Thursday, 2 September 2010

The Story of Mister Wolf

Once upon a time... not too long ago,
there lived a Gingerbread man with a buttery flow,
the chalk that he sold was super potent,
so the Pigs spent their days just trying to control him.
The Gingerbread man had a secret plan,
If you could find a Wolf then you'ld rule this land,
because the Wolf was the King pin,
he was linking Little Bo, at all of her peep shows.
Wolf always wore gold chains and rumour is he had a few Gruffalos trained...
...just then the Gingerbread man rushes in, begging the big bad Wolf to help him,
but the Wolf had a different agenda,
was no great pretenda to the fact that he hated those Piggies,
but first things first lets eat!
He opened up his teeth and swallowed up the Gingerbread man!
All that was left of his dream were crumbs,
Wolf, wiped his mouth and picked up his shotgun,
ran out to the streets and started acting crazy,
firing his rounds at any woman or baby.
The Pigs turned up in their car made of straw, fired one bullet and Wolf hit the floor

Mister Wolf by @jtreole

Monday, 2 August 2010

Monday, 3 May 2010

It's been a while

I've very carefully tried not to blog during this election campaign. Firstly this is primarily a music blog, and I don't think music and politics mix *that* well [take note U2... leave it to the pros]

Also this is the first election where the televised debates have animated a whole lot more people, this is good and bad [good because it gets people talking, bad 'cos it becomes presidential and less about the candidate representing your borough in parliament] - now I don't want to seem bandwagon jumping. I've been interested in politics long before the ITV debate ;-).

Finally there's 4 people in this band and I in NO-WAY represent the views of all of us [in-fact, I don't think we've discussed what we think] so these are the views of me and not J-Treole in full.

In-short, this is my summary of the parties


The years leading up to this, I was shitting myself that smug git David 'call me Dave'Cameron would get into power and I'd experience my first proper Tory government [John Major didn't count as I was too young, and I was living out of the country for Maggie Thatcher].

I disliked their policy on people starting their own schools, money will have to be withdrawn from the state system, and it further segregates people.

I think their £27billion efficiency saving plans is unrealistic. Average public sector wage is £25,000/year. So that's just over 1 million job losses. At a time when unemployment is on the rise this is something we could do without.

They want to cap immigration which is a load of crap IMO [especially when you give no figures]

Cameron is a Eurosceptic, not what we need when IMF will downgrade our economy, making British debt more expensive to insure. Who will we turn to then to borrow money?

Tax breaks for married couples is retrogressive and patronizing for about 20,000 reasons. I means about £3 a week and it costs £12million. How will this be funded please? It also encourages one couple to stay at home [bit of an old Tory ideal there?]

This whole national service at 16 is a load of crap, even if you get Michael Cain to back it. For the many consciences objectors this is movement against free-will, and for the 'obedient' majority [who this is not targeted at] this is tarring everybody with the same brush.

I'd love to see 'The Sun' and all the Murdoch press loose too :-)

Good points - Cameron attempts his Obama angle, digging change. This of curse would be a change from 13 years of Labour [most people my age have grown up with New Labour] Tories are now Centre Right so at least that isolated a whole load of core-vote; who have buggered off to UKIP.
Kenneth Clarke is heavy weight good Tory [even if you hated MT's cabinet] - he knows the numbers.

Bad Points - Both DC and George Osbourne [along with half of their party] are all ex-Etonian Oxford Grads. I think this is a marginal representation of the country. GO is not an experienced chancellor. Some of his MEPs are aligned with far-right European parties, not good. Dc also took a bit of convincing on the section 28 bill [] - c'mon it's 2010!

Lib Dems

Yes, they may only be involved in this discussion because of the TV debates, but perhaps this is the way forward? Maybe this should have happened 5 years ago, and perhaps we'd be moving towards a press-free vote? Maybe we should include Green, Respect, UKIP and BNP [and all the Scotish/Irish/Welsh ones too].

Clegg has caught the Zeitgeist of a lot of disenchanted Labor voters, classic liberals, students, Tory-haters and spanners who knows fuck-all about anything. But as Tesco say - every little helps?

