And while I'm on the subject of tuning the old lugs, I'm happy to report my rediscovery of Simon Rattle & the London Sinfonietta's The Jazz Album, a genuine curiosity from 1987 that I listen to at something like three year intervals, wondering why I neglected it for so long. (Mind you, that's true of most of my CDs and goes some way to explaining why I'm so conservative about buying new ones. Well that and the War on Capitalism.)
It's a curiosity in the sense of being a most unlikely assemblage of pieces with either a vague or very obvious connection with the idiom of jazz. Stuff from Bernstein and Stravinsky rubs shoulders with arrangements originally performed by the Paul Whiteman Orchestra (we are really talking 'white jazz' here) of tin pan alley standards. And it's not always entirely clear what we are supposed to make of the juxtaposition. But Rattle is incredibly hot on the serious stuff, as you might expect, and there's a version of Milhaud's La Creation Du Monde which is to die for. In fact in any version this has to be one of the highlights of twentieth century music full-stop. Funny and gorgeous at the same time, it's a reminder of what a great composer Milhaud was, supremely 'ept', even if we're only talking of a few pieces.
Alex Ross has some scintillating pages on Milhaud and the influence of jazz on 'serious' music in the twenties, particularly in France, in The Rest Is Noise and I'm now trying to figure out why I don't have more stuff from the period, especially of a Gallic flavour, since I think they basically beat the Teutons into the dust. I mean, try and swing to Webern, if you dare.
Oh, and apropos of nothing, wasn't it good to see an entire page devoted to young bands in Singapore in The Straits Times yesterday? The guy who said that he didn't expect to make any money but thought it would be great to give his CDs to the grandkids and say he was in a band should have a medal for the most sensible comment in the press this week.