#1083. Lockdown ennui

By Paul Perton | Opinion

Jan 21

Steve (and Mrs Steve) seem to have had COVID early last year. They got sick on their trip to Australia and New Zealand, struggled for a few weeks and eventually recovered. Recently, while getting his annual flu vaccination, Steve was told by one of his GP’s team that the widely held belief in the village is that just about everyone has succumbed. I had given Steve a lift to the surgery in case you were wondering how I knew.

Meanwhile, The Guardian reports today that as many as one in eight in the UK were showing COVID antibodies in December last year, meaning 85% weren’t and still at risk.

Whatever it all means, no-one really has a clue and while most governments are the butt of pretty much everyone’s ill feelings, there are no rule books, no guidelines as to how to deal with this, so we shouldn’t be too surprised at the idiocy on show most days. A bit of leadership might be nice, however.

So, as I do most days, after copy tasting the major media, finishing my daily three concise crosswords (Guardian, Independent and the Times), I was wandering through a very catholic selection of Web sites, largely photographic- and audio-related, but with a quick dip into the motor sport pages, to keep myself lockdown-occupied.

A recent discovery; the Vinyl Anachronist lists all manner of new(ish) music available as LPs, to which I was drawn this morning by reviewer Marc Phillips review: The Sounds Around the House

Here, I quote Marc; “So why would you listen to Jeff Ellwood and his quartet play this sultry set in the middle of the day in your house? Because it’s the kind of jazz that lifts you without bothering you. Ellwood’s sax plays the kind of melodies that help you put it all together when you’re staring out the window and searching for a new perspective. You can’t go to that club right now, but that saxophone is there for you, narrating whatever thoughts are running through your head. There’ll be a time when we can perform and listen again and it will sound just like this.”

Gotcha. I found it on Tidal and as I start to write, it’s playing on my Cambridge streamer, CXA61 amp and KEF Q550s. Very nice it is too. There’s absolutely nothing groundbreaking about it, the recording is good and the musicianship on display, very evident. As Marc says, it’s for looking out of the window, thinking and planning.

With little else to offer DS just now, I’m going to compile a list of ten recent musical explorations. Dip in and out as it suits you. If you enjoy my recommendations, let me know and I’ll post ten more:

Albert’s Shuffle – Super Session – Al Kooper and Mike Bloomfield. Blues club somewhere, smoky, loud and you want to go home, but you’re fixed in place by this wonderful piece of guitar and organ blues-making.

Ach, Blieb Mit Deiner Gnade – Nightfall – Till Brönner, Dieter Ilg. I discovered this some weeks ago and keep going back to it. Every play seems to engross me more.

Apaches – Love is Everywhere – Laurent Bardainne/Tigre D’Eau Douce. I know nothing of these musicians but listening to this makes me happy and very content.

Luca – Move my Soul – Dan Patlansky. South Africa’s answer to Stevie Ray Vaughan takes a break for a slow, rolling blues track amid lots of hard driving guitar.

Outland – Arc – Jimmy Haslip. Former Yellowjackets bassist, Haslip is now making solo albums and if you like the style of his alma mater, this is a great listen.

Besame Mucho – Marcin Wyrostek & Coloriage – Marcin Wyrostek & Coloriage. A jazz classic, played on an accordion? Don’t take my word for it, this is wonderful listen.

Humility – Harmony of Difference – Kamasi Washington. I wasn’t mad about Washington’s first offering (The Epic) and likewise much of this album, too. I just feel it’s all way too produced. This one track is however, powerful and underpinned by a fantastic trumpet solo by Dontae Winslow.

Goodbye to Love – The Carpenters – Singles 1969 -1981. No. I’ve not lost it. In fact, I’ve just discovered what an extraordinary production this is. Take a deep breath, pull out the LP you’ve had in the cupboard for decades and take a real listen.

Glory – David Crosby – Here If You Listen. New from Crosby, this is a rich tapestry of music, highlighted by the opening track.

Afro Shigida – Bahama Social Club – Bossa Nova Just Smells Funky. If you were to ask, I’d have to say this album has its genesis in South East London, probably not too far from Peckham, as the accent will quickly reveal. Remember it’s Left Foot. Right Foot.

The accompanying photographs were shot before dawn, one bitterly cold morning last week, when I really needed to be out and hear the sultry whisper of my X-H1’s shutter.

Happy listening.


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  • Ian Varkevisser says:

    Just gotta love the footprint on the roof of the car – excellent find – what no decent Blues in the lineup Paul ???? Or even an inkling of fine classical guitar ?? Keep safe from the big bad Rona !

  • jean pierre guaron says:

    You’ll all be delight to know this will be short. Because while I was drafting it, I diverted to another page in DS and, when I came back, my draft had disappeared.

    Yes COVID is awful – so far, though, nowhere near as devastating as the various out breaks of the “plague” between (say) 1340 and the latter part of the 17th century, across Europe. Nor, indeed, the ‘flu – which has killed a shocking number of people over the past century.

