Us old jazzers love discussing the perennial question of the ‘hottest’ record of all time. Alyn Shipton at Radio 3′s Jazz Record Requests has asked for suggestions. The definition of ‘hot’ in this context is (like the word ‘swing’ or indeed ‘jazz’) not at all easy to pin down. But we know it when we hear it. It doesn’t necessarily just mean ‘up-tempo,’ though a brisk pace is usually a requirement. It’s to do with intensity, drive and raw excitement.
Philip Larkin reckoned that Louis Armstrong’s 1929 recording of St. Louis Blues was the Hottest Record Of All Time, and I’m inclined to agree. But leaving that aside, what other contenders are there?
I’d put forward Hello Lola by the Mound City Blue Blowers (1929), Bugle Call Rag by the Billy Banks Rhythmakers (1932), That’s A’ Plenty by Wild Bill Davison (1943), and this (which I’ve suggested to Alyn and should be played on JRR this Saturday):
This blog tends to have a love-hate relationship with Nick Cohen. But we have to admit that when he’s good, he’s very, VERY good. If you missed him on Radio 4′s Any Questions, you really should listen now. He certainly won me over on the question of the Royal Charter on the press with a quietly impassioned contribution that even brought in Milton. He was equally good on the Snowden revelations and threats to the Guardian. Come to that, he spoke a lot of sense about that inflatable rat…
Here he is in equally splendid form at the Spectator‘s blog:
British journalists form a circular firing squad
To stop liberals duping the credulous masses, the very right-wing press, which boasted with justice in the case of the Mail, about how it stood up to Alastair Campbell and Peter Mandelson’s attempts to intimidate the media, is now encouraging the Tories to attack the Guardian and intimidate the BBC while they are about it.
Their double-standards show censorship is fine on the British Right as long as it is the Right doing the censoring. Mind you, the Left is no less duplicitous.
Having watched, pondered and re-watched Paxman’s interview with comedian Russell Brand on last night’s Newsnight, I’m still not sure what to make of it. My initial response was that Brand is a pretentious, incoherent idiot, spouting a lot of pseudo-revolutionary hot air and half-digested anarchistic platitudes. But several people I’ve spoken to today told me they were impressed by him. So I’ve watched it again and have to admit that, after a facetious start, he becomes more sympathetic as he gets angrier. But I still think he’s a prat – and a banal prat at that – and wonder what the hell the New Statesman is playing at, hiring him as a guest editor this week.
Judge for yourself…
…and feel free to let us know what you think.
The fifth and final part of Simon Schama’s The Story Of The Jews airs tonight [Sunday 29 Sept] at 9.00pm on BBC 2.
In my opinion this has been a superb series and one of the finest examples of so-called ‘popular history’ ever to have appeared on TV: accessible but not simplistic, personal but scholarly, and passionate whilst remaining objective.
Schama makes no secret of his Zionism – albeit a liberal, two-states Zionism that acknowledges the suffering experienced by the Palestinians. On screen he wears a yarmulke much of the time, and lets viewers know what his personal views are, up to and including a statement concluding with the rarely-heard (at least on the BBC) words ” … that’s why I’m a Zionist.”
This has enraged the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) who wrote a most revealing letter of complaint to the BBC, including the following:
“We also note the new BBC Two series The Story of the Jews, presented by Simon Schama. In an interview in the Radio Times (31 August-6 September), Schama describes himself as an ‘historian-Zionist’ and says he will be making ‘the moral case for Israel’ in the final episode of this five part series.
“We find it alarming that the BBC is giving a platform to an openly pro-Israeli commentator to make the ‘moral case’ for Israel. Schama’s views will go unopposed, unchallenged and unanalysed. This is a far cry from the balanced and impartial broadcasting that the BBC claims to champion.”
In other words, these people (who sometimes – especially when seeking trade union backing – claim to support two states) actually object to the idea of someone presenting the case for the very existence of Israel.
The final part of Schama’s series, tonight, deals with the creation of Israel and Jewish relations with the Palestinians and the Arab world, bringing the story up to the present. Watch it, judge for yourself how fair it is, and feel free to send us your thoughts.
NB: the BBC2 series is based upon Schama’s book of the same name, which we will be reviewing shortly.
Above: Ghada Karmi, on Press TV, looks forward to the destruction of Israel
Only an idiot or a hopeless optimist would predict success for the newly-announced Palestinian Authority /Israeli government talks about talks.
Even so, all persons of good will must surely hope against hope that something worthwhile comes of them.
