Archive for October 28, 2012

Out of the Cool

Posted in Jazz with tags , , , on October 28, 2012 by telescoper

I’ve been taking it easy today, attempting to recover from a bout of sickness by loafing about and listening to old records. I don’t know why I haven’t listened to Out of the Cool by the Gil Evans Orchestra for a while, but at least that meant I came back to it relatively fresh.

Gil Evans was one of the few composer/arrangers in Jazz to have successfully blended his own orchestral textures with solo improvisations in such a way that both complement each other; the scored passages he devised are complex and beautiful, but never so rigid that they inhibit the soloist’s imagination. He directed a number of albums that incorporated Jazz solos in classically-inspired orchestral settings, including Sketches of Spain and Porgy and Bess (with Miles Davis). This one is less famous than those, but in my opinion at least as good.

Trumpeter Johnny Coles (no relation) is particularly inspired by the imaginative surroundings constructed by Gil Evans on this album, and he responds by inventing beautiful solo lines on several tracks on this album. But the tonal spectrum he encompasses, his use of dynamics, and his distinctive play with inflection are best illustrated by his feature piece, Sunken Treasure, a mysterious, almost evanescent creation which he fashions out of Evans’ floating harmonies. I think this is the best track off a great album.

Crossed Words

Posted in Crosswords with tags , , , on October 28, 2012 by telescoper

I’m still a bit fragile after a sudden bout of illness. Judging by my symptoms – and the fact that the worst of it seems to have passed in about 24 hours – I think it must have been this (i.e. the dreaded “Winter Vomiting Bug”). You’ll be relieved that I don’t intend to go into the details on here.

Anyway, being out of action all day yesterday has put me behind on a number of important things, including the weekend’s crosswords which also reminded me that it’s been a while since I posted anything in that particular file on here.  I did manage to get out to buy yesterday’s Independent, but haven’t started the puzzle yet. Incidentally, I should mention that I recently won the Independent Crossword Prize for the NINTH time. That means I’ve accumulated nine copies of the Oxford Dictionary and Thesaurus in little over a year. I keep getting envious comments from people who’ve been entering this competition for years and have never won, but I seem to win it regularly every few weeks.  I have one copy of the Oxford Dictionary and Thesaurus at home, one in my office at work. I gave one to my mum and the rest I’ve distributed to colleagues at work. I’ve even started a waiting list, although I may move on from Cardiff before I can fulfil all the requests…

Anyway, I was cheered this morning when I discovered that I’d won a VHC (“Very Highly Commended”) in the Observer’s Azed Crossword Puzzle No. 2105. This puzzle was a “special” with the theme “Collisions”, introduced with the following rubric:

Down clues are normal. Each across entry consists of two answers which ‘collide’,  i.e. they overlap by one or more letters, the overlapping letters always appearing in  their correct order. Across clues consist of definitions of each of the full overlapping  answers and subsidiary indications of each minus the overlapping letters. Definition and subsidiary indication for one answer precede those for the other, but either  may come first. Numbers in brackets indicate the lengths of complete entries. One  across answer consists of two words. Competitors should submit with their entries  a clue in the style of the other acrosses to the unclued ‘collision’ at 1 Across, which  must be deduced.

I’m always very wary of unclued lights, but in this case it was quite easy to deduce TITANIC/ICEBERG was the combination that went with the overall theme as well as fitting with the other clues. I didn’t think that, for a “special”, the puzzle was all that difficult to solve but I did find it a mighty struggle to come up with a clue in which the join between the two separate parts was reasonably well disguised and which had a reasonable surface reading. My attempt was

Showing sex appeal in leather, very large bird knocked back cold fish

I’ll leave it to the reader to parse the clue and see how it fits with the instructions.

Anyway, with that I’m up to 10th place in the Annual Honours Table, but with only 3 out of 13 puzzles completed there’s plenty of time to fall back to my usual position!

Now, time to see if I can eat something without unwanted special effects….