    Where this one seems to differ is in the reaction. All over the place, various “rules” are being brought out, to reduce infection rates. Some are clearly succeed, too. But whenever you tell humans to behave in a different way, some just scream and refuse to comply. Pardon? – it’s an inconvenience to you? – would you prefer “no” restrictions, so other people are at liberty to give you this disease, and possibly kill you? I don’t think so – but in the next round, the antivaxxers will pick up the megaphone and make even more noise.

    Music? Well I’ve been playing the piano for over 60 years and if I’d had my way, that would have been over 70 by now. Of course as you might expect that means my tastes in music aren’t included in your list, Paul – but everyone should choose whatever music they like best. In my case, music is part of my soul – I simply cannot imagine what it would be like, to be deprived of music. Right now, I am trying to pass on some thoughts about style and interpretation to an up and coming English pianist – I’m pretty confident that he will find them interesting, because they match some of his more recent work. And I fully expect him to become one of the all time great concert pianists.

    Where does all of this take us? Well – we can’t get out and take the photos we might normally choose to take – so we have to pause and think – and come up with something else.

    If you’re in lockdown, how about bird photography? – open a window, and see what is there. Or macro.

    Go back through past photos, and try new post-processing software. While you’re at it, see what cropping can do – too many photos have WAY too much “stuff” in them – Pascal Jappy has made the point that a standard format like 4×6 should be “venerate” (or not) in much the same way everyone clings to “the rule of thirds” – when you review the old shots, see if a totally different format, coupled with cropping, can give a winnings shot. Won’t work for all – but when you hit the jackpot, it’ll blow you away.

  • Sean says:

    Hi Paul,
    What an interesting article. I like this bit “… Because it’s the kind of jazz that lifts you without bothering you…” – the jazz piano work of the Tord Gustavsen Trio does that, for me. Their albums The Ground 2005 and Being There 2007, are two good examples. Your images are both well crafted – a visual reflection of the music, perhaps. The fact that they were taken at that time of the day adds to their quality – the light didn’t get in the way, but lifted. Nice.

    • Paul Perton says:

      Hi. I’ve already got Tord Gustavsen’s Being There on my playlist and will listen to The Ground later. Scandi jazz, like its criminal fiction counterpart has changed jazz a lot. My first discoverery was Esbjorn Svensson’s Viaticum years ago and I became a great fan. Pity he left us so soon.

  • Steve Mallett says:

    Paul, A bit of fact checking/correction, don’t want to be accused of fake news. We had the virus over Christmas last year (2019), before it was a “thing”. Doc said it was not ‘flu but a “nasty virus.” No shit! Daughter and grandson were mildly inconvenienced M and I were poleaxed. A lot of folk around here had the same thing in Nov/Dec 2019 with all the classic symptoms, including the complete loss of taste and smell, happily mine returned. Obviously we don’t appear in any of the stats as at that time it was just a nasty bug. So by the time we flew to Oz we were infection-free (as far as we know) and didn’t spread it!

    Love the golden fan-like thing and the footprint. Did you put it there?

    I’ll dive into the music too.

  • John Wilson says:

    Yes Paul, the ennui does tend to sneak up on us. I spend a lot of time on the computer, but I also discovered “Curiosity Stream” a web streaming service with fabulous documentaries on just about everything. I’ve since pretty much abandoned Netflix. And there’s always music in the background; mostly classical, but I do love jazz.

    Suggestion for you … have you heard “The Music From Peter Gunn”? Peter Gunn is the grandaddy of TV detective series. Debued in 1955. Peter Gunn hung out in a bar called Mother’s that featured a jazz quartet with a singer (Gunn’s girlfriend). The quartet was the Henry Mancini Quartet who wrote all the music for the series. 70 years later it’s still some really cool jazz. My favourite is “Session at Pete’s Pad”. I still have a copy of the original LP kicking around here somewhere.

    • Paul Perton says:

      Hi John. Peter Gunn, now let me see…

      Deodato? Arito Moreira? Yeah, been there, but I’m painfully aware that until I move from this tiny flat and hook up my pre-amp and Burchardt A500s, the chances of listening to tracks like these is no more than a distant hope. May, maybe.

  • Nancee Rostad says:

    Nice post, Paul. A little Covid, a lot of music, what’s not to like? I’ll try your musical suggestions, I’m sure there’s something to calm the anxiety down. It’s been a hellish start to the year here in the US, with an awful insurrection, a well-earned impeachment, and a hopeful inauguration all in the space of three weeks! I’m looking forward to feeling creative again. Your wonderful images have inspired me to just get out there and shoot! Thanks for sharing.

    • Paul Perton says:

      Thanks N. I – probably along with 99% of the rest of the planet – am beginning to get seriously restless. Who knows what’ll happen next?

      On the upside, I’m scheduled to get my first COVID inoculation on Saturday, which won’t change anything, but will ease my family’s concern for my well being.


  • Claude Hurlbert says:

    Paul, may my ennui one day beget such colors. Until it does, I will appreciate yours. Seriously, what colors. I hesitate to suggest that you should court boredom in your life, but if it is going to produce such results…

    At any rate, thanks for reminding me not to let my spirit give in to these dark times.

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