I can’t imagine anyone less able of coping with ageing than me. Which is a very boomer thing to say: which is not to say that I’m incapable of it, probably am, mostly; and there must be people even less capable than me. It’s my failure of imagination that I can’t imagine anyone less able of coping with ageing than me.
Had a dream last night, I was riding my bike through a 1960s council estate after advising young friends not to buy Leylandi and overstaying my welcome. It’s what lonely people do. The advice, not the biking.
Then I woke up and I had a Keith Jarrett piano tune my head. So I got up went down and put it on the crappy Sony midi system; you can tell it’s old, it has a mini disc player. I knew what album it was, it’s The Melody At Night, With You.
Turns out it was I Loves You Porgy, the first track.
Jarrett had been ill with ME for years and wasn’t playing.
(Can you imagine what it is like to be the most famous jazz performer in the world and not be playing? At least one person can: Miles Davis, who was also silent for a number of years. It’s an artistic depression, on steroids. Unfortunately Miles had the money and the access to cocaine that luckily I don’t. I think Keith just drinks green tea. Miles couldn’t understand how he just makes up tunes in his head on the spot. Obviously neither does Keith, Mr Davis. Maybe it’s the green tea that that motherfucker drinks, eh Miles?)
He made this CD just for his wife who wanted to hear him play. All of the Jarrett thing is in there, all of it, really, in these eleven little tunes.
Why do jazzers play standards? It’s so people know what the tune is that they’re working with, which seems blindingly obvious. If jazz doesn’t have emotion, which a lot of British and European jazz doesn’t, then it’s just noodling. Or let’s be clear, masturbation. People sneered when Miles played Cindy Lauper. Idiots. What do you think Stella by Starlight, from 1953, or Autumn Leaves were and are? Orchestral works featuring a piano being dropped down a lift shaft by Karlheinz Stockhausen?
Found this when I went looking for the music. Turns out the whole album is on YouTube. Really need to listen to it on a good sound system so you can hear him lift his foot off the sustain pedal about 1.5 seconds after he plays the last note at the end of one of the tunes, but still.
What’s worse, than listening to it on a phone I mean, is that this sublime music is preceded by a crashing advert, fortunately the very wise Manfred Eicher at ECM Records has seen fit to put a few seconds of ambient silence at the beginning, so your brain has time to recover.
“In an interview in Time magazine in November 1999, he explained ″I started taping it in December 1997, as a Christmas present for my wife. I’d just had my Hamburg Steinway overhauled and wanted to try it out, and I have my studio right next to the house, so if I woke up and had a half-decent day, I would turn on the tape recorder and play for a few minutes. I was too fatiqued to do more. Then something started to click with the mike placement, the new action of the instrument,… I could play so soft,… and the internal dynamics of the melodies… of the songs… It was one of those little miracles that you have to be ready for, though part of it was that I just didn’t have the energy to be clever.″ ”
Wikipedia also says: ” The critical reception was more mixed, however, with some critics praising its intimacy, while others criticized its simplicity. ”
Criticising simplicity is like criticising a sleeping baby.
Simplicity is quite complicated, it turns out. Just give it to me on one side of A4. Presumably Lord Palmerston said just give it to me on one side of foolscap, that archaic and aptly named paper size, or one side of vellum.
Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “For the simplicity that lies this side of complexity, I would not give a fig, but for the simplicity that lies on the other side of complexity, I would give my life.”
That’s one version, there are others; some say it wasn’t him but his son. Let’s keep it simple.
“There may be trouble ahead, But while there’s music and moonlight and love and romance, Let’s face the music and dance”
Let’s face it, there’s a lot of music and trouble between here and the other side.
Put on your red shoes.