Spring Is Here: Kenny Dorham

March 20, 2016 at 11:34 am (jazz, Jim D, music, Sheer joy, song)

The ONLY song for today. Dorham (1924 – ’72) was a somewhat neglected figure, whose misfortune was to have emerged just as Gillespie, Brown and Davis were stealing the scene. But on a good day (as here) he was their equal. A lovely version of a great song:

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Antisemitism within the Labour Party

March 17, 2016 at 9:09 pm (anti-semitism, conspiracy theories, Jim D, labour party, Racism)

Vicki Kirby (pictured above), Labour’s candidate for Woking in 2014, was suspended from the Labour Party following a string of antisemitic tweets.  Since then it seems that she was allowed to rejoin the Party and appointed as Woking CLP’s vice chair.  This news comes at a time when Labour faces particular scrutiny over the way it deals with antisemitism following the (brief) readmittance of the crank Gerry Downing and allegations over antisemitism in Oxford University’s Labour Club. Wes Streeting, Labour MP for Ilford North, responded to Kirby’s reinstatement on LBC:

I simply can’t understand how or why someone who has expressed these sorts of views has been allowed to remain a member of the Labour Party at all … frankly if this was any other form of racism she would have been kicked out … I’ve had messages from Party members who’ve cut up their membership cards, I’ve had constituents in Ilford North write to me asking what on earth is going on with the Labour Party, is there still a place for Jews in the Labour Party.

Since then, Kirby has once more been suspended, and because of the outcry, seems likely to be expelled.

Statement by the Jewish Labour Movement (March 15th):

Statement on Woking CLP

Yesterday evening, the Jewish Labour Movement wrote to the Woking Constituency Labour Party informing them of our intention to affiliate to the CLP under the provisions within the Labour Party Rule Book, with the specific intention of bringing forward a vote of no confidence in the CLP Vice-Chair at the earliest possible opportunity.

The Jewish Labour Movement is a Socialist Society, and has been affiliated to the Labour Party since 1920. One of our core values is to fight antisemitism, racism and all forms of discrimination and racial hatred. We would much prefer not to have to have that fight within our own Party.

We welcome the decision by the Party to suspend Vicki Kirby pending a full investigation, and will continue to pursue our affiliation to the Woking CLP. We hope that through this process, and through an honest and open debate within the Woking CLP, party members can decide whether or not our Party should be a space for these kinds of views.

To Party members who have expressed their support for Jewish Labour activists over the past 48 hours, we say thank you. To those Jewish Labour activists considering leaving the Party, we say stay.

We are not giving up on the Party of Barnett, Silkin, Mikado, Freeson, Shinwell, Lever Edelman and other towering figures of the Jewish left. We ask that you join with us in ensuring that the Labour Party does not give up on us.

http://www.jlm.org.uk/join

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Galloway’s anti-Semitism exposed in his anti-EU stance

March 13, 2016 at 5:31 pm (anti-semitism, conspiracy theories, Europe, Galloway, Jim D, populism, Racism, reactionay "anti-imperialism", UKIP)

The days when I used to get angry about George Galloway are long gone: he is now a Spode-like figure of ridicule and  – even – a degree of pity. His forthcoming humiliation in the London mayoral election should seal his fate once and for all as any kind of serious political force.  But it’s his recent pro-Brexit alliance with Nigel Farage (the Stalin-Hitler pact as re-enacted by comedy munchkins) that probably represents this unpleasant buffoon’s final, desperate throw of the political dice. In putting in his lot with fellow Putin-lover Farage, Galloway seems to have chucked caution to the wind, and unambiguously revealed an aspect of his personality and politics that he has previously just about managed to keep shrouded under a thin veil of ambiguity and weasel words about “Zionism”: his anti-Semitism. It should be noted that most of the bourgeois media has shied away from properly dealing with this (even after Galloway’s declared aim of making Bradford an “Israel-free zone”), presumably because of his litigious track record.

