Sing Sing Sing – Benny Goodman
It turned me on to Jazz, not least through Gene Krupa’s drumming. I always had a bit of a thing for the drums anyway, even tried to learn to play at Saturday morning lessons at the Fender Soundhouse in Tottenham Court Road, with my long-lost step-brother who was quite a gifted drummer from the Carl Palmer camp. Strange this inheritance came from my step-father rather than my parents. My dad did have a decent collection of jazz records ranging from George Shearing (spotlighted in On The Road which I just finished reading yesterday) via Jack Teagarden (with the bright yellow sleeve) to Stan Freeman (a Sinatra alternative) but he never really communicated the passion for them – I think Barbra Streisand and Beethoven was more where he was really at). My mum has always loved music and taken me to hear it live but we’re more in the realm of Mahler and musical theatre with her – I guess a track from Jesus Christ Superstar could have been it, one of my first LPs (nabbed from her) which I drew and coloured along to for happy hours on end (we also saw Godspell together with David Essex in his Superman shirt). Her second husband was involved in the Archer Street generation, the musicians’ labour exchange on the streets of Soho habituated by the Ronnie Scott circles. I’ve just acquired a ticket to see Van at Ronnie’s little place which is a prospect and a half. And Benny would probably have enjoyed the trip back/forwards to 70s brown if his band would have fitted on stage. I’ve seen Maynard Ferguson’s big band there with an incredible young drummer called Stockton Helbing so it’s probably feasible. The drumming is primeval on Sing Sing Sing in the vein of Soul Sacrifice at Woodstock with the young&beautiful Michael Shreeve. And the Keith Moon craziness is key to the energy too. I like the way the Chicago Polak gets in touch with the roots of all ancestors through his insistent pounding – as Gershwin did in another way through Porgy, a profound understanding transcending race. Goodman is celebrated for breaking the race barriers with his mixed band – I love that too. By some twist of fate his great-niece ended up marrying my best-man via Argentina. The world swings in mysterious ways. And Sing Sing Sing swings with a mysterious primitive energy which does it for me deep deep deep down.
Flamenco Sketches – Miles Davis
Jazz too. It was a tough battle between Miles and Trane (A Love Supreme), my two funeral tracks, the former to end, the latter to start. I love this track because it leads me consistently to a transcendant place of tranquility. It soothes my soul. I was first transported by the record (Kind of Blue) driving home from St Albans one day, I just had one of those moments when I heard it properly. I can recall other such incidents clearly too – Love Theme from Spartacus (Bill Evans) in Kilburn, Hyperballad (Bjork), Into the Fire (Bruce) in Parliament Hill. Music lifting you beyond. I leave this beautiful performance, a one-off moment of semi-improvised perfection, the culmination of the second wonderous side of Kind of Blue, to the Enfants Terribles as a key to peace on earth.