2018: A Year In Food
In 2018, my gym coach assigned me to keep a food blog so he could track my meals. Through developing healthy eating habits to satisfy all of my nutritional needs and a rigorous exercise programme, I lost the 21 kg between January-August 2018 I'd gained on anti-depressants.
I wanted it to be somewhere more private rather than being shoved down people's throats (literally) through Instagram/WhatsApp. Hence I've posted my culinary creations here.
Being vegetarian and/or vegan always presents a challenge in terms of hitting the protein target so this was particularly the most interesting challenge for me.
I made a conscious decision to stop food blogging in 2019 (due to time restraints), but it's useful to have a year's diet documented as a reference and a source of inspiration!
Combining the age-old tradition of American brass band playing and regal, epic fanfare with dirty drum & bass grooves and hot-blooded funk, soul and rhythm & blues, Soul Rebels got the party going at Band on the Wall.
The catchy, infectious horn licks and vocal refrains were pulled off with incredible ease and style, underpinned by pumping sousaphone bass lines and stonking kit. Each song was tightly arranged, and flowed into one another, each medley unleashing a barrage of energy and finesse, with interweaving melodic lines and orchestral stabs. The ensemble playing was slick, well rehearsed and executed completely from memory. The music was nicely paced, and involved the audience at every twist and turn to such an extent that each build up made you wonder what they were going to do next, and how much further they could take up the level. Especially impressive was when they played florid, sectional material at different dynamics and articulation style to showcase the technical skills of the musicians, making it an educational - as well as recreational - experience.
As well as being pretty good horn players, these guys don't have bad voices either. Interspersing nicely layered vocals with rapping and call & response with the audience, the voices are cleverly integrated into the mix, creating a wonderfully streetwise concoction of brass, percussion and vocals.
Altogether an explosive powerhouse of raw energy and a real hit with the audience.
The bill included not only Pat Metheny, but also Chris Potter on tenor saxophone and bass clarinet, Ben Williams on bass, and Antonio Sanchez - and this review, despite its best interests, cannot offer enough insight that will testimony to the brilliance of these modern icons of jazz, each monumental pioneers in their own right with a multitude of works to their names. Every now and then, I had to jolt myself into reality to actually believe what I'm so fortunate enough to be seeing happening right before my eyes and ears.
The concert began with a couple of solo numbers from Pat Metheny, who effortlessly submerges your ears in a glorious ocean of crystal-clear, sonic bliss, with melodies that are simple yet powerful, and sophisticated harmonies that draw you in even deeper. Percussive effects on the instrument is used to great effect, as is the subtle fret noises that enhance every nuance.
The third number introduced the rest of the band, with Chris Potter's soaring, free and majestic bass clarinet tones. Having seen (and played with) him on a couple of occasions before, Chris Potter is impressive as ever in mid-flight, unweilding a barrage of melodious, intuitive heights, combining incredibly crafted journeys across the instrument with lighting fast intuition and response, and whose peaks and dips transport you to another plane of existence. His tenor saxophone dances around and across the beat, through elegant leaps and arpeggiated runs, shifting and gliding through ever-morphing layers of harmonic shape, with the slickness and finesse of an electric eel, yet with subtle, gentle measures of sentimentality and grace. On both instruments, he is master; moving freely from feathery low notes to spellbinding altissimo, always striving for new heights. The transplantation of motivic material in different registers and keys displays an incredibly sensitive awareness of harmonic space, and a great ear.
Pat Metheny uses a range of different timbres, effects and synth leads to great effect, creating an array of sensations and colours. His melodic lines develop organically from moments of space and flickering ribbons, gradually building into stately climaxes and wild, thrashing cacophonies of rippling consciousness. The changes in pace were instantaneous, immediate and controlled.
The programme itself had a nice, defined shape that was cleverly structured, engaging and by no means monotonous; instead, giving the audience plenty of meat to chew on (or cheese, if you're vegetarian like me, but not in the musical sense - not that it is a bad thing!). Much of the music played has two levels, simultaneously juxtaposed; with arcing, profound melodies flying over a vista of solid groove-based material. The mood is deeply spiritual; sometimes, strident and voyeuristic, at other times, wild frenzied and reeling into folk idioms, film theme scores and contemporary popular music across the decades - this is just part of the pool that the music both envelopes and transcends. The level of improvisation and depth pushes the imagination as far as it can go, setting new standards with what can be done with these instruments and their technical frontiers. A technique that I noticed several times throughout the evening was the sudden transition from languishing, non-'tonal' or dissonant material into an elated 'tonal' or consonant repeated refrain, creating a 'brightening' effect that serves to heighten the momentum and take the music into another realm, knocking you to your senses.
Evidence of their individual musical skill was exploited to the maximum in the second part of the performance, where each of the other musicians, Chris Potter ('All The Things You Are'), Ben Williams ('Turnaround' - Ornette Coleman) and Antonio Sanchez, took turns to improvise a musical dialogue with Pat Metheny. The result was sobering enough to forget that you were listening to two completely different instruments - guitar and saxophone / bass / drums); the music almost coalesced into one instrument or musical line / thread. Put these musicians together, back in the quartet at the end, and the combination is electrifying. These musicians are pushing the frontiers, transcending the technical means of their instruments and meeting somewhere in the middle, up above, engaging in a common plan of musical discourse, such that you forget which instruments they are playing. Together, they create a progressive music that speaks many of its own languages, and that sails beyond what can be considered 'normal' into the charting of its own destiny.
Rory spent the first few years of his life in an ice cave, carving out his palace of wonder. He's a bit of a love doll, but he who melts the ice shall have their reward.