Here’s a shout out to a favourite Radio Scotland programme. On Sunday night I drove home to resound of Jazz Nights and, as ever with Jazz, it took me to another place. Seonaid Aitken was presenting a big band special and I recommend it to you. As I returned home I completed the acid test of all good radio, I stayed in the car to keep listening. I realised there were a couple of things going on. Firstly my mind went back to another Sunday evening over thirty years ago when we’d ventured over to deepest Brooklyn to visit one of my wife’s relatives and returning over the bridge to Manhattan in our yellow cab I soaked in the music coming from the driver’s AM jazz station. The sounds and the location came together as one. On Sunday, Seonaid slayed me with a classic Benny Goodman big band track which also reminded me of my youth. My father had a great album called Countdown by Benny Goodman. Starting with his big band, it moved through all the sizes of his live band until it went down to a brilliant duet between pianist, Teddy Wilson and vibes player, Lionel Hampton.
As I sat in the car listening to Benny on Sunday I remember what listening to that original Goodman album had meant for me. Not knowing anything about jazz or swing but simply imagining what was happening as the audience roared their approval, I was transported to somewhere else. I imagined the smoke-filled rooms and dance halls and another world which I’d never experienced but could conjure up in my mind’s eye in the grooves of that brilliant album. Music; it’s strong stuff.
That’s the thing about listening to records. Sometimes, on special occasions, it takes you somewhere you’ve never been. It’s often been the thing I’ve loved so much about country music too. There are hollers, creeks and honky-tonks I have to construct in my head…and sometimes that can be as interesting as knowing the reality. We can’t possibly know everywhere, so it’s with great pleasure this week we get taken to (for me) a new part of America’s South.
North Carolina is on my list of States I want to visit but has, so far, eluded me. From Durham, NC comes MC Taylor, who is best known by his band name, Hiss Golden Messenger. They’ve been making music for over ten years and have brought out an album almost every year in that time. We’ve enjoyed the music over that period but fell head over heels for the last record, Terms Of Surrender. Just before Christmas on a rare visit to Glasgow we invited him over to Studio One for a session and a long conversation. You can hear all of that on this week’s show…and I think you’ll enjoy it hugely.