Iain Cameron's Diary
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2004-02-03 - 5:56 a.m.
I did a mass percussion workshop on Sunday very well led by Chip Bailey,
Monday was a London day – oh how I hated having to use South West Trains.
I met up with Nick who is MD at St Martins and we had a first pass at the shape of the Lullabyes concert on 27 November. The idea is to have three stylistic “centres”. Next step is to put together some audition tracks on a CD for Nick.
I met John Stephens for lunch – at Barry’s suggestion. John is the recently retired strategy director for the largest professional institute in the UK. We identified a couple of areas to work on.
There was an hour or so before my next meeting and so I had glanced at Helter Skelter and picked up Michael Brocken’s book about Burt Bacharach which on the basis of the first few Chapters I can strongly endorse.
I had read that BB was taught by Henry Cowell (who also taught Gershwin) and had always wanted to verify that claim. Brocken sees a strong link between Satie and BB via his teacher, Milhaud , who introduced BB to impressionism with a twist. He did take lessons from Cowell and also from Martinu.
BB was born in 1929 which means that during his teens in NYC he was in the right place at the right time. So he would sneak into the clubs on 52nd to hear Parker and Gillespie – and the key pianists, Bud Powell and Thelonius Monk – but, possibly, because of the Satie interest he would also mix with the Cage circle. He listened to Berg and Webern at this point – Webern was very much an interest of the New York Schoo at this stage – partly because his late works were only just becoming known. So little wonder, that BB emerges as a major influence on Becker and Fagen.
BB claims that the only music faculty that would give him a place was McGill in Canada – he played a Debussy piece for his audition. But fortunately this meant that he had the chance to hear a lot of Oscar Peterson and Maynard Ferguson. After college BB got drafted but he was able to use his talents as a pianist playing a lot of furniture music which must have been a great extra layer of training – going through the standards in a diluted Peterson/Powell style.
Emerging from the army he went into the Brill Building – which just about sums up the glory of Manhattan – bearing in mind that not only is most of it there – but you can also walk from one chunk to the next – say from the mid-town jazz clubs to the Greenwich Village artistic elite and then to your day-job in the office next door to Carole King.
But let me not miss an opportunity to harp on about South East Michigan. I was delighted to see in yesterday’s Guardian an artwork from the Detroit Institute of Art displayed – one which I saw on my first visit there. Sam Taylor Wood (whose image I plundered for the Plundafonix cover) reviewed a retrospective of YO in yesterday’s paper. She refers to a work called “Fly” which makes you wonder as Paul W had access via his his wife to Yoko. Sam TW says that Yoko’s genius is to film the fly hitting the woman’s body and bridge the banal and beautiful.
Sam TW explains that YO gave her a sense of artistic freedom – exactly the same point that so many people make about Cage. Sam TW also links her with Bruce Nauman – who is more NYC late 60s. ( I thought Nauman’s post minimalist vids were just the thing at Video Acts – the violin playing DEAD).
Paul’s latest novel is called Luckyono. Sam TW thinks she must have influenced Warhol’s films. Of course there are lots of things which get the way as STW sees it – like her involvement in Fluxus. (Cale did a Fluxus film while he was working on Desertshore at Sound Techniques.) A lot of Fluxus stuff was transient – although there is a great collection in Detroit – and so its hard to get the full context of her work.
Sam TW describes a five minute performance YO did at a club in London last year. The audience was 40-50 years younger than her but it was obvious where the edge was in terms of originality.
Turnkey had a three pick-up Yamaha solid for under £100 – what an offer and I read about a Chinese made Flying V which is only just over £100. I have always wanted a Flying V but I swore last year that I wasn’t going to get any more guitars. I saw an original Danelectro twin neck for £2k and a 1966 white Tele for over £4k. I cant understand the way Tele prices have gone
By the way there are a few references to Paul in the Zig Zag interview on johnmartyn.nl.
I have been out of the office for 5 days and so there is a big backlog to follow up.