Posts Tagged ‘Gregory Hoskins’

THE ANTLERS

2010-12-08

[Picture of Peter Silberman of The Antlers]Peter Silberman plays a Fender Mustang and has one of the best falsettos in the business. He formed “The Antlers” — and I have their album “Hospice“.  It is Brooklyn, and New York City in mood and lo-fi approach, but it is more straight, clearer and on focus. They opened for “The National” in Barcelona — now that would have been some gig!

I have been listening to this album on and off now for quite a while, but recently a chap I work with has discovered it — which has led to my returning to it again.

My favourite is “Epilogue”, simple guitar strumming (G major) — but a voice like Gregory Hoskins or Jeff Buckley.

“Hospice” is an incredibly emotional record. This guy really seems to pour out his heart and his art.  One for the headphones.

Here’re the usual links:

Peter did a blog that is intended to compliment the album: theantlershospice.blogspot.com

[Embedded videoclip: Epilogue by The Antlers on YouTube]

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bQwkbRVqqxU&feature=related]

In a nightmare, I am falling from the ceiling into bed beside you. You’re asleep, I’m screaming, shoving you to try to wake you up. And like before, you’ve got no interest in the life you live when you’re awake. Your dreams still follow story-lines, like fictions you would make.

So I lie down against your back, until we’re both back in the hospital. But now it’s not a cancer ward, we’re sleeping in the morgue. Men and women in blue and white, they are singing all around you, with heavy shovels holding earth. You’re being buried to your neck. In that hospital bed, being buried quite alive now. I’m trying to dig you out but all you want is to be buried there together.

You’re screaming, and cursing, and angry, and hurting me, and then smiling, and crying, apologizing.

I’ve woken up, I’m in our bed, but there’s no breathing body there beside me. Someone must have taken you while I was stuck asleep. But I know better as my eyes adjust. You’ve been gone for quite awhile now, and I don’t work there in the hospital (they had to let me go.)

When I try to move my arms sometimes, they weigh too much to lift. I think you buried me awake (my one and only parting gift.) But you return to me at night, just when I think I may have fallen asleep. Your face is up against mine, and I’m too terrified to speak.
–Epilogue or Sylvia Alive In Nightmares

Absolutely beautiful music.  Painful at times, but worth it. Enjoy.

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CHET BAKER

2010-01-09

[Picture of a Chet Baker Record cover]What a voice!  I was in the mood for some Gregory Hoskins (after I spotted a comment here), and this put me in mind of the great Chet Baker.

He was originally famed for playing Jazz Trumpet — with some of the all time greats too.  Stan Getz and Gerry Mulligan in particular.

In 1953, he released an album in which he sang, sparkily named “Chet Baker Sings” — and I got a hold of it in 1979 in one of those deals where you buy a bunch of LPs at a market.  This record has been part of me ever since.

In case you don’t know, this guy was from the golden age of Jazz — the post war cool era.

Although Chet used heroin for 30 years, he nearly made it to 60. He dozed off while sitting on a window-ledge on his 2nd storey Amsterdam hotel room one night in May 1988. He fell to his accidental death. I remember being very sad (I think I was still trying to come to terms with Jaco Pastorius’s murder 9 months before).  Sad times for jazz lovers.

There is a special connection here in that, like Jaco, Chet got in a late night brawl and took a severe beating.  But unlike Jaco, Chet didn’t die from the assault — but the beating made a mess of his lips and broke his teeth. This was in San Francisco in the mid 1960s — at the height of his looks and career. For a famous trumpet-player, that was about the worst possible outcome, ruining his embouchure — and so Chet had to wear dentures and stop playing the trumpet — he switched to flugelhorn and easy-listening music — until he developed a new embouchure over a few years.

That’s all pretty sickening, but I am glad to state that with his new embouchure, Chet returned to straight-ahead jazz trumpet — which by then was more popular in Europe than the USA, so Chet moved to Europe and entered his most prolific creative and recording period from the late 1970s until his death. Chet had even been working with Elvis Costello and together they had a top 40 hit with “Shipbuilding”!