Well, take a look at the picture below, retweeted by Galloway, from various other pieces of anti-Semitic filth: if that’s not classic anti-Semitism, I don’t know what is:  

View image on Twitter

H/t: Tendance Coatesy

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Trapped: murder in a cold climate

March 6, 2016 at 12:00 pm (cops, crime, drama, Jim D, television)

I’ve refrained from commenting on Trapped until now because I’m biased: it’s jointly written by a friend and comrade, Clive Bradley. But I think I can muster enough objectivety to now confidently assert that this is top class stuff even by the high standards of the Nordic noir dramas that have been shown to such acclaim on UK TV ever since The Killing hit our screens in 2011.

As it’s still possible to catch up with the first eight episodes on BBC iPlayer (you have until 13 March to see the first two) I won’t go into any detail about the plot. Suffice to say it has several of the usual features – a flawed but sympathetic cop attempting to solve some gruesome murders while simultaneously having to deal with less than competent and/or hostile colleagues and a tortured private life. In addition, there’s one sub-plot involving  the captain of a Danish car-ferry and two trafficked Nigerian sisters, plus a second involving local politics and a land deal with a Chinese consortium.

And it’s all set in a remote Icelandic fishing village cut off by a blizzard. As Les Hearn notes in his review in Solidarity, “a dominant character in the drama, sometimes it seems, the dominant character, is nature.” I’ve felt it necessary to keep warm with a bottle of Whyte & MacKay’s finest while watching the first eight episodes, and will ensure a bottle is to hand for the final episode on BBC4 this coming Saturday at 9pm. I recommend you do the same.

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Now NUS loons denounce Tatchell … for defending himself against their slander

February 28, 2016 at 8:21 pm (academe, Beyond parody, Free Speech, gay, Human rights, Jim D, lesbian, LGBT, NUS, Peter Tatchell, students, surrealism)

Readers may remember the incident a week or so ago when Fran Cowling, the NUS lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) representative, said that she would not share a stage with Peter Tatchell, whom she described as “racist” and “transphobic”. The row was covered in some detail by Comrade Coatesy here, and in the Guardian here.

Tatchell, a long standing campaigner for gay rights and human rights more generally, quite understandably, decided to mount a public defence of his good name against these outrageous slurs. As a result of doing so, he was denounced yet again, in this hysterical Open Letter – which includes the truly Orwellian charge of Tatchell referring to a “confidential email chain” that had been forwarded to him “without permission”, thus apparently making Tachell’s accuser the true ‘victim’ of this story!

The signatories include not just the usual NUS suspects and their petty bourgeois and authoritarian friends in academia,  but shamefully, the editor of the anarchist Freedom News has signed, too.

It’s a depressing read, but serious in its way, as an example of the anti-free speech, authoritarian logic of extreme identity politics and the hysteria it can induce.

Note, in particular, this paragraph:

Tatchell has a long record of urging that public platforms be denied members of ethnic and religious groups, especially Muslims. He has called for banning so-called “Islamist” speakers from Universities. He has even demanded mosques apologise “for hosting homophobic hate preachers” and give “assurances that they will not host them again.” Tatchell claims the right to decide who qualifies as a “homophobic hate preacher”; what counts is not inciting violence or any tangible threats to LGBT Londoners, but rather simply expressing religious opinions about homosexual acts. The peculiar urgency with which Tatchell targets Muslims lends credibility to the charge of racial insensitivity.”

So, at some point, it has apparently become acceptable for supposed leftwingers to consider speaker tours for homophobic bigots to be a matter of indifference, and that it is “racially insensitive” for LGBT rights campaigners to object to people expressing “religious opinions about homosexual acts“. Most decent lefties (and liberals) will find this euphemistic description of far-right hate preachers pretty sickening. Now, some might disagree with Tatchell on minor tactical issues of precisely how he approaches this, but my gut response, when ‘lefties’ tell gay rights campaigners to shut up about organised far-right bigotry is: “fuck off”.

Also: “The particular urgency with which Tatchell targets Muslims“? Well – which Muslims? All of them? An attack on a far-right preacher who thinks all gay people are animals is an attack on all Muslims? Isn’t it “racially insensitive” to identify all Muslims with the hard-right ideologues that Tatchell feels “urgent” about?

