Moonshine CD cover

Dedicated Bioscope watchers will know that I like a little jazz with my silents, and that earlier this year I reported on seeing American trumpeter Dave Douglas and his Keystone band playing music inspired (obliquely) by the work of Fatty Arbuckle at the Bray Jazz festival in Ireland. Well, blow me down if they haven’t produced a CD of the music, but it’s a live recording from the Bray concert itself, so you can hear me applauding in the background.

The CD is entitled Moonshine, which is of course the title of a 1918 film that Arbuckle made with Buster Keaton, probably best known for its much-imitated gag of having a seemingly endless procession of people pour out of a car. Douglas’ music is not really intended as accompaniment to Arbuckle’s films (it certainly doesn’t work in that way), and is more an expression of ideas inspired by Arbuckle’s work. As Douglas says:

But these pieces weren’t written as soundtracks, more as reflections on great forgotten absurdities like ‘Mabel and Fatty’s Married Life’ and ‘The Rough House.’ The bounce and bubble of those characters begged for a beat – shimmering shadows on the screen hinting at hidden crevices of texture and timbre. The songs reflect the atmosphere of those innocent/zany black and white images, refracted through a 21st century jazz sensibility, interpreted by an eclectic collection of gifted musicians.

Those musicians are Douglas (trumpet), Marcus Strickland (saxophone), Adam Benjamin (keyboards), Brad Jones (double bass), Gene Lake (drums) and DJ Olive (turntables and laptop – yep, its modern jazz, folks).

The CD is released on 27 November, but it seems it is available now as MP3 downloads. There’s more information on the Greenleaf Music site.

Douglas and Keystone have released two other CDs, Keystone and Keystone: Live in Sweden.

I’m seated ten rows back on the right, by the way…

Update: Arbuckle and Keaton’s Moonshine has just been posted on YouTube, with Dave Douglas’ ‘score’. Moonshine only survives in a regrettably fragmentary state, hence the gaps in the narrative and the abruptness of several shots. See what you think…

God kicks our backsides

It’s been a while since we had any poetry on The Bioscope. While browsing through the fine Old Poetry site, I came across by A.S.J. Tessimond (1902-1962), a British Imagist poet whose name, I’m ashamed to say, I’d not come across before now. This poem of his, entitled ‘Chaplin’, dates from 1934. It rather appeals to me:

The sun, a heavy spider, spins in the thirsty sky.
The wind hides under cactus leaves, in doorway corners. Only the wry

Small shadow accompanies Hamlet-Petrouchka’s march – the slight
Wry sniggering shadow in front of the morning, turning at noon, behind towards night.

The plumed cavalcade has passed to tomorrow, is lost again;
But the wisecrack-mask, the quick-flick-fanfare of the cane remain.

Diminuendo of footsteps even is done:
Only remain, Don Quixote, hat, cane, smile and sun.

Goliaths fall to our sling, but craftier fates than these
Lie ambushed – malice of open manholes, strings in the dark and falling trees.

God kicks our backsides, scatters peel on the smoothest stair;
And towering centaurs steal the tulip lips, the aureoled hair,

While we, craned from the gallery, throw our cardboard flowers
And our feet jerk to tunes not played for ours.

Not just Chaplin as beleaguered everyman, but Chaplin as Don Quixote, the person we all might actually be but would never want to be. Now that I like (though it’s a conceit that has occured to others). There are more of Tessimond’s poems on The Filter^ blog.