[embedded video from YouTube.com]

Yeah, the guy was co-ool — a real cultural icon from an era filled with cultural icons!

Aw, man, what a song “Almost Blue” is, so on-the-money, not a wasted word from Elvis Costello — and not a wasted note from Chet and the gang. Total art. He holds back the singing until about half-way — what genius!

[embedded video from YouTube.com “Almost Blue”]

Almost blue
Almost doing things we used to do
There’s a girl here and she’s almost you
Almost  all the things that you promised with your eyes I see in hers too
Now your eyes are red from crying
Almost blue
Flirting with this disaster became me
It named me as the fool who only aimed to be
Almost blue
Almost touching it will almost do
There’s a part of me that’s always true… always

Almost  all the things that you promised with your eyes I see in hers too
Now your eyes are red from crying
Almost blue

Almost you
Almost me
Almost blue

I read a lot of rot about guys like Chet Baker.  He was no good-looking model to start with. The thing is that young guys get old.  Only cultural icons like Jimmy Dean and Jaco Pastorius don’t get old — the ones that died young. I have recoiled many times when I have seen what age has done to my heroes and others from a previous era — Jeez, Ry Cooder was a shock, as was James Taylor, Hue and Cry and Adrian Belew. This is mainly because they were out of the limelight for a while — others, like the Rolling Stones or Status Quo don’t seem so bad — but they actually are! You soon get used to them being old, and it will come to Brad Pitt and all the rest of the icons of today.

I do not think Chet was “ravaged by heroin”; he lived most of his life using heroin, and I have seen other 59 year olds look the same or worse simply from smoking cigarettes or being outdoors in the sun and weather a lot.

Chet Baker had his own style of singing and playing, and that is a good thing.  I am fed up hearing criticisms about his playing and singing from folks who can do neither themselves.

He was the whole package of cool when he was a young blade, doing “Funny Valentine”, “The Thrill is Gone”,  “I Fall in Love Too Easily”, and the marvellous, “Let’s get Lost”. When he got older, he was the elder statesman and the consummate musician. He was doing it for the music and the die-hard fans.  He could have chosen to do a million other things, but he stuck to his guns in a land far from his native land.

Personally I do not think we would have the likes of Gregory Hoskins or Jeff Buckley without Chet Baker’s voice — and that lives forever. Yes sir!

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GREGORY HOSKINS

2008-12-23

[Picture of Gregory Hoskins playing guitar]Whenever I hear Gregory Hoskins’sNever a Stranger Kiss” I relax, sure in the knowledge that talent and creativity are not dead, that TV reality show singing competitions have not killed every other outlet and opportunity.

embedded video:

Sit back and just let Gregory Hoskins open his soul to you.  It’s superb — gripping, chilling — and the rest. The guy can sing and hit the spot too. Hit “Play”, do it!

Maaan, I can seriously sympathise with him in that I have years of unfinished and unpolished songs, tunes and arrangement ideas.  The bridge is always a fuss if it doesn’t just come along with the birth. Then again, I have some that need choruses, intros and more verses! Oy!  I think he’s worked it out beautifully on this one, don’t you?

I like the vibe he sets up — I have enjoyed a lot of salsa, mambo,  guaguancó, rumba, punto, and son for quite a few years, probably as a result of studying Al di Meola’s stuff way back in the 1970s! LOL! Later, I got “into” Bal-Musette and even electric/ modern tango, like The Gotan Project.  I really like that he gives his song some of that flavour; it adds a lot, it evokes that whole decadent insalubriousness mood!

You can buy his album, “The Beggar Heart” from Amazon.co.uk right now for buttons. Greg is the best thing out of Canada for years! This is one chap I would definitely go to see live should he ever tour the northern wastes of the UK!

As I may just have whet an appetite, I had better do my web-duty and provide some links! The first one is obvious: www.gregoryhoskins.com/, then this is a nice link:  www.comevisit.com/vezco/festival/hoskins.html.

Finally, the record company — the fabulous Candyrat Records (what would the world be like without them?). Enjoy!

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