What a wretched, hypocritical shower these self-righteous NUS authoritarians and their academic friends, are!

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John Chilton: gentleman and scholar of jazz

February 26, 2016 at 10:29 pm (good people, history, jazz, Jim D, literature, music, RIP)

When I was a lad first getting into jazz I wanted a copy of Eddie Condon’s biography, ‘We Called It Music’, which I’d heard was an informative and entertaining read: but how to get my hands on a copy? The old memory’s not all it might be these days, so I cannot recall how I got the idea, but somehow I learned that a jazz trumpeter called John Chilton ran a bookshop in Bloomsbury, London and so I sent the shop a book token I’d been given, with a note asking if they had a second-hand copy. The book arrived a few days later, plus a friendly note from John and postal order for the change I was owed! That was my only direct dealing with John Chilton, who has died aged 83.

I did, however, get to hear John play on several occasions, starting with a Sunday lunchtime session at a rather grotty pub in Clerkenwell called the New Merlin’s Cave, and then at a number of rather more prestigious venues where his Feetwarmers were backing George Melly. In fact, the Feetwarmers became Melly’s backing group and John his de facto road manager and musical director from the mid-70’s until the early 2000’s.

But John had a parallel career as a jazz historian and writer. His seminal ‘Who’s Who Of Jazz’ was described by Phillip Larkin as “one of the essential jazz books” and his biographies of Coleman Hawkins, Louis Jordan, Sidney Bechet  and (together with Max Jones) Louis Armstrong won many awards and remain indispensable works on their subjects.

He also happened to be, by all accounts, a very decent and generous human being – well, he did, after all, send me that postal order.

Revisiting his ‘Who’s Who Of Jazz’ for the first time in a while, I’ve just noticed this forward by one Johnny Simmen of Zurich., which I think stands as a good, brief, epitaph:

“Rex Stewart, Bill Coleman, and Buck Clayton were the first to mention the name of John Chilton to me. They all said that he was a fine trumpeter and led a good band. ‘That boy is amazing’, Rex told me, ‘and I mean it’, he said, emphaising the point. Later on, when Bill and Buck expressed similarly flattering opinions, I concluded that Chilton had to be a pretty exceptional musician. I finally managed to hear a few of his solos and realised at once that they had not exaggerated one bit.

“Some time later, I received a letter from England, turning the envelope I saw to my surprise that the sender’s name was John Chilton. Perhaps he wanted me to investigate the possibilities of an engagement in Switzerland? No, there was no mention of this, but John – he had received my address from Bill Coleman – that he was in the process of writing a dictionary of American jazz musicians, from the very beginning up to the inclusion of musicians born before 1920. He asked if I had any information on doubtful points.

“From the tenor of the letter, I could tell at once that John is as deeply involved in the history of jazz and the men who play ‘the real thing’ as he is in his playing and arranging. Having gradually got fed up with phoney ‘jazz journalists’ over the years, I was glad to find out that John Chilton is an entirely different proposition. He has the ability, perseverence, and enthusiasm to tackle and finish such a demanding work. It is my opinion that this is one of the truly valuable books on jazz musicians. It is the work of a musician whose knowledge of jazz and love and devotion to ‘the cause’ is unsurpassed.”

Below: John on trumpet with the Bruce Turner Jump Band in 1961 (the still picture shows trombonist Johnny Mumford):

NB: Telegraph obit, here

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TUC’s detailed research proves workers better off In than Out

February 25, 2016 at 8:00 pm (Europe, Human rights, Jim D, truth, TUC, unions, workers)

#EUref: Brexit risks our employment rights

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GO campaign brings scum together

February 20, 2016 at 8:30 am (anti-semitism, apologists and collaborators, Europe, Galloway, Jim D, populism, Racism, reaction, Respect, stalinism, UKIP, wankers)

 Nigel Farage and George Galloway attend the the Grassroots Out rally at the Queen Elizabeth II conference centre in London. Nigel Farage and George Galloway at the the Grassroots Out rally at the Queen Elizabeth II conference centre. Photograph: Peter Nicholls/Reuters

The Graun‘s excellent John Crace reports:

Step forward George Galloway, never one to turn down an opportunity to self-promote. There were boos as his name was announced and more than a hundred people left in protest. The GO campaign was finally beginning to make sense. Its aim had been to bring together politicians from across all parties and it had done just that. Unfortunately they were all ones which most normal people would go a long way to avoid.

