupin, Bill Summers, and a parade of drummers and guitarists that include the likes of Harvey Mason, Mike Clark, and of course Watson and Levi.

Wah Wah Watson’s Gentle Thoughts epitomises an era for me. I may have ‘golden age syndrome’* when it comes to stuff like this? And who knows, perhaps actually now is the golden age? Inasmuch as I can enjoy this Danish TV show that, at the time, I had no idea about.

Ah, the sheer bliss, of watching and hearing the joyous melodic grooving of Gentle Thoughts, in an expanded live version. These righteous dudes both recreate the magic of the album version, and transcend it, with the live improv’ aspects of the performance.

So, I’d like to thank Herbie and co for the music, Tim Berners-Lee for the internet, and YouTube and ‘Phazers’ for hosting/posting this. Thanks for making an everyday Saturdsy magical.

* I get this phrase from Woody Allen’s Midnight In Paris.

MiSC: Politics & Media

This post arises out of my despair at being mugged every month by Virgin Media.

My loathing for Toryism grows and grows. Cursed with the Thatcherite style ‘choice’ of a shower of money-grabbing swindlers, aka broadband service providers, and currently being fleeced by Virgin Media, I can only marvel at how Boris, with his execrable ‘bus of lies’, had the bare-butt-faced-cheeks – the goddamn effrontery – to swindle, nay, to rape our nation so effectively.

Un-fucking-believable! Bohnson, you neo-fascist shitbag.

According to Bozo, Corbyn’s pledge to give all in the UK free internet was a ‘crazed communist’ plot. Instead of publicly owned assets that serve us all, we have shitty privately owned corporations intent on robbing us blind, the ongoing nightmare of Brexit, recession and rampant inflation. And still the billionaire press barons prop up the rotten Tory establishment, merrily scapegoating the weak and poor at the bottom of the collective heap, whilst they and their fat cat ilk wallow in the cream at the top.

A neo-liberalist wet-dream. AKA a nightmare.

Evil? Unquestionably. Beyond fucking disgusting? Indubitably. And these evil fuckers are currently embarked on a process of gutting the UK of any rights to protest. The real reason for Brexit. At a time when many scientists are saying humanity is teetering on the brink of self-annihilation, it’s business as usual for the robber barons.

Smiles and suits belie pure evil; a cabal of self serving right-wing hooligans.*

* I know there’s been a changing of the guard since these cyphers were photo-collaged together. But you can take pretty much any set of Tories, and the putrid essence of evil remains unchanged.

For the meat and potatoes, try this, in which some of the reasons for my anger are elucidated. For many years I’ve allowed my own personal issues and petty problems to contribute to almost total political apathy. But these self-serving bastards and their rapine policies are driving me back towards activism.

Abysmal (unelected) architects of the UK’s self-destruction.

So now we have Rishi Sunak, a product of The City, whose tax-dodging wife epitomises exactly what’s so rotten about Toryism. Another unelected (by the people of the UK) neo-liberal capitalist stooge. So he’s going to fix the appalling mess years of Tory misrule have brought about!?

Rishi to the rescue…

Pull the other one. Oh, wait… there is no other leg to pull. All the limbs of the rotten cadaver of British politics have already been torn off. The corpse of British Democracy has been sent to the Tower, hung, drawn and quartered.

The UK needs to see Toryism killed off. Banished. Fired into a black hole. Exorcised. Otherwise we are, er… royally fucked.

If only this were the end of such backwards ways.