Large As Life & Twice As Natural
Decca SLK 4969 (1968)
Album available as:-
is Davy Graham's third adventure on an LP
and along roads that
are folk, blues, jazz, Arabic, Indian-and one or two more things.
Travelling with a guitar and also Danny Thompson, bass Jon Hiseman,
drums, Harold McNair, flutes, and Dick Heckstall-Smtih, saxophones.
Travelling like Baudelaire's travellers; 'who move simply to move'.
The man himself is equally at home in Edinburgh ('a stately city');
Glasgow ('such warm acid'); or in Athens ('gold and purple in the
evening. Smooth as marble hollow solid eyes of panthers. So exhausting
for strangers.') But he is never at home in any one place for very
long. And this seems to be in exact parallel with his music. For he
cannot be pigeonholed: fortunately. He is a life-member on the roundabout
of alteration. Like his deep-down blues, and you have to accept his
setting of a 1000 year old Romeo and Juliet story. Go with him on
a musical flight to Morocco ('Jenra' : pavilion'd in splendour) and
the return journey will be via an extended raga. But always-I should
add-in the company of originality. For after introducing North African
music to Western guitar, he has now done the same for India. It's
a bit like Dr Bannister running his 4-minute mile and then going off
in search of another distance. All of which is quiet disparate, but
also very thorough and exciting and satisfying. In the past few years
Davy has played his folk at the Edinburgh Festival, his jazz in some
of the best clubs in London, his Arabic interpretations in Tangier
and his ragas to people who know Ravi Shankar's records. (Unlike those
who have gone to India for a 3-week Sitar course, he has investigated
the form of ragas.) So far nobody who has listened has found his music
a disappointment. And certainly not the many who have brought his
two previous LPs.
Following this later collection I know have no idea where his next
stop will be. He might take a bicycle to Mexico or slip inside a carrier
pigeon's message to Senegal. Or it could be Canterbury. At least I
know it will be fascination though as his producer of records, apart
from supervising the sessions, I have found myself becoming more and
more an editor of the ideas, which zoom out from him like flying saucers,
with there origins just as mysterious. He will sometimes break off
in the middle of a 'take' that another guitarist might become a Faust
for, to tell me about three points of recording and it is preserved
there for everyone to buy-he rarely performs it before an audience
again. "I have to avoid the cliché," he says. "I
want to keep them on the move
Well on behalf of those of us who have done cur best to keep up with
him. I hope he does.
-Ray Horricks 1968 (Original
Both Sides Now (Mitchell) - 5:58
A bit of ould Irish inspiration adds some flavour to an otherwise attractive
sound - a shot in the arm for what might have been an evanescent fold
song. Written by Joni Mitchell and sung by Judy Collins, an American singer
whose records bear witness to some conviction.
Bad Boy Blues (Trad.; Arr. Graham) - 2:13
A rare song that has become traditional. Interestingly, the subject of
the song wears a black cap in this version - the penitent turned judge.
Like other tracks on this album, it's given the jazz treatment by Harold
McNair, England's foremost flautist in the field, and Dick Heckstall-Smith,
the devastating tenor saxist (His Goribolship of the Deep Joy). A word
of several about these men. Harold is urbane, finely tuned and immaculately
dressed. Dick has something of the university teacher about him, and a
scintillation wit, though suggestion the massive intellect of the ancient
Egyptian in his 'quiet moments'. Danny Thompson, the bassist, a poised
and elegant musician when he was with the New Jazz Orchestra, but I'll
let you discover the effects of his playing for yourself.
Tristano (Graham) - 3:57
Ray Horricks, supervisor on this session and author of a definitive work
on Court Basie, considers this my finest composition to date. Hmm
Babe, It Ain't No Lie (Trad.; Arr Graham) - 2:27
A 'gossip' song, made popular in the States by Joan Baez.
Bruton Town (Trad.;Arr Graham) - 3:56
A 10th century Somerset tragedy.
Sunshine Raga (Graham) - 6:16
This rag, unlike 'Blue Raga on side two, is evolutionary in character;
that is, it employs a major third in the ascent of the scale and a major
7th, whereas the minor 7th used in 'Blue Raga' suggests involution, or
a sadness found in fabo and blues. In the system of religious enlightenment
of which musical education forms an inseparable part, these distinctions
are all-important. Incidentally the use of the flatted 5th is also found
in Minor or 'Blue' rag themes as well as in jazz (where it co notates
a point technically known as a 'suspension'), taking the 'edge' off the
note sol in the descent of the scale. The tuning I devised some years
ago and employed on a previous album, as an amalgam of eastern modal tunings,
and is original.
Freight Train Blues (McDowell) - 4:01
Originally a song by Fred McDowell, down home negro singer of the early
Jenra (Graham) - 3:07
An originally composition combining ¾ time signature common to
Northern Moroccan post-Ramadan nature of dance.
Electric Chair (Unknown) - 2:41
One of the most ingeniously subtle of the 'urban composed' type of 1920-30's
Good Moring Blues (Trad.; Arr. Ledbetter) - 5:22
The classic Huddie Ledbetter composition.
Raga (Graham) - 5:45
Deriving from Hindustan (Northern), as district from a Southern, carnatic
rag theme, I have investigated and improvised into its present form, incorporating
ideas from Scotts and other modal melodic sources.
Davy Graham: guitar, vocals
Dick Heckstall-Smith: saxophones
Jon Hiseman: drums
Harold McNair: flutes
Danny Thompson: bass