On the very rare occasions when I pre-record a show, I like to do it 'as live', as they say in the trade, without editing out any mistakes or hesitations, and then pretend that it was broadcast live as usual.
But even the most gullible of my listeners might suspect that surely I could not persuade Mavis Staples to go in to BBC London on Christmas Day, so I might as well admit that our ping pong session will be pre-recorded.
It feels very appropriate to be playing gospel music on Christmas Day.
After the ping pong session, instead of the usual round up of upcoming gigs, I plan to play songs by artists nominated by listeners as having played their best gig of the year.
My own two favourites were Malouma at WOMAD Reading in July and Chango Spasiuk at Momos last week (December 9th).
The forum is open for your nominations (maximum of two each, please)
Without a doubt, it had to be Nick Cave at The Academy, Brixton, this month. The greasy rock & roll, the carcinogenic atmosphere, the gothic dress code, the elbowing, shoving and general lack of audience good manners....it almost made me feel like a young man of 55 again.
They werenâ€™t quite in the groove at The Anvil compared to how they sounded a few gigs later, but their performance still ranks amongst the top half dozen or so that I've ever seen. I'm one of those people who are left cold by virtuosity for its own sake, but the sound each of these musicians made was too generous to the other to be accused of insularity or over-indulgence.
The thing with Djelimady is his ability to make things swing, no matter what the pace - how he manages to do that while effectively playing lead solos is completely beyond me. Frisell seemed to understand how, though, and just hitched a ride on the rhythms - fantastic stuff. Greg Scheisz, Jenny Scheinmann and Sidiki Camara provided more than able support.
The only other competitor for a nomination that I saw is Souad Massi who did it again at WOMAD this year. If she ever manages to catch her live performances and in-the-flesh charisma on record, theyâ€™ll be able to wrap up the CD of the Year Awards on release date plus one.
Don't have a fit at the last one, Howard, I'll be serious this time....
1. Seeing Geoff Muldaur (US singer, guitarist) is always a treat and he really excelled at The Borderline in June. He's only been recording since 1963, maybe he'll get discovered soon.
2. The tribute to the film music of Federico Fellini, at The Barbican in April, was a real one-off. The cast was assembled by Hal Wilner and brought some wonderful (mainly) jazz players together, like Guy Barker, Carla Bley, Geri Allen, Andy Sheppard. Joyous band arrangements and not an ego in sight. A memorable evening.
Far from it Norman - I had a good chuckle at your 'guest' contribution. Actually Cave's intense energised show would have been a contender if it'd just been me, a few friends, Nick, and his Bad Seeds in the Academy. And if they'd sold at least one real ale of some description.
I'm going for Lhasa at the Jazz Cafe. Perfect sized venue, perfect performance. Respectful, 98% non-smoking audience, who were enthusiastically vocal in their appreciation one minute, and then uncannily quiet during the more intimate songs.
At the other end of the Richter Scale there was the organised cacophony of The Shyam Brass Band at Kew Gardens back in July. As much for the delightfulness of the whole day as their riveting, soul-shaking performance.
For me it was Tinariwen at the Festival au Desert. Mind you the location probably played a part but they seemed so much more relaxed than when they were on tour over here and being on home territory, as it were, must have played a part. Incidentally Festival also had some of the worst but that's another story.............
Number 2 for me was Enzo Avitabile@WOMAD. I don't think I've ever seen anything so visually compelling and the music was dead good too.
I guess that after thirty years of listening avidly to Charlie's programmes, English folk song may not appear in the programme, although there is a connection to the past programmes. My best concert is Kellie While, who is a folk singer, with a family folk background, through the band Albion. The song that brought her to my attention is a cover version that she did with her mother of the Mcgarrigals' great song "Mendocino". This is on the album that she made with her mother, and is also on a compilation album in the "Evolving Tradition" series.
Listening to "Masters of War" tonight reminded me that Freewheeling took a long time to make, and there are, seemingly, more outtakes than tracks on the album. This period of recording was "interrupted" by Dylan's extended visit to England, and it is quite easy to identify, from the final album, the "pre-England tracks" and those influenced by English folksong. "Masters of War" is in the latter group, and the tune is a straight lift of Nottamun Town, recorded by, amongst others, Bert Jansch and Fairport Convention. The words of Nottamun Town have an intensity and surrealism which must have influenced other tracks on this album and maybe other songs as well - "Hard Rain is Gonna Fall" seems to me to have something of the language of Nottamun Town.
Best gigs of the year for me must be Tinariwen at Cargo and Tom Waits at Hammersmith, just edging out a triumphant performance by Rokia Traore at Cambridge Corn Exchange and Oliver Mtukudzi hot-footin' from BBC London at Ocean.
Asleep at the Wheel at Lock 17 in July. I suppose it was just another gig for this hard working band, but boy did they make it sound special. Ray Benson has been keeping the spirit of Western swing alive for more than thirty years and he's still doing a terrrific job. Not at the forefront of new developments, obviously, but a fantastic night. The only puzzle is why the place wasn't packed out.
I'll second Howard (and Peter Culshaw, as reported in another topic) and plump for Lhasa's gig at the Jazz Cafe. Pure intimate magic. Apart from that, Think Of One's Chuva Em Po at the Spitz, Bellowhead at Sidmouth and (if the promoter is allowed to nominate one of his own), Mercedes Peon at the Union Chapel.
Anybody reading any of my postings will conclude, no doubt, that I'm permanently logged on to the wrong web site...a doddering old jazzer who's lost his way. I haven't been up to town for much in the way of live music this year, but still getting my kicks at Jazz At The Fairway, an unlikely venue based at a golf club in Welwyn Garden City, where, as part of an unbroken thirty five year run, we've presented amongst others Sonny Stitt, Eddie Lockjaw Davis, Jimmy Witherspoon, Art Farmer, Mal Waldron, Benny Golson, Tal Farlow, Ronnie Scott, Stan Tracey.......and this years gig of the year GILLESPIANA, a 19 piece big band playing the relentless cuboswingbop of Dizzy Gillespie. Led by the larger than life alto saxist Pete Long, this band really gives lets you know what all the fuss was about way back when Diz was king. If this is mere revivalist tosh well bring it on. Give me more. Howard you'd love 'em .... you too Charlie!
In a year of not going out much due to a serious illness in the family (now happily over), I missed many of the events mentioned above although I concur about Rokia at WOMAD. Why can't she capture that on record?...
But from my severely limited outings. two live performances stand out and oddly they were both by 60s folkies...
DYLAN at the Fleadh in June was great so he gets best live gig as well as best book of the year (in fact Chronicles may just be the best book ever written about music by anyone).
RICHARD THOMPSON'S show 1000 Years Of Popular Music - although maybe this doesn't count as he only performed it in America in 2004. He did it in the UK at Sadler's Wells in 2003, but since then he's added further songs. If you haven't seen it, then it does excatly what it says - a millennium of song in a two hour concert ranging from an 11th centry madrigal to a Britney Spears cover...
The idea began when some glossy magazine asked him at the end of 1999 for his best songs of the millennium. Predictably, everybody else polled stuck exclusively to the 20th century and recorded music. But Richard decided to give them exactly what they had asked for. Then he had the idea of turning it into a show.
It's mesmerisingly brilliant and he told me yesterday that they are filming it in January for release on DVD in 2005....