Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Delian Mode (Kara Blake, 2009)

The Delian Mode (Kara Blake, 2009)

"A documentary on Delia Derbyshire who created the theme song for “Doctor Who”. Musical pioneer Delia Derbyshire didn’t just create the Doctor Who theme music; she invented every sound it comprised. Her history, and the history of a BBC department that helped launch electronic music, is told in an innovative, idiosyncratic style." —Telluride Film Festival

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Pink Floyd in It's so far out it's straight down

Granada Television produced this fascinating TV time capsule “It’s So Far Out It’s Straight Down” as a special part of their Scene at 6:30 series. The program focused on the young counterculture / hippie scene in London and features Miles, the Indica Gallery and the editorial board of The International Times underground newspaper. Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso and Lawrence Ferlinghetti are seen at the International Poetry Incarnation and we are taken to The UFO Club where Syd Barrett and the Pink Floyd are playing a live version of “Interstellar Overdrive” (Also heard on the soundtrack is an early version of their “Matilda Mother,” then called “Percy The Ratcatcher” and “It Can’t Happen Here” by The Mothers of Invention).

Paul McCartney is a talking head interviewee (although not framed as such) in the studio, intelligently discussing the nascent underground scene:
If you don’t know anything about it [the counterculture], you can sort of trust that it’s probably gonna be all right and it’s probably not that bad because it’s human beings doing it, and you know vaguely what human beings do. And they’re probably going to think of it nearly the same way you would in that situation.
The straights should welcome the underground because it stands for freedom… It’s not strange it’s just new, it’s not weird, it’s just what’s going on around.
“It’s So Far Out It’s Straight Down” was broadcast in March of 1967. The film focuses on performance (happenings) and The International Times, described by one of its members as communication media. The network element of this film, "to be part of something that has a common bond"is striking in the age of digital networked media. With words "beginning to become obsolete" and posters as the next form of mass communication.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Tribe Called Red (Summer Gig in Norway)

A Tribe Called Red deliver a blistering 45 minute set of electric pow wow music. Roots tunes for an indigenous planet.

A Tribe Called Red will be performing at the Riddu Riđđu festival in Sapmi (northern Norway) in July 2014 if you are on the peninsular at this time. I am working on being there, as it will be mind blowing.


JustJam is a weekly music show, brought to you by Tim & Barry, (Official photographers of Dizzee Rascal) every Wednesday between 7 and 9pm, on

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Miles Electric: A Different Kind of Blue

Miles Electric: A Different Kind of Blue is presenting footage of Miles Davis' performance at the British Isle of Wight Festival on August 29, 1970. It presents interview clips from a range of those involved, including Chick Corea, Dave Holland, Airto Moreira, and musicians who were in Davis' musical orbit at the time such as Carlos Santana. It includes interviews with some of the band's participants.

Miles Davis played at the largest pop festival in history to an audience of 600,000.


1. A Spiritual Orgasm
2. "So What" Kind Of Blue 1964
3. Fender Rhodes Piano The New Electric Toy
4. Bitches Brew Shaking The Foundations
5. Betti Davis And Miles' Hard Core Rock
6. Boxing, Improvisation And Miles' Music
7. Caught Up In The Craziness Of The Sixties
8. The Critics' Jazz - The Dirty Word
9. Embracing The Shock Of Electricity
10. The Isle Of Wight - The Sidemen
11. "Call It Anything" The Isle Of Wight Concert 1970
12. Trinute To Miles' Genius
13. End Credits

Produced & directed by Murray Lerner
Executive Producers Terry Shand and Geoff Kempin

This documentary about Miles Davis' legendary gig at the Isle of Wight Festival has won "Banff Rockie Award" in 2005 - at Banff Television Festival - for category "Best Arts Documentary" [MFT and Eagle Rock Entertainment Ltd. (in association with)].

Music Compositions - Written by Miles Davis

"MIles Run the Voodoo Down"
"Bitches Brew"
"So What" Live on Steve Allen Show 1964
"Bitches Brew" Live at Copenhagen 1969
"Spanish Key"
"Pharaoh's Dance"
"Right Off"
"Moja" Live at Tokyo 1973
"Untitled 04" Live at Newport 1971
"Black Satin"
"What I say"
"Willie Nelson"
"On the Corner"
"Untitled 04" Live at Copenhagen 1982
"Call It Anything" Live at Isle of Wight 1970
"So What"
"Untitled 04" Live at Stockholm 1973

Monday, March 10, 2014

Step Across the Border (1990), A ninety minute celluloid improvisation by Nicolas Humbert and Werner Penzel.

Step Across the Border is a 1990 avant-garde documentary film on English guitarist, composer and improviser Fred Frith. It was written and directed by Nicolas Humbert and Werner Penzel and released in Germany and Switzerland. The film was screened in cinemas in North America, South America, Europe and Japan, and on television in the United States, Germany, Switzerland, Austria and France. It was also released on VHS by RecRec Music (Switzerland) in 1990, and was later released on DVD by Winter & Winter (Germany) in 2003.

Shot in black and white, the 35mm documentary was filmed between 1988 and 1990 in Japan, Italy, France, Germany, England, the United States and Switzerland, and shows Frith rehearsing, performing, giving interviews and relaxing. Other musicians featured include René Lussier, Iva Bittová, Tom Cora, Tim Hodgkinson, Bob Ostertag and John Zorn.

The film won "Best Documentary" at the European Film Awards in 1990. A companion soundtrack album, Step Across the Border was also released by RecRec Music in 1990.

Step Across the Border is subtitled: A ninety minute celluloid improvisation by Nicolas Humbert and Werner Penzel.

