Iain Cameron's Diary
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2004-04-13 - 4:55 p.m.

I mailed Paul a chunk of recent material from the Place-to-be group. I tried to chip in but I should have taken more care - maybe I will explain below what I was trying to get at. I found a good Hunter-Jones airshot of DID from US radio which some Japanese blogger has kindly preserved and streams from her site. I also mailed Tony Reif.

The time-zone change and the culture change and the rate at which dawn gets earlier have had the predictable effect on my sleep patterns. My metabolism certainly doesn’t like all this light - maybe that’s why Robin asked me to play on her night-song.

As I was falling asleep the other night I caught a really interesting programme on R3 about Mr and Mrs Rousseau living in Derbyshire while he was writing his Confessions. That’s yet another philo that I have never studied properly. I have so much Deleuze running round my brain that I could easily pick up the antecedents in the account of R eg trusting nature even though it is unpredictable.

If you look up the Siesta reviews on Amazon you get some idea how powerful this music is. I should have mentioned Jack Johnson yesterday in the list of Miles filmworks - I think Siesta will emerge as JJ has done as a really serious work in the arcane but it will take time. Note how the people who write so positively about it on Amazon mostly don’t see it through the prism of past Miles work - but react directly to the power of the music.

Roughly the idea is this. In Norah Jones interpretation of Day Is Done you hear earlier NYC song-writers who combined the blues with other sources to great effect, esp Baroque sources - I think especially of Tim Hardin and Nina Simone (who was classically trained at Julliard). These writers may well have been influences as their work was getting noticed in the mid sixties within hip circles in the UK. Of course the English folk-baroque school were mining a related vein closer to home. Robin’s Smoking Too Long is also a case in point - where a folk baroque approach is given a blues treatment. - but within a structural framework that derives from the lyric rhetoric.

NJ’s more heavily blues inflected interpretation of DID is perfectly valid and helpfully illuminates the real antecedents of the original particularly as it drags it away from the “easy” pastoralism of the 5LL recording. Obvious I have an utter bias in this matter as I can now include extra paragraphs on all of this in my Jazzin with Nick should I get around to revising it.

This morning it struck me that baroque blues and bop originally came together in the MJQ.

It is interesting how electric folk hangs around in NYC bars - Hunter’s 8 string guitar work ties to the way that Jeff Buckley played around 10 years ago on Live at Sine - which is a downtown coffee bar.

The first time I went to NYC I could see there was a symbiosis between the Broadway shows and the clubs, say on 52nd Street - also that there was a similar symbiosis in London on a smaller scale. May be there is a further step - a further symbiosis between the jazz scene and a guitar based blues-inflected songwriting scene fed partly by an after hours jamming culture.

The classic case would be Les Cousins and the emergence of Pentangle from a combination of FB guitars and bop/blues sidemen starting out at the Horseshoe near Centre Point. John Martyn also fits this - into jamming - in fact he even let me sit in one night when I was down at Cousins with Paul W.

NJ seems to have developed her approach in a similar environment in NYC with Hunter and Campilongo amongst others who have the same imagination as far as guitar and song as Jeff Buckley. All three come from the west coast but the NYC scene with the density and cheap housing you get on Manhattan helps the chemistry a lot. One could add Jackson Browne to the list of west coasters who have benefited from a bit of formation in Manhattan songwriting for and accompanying Nico..

The final layer is Gracyk’s idea that songs are “ontologically thin”. This means that they retain their identity across a very wide range of treatments. This thinness is exploited by these guitarists who use their musical imaginations to configure the guitar and the song in unusual ways. There is a nice line of investigation in the light of this later “school” - to what extent do the ND covers prefigure his innovations in songwriting? Like Buckley, for example, where the “covers” are very imaginative and point the way to the originality in his originals?

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