Traditionally the Lib Dem vote has always been laughed at as 'wasted'. Well, perhaps now, in the first election where not only do you vote who you'd like Govern, but you can vote for who you'd like to loose - the Lib Dems actually hold the Key.

One thing against the Lib Dems is their lack of press representation. Murdoch press [especially 'The Sun'] have been ordered not to report on their affairs. More liberal centre right papers [The Times] have given them column inches, and The Independent [although technically not aligned] has reported on them. But does anybody take the Indie seriously? 'The Guardian' has also come out in support for them, shifting from Labour. This is a big deal in centre-left press - however this is a recent development.

They often get branded with a stigma of liberal drug policies, Europhiles, blah blah blah... but with staunch Labour and Tory support waning [I mean traditional Left/Right politics] perhaps Lib Dems are only representation of change?

Good Points - Clegg is obviously charismatic, and not quite as Blair-ite as Cameron. He comes across a genuine. Vince Cable [heralded as perhaps the best Chancellor this country has to offer] famously predicted the financial meltdown and has even won the support of Private Eye editor Ian Hislop.

Their support is impressive for a 'marginal' party - Charles Kennedy, Ming Campbell, Paddy Ashdown, Shirly Williams [of the gang-of-four Labour defectors] all reasonable people with good experience. They also came out of the expenses scandal a lot better than the two older parties.

Bad Points - coming under this level of scrutiny at such a late stage has perhaps made clear some gaps in their budget [un-accounted for something like 75% of their savings and cuts] but this is still a great deal more than the other two parties. Their pro-Euro dreams are perhaps a thorn in their side. Clegg also looks to be back-peddeling on some core liberal issues, like Trident.


Labor, Labour, Labour. Where to start? I always thought the last chance they had was the coo around Winter last year to try and oust David Milliband. When that failed I knew they'd lost it.

A party whose 'New' Labour alignment died when Tony Balir stepped down. A vision so poorly executed by Gordon Brown it's laughable. I mean, the guy isn't so bad. He knows his numbers, and was a good chancellor.

The guy is tired though. I know we shouldn't be promoting game-playing, but he's not the one for it. He's had it tough, and made too many silly mistakes. Do I trust him? Yes, but I don't think he is the guy to lead us our of recession.

With Labour too, there's a lot of voters they've let down. Traditional socialists were ditched in 1997 and have never been won back. Some white working classes have moved towards BNP, for this I think Labour is to blame. Unionists although grind the organ have been marginalized. Iraq and Afghanistan were a BIG deal to a lot of people [proved by Oona King loosing Bethnal Green and Bow to George Galloway] and I think their line has become more and more diluted.

Good points - Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling are good with the economy, and I think they've proved we need not go the route of Greece. Our credit rating is better and we still have a private sector making us plenty of money. They certainly have a lot of experience too. Mandelson and the likes have been in this game for a long time, and they know how to operate it.

Bad points - with a cabinet full of smug idiots like Ed Balls, Tessa Jowell and formally Stephen Byers - people associate this party with the levels of sleaze Major's 97 government. This they cannot shake off. Labour don't represent anyone really. I think people are really wanting something different.

One thing about all three parties is no-one seems to be clean about VAT rises, where the public sector cuts will come and likely-hood of coalition governments if parliament is indeed hung.

Lib-Lab? This would be a win for Centre Left but I think it would annoy anyone who voted Lib Dem because of Iraq et al. Lib-Con again would annoy people who hate David Cameron and would out-right [no-pun-intended] never vote Tory.

Only way out is a super cabinet, like a dream team...

Tuesday, 20 April 2010



Monday, 29 March 2010

music is whale blubber?


“I think records were just a little bubble through time and those who made a living from them for a while were lucky. There is no reason why anyone should have made so much money from selling records except that everything was right for this period of time. I always knew it would run out sooner or later. It couldn’t last, and now it’s running out. I don’t particularly care that it is and like the way things are going. The record age was just a blip. It was a bit like if you had a source of whale blubber in the 1840s and it could be used as fuel. Before gas came along, if you traded in whale blubber, you were the richest man on Earth. Then gas came along and you’d be stuck with your whale blubber. Sorry mate – history’s moving along. Recorded music equals whale blubber. Eventually, something else will replace it.”

via David Haynes via

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Miles beyond be-bop...