On the BBC Radio 4 Today programme this morning, two commentators were introduced to discuss the talks: Lord Levy, introduced as “Tony Blair’s special envoy” and Dr Ghada Karmi, introduced as a “research fellow at the Institute for Islamic and Arab Studies at Exeter University.”
Dr Karmi came over – initially - as very reasonable, starting by saying that all discussions are “very welcome”… before moving on to her real agenda: it’s all a waste of time.
What most listeners would not have known is that Dr Karmi is an inveterate rejectionist who opposes the two states solution in principle, together with any other compromise that leaves Israel in existence: she is, in fact, someone who welcomes what she sees (wrongly in my view) as Israel’s evolution into an “apartheid state.” Her views have been expressed very frankly in many pieces for the Guardian, and very clearly here, where she states:
“Israel/Palestine is today one state. But it is an apartheid state which discriminates against non-Jews in favour of Jews. The Palestinian task now is to fight against this apartheid and mount a struggle, not for an impossible Palestinian state, but for equal rights under Israeli rule. They would need to dismantle the Palestinian Authority, which is now a liability that only camouflages the true situation, and then confront Israel, their actual ruler, directly. As stateless people under military occupation, they must demand equal civil and political rights with Israeli citizens, and apply for Israeli citizenship if necessary. That puts the onus on Israel to respond: either to ignore the five million Palestinians it rules, or vacate their land, or grant them equal rights.
“Israel will reject all of these, but whatever it does will be against its own interests. And Palestinians at one stroke will have broken up Israel’s hegemonic hold on the political discourse and changed the rules of the lethal game being played against them.
“This strategy will not be popular amongst Palestinians, nor will they want to become second-class Israeli citizens. But are their lives now under occupation any better? And is there another option given the present conditions? I would argue that by adopting this plan, they will lose nothing but their illusions, and at this serious juncture in Palestinian history, it may be the only way to avert the annihilation of their cause. It will be a hard road, but the one chance to build a democratic state that replaces apartheid Israel and eventually enables the refugees to return to their ancestral homeland.”
Note those final words: “ancestral homeland.” Pretty much “blood and soil”, eh?
Dr Karmi has every right to put her views forward, and the BBC should, indeed, broadcast what she has to say. But listeners have the right to be given at least some indication of her underlying politics.
Don’t even think about commenting on this issue without having listened to this!
Starts at 11.57
The BBC Asian Network bills the programme as follows:
Debate about grooming cases, live from Oxford
Nihal’s phone-in [in fact the phone-in is preceded by an hour's debate from Oxford, which is the crucial part of the programme -JD] is coming live from the Cowley Road in Oxford where seven men groomed and sexually abused girls as young as eleven over a period of eight years. He will be getting reaction to the sentences given to the men and asking what lessons can be learnt from what has happened.
The issues up for debate are extremely sensitive – so much so that a lot of people from the area did not want to talk to us. Five of the seven men found guilty were of Pakistani origin and most of the people who BBC Asian Network has spoken to in the area either knew them – or knew someone who knew them.
Nihal asks – who is to blame for this terrible abuse, apart from the men themselves? Why were they able to get away with the abuse over an eight year period?
If the men were so well known in the community, why were their crimes not reported sooner? Is the fact that many of them came from the Pakistani community a relevant one?
The main debate lasts for one hour and forty minutes, but it’s well worth putting the time aside for. If you can’t do that, at least listen to the wise words of Julie Siddiqui of the Islamic Society of Britain, at about 30.20. This is only available for the next four days:
BBC Radio 3 starts a week of Wagner in commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the composer’s birth.
It begins with:
Wagner In Zurich: 12.15, Saturday 18 May
Tom Service travels to Zurich, where Richard Wagner the revolutionary lived in exile for nine years, and finds a city which played a crucial role in the development of the composer’s thinking and provided fertile ground for his Ring Cycle, and which is marking the 200th anniversary with a festival including a new musical theatre piece by the director Hans Neuenfels. Tom visits the home of the Wesendonck family, where Wagner was inspired to write Tristan und Isolde and his Wesendonck Lieder, and also the idyllic Tribschen district of Lucerne, where Wagner later lived and composed his Siegfried Idyll as a birthday gift to his second wife, Cosima. It was from Germany’s 1848 revolutions that Wagner had fled to Switzerland, and from Leipzig, Wagner’s birthplace and a city which is central to this year’s anniversary celebrations, the BBC’s Berlin correspondent Stephen Evans reports on the composer’s controversial place in German culture today.
