rhythmaning: (Saxophone)
When I was in London last month, I went back to one of my old haunts, the Vortex jazz club in Dalston. I had noticed a tweet from a band I like that they were playing whilst I was in town, booked a ticket, and here I was. Well, after an excellent meal and three bottles of wine with friends. (That was about a bottle of wine each of those drinking. I would notice that the next morning.)

Led Bib are an interesting band. Part of the modern British jazz movement - stable-mates with Polar Bear (and occasional band mates, too) - they have two alto saxes in the front line. Their music is kind of danceable improvised-jazz-funk-dub - with a nod across to Ornette Coleman. I guess that's to be expected with two altos.

It was a great gig.

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rhythmaning: (Saxophone)
I had plenty of time to get from Paddington to Kings Cross for my train back to Edinburgh, so I did something most Londoners wouldn't dream of, and walked. (It wasn't the first time - eighteen months ago, I walked from St Pancras to Paddington one frosty December evening, when I needed the exercise and air. Even then it felt unusual; and I still reached the pub before my friends.)

It was sunny and warm - pulling my case behind me, I broke into a sweat. Between Paddington and Great Portland Street, I stayed off the main roads, going down streets I have probably never walked down - Marylebone isn't really my part of town.

I went onto Euston Road to explore Regent's Place and Triton Square - mostly for the Gormley sculture, "Reflection".

It seemed apt bookending the walk with two railway termini.

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Greenwich

Mar. 13th, 2013 03:43 pm
rhythmaning: (sunset)
Once I got there, I was impressed by Greenwich. I went often as a child, but only once in adult memory, a couple a years ago when I was exploring Canary Wharf and took the tunnel under the Thames; I didn't really look around much.

This time, Cutty Sark was back, and I looked around many of the grand Wren-designs on the way to the Royal Maritime Museum, where the Ansel Adams show was on. (When we were children, my brother and I spent many afternoons looking at the large model boats they have - or at least, I had - I didn't look much around the museum, though I was impressed with its architecture, both classical and modern.)

The painted hall and the chapel were stunning.

As I was leaving to find the station, I saw the start of a beautiful sunset. So I stayed on, wandering around, looking at the effect of the sky on the buildings.

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rhythmaning: (sunset)
I was in London last month, and I took a trip along the Thames. I hadn't intended to; I wanted to go to the Hayward's "Light Show", but couldn't face the queue, so I walked to Tate Modern, which was full of school children and the members' room was so busy they were queueing out of the door.

I decided instead to go to Greenwich to see an exhibition of Ansel Adams' photographs - one of my favourite photographers.

It was a great exhibition - lots of high contrast black and white prints - but best of all was the fast boat ride I took from Bankside to Greenwich.

I took some pictures at all stages of my journey.

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rhythmaning: (Default)
The Cockpit Theatre in London has been hosting a new, monthly jazz night, hosted and (I think) curated by Jez Nelson, called Jazz in the Round - because the audience sit on all sides. A square rather than a round, but hey.

This makes it a pretty intimate venue - it seats about 200, but it feels much smaller. That said, it is a theatre rather than a club: it has a different, distinct feel. Nelson has a specific agenda, too - to mix things up. he aims for each event to have both familiar and less familiar names; he doesn't expect everybody to like it all.

For three bands a night, he charges only £7, all of which apparently goes to the musicians. (Personally I don't understand why they don't set the price to £10 - I bet they'd get the same number of people paying, and the musicians would get more money. I doubt anyone would object to paying less than the price of a pint of beer more.) One of the bands is a solo artist.

Strangely, there are no encores.

By chance, I've reviewed both nights for the LondonJazz blog. The first evening I bumped into Sebastian, who runs LondonJazz, who couldn't stay and asked me if I could put something together; the second, I'd been tweeting about the gig, and Sebastian again asked if I could write another review.

Being in the round means that there are always some musicians who are not facing you; which makes photography a bit of a challenge! It is hard to work out where is the best place to sit, since the different bands face different directions. Someone will always have their back to you. The bands seems to like the set up, though - it is unusual for them to have so much contact with each other and with the audience.