Over the next series of these I’m going to look at some key idioms of jazz through the life of Miles Davis, however his is not a biography of him in anyway. Right at the beginning of his career, was bebop, so this is what we’ll look at first. Miles was by no means a key innovator in this era, but featured in, perhaps the quintessential bebop line-up. Davis came to New York in 1944ish, will bebop already in full-swing [excuse pun].

I wrote a small piece on bebop back in 2006 or so, the music fascinated me. It seemed so unreachable, on this pedestal above many other forms of music. Yes, bebop requires an almost virtuosic grasp of not only your instrument, but improvising and musicality in general, but is often approached from the wrong angle.

Some commons misconceptions about bebop is that it employs hugely difficult chords, bizarre comping patterns and widely ‘out’ melodic content. Some of this may be true in some cases, but we have to understand a bit about where bebop came from to analyze these facets.

The truth about bebop may be buried in the mists of time. With few to little of the key musicians being alive, it’s a combination of speculation and educated guesses. I wrote in my paper that it was partly a reaction to the growing popularity [and commercialisation] of Big Band and Swing. Which I think, in a sense is true. But bebop had to happen.

Players had started adding more and more inflections and articulation to the melodies, combos were getting smaller because of financial reasons [and organisation probably too]. Some key figures in were Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, George Shearing, Charlie Christian, Coleman Hawkins and Thelonious Monk. Monk himself, had perhaps the most instantly recognisable style, and, although he came from around the bebop era, his style for many years to come stood shoulders above other pianists.

Monk’s comping style was similar to that of stride pianists, but without the coy harmony they could sometimes portray. His truly understood the effect of the chromatic scale and utilized it well in his many compositions. His right hand was capable of delicate Ahmad Jamal like legato, but he could play the blues like Art Tatum. He was to many, a complete pianist.

Charlie Parker on the other hand, was a late starter. Apparently didn’t touch the Alto sax his mum saved up for him properly until his late teens. He was from Kansas, and this reflected in his rhythmic styles. He was nick-named bird, because of his flurried legato passages. Between himself and Dizzy, they probably defined more what bebop is than anyone else.

So let’s look at the key element and try to break them down. Bebop’s compositional styles were essentially based on taking old ‘changes’ and re-harmonizing them. Gershwin’s ‘I got rhythm’ was staple, most Broadway tunes with simple changes in-fact got the bebop treatment.


Here we can see in the first figure, Gershwin’s ‘rhythm changes’ and in the figure below, some simple substitutions. The VI chord can be changed for a diminished chord leading nicely between the I and ii. Also tri-tone substitutions were beginning to be employed, leading chromatically between chords. Here, C becomes Gb, D becomes Ab, G becomes Db and so on.

The comping patterns, often described as ‘hot’ in-fact were off-beat stabs, usually borrowing a lot from Latin music, which was beginning to have more and more effect on Jazz. On key factor or the comping style in the bebop era, is that the ensembles were much smaller, so duty was left to piano, bass and drums to deliver harmony and rhythm. In Big Band, you may have an entire brass section delivering chordal stabs, so it would have to have been notated too and guitar or piano would take off-beat stabs. Now the piano or guitar could improvise with both different rhythm patterns and extended harmonies.

Miles replaced Dizzy in Charlie Parker’s band. Here we see something that commonly happened in Jazz bands around this time, the band leader taking credit for others compositions. Charlie Parker is credited with the composition ‘Donna Lee’ although Jazz scholars widely accept it was probably a Miles Davis tune. Here, we can examine the melody of the first 8 bars to look at how bebop melodies were constructed.


The above figure is the first 8 bars of the aforementioned Donna Lee. A fairly simple pattern decorated with chromatic [often passing notes, rather than synthetic scales] triplets and other ornaments. The fact the rhythm section would be improvising over simple changes, meant there was greater harmonic material in-which to generate lead patterns. The horn section would play this in unison usually.

Next I’m going to look at Miles’ ‘Cool’ period, before getting onto the Modal stuff, then his Fusion in the 70s and ending with a surprise! More to come.