Saturday Classics: 3.00pm, Saturday 18 May
The great English operatic bass Robert Lloyd joins Radio 3′s celebration of the 200th anniversary of Wagner’s birth with selections from his favourite Wagner operas.
Mastersingers of Nuremberg
Duration: 58 minutes: 1.00pm, Sunday 19 May
Immortalised by Wagner in his famous opera, Lucie Skeaping looks back on the life and music of the real Hans Sachs and his fellow Mastersingers in 17th Century Germany.
Wagner and His World
At 12.00 pm throughout the week Donald Macleod explores the connections and relationships that helped establish Wagner as the most revolutionary musical thinker of the 19th century. Includes:
One Winter’s Afternoon
8.00 pm, Sunday 19 May
The story of the great operatic rivalry between Guiseppe Verdi and Richard Wagner in the year marking the bicentenary of their births. In real life, the two great composers never met.
There’s no denying the fact that Richard Wagner wrote some sublime music. But never forget this, either:
From Just Jazz magazine:
Three tenors: Herschel Evans (left), Eddie Miller (centre), Lester Young (right) in 1941
Lester Young? Surely not!
By James Hogg
You wouldn’t think anyone could mistake Herschel Evans for Lester Young, but BBC Radio 4 managed it in a recent ‘Archive on Four’ programme on the history of the saxophone. I understand that amongst those who spluttered into their Horlicks on hearing the howler was Wally Fawkes, who should be protected from such shocks.
The irony was that the presenter, Soweto Kinch, had reached a point in the programme where he wasa discussing with Courtney Pine the particular qualities that made Lester unique. And up comes the somewhat different sound of Herschel doing his featured number Blue And Sentimental. Producer’s clanger, definitely! The guilt of the two speakers has to remain ‘unproven’ because we don’t know whether they heard their words juxtaposed with the wrong recording or not.
The BBC has form in misidentifying Lester Young – incredibly for one of the most distinctive voices in all of jazz. Dave Green recalls a similar instance: “the ‘Archive on 4′ fiasco reminds me of a story that Humph once told me about Steve Race. Apparently Race played Humph a pre-transmission tape of a programme he had just done on Lester Young using one particular tune as an example of Lester’s Style – it may even have been Blue and Sentimental. Humph pointed out about half way through that it was a very good analysis, but the only problem was that it wasn’t Lester playing, it was Herschel Evans. Race’s response was: ‘Oh, it’s too late to do anything about it now, it’ll have to go out as it is’ – and it did.”
I suggest that in expiation Radio 4 should broadcast a whole programme on Lester Young entitled ‘Lester Leaps In – At Last.’
JD adds: The great irony of this repeated misattribution of the tenor playing on Blue and Sentimental to Pres is that he and Herschel Evans were great rivals and competitors when they sat alongside each other in the sax section of the Basie band. Indeed, they were considered to represent polar opposites in tenor playing: Pres with his light, airy almost delicate sound, and Evans with a big, heavy, ‘muscular’ tone. Billie Holiday described the relationship between the two, thus: “Pres and Herschel Evans were forever thinking up ways of cutting the other one. You’d find them in the band room hacking away at reeds, trying out all kinds of new ones, anything to get ahead of the other one. Once Herschel asked Lester, ‘Why don’t you play alto man? You got an alto tone.’ Lester tapped his head, ‘There’s things going on up there, man,’ he told Herschel. ‘Some of you guys are all belly.’”
Compare and contrast Herschel’s playing on Blue and Sentimental (above, recorded 1938) with Pres playing Ghost of a Chance (below, recorded 1944):
Yet another attempt to suggest that the Marxist notion of class is all out of date (yawn)…
…NB: this item included purely for the purposes of entertainment:
Class examined “in a brand new way”
Mike Savage from the London School of Economics and Fiona Devine from the University of Manchester describe their findings from The Great British Class Survey. Their results identify a new model of class with seven classes ranging from the Elite at the top to a ‘Precariat’ at the bottom.
In January 2011, with the help of BBC Lab UK, we asked the BBC audience to complete a unique questionnaire on different dimensions of class.
“We now have a much more complex class system”
We devised a new way of measuring class, which doesn’t define class just by the job that you do, but by the different kinds of economic, cultural and social resources or ‘capitals’ that people possess.
We asked people about their income, the value of their home and savings, which together is known as ‘economic capital’, their cultural interests and activities, known as ‘cultural capital’ and the number and status of people they know, which is called ‘social capital’.
Amazingly, more than 160,000 of you completed the survey. We now have one of the largest ever studies of class in Great Britain.
