Iain Cameron's Diary
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2006-09-10 - 10:08 a.m.

An e-m arrived asking for an article on AIDS in a region of South Africa and so I went and had a look at the conference in Toronto which took place last month under the UN – something which happens every two years. The UN special envoy – Stephen Lewis – is about to retire and in his conference speech he reviewed the current state of affairs – very depressing reading. I had been starting to think that the world had got to the state where large-scale organisations were engaging with the issue on a suitable scale – after all there has been a lot of effort by influential individuals like B Gates, Bono and B Clinton. Unfortunately this isn’t true and it is still necessary for small scale local organisations at the front line to lead the way. Indeed Lewis has set up his own foundation to target funds at them. Peter C has mailed me about where we should take the site – I have sent him a holding reply while I shuffle my thoughts.

Saturday morning I drove across to Cambridge arriving early and dropping my kit off into the porters lodge at Corpus Christi. Then I bumped into the drummer, Keith Morton and his wife Sue and Tony Burns, the tenor player. Then Sarah and Geoffery turned up and eventually Charlie. After a lot of too and fro we got into the chapel, set up and refined the head arrangements.

Uneasiness mounted progressively right up to the point we lauched into the tunes – something to do with us having to follow Lord Abinger reading TS Eliot, the Cambridge Music Society doing Byrd, Sir Elihu Lauterpact CBE QC on how Nick contributed to the international law foundation that he established at the university. Then we laid into C Parker, Yardbird Suite and an AC Jobim perfect miniature.

We actually managed to stick to the arrangements – the Parker one was quite sharp with a smooth flow of 16 bar solos, a return to the head on the last B section and a sharp stop on the first beat of the 7th bar of the last 8. Charlie, Tony and I each had 32 bars on the Jobim tune – which it turns out Nick knew and liked. Around bar 17 of my solo, I had the thought – I am really enjoying doing this, how come its so many years since I did it. Afterwards the President of Hughes Hall – who spoke after the band was very gracious in terms of hard act to follow etc.

In all the various lists of Nick’s achievements no one mentioned that he played piano when Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer went on tour or that in the early 70s he went out with the leading marxist avant garde jazz singer in the UK, Maggie Nichols. I was really very tired after – even though it was only about 8 minutes playing – and we went back to Hughes Hall for tea in the new lounge which overlooks the CU cricket ground.

I talked to Keith about the point of being able to do be-bop (is there any these days?). It was thought that was raised by the house bands in Budapest who were mainly doing the repertoire from the Miles Davis 5tet circa 1957. Keith has taken up portrait painting – he used to be a graphic designer and indeed did the pictures for Steve’s magnum opus, Bodyspace. He has done portraits of some of the UK’s founding fathers of bebop – Peter King (who even plays with EBTG on some tracks) and Stan Tracy who set under Milkwood. Anyway, Keith said that he was stuck on the same question about painting portraits.

Katrina, Nick’s widow, brought up Adorno – she has found that I have Nick’s copy of Adorno’s book about Berg which it transpires she gave him. I had two arguments in favour of hanging on to it – one about the need to read it in the context of the Dialectic of Enlightenment, Philosophy of the New Music etc and the other about Berg/Adorno, Webern/Spira and me ending up playing the flute.

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