Monday, 14 August 2000

Entry #86

Listening to:
The best of Thelonius Monk. I'm usually pretty suspicious of "best of" CDs. However, they do at least serve to introduce a performer/composer if you have no real knowledge of what they're like. On the strength of this CD (published by Capitol Records, using the Blue Note label), I really should get out there and buy more Monk.

On the strength of just one CD of 16 tracks, all recorded by 1952, I'd characterise his stuff as melodically inventive, with a crisp, precise feel to it. There aren't extended solos whereby the original statement of a theme gets distorted and developed over a long period. (I have a Verve CD of this being done by Stan Getz and Dizzy Gillespie, and it's wonderful; but this is not what these Monk pieces do.) Instead, the music comes to you fully-formed, and quite perfect. These are like musical short stories.

Still reading:
Mitford, Our village. I'm about 60% of the way through this, so I'm not going to be able to write my grand summing up for a while yet. After writing about it last week (see below), I realised that what was for me the effective evocation of a lost era might have struck contemporary readers in just the same way. The early 19th century was a period of quite rapid change in England, and people then probably felt this change to be destroying a long lost world. (In fact, this feeling seems to arise whenever and wherever you look; old fogeys always moan about the good old days.)

There are a few symptoms of this in Our village. At one point, the fact that the boundaries of the nearby town of B--- are steadily approaching those of Mitford's village is remarked on. Mitford says that she expects her village will one day be a part of B--- but that she isn't too bothered because it will surely happen long after her day. She also describes the Macadamisation of the main road through the village at one point. Ah, progress!