The first Jazz in the Round featured Blacktop - Steve Williamson on saxes, Orphy Robinson on vibes and Pat Thomas on keyboards and electroncs. Free improvisation - pretty exciting, one-off and original. Plus wacky electronic noises...

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The second night had a beautiful solo set by pianist Andrew McCormack, and then the somewhat bizarre - but very exciting - Sons of Kemet, featuring Shabaka Hutchins on saxes, Oren Marshall on tuba and Seb Rochford on drums... and Tom Skinner on drums! (The first night had not one drummer; they were clearly trying to go two better.) Amazing, but pretty hard to describe music.

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rhythmaning: (violin)
I’ve just been to the Lucian Freud retrospective at the National Portrait Gallery, and I have a lot of somewhat contradictory views about his work. This isn’t surprising, since the exhibition spans seventy years – the first painting, a self portrait, dates from 1940 (when Freud was only 18), the last, an portrait of his studio assistant, unfinished at Freud’s death in 2011.

The early-early pictures are very detailed but somewhat distorted portraits: even then, he painted what he saw rather than what others would have liked to see. What he saw was attractive, though: over time, that changed, as if he saw people as meat – living meat, perhaps, but meat nonetheless.

He was very good at painting eyes, however: the eyes were always alive, reflecting the light, in contrast to the flesh he painted later on.

His later pictures seemed uncomfortably voyeuristic, perhaps because I knew that he was painting his wives (he had several), his lovers (many more) and his children (from both wives and lovers). Many of his nudes appear quite sexual despite also appearing like dead meat – quite a feat, I think.

He painted several composite pictures – two or more people in the same picture, but sitting at different times; and frankly he wasn’t that good at stitching them together… The dimensions are wrong: in “Large Interior, W9”, the nude behind his seated mother just looks really out of proportion, whilst the harlequin in “Large Interior, W11 (After Watteau)” looks outsized, misshapen and contorted.

The way he painted nudes – sexual but dead – creates a strange tension. The knowledge of his relationships adds to this. He seems to have had sex with a great many of his models. (He painted the Queen, too. I wonder…) The pictures can be disturbing. There is real sense of mortality in a lot of his work – perhaps because the nudes so often look like corpses. (It may, of course, just be me.) Even the self portraits look a bit dead.

There are several photographs shown as well – most by David Dawson, his last studio assistant, but also images by Henri Cartier Bresson and photographers from Freud’s Soho drinking circle. These said more to me about Freud than his paintings, perhaps because I relate to photographs. Which is again a little disturbing. Was he really so hidden? (In his self portrait “Interior with Plant, Reflection, Listening” he disappears – only part of his body is painted: so perhaps his painting was all about hiding.)
rhythmaning: (sunset)
I love Tate Modern, on Bankside. The view across to St Paul's Cathedral and the City is amazing, but the building itself - a former power station designed by Gilbert Scott - has an austere, industrial beauty.

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rhythmaning: (sunset)
The Brass Jaw gig was in Finchley on a Sunday afternoon: so I walked there, and I walked back, when I took these photos...

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Read more... )

rhythmaning: (Default)
More jazz... Brass Jaw in Finchley. At an arts' centre. Where they were advertising their Christmas show, "The Gruffalo's Child"...

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Read more... )

rhythmaning: (Default)
Still trying to catch up with things I meant to post about - and getting further behind... - I spent a lot of time at the London Jazz Festival last November - something like fifteen gigs over ten days.

I took a lot of photographs.

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Here are my favourites... )

rhythmaning: (sunset)
The highest point near my house: sunrise from Alexandra Palace.

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rhythmaning: (sunset)
The City, Docklands and the south shore of the Thames by sunrise.

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Perivale

Jan. 22nd, 2012 04:40 pm
rhythmaning: (sunset)
The Hoover Building is in Perivale, a western suburb of London. I have been past many times, but I cannot remember ever going to Perivale before.

It was dawn; surprisingly beautiful.

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