Thoughts on a rainy day; August 1st 2016:Went to see John Martin last night at Ashburton. Quite how the band managed to fit on the stage I don't know, but the gig and the band were excellent. It was the tail end of the tour to support "The Hidden Notes" a double CD/album that features, as the name suggests, John's music based on what he describes as "the beautiful colours hidden just below the surface". It wasn't always an easy listen, but my experience is that quite a lot of jazz requires hard listening. He was backed by the band that are on the album, and they were superb, particularly Ralph Wyld on Vibraphone, but to single him would do scant justice to the other members of the band, because it was a real group effort. I didn't know that John had a previous album that he had recorded for F-IRE records (he said it came out about four years ago and was recorded in E.C.M.'s Italian studio) and asked him why it was a double C.D. rather than saving material for another album. He told me that there was another set of recordings under way, and that in any case some of the pieces are so long that they didn't comfortably sit in a single album format. This was probably borne out by the fact that during the gig, and excluding a much appreciated encore, they played six numbers. If you haven't heard the album it's well worth checking out, and if the opportunity comes again you ought to go and see them play. This tour was, incidentally, sponsored by Arts Council England.
A note about the venue. St Lawrence's Chapel, Ashburton is a wonderfully intimate small venue with great acoustics. It's a wonder that the gigs aren't better supported. They're nearly all on Sunday's, which I suppose might deter some people, but most of the gigs finish around ten thirty, so it's not as if it's a late finish. It also benefits (in my view) from being intimate enough to allow punters to go down to the "Silent Whistle" for drinks during the interval and then to be summoned for the second half. The pub will supply plastic glasses so that there is no need to bolt your beer. You can check out details of events by googling 'Ashburton Live or follow then on Twitter @ashburtonlive
Finally, my need for further space for my wine collection enabled me to rediscover another box of vinyl albums, probably unplayed since, well who knows? They are in remarkable condition considering the neglect they have been subject to. Some of them are more Blue Note albums from the eighties and Nineties, like a Holly Cole album, but others are older and in the case of the three George Braith albums U.S. releases on real deck lowering thick vinyl. I'm fairly certain that a lot of them were bought in one (or perhaps two) of the record shops I used when I was in Davis (City of Bicycles) California. I spent an inordinate amount of time talking records with the owners, who were always ready to talk rare vinyl and could usually be relied upon to find a source for some of the more obscure things I used to ask for.