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The Morning Star’s total confusion on the EU and the referendum

February 16, 2016 at 3:38 pm (class collaboration, Europe, Jim D, left, populism, Racism, stalinism, Tory scum, UKIP)

Above: Farage, Hoey (in red) and various other reactionaries, xenophobes and racists united at the launch of ‘Grassroots Out’

The abject confusion and incoherence of the Morning Star on the subject of the EU, continues apace.

Yesterday’s Morning Star carried an uncritical interview with anti-EU Labour MP (“one of the most prominent campaigners for an exit left” according to the Star) in which she justified her willingness to work with Ukip and “hard-right” Tories like Peter Bone as follows: “The reality is that if you really want to get out, every group has a slightly different perspective, and we can only win this referendum if we can all come together.”

Read the full article here.

In today’s Star, one Matt Widowson complains that “some among this group [the left that opposes Brexit] consider all advocates of exit as anti-progressive; almost Ukipish! We’re not. The left case for exit is progressive and compelling. Unlike the reactionary right it is not based on xenophobic and racist fear-mongering and relies instead on a realistic assessment of the present situation: the capitalist nature of the European Union and the need for national self-determination.”

Read the full article here.

So which is it, comrades? Is your friend Kate Hoey right to advocate an alliance with Ukip and the Tory “hard-right” on the basis that “every group has a slightly different perspective”?

Or is Matt Widowson right when he argues that the “progressive case” for exit has nothing to do with Ukip, xenophobia and racism – and that it’s an “insult” to suggest that it does?

Make your minds up, comrades!

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Stop The War launches mass mobilisation against Putin’s bombing and Assad’s starvation of Syrian civilians

February 15, 2016 at 3:41 pm (apologists and collaborators, imperialism, Jim D, Middle East, murder, reactionay "anti-imperialism", Russia, stalinism, Stop The War, Syria)

Hands Off Syria?

Stop the War holds Hands Off Syria protest at US Embassy London

Above: ‘Stop The War’ placards outside US embassy, June 2013

An idependent observers’ group says at least 1,015 civilians have been killed in Russian air strikes.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said late last month that close to a quarter of those killed were under the age of 18.

Russia, in support of the Assad regime, has consistently denied hitting civilian targets and insists it is battling “terrorists, but is in fact targeting anti-Assad forces rather than ISIS or the Nusra front.

Medicins Sans Frontières said seven people were killed when a facility it supports in Maaret al-Numan, Idlib province, was hit four times in two separate raids. Mego Terzian, MSF’s France president, told Reuters he thought that either Russia or Syrian government forces were responsible. Both have been engaged in an unrelenting aerial bombardment in Idlib.

The hospital, which has 54 staff and 30 beds, is financed by the medical charity, which also supplies medicine and equipment.

“The destruction of the hospital leaves the local population of about 40,000 people without access to medical services in an active zone of conflict,” said Massimiliano Rebaudengo, MSF’s head of mission in Syria.

Meanwhile the Assad regime has extended its policy of starving civilians in rebel-held towns, from Madaya (where the policy was first used) to Aleppo:

The UN says 4.5 million Syrians are living in besieged or hard-to-reach areas and desperately need humanitarian aid, with civilians prevented from leaving and aid workers blocked by the regime from bringing in food, medicine, fuel and other essentials

The official position of the  Stop The War Coalition is to be against all interventions into Syria (with or without a UN mandate)… so we can expect a STW-organised mass mobilisation against Putin’s bombings, and a demo outside the Russian embassy any day now, eh ..?

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