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!
Robert Mitchell's 3IO @ Clore Ballroom
Robert Mitchell (piano) leads this soulful and sophisticated jazz trio, alongside Tom Mason (bass) and Richard Spaven (drums). The result is a fresh, dynamic and engaging live outfit; demonstrating a wide array of textures, a grooving sense of ensemble, and a tight, clean sound that you would only expect from such an accomplished modern jazz trio. I was particularly impressed with the rippling arpeggiated improvisations of the virtuosic pianist and leader Robert Mitchell, who threaded contoured passages over the fluctuating time signatures with mastery. The drummer, Richard Spaven, had a nice, natural rolling groove and feel, which was complemented by the punchy and vibrant clarity of the bassist Tom Mason. Simply brilliant and definitely worth checking out!
The Charming Transport Band @ Charlie Wright's
I saw a taster of this band last night in Ronnie Scott's and I thought 'wow... must check these guys out!' What an incredible combination - saxophones, tuba (substituting bass), piano and guitars, fronted by 3 West African percussionists - congas, cajon and djembe; one that simply draws you in and compels you to move. The avian-like soaring arcs of the saxophone and flute are underpinned by a robust hot bed of sweet, earthy percussion. The crackling, popping rhythms - zesty to the ears, in themselves - have a funky elasticity about them which just makes you want to be a part of it, and they speak in their own colourful language of tones. What struck me most was the level of communication among the band; the way that they appeared to be laughing and joking as they played, the music almost forming part of a conversation that they were having. The hits and stops were as well-rehearsed and tight as the skin of a drum, and the swift interchanges of texture, rhythm and harmony made for a stimulating performance, bubbling with good vibes, leaving you fulfilled and on top of the world!
Dice Factory @ Vortex
The compositions are fairly short, each presenting a window into a different environment, which keeps the attention transfixed. The compositions are structurally complex, yet programmatic, progressing through an array of structures, loosely interconnected through thematic line and argument. There is a strong emphasis on group improvisation over heavy structural arrangement, rather than individual solos; the virtuosity is well integrated throughout the ensemble. The melodies have a real shape to them, sensitively balanced between angular intervals, arpeggiated textures and runs, while the harmonies escape tonal centres and transport the listener through haunting, mystical soundscapes demonstrating the technical sensibility of twenty-first century jazz. The moment that took everyone was when the group improvisation boiled down to nothing, leaving the pianist alone playing a neo-nineteenth century piano sonata that was strikingly beautiful, dripping in old-time romanticism and reminiscence submitting the collective consciousness to a higher realm, which reminded me of the transcendental works of American composer Charles Ives. This was interrupted by the drummer building a steady pulse that built into a squealing saxophone wail, and descended in a dramatic scale to a unified finale. It was so unusual to hear this played within a contemporary jazz ensemble, but well done for being so bold and brash - I have heard nothing else like this!
Splice @ Vortex
Splice conjured up an immersive, hypnotic sonic experience - bringing together ambient, ghostly, celestial and futuristic sounds; interweaving digital sampling with live instruments, inventive textural combinations, timbral trills and special effects, within an arhythmic void of deep space. The pulsating segments of sound - aptly described as 'loose limbed' - are loosely connected, collapsing forth in waves of varying speed and momentum, sometimes building towards poignant climactic moments. The windy depths and chasms into which the musicians drop their sonic fragments, samples and ambient noises, are punctuated by striking, industrious musical landmarks and percussive edifices - their intensity, at times, bordering on rock and heavy metal. I was particularly impressed with the drummer, Johnny Hunter, whose crunching, cascading asteroid-like collisions exploded with a real thunder and intensity; at times, almost falling into a groove, but escaping just in time, interspersing the collateral with pools of reverberant space.
Christian Garrick @ 606
The 606 jazz club may feel a bit off the beaten track, but behind the caged stairwell in the basement club, I discovered a hidden gem. When I arrived, the quartet was in the thick of a funky, swish samba groove, bursting with energy and nu-bossa flavours. The group have a real vibe about them that I can't quite put my finger on. Their music has a true culture of its own, one that speaks directly to the heart and nurtures the soul, with its own moods and temperaments; at times longing and nostalgic, glowing with a fond reminiscence; at other times rich and folky with Latin and gypsy touches. The music took us through majestic peaks and surging tidal waves of emotional epic, spirited dances and wistful lullabies. The encore treated us to a steaming serving of hot, stonking swing, with each of the musicians playing over the rhythm changes at breathtaking pace, displaying an accomplished sense of virtuosity. I was stunned just watching this - these guys have really made their craft, and they can do anything that they want with it. By the end of it, the audience were completely enchanted, and there was a real sense of magic in the air. A gig that neither I nor the rest of the audience will forget!
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.