The National Youth Jazz Orchestra of Scotland plays Donald Fagen’s Nightfly: Review (At the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival)


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First of all, apologies for the truly awful photo above.

One of my all time favourite albums is Donald Fagen’s post Steely Dan 1981 debut solo album, The Nightfly.  Indeed so much do I love it that I have made the Nightfly my alter ego for my music quiz hosting and the short time I DJed on Jubilee FM.

It is a record of complete perfection with its jazz infused tones and theme and was, for many, Steely Dan fans a step up even from their giddy heights.

Well,  Malcolm Edmonstone has taken the album and arranged it for the National Youth Jazz Orchestra of Scotland and performs a ‘big band’ rendition from start to finish (with five brilliant vocalists) and conducted by Andrew Bain in Edinburgh’s brand new Rose Theatre on Rose Street (in itself worthy of celebration because its a new small to mid-sized space that offers much potential).

The album astoundingly transforms itself into a jazz ensemble piece and guest guitarist, the venerable Malcolm Macfarlane, is mindbogglingly brilliant as lead guitarist and shares two of his own excellent filmic numbers prior to the Nightfly set.)  One number has interesting nods towards a Sufjan Stevens sound, although I spoke to him after and he didn’t know Sufjan.  (Malcolm, go listen.)

But the stars of the piece are obviously the orchestra (it is their gig after all).  All young, all impressively talented and all bringing a classic album to life (that was recorded before any of them were born) with consumate ease.

The West coast Californian languor of Fagen’s late night radio station vibe is frankly cool as fuck and this makes the most of it.

Only 8 songs, but every one of them cool, chilled, jazzy, soulful and simply brilliant.

Sadly the Rose Theatre have a little work yet to do on their sound mixing but it wasn’t enough to damage a brilliant, classic, unique performance of truly great worth.

Intelligent Finance? I think not.


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I’m an IF customer, have been for 15 years (attracted by their offset mortgage which is the gift that keeps on giving) however one thing that really REALLY annoys me is that when I phone them I use the phone number on their website 0845 609 4343.

Except I always forget and am reminded by a message when I dial that number that it was changed (I’d say, conservatively, 3 years ago) to 0345 609 4343,.

I call infrequently, but every time I do I ask them how they can’t put their own phone number on their website correctly.

“Yes we know and we’ve asked for it to be changed” weary phone operators sigh.

“Yes, but you are called Intelligent Finance”  I always reply, frankly only irritating them more.

“Surely this is a very straightforward IT task to change?”

“Yes, we’d have thought so and we keep bringing it up but nobody does anything.”  Is the common battle-hardened response.

Sometimes I make a formal complaint so that it will be ‘escalated’.

It makes no difference.

Intelligent Finance remain, in my view, exceptionally unintelligent in this very, very simple administrative requirement.

For complainers like me it too remains the gift that keeps on giving.  I’ll be sad in away when and IF they ever change it.

By the way, they also don’t recognise Apple Pay and they don’t have contactless.  For a bank called Intelligent Finance I also find this surprising.

Kamasi Washington: Truth. Even if you don’t like jazz you will love this.


I can hardly believe that only 300,000 have viewed this at the time of writing.

It’s a piece called Truth by Kamasi Washington and please find 14 minutes in your life to watch this on fullscreen at full volume.

For those of you who don’t know, Kamasi Washington is an American Jazz Saxophonist and has worked extensively with Kendrick Lamar (on to Pimp a Butterfly. the best album of 2015) and many others.

It’s the final movement in a five movement piece conceived for the Whitney Museum in New York’s 2017 Biennial called Harmony of Difference and the film was directed by A G Rojas , a Barcelona based film director who’s also made videos for the likes of Jack White.

The centrepiece of the film fits the slow movement, within the movement as a whole, and features the longest, slowest zoom and pan you will ever see.  Orson Welles would be proud of it.

I first heard this on the amazing Giles Peterson show on BBC 6 Music (it’s a treasure trove of beautiful, jazz, jazz influenced and electronica that makes a Saturday afternoon a very fine thing – or listen to his show in download form on the BBC iPlayer).

