8.2.16

Freya and the Bass

When my daughter was seven months old I took some pictures of her with my Fender Precision bass. The bass is lovely but it didn't get used very much as I tend to use a five-string fretless. So, after a recent trip to a local music shop I found a replacement instrument and decided to sell the Precision.

Just before it went, I foolishly mentioned the old photograph and the bass to Freya. However, instead of getting sentimental and demanding I don't sell it, she suggested we re-stage the pictures.

So, here you are. A bass and a girl, nearly eight years apart. Let's hope I sell the right one.




6.2.16

The Second (post about the) Foundation

Last month I wrote about re-reading Isaac Asimov's book, The Foundation. The first time I read it was when I was about 15 years old and I had remembered more of the ideas than the actual plot.

Now I've finally finished it (it can take me a while) and overall I was pleasantly surprised. The book is a classic of the genre for a reason. It's more about history and politics than it is about whizzy spaceships and aliens. The biggest shock was that, as a 51 year old reader, I couldn't help but notice there was something missing. Women.

You have to wait until page 185 until a female character appears. She says nothing but just wears an ornament. BY page 188 you get a female character who speaks. She is unsympathetic and is soon 'put in her place' by one of the male characters. That seems to be all the female content there is.

Does this spoil the book. Well, yes, a bit. It is a product of the nineteen fifties but still, I expected better of Asimov. It goes to show how those who decry 'political correctness' seem to have missed the point. Without awareness of what we were doing (or not doing in this case) we're in danger of making the same mistakes. The Trumps and Farages of this world would seem to think that's OK, by I don't.

Oh, and everyone smokes in the book, almost constantly.

Funny how a book about history has now become an artefact of another age.

5.2.16

The camera


My new camera. from Will Cruttenden on Vimeo.


After my dad died in 2012 I found his old camera, which in turn had belonged to his dad, my grandfather. I have pictures of my dad, as a boy, taken on this camera and I still enjoy looking at them. He looks carefree and happy, on his bike, exploring London in the 1930s.

Dad seems to have taken a few pictures of me as a carefree and happy young boy (not on a bike but looking bewildered in Slough). Now I have this camera and a (mostly) carefree and happy young boy of my own. I kept telling myself that I would find film for the camera and take pictures of Jude so we could have three generations taken on the same device.

But, of course, things got in the way, life became busier, finding the correct film was hard and, most importantly, I’m rubbish.

So yesterday evening, in a fit of good intentions, I tracked down some film in Germany (thank you internet) and ordered two rolls of it. Now I need to learn how to load the camera, take the pictures and find somewhere to get the pictures developed.

The film is due to arrive in the week and then the experiment begins. If anyone reading this knows anything about 1920s pockets cameras and 127 film, I’d appreciate any advice.

3.2.16

January photos

My 365 project seems to be getting off to a better start than it did last year. Here's a slideshow of the January pictures. Good and bad.

25.1.16

Bowie

When I was at school there was a girl called Colette who walked almost everywhere with The Big Black Bowie book under her arm. I didn't get his music then and it took Let's Dance to be released before I really began to enjoy him. Then, like I often do, I went back through the catalogue and found the riches.

What I really loved about Bowie was his thirst to move on and change. He played the hits but he seemed to live for the next song, the next album, the next change in sound. This, along with a tide of truly great songs, is what I take from his life. Oddly, this was also at the back of my mind when I decided to sell my 1951 issue Fender bass. It's the last Fender I own and I have a picture of my daughter sitting with it when she was a baby, however, it belongs to a style of music and a kind of band I don't fit any more. Exciting pictures of the new bass that will replace it will come soon. In the meantime, here's that bloke from Brixton singing the song that has haunted most of my weekend.


24.1.16

Mark Wade Trio - Event Horizon

I was lucky enough to get my hands on a copy of bassist Mark Wade’s debut album, Event Horizon. On it he has Tim Harrison on Piano and Scott Neumann on drums. I love piano trio music and keep being surprised at how different groups can stretch the format. Usually the piano player is the leader but in this case the bassist is at the helm. Not that you’d know, as Mark is not one for hogging the limelight.

The album opens with the appropriately upbeat Jump for Joy and this introduces us to the fluid, live sound of the trio. Mark brings out a wonderful tone from his bass; a full woody sound which he uses to great effect in the solos. My only grumble about the opening track is the fade. Why fade it?

The following tunes take us through beautiful chamber jazz (The Prisoner), tasteful use of space (Apogee), the almost funky riffing in Tossed and some lush bowing on the lovely Valley and Stream; a tune that felt like a suite. One of my favourites was Twist in the Wind, which I would love to see played live (if we’re lucky enough to get the trio in the UK). The penultimate track, Cold Spring, delivered on many levels and it wouldn’t surprise me if one day it becomes a standard and ends up with a lyric. To close the album the trio play their only cover (a refreshing surprise for a debut) with If Only I had a Brain. This, with its terrific swing, left me wanting to hear more.


Mark Wade’s group are well worth watching. I suspect a band (and a leader) that can produce a debut this accomplished have a lot more to offer.

19.1.16

Foundation

Recently I felt the need to revisit a set of books I hadn’t read since my teens. Isaac Asimov’s Foundation trilogy intrigued me when I was fifteen and now, in my fifties, I wanted to see why.
I went into Oxford and found a copy of the first book but held off buying it. This was partly because I’m a bit poor this month and partly because I suspected my original copy was still at my mum’s house.

So, on my next visit to my mum’s I rooted through the shelves and found only books two and three of the original trilogy, resplendent as they were with their Chris Foss covers. My next step was to call up my favourite independent bookshop and order the first book. Amazingly, the owner had just ordered some classic science fiction books, including a copy of Foundation, which he put aside for me.


Will this end with crushing disappointment or a happy rediscovery? I’ll let you know.