Updated: Oct 2, 2019
So, by popular demand (well, one person requested it) – The Jazz One! A history of Manor Bottom in god knows how many jazz LPs.
I’ve long been into jazz, I think from when I saw Charlie Parker play My Little Suede Shoes on some late night BBC2 TV program – I went out and bought some Parker! Then I read that Kerouac’s finest moment was driving across the desert listening to Billie Holiday – I went out and bought some Billie! From there it grew and grew.
In addition, some types of music suit some types of places. Manor Bottom is a jazz place. I can’t sit looking out my picture window onto the garden with Kendrick Lamar blaring! That’s for London. Here, it is jazz. It suits the view, it suits the fire, it even suits the bloody badgers! Who know that badger watching is made so much better by John Coltrane?
So, here is a collection of LPs that I bought whilst living here, mostly found rummaging around in charity shops. They are all bound up with the place.
Binker and Moses – Journey to the Mountain of Forever
I saw Moses Boyd at the fantastic Ventnor International Festival in the first year after I moved here. I had heard of him and his talent, but my heart did feel heavy when I saw him alone on the stage. I had expected a band and was not set for a one and a half hour solo drumming session. What happened was astonishing. I sat there hypnotised the whole time. One of the best gigs I have seen. No doubt I rushed and bought the albums from The Exchange right away. Fete by the River is a Highlight from this album.
The Horace Silver Quintet plus J. J. Johnson – The Cape Verdean Blues
The first song I put on at Manor bottom was The Cape Verdean Blues. I’ve always loved Horace Silver and have always hankered for Cape Verde (the goddess Cesaria Evora hailed from there!). We hadn’t even unpacked properly but we were all dancing round our new kitchen to this. Joe Henderson is wonderful on this album.
Joe Pass – Virtuoso #2
Really could not believe I picked this up for £1 in a charity shop. It was priced at £2 but I tried to give the woman more as I felt so guilty taking it from her at that price. She said it was so nice of me to try to give more that she insisted on my having it for only one pound! This is one of the greatest albums I own! Every tune is a highlight but I’ll give you Joy Spring for a test drive.
Charlie Christian and Lester Young – 1940
£5 from Groovy Records in Shanklin. A line up of Christian on guitar, Young on tenor, Goodman on clarinet, Buck Clayton on trumpet, Count Basie on piano, Artie Bernstien on bass, and Philly Jo Jones on drums. As good as it gets right?! For £5! Here is Lester’s Dream.
Nils Petter Molvaer – Buoyancy
This one coincided with our first snow at Manor Bottom. I actually used the free download code and listened to it sitting on my fence post bench at the top of the hill, looking across the white hills. Puri Jati suited so well.
Bill Evans – Live at the Village Vanguard
Can’t do this thing without Bill! Took a business trip up to London, slipped out at lunchtime and loaded up with a few LPs from Harold Moore’s (heart-wrenching that is closed soon after).
This is one of them! I love the Scott Le Faro tune Gloria’s Step (Le Faro died in a car accident died 10 days after recording. He composed this tune inspired by the sound of his girlfriend’s footsteps in the hallway as she returned from work). I love the background noise on this recording – it makes me feel like I am there, taking a drink while this magic happens on stage!
Thelonious Monk – Thelonious Alone in San Francisco
Could sit by the stove, full flame on, sipping some Isle of Wight Red, listening to this album again and again. I love to imagine this is me playing – a childish way to enjoy music but fun nevertheless. I have loved Ruby, My Dear since I heard the struggling Bud Powell’s version. Profound tune!
Yusuf Lateef – First Gymnopedie
Billie Holiday – The Best Of
Kerouac listened to her in the desert, I listened to her on a windy autumn day. There is no version of Autumn Leaves on this album but there is an exquisite version of These Foolish Things. One of the most romantic songs ever written surely – Two lovers on the street that walk like dreamers! (Love the Brian Ferry version too!).
I nearly named Ella Billie, but I named her Ella instead. Hard choice! Mahalia beats them both but that would have been a step too far!
Ben Webster, Harry Edison, Oscar Peterson and Benny Carter on the recording. More from them later!
Thomas Stronen – time is a Blind Guide
This is a stunning album, stunning tune! So sparse, leaves room to imagine…and sincere drumming at its finest! And they had to record it quickly as the barre class was coming in soon!
John Coltrane – Both Directions at Once
Sonny Rollins described finding these lost recordings as akin to ‘finding a new room in the great pyramid’. I asked Jack at Ventnor Exchange to buy this one in for me and put it in his window so I could see when it arrived. Was so happy to see it shining out one bright June day. Ella and I rushed home and put it on. Turns out it wasn’t quite her cup of tea. Is mine though. Untitled Original 11383.
Gerry Mulligan – Night Lights
I used to slope around London at night with this on the Mp3 player. So glad to pick it up here for a few quid. In truth it suits the city more than the country, but I can always close my eyes and imagine. Love Art Farmer and Jim Hall on Wee Small Hours.
Harry Edison and Eddie ‘Lockjaw’ Davis – Simply Sweets
One of the most wonderfully dirty trumpeters there was. Just try to listen to the start of Dirty Butt Blues without summoning the squalid side of life. Despite that you find yourself smiling along with Sweets, above and beyond it all.
Marian McPartland – Marian’s Moods
Some simply wonderful piano playing on this. I seem to rise early these days; never thought I would be a morning person. But when everyone else is still in bed I can put on an LP such as this at low volume, make a tea, do the crossword, and just sit and wait for the day. Lush Life makes the morning good.
Art Tatum & Ben Webster – The Tatum Group Masterpieces
Does Tatum show off? So what if he does, the world is a better place for it. Particularly when you have an antidote like Webster on hand. Tatum’s speed, dexterity and over complexity is answered by Webster’s pure breath and clean playing. My One and Only Love is one of my favourite jazz tunes of all time.
Sonny Rollins – Saxophone Colossus
A colossus he is! I discovered him by accident. A few years back I was obsessed with Moritat (or Mack the Knife with its English title). I downloaded some 50 odd versions of the song. I didn’t think anything would top Lotte Lenya’s original, then Bobby Darin persuaded me a little, Ella Fitzgerald a little more, then I heard Rollins’s version. It is of a different ilk to the song but man it is great. Here is a live clip rather than the studio version.
Sons of Kemet – Your Queen is a Reptile
Wish these guys would come to the Island to play. Best album of 2018 I reckon. I particularly love My Queen is Anna Julia Cooper. I put it on the turntable, crank up the volume, and from wherever they are in the house the kids come running in to dance. And this is so easy to dance too with its tuba baseline. Much harder to stand still. The kids asked me to explain the title. I love the fact that they now tell everyone that the queen is a reptile!
Errol Garner – Yesterdays
50p! Get that, 50p! It is said that a New York doctor once prescribed listening to Errol Garner to a depressed patient such was the power Garner had to make you feel good! Apparently, it worked! No doubt! And here, on Play Fiddle Play, combined with the manic Slam Stewart's hum-singing-bass playing, we do feel good!
e.s.t – viaticum
I love the space that the Svensson trio create. I love the crispness of the percussion, the bass that hardens and softens exactly at the right times, and the piano playing is sublime. Viaticum!
Wow, that’s a lot isn’t it? I got a bit carried away! But I could have gone on forever if the wine had lasted!