Thursday 31 October 2019

Happy Halloween!

...with our regular playlist...


Wednesday 30 October 2019

Lucian Freud: The Self Portraits at The Royal Academy, London - review

Reflection With Two Children (Self Portrait), 1965

Lucian Freud: The Self-Portraits review – menacing, elusive ... orgasmic?
Royal Academy, London
Whether he’s just a shadow or staring at us, open-mouthed and wide-eyed, the great self-dramatist remains curiously unknowable

Adrian Searle
The Guardian
22 Oct 2019

Lucian Freud at 18, his head ballooning out of the frame, flat-faced, a glint in his liquid eye where the light catches the varnish. His eyebrows are millipedes. Then Lucian in 1943, big-eared, gawky, oddly calm, a white feather in his hand.
Man with a Feather, 1943

With each work in this exhibition of Freud’s self-portraits we witness an increasing occupation with his own portrayal, the person moving in and taking up residence in his own unstable image – the one he’s been given and the one he’s making for himself. Sometimes we see Freud in glimpses, or peering round a corner, uneasy but knowing. Then he’s hanging about by a streetlamp, beside a wall surrounding a big house. I hear a lonesome harmonica, and imagine him reaching into his pocket for a packet of Strand cigarettes. (“You’re never alone with a Strand,” the advert went.)
Startled Man: Self Portrait, 1948

Open-mouthed and surprised, he draws himself with soft black crayon and pencil in a deceptively plain 1948 image. The caption talks about some Rembrandt etchings from 1630 and Courbet’s 1843 self-portrait The Desperate Man. Instead, I see a young man wide-eyed in orgasm, his head tilted slightly back, the chin closer to us than his forehead. Who’s on top? Is anybody there? There is shading around the edge of his ears and his neck, as if he were pressed against a pillow. Maybe he is imagining what he would look like in that instant to a lover. Behind Freud’s teeth his mouth is a black cavern that could swallow the world. I imagine it going all the way down, but maybe that’s just me.
Self-portrait, Reflection, 2002

Once, he’s only a shadow, cast on the bed where his model lies naked. Like a stain or trace evidence, this looming, enlarged patch of grey on the sheet almost isn’t there, while everything else in the painting is solid; the woman on the bed is raw and fleshy. This shadow puts us in the painter’s place, hovering invisible over a naked woman. It looks like a movie murder scene; I think of Sickert and of Alfred Hitchcock’s Frenzy. A section of this exhibition is devoted to works in which Freud’s own presence is secondary: a pair of small self-portraits sit at the bottom of a wall in the background to his portrait of two Irishmen in their suits. My eye wanders past and out of the window in the background to the open-skied views of west London’s stuccoed streets and tower blocks beyond. Is he misdirecting us?
Hand Mirror on Chair, 1966

These glimpses are always more than incidental, even when all we see are Freud’s pacing shoes beyond his sitter, caught in the studio mirror as he turns between the canvas and his model. You think you hear the sound of his feet. And then you see a bit of his leg, reflected dim in the night-time window between the blind and the sill, as his son Freddy, naked and stark, stands in the corner of the room.

Sometimes he is cropped and sometimes he is unfinished, his face petering out into smears and lost brushstrokes. In their way, these false starts are as complete as any portrait gets. He is always beginning again. “When I see photographs of painters staring into the distance I always think, ‘What complete cunts. I don’t want to be one of those,’” Freud once remarked. I don’t think he wanted to be one of those painters who portray themselves all constipated and brow-furrowing, smug and supercilious, either. Even when he is at the centre of things, he’s unknowable.
Hotel Bedroom, 1954

Freud is a great self-dramatist, and seems to take pleasure catching snatches of himself in mirrors, peering between the foliage of a potted plant, looming and menacing like a 1960s London gangster, then suave and louche, or a sly old git, fixing us from the corner of his eye with a horrible knowing glance as he passes by. 
Interior with Plant, Reflection Listening, (Self-portrait), 1967-68

Life, like painting, is a kind of self-invention, but along the way things intervene. Shit happens to us and around us, in paintings as well as life. Accidents and mistakes pile up – just like that thick, granular and poisonous lead-white Freud used in his later work. The mistakes and accidents include other people, their presence and affect as they pass through the studio. Their bodies, clothed or naked, are always in the way.

Hell isn’t only other people. One must include oneself and one’s body in this comedy of errors and terrors and that’s what Freud does. Then, later, naked in the studio, he raises his palette knife aloft with a kind of comic defiance. Along with the sallow, sagging skin, he is a mess of revisions and repaintings, the pigment piling up and moiling over his cock and balls, the face redone and done again, the room emptying out behind him. It is only him there now.
Reflection (Self Portrait), 1985

Freud may have resisted his grandfather Sigmund’s influence on his own paintings, but both worked in self-consciously contrived stage-set rooms where other people come and go, leave and return and have secrets to tell. In Freud’s paintings the secrets are the one’s the body tells, rather than the things they say. How complicated, how fascinating it all is.

Lucian Freud: The Self-Portraits is at the Royal Academy, London, from 27 October to 26 January.