Incidentally for the sharp eared among you the central six note theme (that’s introduced on the guitar) is virtually identical to Gorgeous George by Edwin Collins.  Not that I am criticising this, but it was nagging away at me as to what I knew it from.

Baby Driver: Movie Review.


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The poster says that Baby Driver is the coolest movie of the summer.  I don’t know that that aspiration is king size but in my view it fails to achieve even those unlofty heights.

It is QUITE cool but it’s reliance on music as a key plot device requires the music to be cool as…

It isn’t.

The anchor song, Queen’s Brighton Rock, isn’t even Queen’s coolest song.  Not by a long way.

The title credits, where our hero (Baby) walks the streets of Atlanta to the sound of Harlem Shuffle is clever as the lyrics pop up as street graffiti, shop names and so on but it’s trying soooo hard.

The car chases are invariably high quality but I felt some of the casting was a bit gash.  Love interest, Lily James, doesn’t cut the mustard and Baby (Ansel Elgort) created no real empathy.

But the biggest crime is the OST.

Come on guys you could have done better than that.

Apart from Hocus Pocus by Focus and Egyptian Reggae by Jonathan Richman it was just kind of meh!  It ain’t no Tarantino soundtrack.

Now THAT’s cool.

Jamie Foxx is largely unintelligible. But John Hamm and Kevin Spacey put in good, professional efforts.

This movie aspires to coolness, but it left me a little cold.

 

Why Damien Hirst may be the most important artist of a generation.


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The critics (generally) loathe Damien Hirst.  They despise his art ‘factory’  They don’t like his populist approach to creating art.

They see him as an arrogant upstart with a pop sensibility.

They mistrust his popularity among ‘consumers’.

I love him.

And I love him even more having made a trip to Venice specially to see his “Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable.”

It’s a massive piss take on an incomprehensible scale. (194 pieces created by 250 craftspeople in 5 countries)

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As the show notes state (all a lie) in 2008 a vast wreckage was discovered off the coast of East Africa.  A wealthy ex slave, Cif Amotan II, (an anagram of I am a fiction) accumulated a vast collection of artefacts the length and breadth of the ancient world (oh, and Disney).  The treasures were brought together on board a ship called the Apisos (translated from Koine Greek as the ‘Unbelievable‘) destined for a purpose built temple the ship sank in the Indian Ocean and lay there for two thousand years before being discovered in 2008.

Many of the pieces (prior to ‘restoration’) are encrusted in barnacles, corals and other marine life.

The show opens with a video of the plundering of the ship’s contents (in actual fact these are Hirst’s creations dropped onto the seabed for immediate recovery.  It’s all staged.)

Set in two massive palaces (the Palazzo Grassi and the Punto Della Dogana) you are met in the colossal atrium of Palazzo Grassi by the show’s spectacular centrepiece Demon with a bowl.  

It stands 18 metres tall and although it’s made of Resin it appears to be bronze.

Your jaw literally drops.

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Then begins the journey.

Most of the pieces are cast in bronze with painted coral and underwater flora and fauna.  Some of these are simply breathtaking in their beauty.  But there are also pieces made from Jade, Malachite, Gold, Silver, Cararra and Pink marble,

Here we go…

Piss take #1.  How exactly did this appear on the floor of the Indian Ocean in 100 AD?

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This is stunning.

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I mean, at auction these pieces will sell for millions (individually).

This piece is called Andromeda and the Sea Monster and measures 4 metres by 6 metres and is made entirely of bronze.

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It’s mind boggling.

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This is kind of Goofy. (Piss take #3).

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Now he’s taking the Mickey…

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…and here it is being ‘recovered’.

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Just beautiful.

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And again.  (It’s Kate Moss.)

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Unknown Pharaoh in Blue Granite, Gold and white agate.

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Huge.

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Did the Ancient Egyptians wear nipple rings?  I suspect not.

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Two mummies.

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Piss take #4. Look closely.

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Sphynx.

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Nice boobs.

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Piss take #5.  Beautiful Pink Marble torso…

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…but look at the back of it…

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And here’s ‘the collector’

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Look at the detailing in this.

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It’s miraculous, profound, beautiful, funny and the art critics can talk a walk.

Go see it.

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