14 January 2014
+++ This Opera by John Adams documents Richard Nixon's visit to China and explores some of the minutiae of their conversations in an unusual and beguiling series of vignettes. This opera is magic. I saw it early in 2013, I didn't want to go to the theatre, I was tired; from the moment I sat down, those pulsing melodies worked their way in, and changed the way I felt. Not often I can say that. Here's part one from a series of clips from the Houston Grand Opera. Directed by Peter Sellars. Worth a look/ listen.
+++ 2 live concert recordings that got to me this year: Well the first is really a collection of recordings, not a single concert per se, from Birthday Party gigs from '81 and '82: The Birthday Party Live '81-'82. Terrifying and vibrant. "I am the King…."
The 2nd is an album I've posted about previously – it's John Coltrane, Rashied Ali, Alice Coltrane, Pharoah Sanders, Algie DeWitt, Jimmy Garrison and Juma Santos at the Olatunji Center, New York, 1967. Everything I thought I thought I knew about what Jazz was/is was changed. Listen through both these live albums top to bottom and you'll feel something, probably strongly.
+++ This one I don't know much about. I started listening to Japanese Bon Odori music after I got roped into dancing at a festival in a little village outside Shioya, Kobe. It is hypnotic and melismatic. This album isn't Bon Odori (I have posted about the amazing singer previously = Akiko Kiyono), it's like country folk. It's like a razor sharp pinpoint Blues…I don't have a link, but if you're rifling through the epic Record barns of Japan one day and you come across this then have a listen (side 2, I never listen to side 1).
+++ Speaking of the Blues, Mississippi Delta Blues. Whatever. Just a singer and a guitar. When I heard this Son House recording later in the year I felt like he was the only person to ever sing this way and that everyone else copied him. It's not true but it feels that way.
Also have a look at this clip of Bon Dancing and music in relation to the previous previous album:
+++ Honourable mention goes to Joe Sacco – thanks for your books. They've kept me turning pages all year. And to the films Les Miserables, Mud and Gravity. All musical and beautiful in their own ways.