Friday 25 October 2019

Wednesday night's set lists at The Habit, York

Da Elderly: -
You've Got A Friend
Tell Me Why
Laurel Canyon Home
Once An Angel
You're Sixty

Ron Elderly:
You Better Move On
The River
Suspicious Minds
Just My Imagination

The Elderly Brothers: -
The Boxer
Sounds Of Silence
Hello Mary Lou
You Really Got A Hold On Me
Walk Right Back
All I Have To Do Is Dream
I Saw Her Standing There

Yours truly was host for the night in Simon's absence. It was a bit of a shambles to start with as some of the gear had gone walkies. We kicked off with both voice and guitar miced up as there were no guitar cables. Local musician Charlie came to our aid and saved the day. There were only 4 players all night, so we chipped in with a couple of sets each and Charlie dueted with regular James - they did a couple of extended jams: an A minor blues and Dylan's All Along The Watchtower. The Elderlys closed the show and all 4 players carried on unplugged for a while at the audience's request.

Thursday 24 October 2019

Jazz at Ronnie Scott's: The photographs of Freddy Warren

Jimmy Smith

Ronnie Scott with Sonny Rollins

Ronnie Stevenson, Rick Laird, Stan Tracey and Sonny Rollins

Tubby Hayes

Bill Evans at Freddy Warren's studio

Yusef Lateef, Stan Tracey and Rick Laird working on a set

Tony Bennett and Eddie 'Lockjaw' Davis

Trummy Young

Count Basie

Salena Jones with the Stan Tracey Trio

Ronnie Scott

Featured image is reproduced from 'Ronnie Scott’s 1959–69.'
Dizzy Gillespie

Miles Davis

Ella Fitzgerald

Scott’s missed
A batch of thousands of photos of jazz music's great and good form the basis of a new Barbican exhibition

Dan Carrier
Camden New Journal
17 October, 2019

IT was a lifetime’s work – and the boxes of negatives were just about all that survived a devastating fire that tore through photographer Freddy Warren’s Grafton Chambers flat in 2010.

The 71-year-old, who had taken seminal shots of the biggest names in jazz, lost his life in a blaze at his home in Euston. It destroyed his flat – but his nephew, Simon Whittle, managed to save thousands of images that chart his life as a Fleet Street photographer by day and as a jazz aficionado by night.

They revealed a man whose lens gave him unprecedented access to capture some of the biggest names ever to perform at Ronnie Scott’s club. Now a sample of his extensive archive has been published by Reel Art Press, and is the subject of a major retrospective at the Barbican.

Ronnie Scott’s 1959–69 is a previously unseen archive that captures the life and times of the legendary venue, all shot by a self-taught photographer whose charm and skill got him a front-of-house seat and backstage access to capture stunning pictures of Soho and jazz culture in the 60s.

They include Ronnie Scott surveying the building site that would become the club in Frith Street, warming his hands over a brazier of off-cuts, interspersed with shots of musicians rehearsing, performing or just hanging out.

Freddy took pictures regularly over a 10-year period, capturing the very essence of Ronnie’s – and the images show not only what a superb eye he had for a shot, but illuminate the inside story of the club during a period when some of the greatest musicians and performers of the 20th century would appear at the Soho venue.

Among the negatives rescued by Simon from his burnt-out home include performance shots and off-stage pictures of the likes of Miles Davis, Art Blakey, Stan Getz, Zoot Sims, Duke Ellington, Nina Simone and more.

Born in 1935, Freddy grew up in Hounslow and after serving in the RAF began a career taking photographs.

“He really became a photographer by accident,” says Simon. “He bought a camera off my uncle Cyril and discovered he had an intrinsic talent for it.

“He had got into jazz while he served in the RAF, and that acted as a catalyst. Freddy had first gone to Ronnie Scott’s when a RAF jazz band made up of his friends was booked to play there. He went along with his camera and took some shots.”

Ronnie Scott during the building of the club

He met photographers Eric Jelly and Mark Sharratt, who worked for Melody Maker, and after they saw his images, they said he had a job waiting for him when he left the RAF.

He worked as an assistant in their studio Photography 33, based in Soho, before working in Fleet Street during the day for the Daily Mirror and Daily Sketch – then heading to Ronnie’s each night to take photos of jazz musicians.

“He never got anyone to pose,” says Simon. “What he did at Ronnie’s was off the cuff, taking pictures as they were playing. He never directed anything, he just moved around and took the shots he wanted, the shots he knew would work.”

His approach was such that some of the famously tough characters in the jazz world took to him – likes of Miles Davis and Stan Getz, who had reputations, admired what he did.

“Maybe he gave as good as he got,” says Simon. “Miles was a friend – Freddy recalled how Miles once bought a watch off him. He also signed albums for Freddy, leaving his phone number and address in America with an open invitation to come and visit.”

Simon was close to his uncle and was aware of his passion for jazz.

Buddy Rich

“Uncle Fred had an amazing hi fi system and a massive collection of LPs,” he recalls.

When Simon came to help clear up following Freddy’s death, he found boxes in an office at the back of the badly damaged flat where the fire had not quite reached.

“There were shelves and shelves with thousands of negatives,” he says.

“I had no idea what would be in there. I knew he had taken pictures of jazz world but I didn’t know how many. I discovered what was his life’s work. I started going through them, trying to sort them out, making envelopes of different people like Davis, Tubby Hayes, Nina Simone.”

As well as his work at Ronnie’s, his life as a Fleet Street photographer saw him gain access to the stars of the era – the likes of Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers, The Rolling Stones, the royal family and many more.

“He was well known for his work in the 60s and 70s and I know he wanted his pictures shown but never really put his mind to it,” adds Simon.

“He would be pleased as punch to have an exhibition on at The Barbican.”

• Ronnie Scott’s 1959-69 Photography by Freddy Warren is at Barbican Library, Silk Street, Barbican, EC2Y 8DS until January 4, 2020. Admission Free. The book accompanying the show is Photographs by Freddy Warren, Reel Art Press, £29.95

The photos:

The book: