Wednesday, 18 December 2013

My Album, Novel and Film of the year 2013

June Tabor/Iain Ballamy/Huw Warren | Quercus | ECM 2276
Merging Folk with Jazz is not a new idea. Pentangle with 'Night Flight' could possibly claim being the first band to do so. John Martyn and contemporary Nick Drake are two more whose works fused the seemingly disparate styles; also the ever elegant Joni Mitchell.. This album elbows its way in beside those great artists. Having June Tabor, whose voice rises soft and pure but falls low and mellow, as the singer instantly grants this collection with credibility. Her vocals are the oaken roots from which Iain Bellamy (saxophones) and Huw Warren (Piano) trail their tendril, lyrical improvisations. The songs are rich, the playing peerless virtuosity, the melodies deep and as dark as the tree Quercus lends its name to. Excellent stuff.

A plastic bag is washed up on a beach in Canada then discovered by Japanese/American Ruth who takes the bag home to show husband Oliver. Inside is lunch box containing a diary. It is a journal written by Nao, a fellow Japanese/American, a teenager, whose parents misfortune forced them to leave California and return to Japan.
A mystery wrapped in Juzu beads, a fiction forged from autobiography, a thriller, a coming of age, a zazen, an essay on time, the environment, of war and how disgracefully we humans, at times, live our lives. It is a book that works at several levels, using multi-layers as it tugs at all emotions whilst teasing the intellect as it mischievously defies those who like to affix redundant labels to every work of fiction.
The balance demonstrated between all the various elements is outstanding. It has the feel of Zen but never forgets it is a story. Having never heard of, let alone read, this author before this book wets my appetite for more.

As cinema goes this film ticks all the right boxes. (For a full review see my earlier post.) Hollywood often gets edged out of the so called serious film accolades and awards due to a preconceived notion that the only thing they produce well is either wieghty works of cinema or action films; a case of never the twain shall meet. This both entertains, has action but also manages to excite the old grey matter and stir the soul with its lack of sentimentality and its terrifying examination of just how unbelievably vast our universe is. Sandra Bullock's acting, so often cast as the girl next door, rises to the occasion.With little dialogue to allow her freedom of expression she manages to portray anxiety, fear and a sense of hopeless fragility extremely well.  Critics and naysayers please buy anusol, sit on a cushion, preferably in the back row, and keep silent..

Russell Cuts the Corn From The Brewers Whiskers the seeks out the stuff others overlook.


LeeKwo said...

I remember Pentangle and I never attached my neurons to the mixing of folk and jazz/But now I have to track them down because I have forgotten what they sounded like in the space of things/Great read/

LeeKwo said...

Just listened to some of Pentangle 1968 album of that name and hell did they record with a tight arse there's not a note above 5 decibels its pristine/Curved air were another tight unit with Sonja Kristen and that trademark voice/They are so gentle with the mix its amazing how thin things sound/

LeeKwo said...

Yes June Tabor has more bottom end as do the band and it shows how studios have changed the way they mix in the 60s it was more than likely 4 track analogue now its 100 track digital/Nice sax/

Russell Duffy said...

Sonja Kristen. There's a blast from the past. I had one of Curved Air's earlier albums. Wasn't Stewart Copeland the drummer?