"Improvisation" here refers not only to the music, but also to the film itself. Humbert and Penzel state in the 2003 DVD release of the film:

“In Step Across the Border two forms of artistic expression, improvised music and cinema direct, are interrelated. In both forms it is the moment that counts, the intuitive sense of what is happening in a space. Music and film come into existence out of an intense perception of the moment, not from the transformation of a preordained plan.”

The film is not narrated, and the musicians, the music and the locations are not identified. Instead it is a sequence of "snapshots' taken of Frith and musicians he has worked with, rehearsing and performing, interspersed with apparent random images of movement (trains, cars, people, grass) that blend in with the music. The improvised nature of the film and its direct cinema approach make it more of an art film than simply a documentary on a musician.

The music in the film is performed by Frith on his own, with others, and by others on their own. Some of the music is improvised, some is composed material performed "live", and some is previously recorded material played as accompaniment to many of the "movement" sequences in the film.

The recording of the film coincided with the formation and activity of Frith's review band Keep the Dog (1989–1991), and many of the participants of the band appear in the film. There are even a few rare glimpses of the band rehearsing. René Lussier in particular, features prominently and "interviews" Frith about his musical upbringing and approach to music.

The title of the film comes from the lyrics of the song "The Border", recorded by Skeleton Crew on their album, The Country of Blinds (1986). A brief "video" of this song also appears in the film.


Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Romeo and Juliet (1968)

Romeo and Juliet is a 1968 British-Italian romance film based on the tragic play of the same name (1591–95) by William Shakespeare. The film was directed and co-written by Franco Zeffirelli, and starred Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey. It won Academy Awards for Best Cinematography (Pasqualino De Santis) and Best Costume Design (Danilo Donati); it was also nominated for Best Director and Best Picture. Laurence Olivier spoke the film's prologue and epilogue and reportedly dubbed the voice of the Italian actor playing Lord Montague, but was not credited in the film.
Being the most financially successful film of a Shakespeare play during that time, it was popular among teenagers partly because the film used actors who were close to the age of the characters from the original play for the first time. Several critics also welcomed the film enthusiastically

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Chappaqua (1966)

Chappaqua is a 1966 cult film written and directed by Conrad Rooks. The film is based on Rooks' experiences with drug addiction and includes cameo appearances by William S. Burroughs, Swami Satchidananda, Allen Ginsberg, Moondog, Ornette Coleman, The Fugs, and Ravi Shankar. Rooks had commissioned Coleman to compose music for the film, but his score, which has become known as the Chappaqua Suite was not used. Ravi Shankar then composed a score.

The film briefly depicts Chappaqua, New York, a hamlet in Westchester County, in a few minutes of wintry panoramas. In the film, the hamlet is an overt symbol of drug-free suburban childhood innocence. It also serves as one of the film's many nods to Native American culture. The word "chappaqua" derives from the Wappinger (a nation of the Algonquian peoples) word for "laurel swamp."

1959 The Year that Changed Jazz (BBC Documentary)

1959 was the seismic year jazz broke away from complex bebop music to new forms, allowing soloists unprecedented freedom to explore and express. It was also a pivotal year for America: the nation was finding its groove, enjoying undreamt-of freedom and wealth social, racial and upheavals were just around the corner and jazz was ahead of the curve.

Four major jazz albums were made, each a high watermark for the artists and a powerful reflection of the times. Each opened up dramatic new possibilities for jazz which continue to be felt Miles Davis Kind of Blue Dave Brubeck, Time Out Charles Mingus, Mingus Ah Um; and Ornette Coleman, The Shape of Jazz to Come.

Rarely seen archive performances help vibrantly bring the era to life and explore what made these albums vital both in 1959 and the 50 years since. The programme contains interviews with Lou Reed, Dave Brubeck, Ornette Coleman, Charlie Haden, Herbie Hancock, Joe Morello (Brubecks drummer) and Jimmy Cobb (the only surviving member of Miles band) along with a host of jazz movers and shakers from the 50s and beyond.

Saturday, March 01, 2014

The Eviction of Charles Mingus 1966

In November of 1966, the great jazz bassist and composer Charles Mingus was forcibly evicted from his apartment in New York City. Thomas Reichman’s documentary Mingus (above) captures the sad moment when the musician, with his five-year-old daughter Carolyn at his side, looks through his scattered belongings the night before city officials arrive to cart everything away.
With the camera rolling, Mingus plays a few notes on a piano and then picks up a rifle and shoots a bullet into the ceiling. He finds a bottle of wine and gives a sip to his daughter. He recites his own version of the Pledge of Allegiance:
I pledge allegiance to the flag–the white flag. I pledge allegiance to the flag of America. When they say “black” or “negro,” it means you’re not an American. I pledge allegiance to your flag. Not that I have to, but just for the hell of it I pledge allegiance. I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America. The white flag, with no stripes, no stars. It is a prestige badge worn by a profitable minority.
Scenes from the apartment are intercut with footage of Mingus and his sextet performing at a little club in Peabody, Massachusetts called Lennie’s-on-the-Turnpike. The combo features Mingus on bass, Dannie Richmond on drums, Charles McPherson on alto saxophone, John Gilmore on tenor saxophone, Lonnie Hillyer on trumpet and Walter Bishop, Jr., on piano. The music includes parts of “All the Things You Are,” Take the ‘A’ Train” and “Secret Love.”
But the film is more about the man than the music. It records an especially painful moment in Mingus’s life. He had hoped to use the loft at 5 Great Jones Street in Greenwich Village as a music school. In the final sequence, a crowd of reporters and cameramen jostle for position to record the humiliating scene as Mingus’s belongings, including his musical instruments, are hauled out to the curb and loaded onto a truck. Tears appear in Mingus’s eyes when the police block him from going back into the building. When the cops find hypodermic needles among his things, Mingus himself is loaded into a police car and taken away.