Archive for April, 2009

BARBARA DENNERLEIN

15 April 2009

I first heard the name, Barbara Dennerlein back when people were worried abut the Y2K bug. It didn’t really register much, just that there was a buzz in Jazz circles and on the German music scene.

What’s not to like? She’s not so hard on the eye, and who doesn’t like the Hammond B3? For goodness sakes, I’ve got pals who are positively obsessed with this instrument!

By chance, I came across her on YouTube tonight, while looking for some Bach — don’t you just hate it when you have the tune, but cannot recall the exact title/ reference? Anyway, here’s what I found…

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How good is she? And what a great excuse to gaze at a finely turned ankle!

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The funny thing is that I have been listening to a lot of German stuff lately — I adore a lounge Jazz version of Heut’ Nacht — yes, the old New Wave track from The Spliffs. The track I have is by the wonderful Sumatic on Erotic Lounge (I really need to get a hold of their Dreiklangsdimensionen album). Sumatic is really Susanne Kemmler (also not bad to look at — Hmm, what is it with German women these days?).

Come to think about it Susanne looks a bit like Alison Goldfrapp crossed with Candy Dulfer!

It’s good to see women at the highest levels of Jazz musicianship; good role models for my wee girl one day perhaps.

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OZYMANDIAS

7 April 2009

My father is dead over 20 years. I have a few knick-knacks, a couple of black-and-white photographs, nothing much of him is left, only my journals and memories of course.

Ozymandias was one of his favourites. Then again, he didn’t much care for anything lengthier than a stanza or two! He did not like beating-around-the-bush, preferring things to come to the point. When I argued that poetry was about beautiful language, cleverly constructed, he defended his position, saying that he was all for getting from A to B beautifully! He felt people didn’t want to wander off too far from the point, lest they would lose the gist.

He told me he’d heard Ozymandias spoken on the radio by Richard Burton, and that would have added to the impact of this poem. He could only recall some of it — so I tracked it down at the public library and wrote it out in full on the back of my school English Jotter.

My old man quite enjoyed trying to “do a Richard Burton” with this — and it was, for me, quite an insight into the decisions an actor must confront each time he is faced with the written word, and this has remained with me ever since; I am forever amazed, for example, at the number of different interpretations there are for Shakespeare’s soliloquies.

It’s most peculiar that my father mentioned this particular poem; it is about vanitas the vanity of human wishes. It is about the meaningless and insignificance of life, how nothing lasts, and how quickly we are all forgotten after we die. This is not something I would have thought he would have liked to think about; for years he had been tracing my mother’s relatives (she was raised in an orphanage), and had begun researching his own. He was delighted to have discovered a motto “Non Omnis Moriar” relating to one of his ancestors – and this really opposes what Ozymandias is all about; he took the motto to mean: My Work Does Not Die, or My Work Lives On After My Death. He did Latin, I didn’t, but I have suspected that it more meant: Work Never Dies (in other words, there’re always things needing done — or perhaps, doing nothing would be death, but workers are never dead), perhaps a kindly Latin scholar will settle the matter for me.

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shatter’d visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamp’d on these lifeless things,
The hand that mock’d them and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal these words appear:

‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

‘Ozymandias’ Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822).

[Picture of Ruined Statue - legs and feet - like Ozymandias]

Isn’t that just wonderful? I always think of King Ozy whenever I see the film or even the poster for the film, Planet of The Apes.

This sonnet is actually about Ramesses the Great — and was inspired by a famous (and massive) statue at that time being acquired by the British Museum in the early 1800s (at the start of museums and all that Prince Albert stuff).

[Picture of Ramesses II at Luxor]

I like the fact that it is the sculptor’s work that has lived on — NOT the work carried out by this king, and that Shelley is praising the unknown artist’s skill.

I have a wee brass bust of Ramesses the Second — a cheap imitation of the colossus at Luxor, and it constantly reminds me of exotic and lost civilisations, of my father, of the pointlessness of family trees, of the fact that history is actually about art, and about vanitas via Ozymandias.

A Classic.

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