My Desert Island Discs 1
Music has always been part of my life.
My father (MF) had a pianoforté, which sadly I wasn't allowed to touch. Come to think of it, I've never been allowed to play a 78, an album, cassette or CD on any of his stereograms or then new-fangled sound reproducing contraptions.
Whatever, he plays the piano - yes, at 89 he still does - with a strong left hand providing the foundation for the right hand melodies of popular songs. There is an echo of the pre-WWII stride pianists from Chicago in his playing. During the war, he was mainly stationed in Britain, serving in the Education Corps of the Royal Artillery, originally based at the Woolwich Arsenal. I presume he learnt the boogie-woogie style from the American troops who arrived in the UK.
Choosing a track from my piano jazz collection is difficult. I could plump for the somewhat obese Fats Waller
who could be heard on Housewive's Choice on morning radio in the 50s singing about what his very good friend the milkman said, or, in Viper's Drag
, about his consumption of marijuana, a connotation I'm fairly certain MF has never thought of.
Other jazz pianists from later times, such as Oscar Peterson, are perennial favourites. Back in my student days I had a vinyl album called At The Opera House
with the Modern Jazz Quartet on one side and the Oscar Peterson Trio on the other. They were recordings of live concerts and although I haven't heard the Trio side for perhaps 30 years, I can still recall, with a shiver down my backbone, one magical moment.
Just as one cannot ever know eternal happiness, because we need the balance of sadness or stress to highlight the good times, so music needs pauses. On one track, with the audience totally engaged, there is a pause and from somewhere in the back of the auditorium you can clearly hear a woman having a moment of ecstacy, an orgasm. Rare are such raptures, and if any of you have that album, please make and send me a copy. (Or, if you have broadband, please download it from here
Right from the outset of compiling my imaginary playlist I'm going to cheat because if I have to choose just one pianist, then it's Erroll Garner
, and his Concert By The Sea
recorded in 1955. It's atrocious recording quality and you can barely make out the drummer and bass player, but it's of little matter. It's a performance of such pleasure and brilliance that it seems much shorter than its actual 45 minutes.
He couldn't read music and he'd been told by noted teachers to not learn notation because they feared he would lose his spontaneity, the hallmark of his genius.
Back in '66, a year or two after I'd left the parental nest, I went to see Erroll play at the Brighton Dome, a magnificent auditorium with a balcony which was unfortunately, but luckily for me, barely filled. I was able to move to a front row seat from where I could gaze down at Erroll as he grunted through his totally improvised set. I have kept an image of his smile beamed up at me ever since.
He died too young, and my vinyl and cassette copies of this album are corrupted beyond listenability but I have bought the CD here in Jakarta.
So all is well.
Labels: Desert Island Discs