Tra la Tralee

Fresh from a daytrip to Tralee for music exams this week and a Saturday morning stomp up the hill behind Ruscombe with the dog, listening to electric Miles Davis at Fillmore 1970 – this week we welcomed Gilad Atzmon and his Orient House Ensemble to Stroud, he promised a talk on his own individual “Road to Bop” before the gig, but naturally was keener to discuss geopolitical issues, the dominance of the cognitive elite, the oppression of political correctness, illustrated with diagrams of a Freudian bell curve (also reminiscent of Dopey’s hat in Snow White). He was disappointed that the audience were not more provoked or offended by his diagnoses – the freethinking jazzlovers of Stroud were probably rather more disturbed when he began the gig by strapping on an accordion. I expected his diatribe to be more focussed – it felt somewhat woolly, confused, from the top down, rather than building an argument that would draw people in, on the nature of early-C21st capitalism and global inequality. I watched the film Elysium the other day and that was at least as thought-provoking. Could we make an argument for universal global democracy, one person one vote, no borders? 

The band was impressively tight, the drummer Chris Higginbotham standing out – Gilad’s saxophone playing is very traditional, nostalgic, rhapsodic, joyous, a populist stream of expression (channelling Coltrane on the soprano, Charlie Parker on the alto). The encore was Louis Armstrong’s Wonderful World – as also featured by Andy Sheppard’s Pushy Doctors just before Xmas. These sax players are such romantics.

Reading matter for my trip to Ireland – Don Paterson’s Rain (that’ll be poetry, then). He’s very dry and Scottish (and occasionally a bit romantic too), and a guitarist on the side – one of my favourites is his Song for Natalie ‘Tusja’ Beridze, in praise of an obscure Georgian musician, shoehorning in all sorts of abstruse references beloved by readers and writers of The Wire magazine. And rhyming too (but not scanning). I heard him read in Cheltenham last year – you can get away with anything with a dry Scots accent.


2 thoughts on “Tra la Tralee

  1. Re Gilad. I was puzzled that he seemed to think his views on “the cognitive elite” would be startling or disruptive.

    There was a book called “Rise of the Meritocracy” several decades ago which was quite popular, or at least my parents had it on their bookshelves and they weren’t hardcore political agitators. It predicted that a system generally thought to be benevolent, based on advancement on merit, would result in the fracturing of society and consequently revolution.

    err… so there. (anyway, I enjoyed the music)

  2. Zizek writes, that if you find yourself at the bottom of a traditional aristocratic society, you know it’s just an accident of birth, god’s will, hard luck – whereas if you find yourself at the bottom of a meritocratic society, it must be your own fault that you have failed, therefore you will be more angry/dissatisfied. (Or perhaps it was the other way round.)

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