Music has led me into one of the most rewarding adventures of my life so I have decided to chronical that adventure. Here then is Chapter One
It really began when I was 15, sometime in 1963, when I visited my uncle Dennis Kirk, youngest of my mother’s siblings. This uncle had often stimulated my young imagination and intellect on my frequent visits to his home before he married. On this one occasion he profoundly influenced the course of my life by putting on his turntable one of the greatest jazz hits of all time, Take 5. I was immediately captivated. But then he played another, Blue Rond ala Turk and now I was born again! From that moment on the rhythms and sounds of modern jazz became a voyage of discovery and adventure.
What helped that education along was that at about this time in the technological history of the world, access to the airwaves became pocket sized and my dad bought me my first, personal, transistor radio. Monday nights was Jazz Scene on the Home Service or Radio 2 as it became known as. That program and the weekly rag, Melody Maker introduced me to the world of jazz and so my exposure to all its greatest exponents broadened. I was soon buying records of Miles Davis, the MJQ, Gerry Mulligan, Jimmy Smith and others, life was thrilling, exciting. I was also evangelical and before long had introduced some mates at school to my discoveries.
But then one day, when I was out with such a friend, we came across this shop selling second hand records. From a box of assorted LPs I came across one called Dankworth and the London Philharmonic. It intrigued me and was a bargain so I opened my wallet. When I got it home it was one piece, withou the Phil, that did it again for me, it was the Ebony Concerto by Igor Stravinsky. It was not jazz, though it had originally been written for a jazz orchestra, but once again it was the rhythms of the piece that really moved me. I guess because Stravinsky wrote so much for the ballet, he became the master of music inwhich rhythm is king. Also, it was so descriptive. From beginning to end it It took me on journey on a rickety old train, into desolate regions, danger and despair but to eventual triumph. It was like one of the B movies I so often went and watched at the Plaza, my local cinema, except no moving visual pictures were needed, they were in my head.
Naturally, having tasted one of Stravinsky’s lesser known works I was soon pounding my living room floor to the primal rhythms and discordant chords of the Rite! From then on, this giant little man from Russia was drawing me into a new world, the music of the gods. They call it classical music.
Note: LPs I bought in my youth I discarded long ago. Although I have on CD a version of Ebony conducted by the man Igor himself, I never liked the faster tempo he starts it in. I guess the first time you take to a piece is the way you think it should always be played. Though I never heard Dankworth's version for decades, that was how i wanted to hear it, slower at the start of the first movement. Just recently I was thrilled to find his version is now available for download from Amazon. It is still my favourite of any version on Youtube or CD. So I challenge you to let your mind conjure a story as you listen to it from the beginning to the end, or instead, enjoy mt visual interpretation.
This video setting to the Ebony Concerto is not difinitive! It was all I could produce with what video footage was at my disposal while living in Greece. It does however have a TONGUE IN CHEEK MESSAGE! Play to the end to see what a Brit away from home longs for!
Blue Rond ala Turk (Audio only)