Thursday, 3 June 2010

Sounds On A Summer's Day

Someone just commented ironically that my current listening constitutes ‘nice sunshine sounds!’ – well, it is Pan Sonic who, as you probably know, are hardly The Sound of Summer. But I like dark music, even when outside is all brilliant light.
   (I’ve acquired the nickname of ‘mole rat’ ‘round here, such is my dedication to remaining in the bunker for as long and often as possible, regardless of the weather. Soon (if it hasn’t happened already) I’ll be behaving like my dear ol’ Ma, who always appeared to want to ‘get in’ more than she wished to stay out anywhere...home to watch telly and not, you’ll be surprised to learn, to play Pan Sonic or read Burroughs, watch a film, or write.)
   But what is The Sound of Summer? Usually for me it’s West Coast jazz...or Bossa Nova...or something lush and strings-laden, something Easy. All of which are pretty obvious.
   Summer in the city can be trying, though...all the racket made by neighbours playing their awful music too loudly whilst we choke on smoke from barbeques and gasp for air amid the pollution – fantastic. Best to take a trip to the coast for the day...or rather, somewhere less populated. I’ve nothing against other people small doses...

   So I switch Pan Sonic off and turn to Jimmy Guiffre...‘Memphis In June’...a beautiful, bluesy for fantasising that I’m in the crowd at Newport Jazz Festival circa ’58 watching Guiffre, along with all the other participants in the great American post-war dream of white picket fences, apple pie, Cadillacs and Cool Democracy which no communists or nuclear missiles can destroy – amen.
   Things look perfect on celluloid...snapshots of lives captured by Bert Stern’s lens...all vivid colours and surface style, devoid of the heartaches, pain, angst, paranoia...some of which may have related to celestial crockery. And whilst talking of West Coast jazz, Shorty Rogers once dedicated an album to that phenomenon – ‘Martians Come Back!’ – great title, eh? It’s not exactly a great album, but it’s good enough right now. What I would have loved it to be is an early example of jazz fused with electronic sounds to create an other-wordly atmosphere. Titles such as ‘Astral Alley’ and ‘Chant Of The Cosmos’ demand such sonic experimentation, surely. Instead it’s more like the soundtrack to The Jetsons...but cooler...naturally.

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