The results to date
Our new model includes seven classes.
What class are you?
- The full class survey takes about 25 minutes and covers wealth and job type, interests and social circle
- Compare your score to the nation’s
- Receive a personalised coat-of-arms
- Elite: This is the most privileged class in Great Britain who have high levels of all three capitals. Their high amount of economic capital sets them apart from everyone else.
- Established Middle Class: Members of this class have high levels of all three capitals although not as high as the Elite. They are a gregarious and culturally engaged class.
- Technical Middle Class: This is a new, small class with high economic capital but seem less culturally engaged. They have relatively few social contacts and so are less socially engaged.
- New Affluent Workers: This class has medium levels of economic capital and higher levels of cultural and social capital. They are a young and active group.
- Emergent Service Workers: This new class has low economic capital but has high levels of ‘emerging’ cultural capital and high social capital. This group are young and often found in urban areas.
- Traditional Working Class: This class scores low on all forms of the three capitals although they are not the poorest group. The average age of this class is older than the others.
- Precariat: This is the most deprived class of all with low levels of economic, cultural and social capital. The everyday lives of members of this class are precarious.
Other unique findings
- Twentieth-century middle-class and working-class stereotypes are out of date. Only 39% of participants fit into the Established Middle Class and Traditional Working Class categories.
“The very rich and very poor are still with us in the 21st Century”
- The traditional working class is changing. It’s smaller than it was in the past. The new generation are more likely to be Affluent Workers or Emergent Service Workers.
- People consume culture in a complicated way. The Technical Middle Class are less culturally engaged while emergent service workers participate in various activities.
- The extremes of our class system are very important. The Elite and Precariat often get forgotten with more focus on the middle and working classes. We’ve discovered detailed findings about them.
What did we measure?
People tend to think they belong to a particular class on the basis of their job and income. These are aspects of economic capital. Sociologists think that your class is indicated by your cultural capital and social capital. Our analysis looked at the relationship between economic, cultural and social capital.
The findings have been published in the journal Sociology and were presented at a conference of the British Sociological Association.
Above: the band in 1969 on the Morecambe and Wise Show. Personnel included Andy Cooper on clarinet, John Bennett on trombone, Paddy Lightfoot on banjo and Ron Bowden on Drums.
By Clare Teal (reblogged from here)
RIP KENNY BALL 22/05/30 – 07/03/13
Last May I had the pleasure of spending an afternoon in the company of a British jazz trumpeter and band leader of over 54 years. I was a little nervous to be interviewing jazz royalty, but the don of dixieland immediately put me at ease, it was a sunny day but like most studios ours was windowless and quite dark, 82 year old Kenny Ball turned up suited and booted wearing big dark sunglasses, “Sorry for the shades, I’ve got terrible hay fever.” Someone asked if he’d like a glass of water, “No thanks but a coffee and a large brandy wouldn’t go amiss.” It was 2 o’clock in the afternoon. Never one to let a soul drink alone, the producer found me a bottle of cider and we started the interview with a toast.
Kenny Ball was born in Ilford in 1930. He joined the sea cadets as a boy and was given a 5 note bugle. In 1943 clutching the £10 his father had given him, he travelled across London to buy the trumpet he’d seen advertised in Melody Maker, according to Kenny at that time spare metal was collected as part of the war effort, so brass instruments were hard to come by. On arrival the chap selling said trumpet, told the youngster, “You’d better come in – there’s been an accident. I was having one last blow last night and the missis got so fed up with the noise, she hit me over the head with it.” Kenny left some time later with a bent trumpet and £2 change. He straightened it out against a tree and got to work.
He started his career as a sideman in the bands of Charlie Galbraith, Sid Phillips, Eric Delaney and Terry Lightfoot before forming his own band in 1958. Fourteen hit singles followed including ‘Samantha’ and the million selling ‘Midnight In Moscow,’ the gold disc was presented to him by none other than Louis Armstrong who called him a genius.
Kenny and the boys featured in every BBC Morecambe and Wise TV series and were the resident band on ‘Saturday Night At The Mill,’ sadly, though wonderfully entertaining, many of Kenny’s stories from this period are unprintable…
The band hasn’t stopped working since 1958, they’ve toured the world many times over delighting and inspiring musicians and music lovers everywhere.
Sadly Kenny passed away this morning aged 82. He was a much loved figurehead of the British Jazz industry and will be sorely missed. Let us remember his fantastic contribution to live music. Thanks for the great times Kenny and of course the wonderful music x