"To think outside the square"

Tokyo 2012  ©   Miri Berlin Photography

Tokyo 2012 © Miri Berlin Photography

Hi everyone & Hallo, I would love to introduce you to one of my favourite podcast episodes, that I have started listening to a few months ago. It has nothing to do with photography, which is nothing unusual for me.
It's about Storytelling, it's about creativity and how our perception and imagination can play tricks on us. It's about how someone can touch your soul one way or the other while at same time leaving hardly any impression on the second person present. 
In this episode called "Searching for Sally", Tally Abecassis the host of "First Day Back" takes us on her journey, while she is searching for her teacher from elementary school, who had a great impact on her life and career.
Tally asked herself why Sally pushed her into documentary, did she see something special in her, or was Tally just projecting a whole lot of meaning onto it ?
I have listened to this episode a couple of times, as if I was searching for something. It felt like reading a good short story, or as if my eyes lingered on a great photograph or painting.

Here's an extract:

I went to a Jewish school two blocks from my house. It was run by two rabbis and a non-Jewish principal who I think was responsible for bringing in this teacher, Sally Mackey. She was this gorgeous artsy woman who did a form of enrichment programming that was trendy back then. She wore her dark hair in a tight bun and she wore long glamorous dresses and swooped around the school. She would pull us out of class and do projects with us in little groups. I remember her as somebody completely different from anyone else in my life back then. It's like school was regular school the way you imagine it and then for classes with Sally we ate those Alice in Wonderland cookies and went off to some place where we did stuff that made no sense in the other world. She had us make poetry out of items in the grocery circular, she had us dress like famous psychologists we researched, she had objects on the wall that were like sculptures, not just Impressionist prints like my parents had. I remember at one point when there wasn't enough space in the building, they moved Sally's office to a janitor closet near the boys bathroom, she said we were going to do a study on toilet flushes. Imagine how radical that seemed to a bunch of 11 year olds. I thought she was nuts and I wanted to be like her.
She was unconventional and creative and just clearly marched to the beat of her own music.  

© Tally Abecassis

21 minutes
Listen to the story - Episode 6: Searching for Sally

33 Perfect Jazz Tracks by Robin Tomens

Drowning in visual images as we are these days it takes something special to not only catch the eye but hold it's attention; Miri Pelzman's work achieved that when I first saw it. Crafting beautiful geometric shapes from judicious cropping and seeing the potential in spaces and places, Miri illuminates them for us. The work is often bathed in seemingly eternal sunshine; her camera eye looks to the skies and captures the poetry of space. Since so few of us take the time to stand and really look, we should be grateful that Miri does.

Being featured on 'Include Me Out' is a great honour as Robin Tomens, the gentleman behind this marvelous site, has so much knowledge and pleasure to offer. Even posts that are years old have lost nothing of their timelessness. I guess good art is timeless.

One week ago Robin announced a list of '33 Perfect Jazz Tracks'. As I found 32 tracks from his list on Spotify, I added 'Take Ten' by Paul Desmond for the missing one to fill in.
If you love Jazz, like I do, I recommend you to listen to Robin's inspiring selection.

The list accompanied with a brief biographical background to Robin's discovery of Jazz.
Here's an extract:

It goes like this: my school days were rubbish but I had music and Herbie Hancock's fusion track, Hang Up Your Hang-Ups (1975) was the first tune I heard with Jazz chops. Probably. Many earlier Funk bands had Jazz in their blood but if I'd stumbled across instances as a kid I wouldn't have been appreciative. Coincidentally, and to add symmetry to this tale, Herbie Hancock ends my (roughly) chronological list. It more or less ends where I began. Except I didn't begin to listen to Jazz properly until the early-80s. I did listen to a lot of Jazz-Funk in the late-70s, but I'm not opening the can of worms marked 'Definition of Proper Jazz'. No, sir.

After Punk music began to lose it's buzz for me. Combined with having entered the world of Work, you can imagine the state I was in. I probably survived on a diet of all that I'd grown to love in the 70s, along with a few contemporary tasty morsels such as Defunkt and Rip Rig & Panic. I often think it was a guide to Jazz in the NME that must have triggered my interest, although I can't find a date for that feature. Home-grown star Courtney Pine was on their cover in 1986, but I was lost in Jazz Land by then.

Something clicked. It was the sound of a light going on; one that illuminated the vast mansion of Jazz (eh?). It's a strange building, as if imagined by William Hope Hodgson or Mark Z. Danielewski, by which I mean its walls melt, rooms shift, perspectives are altered and weird tunnels are found. If you hate Free Jazz, as many do, there is also much to terrify listeners lurking in this place.

As my own personal chronology would have it I was lucky enough to see a few of the remaining legends 'live' in the 80s. Art Blakey at Camden's Electric Ballroom being one highlight. Also the Art Ensemble Of Chicago, George Russell, Cedar Walton's trio featuring Billy Higgins and Slim Gaillard (a legend in our eyes, anyway).

The list is roughly chronological and stops in the early-70s. No vocal tracks, unless you count Archie Shepp's Blasé. They aren't what I consider to be the best of each artist, simply choices made after a little thought and rifling through my collection, of course. It may only be a list, yes another list, but just looking at it makes me feel good, never mind listening. It's a roll call of those who have served me so well over the last three decades. Thinking about time, perhaps it's 33 years since it all began for me...what a coincidence.

If you want to read more of what I think about Jazz (post-WW2) there's the book, Points Of Departure. Like this list, it's my experience of the music and in no way attempts to be an objective history. That would be too sensible and music, in various ways, should knock us all senseless. Right?