I occasionally listen to episodes of Desert Island Discs from the extensive archive (available as a podcast). It’s fascinating to hear the people who were at the forefront of culture when I was growing up. At the stage of life I’m at it’s bewildering to try and engage with actual contemporary culture, so the relatively calmer pace of things portrayed through the amiable chats on Desert Island Discs is appealing.
This morning I listened to interviews with Tom Lehrer and Ronnie Scott. Both of them, when pressed to select just one of their eight chosen discs, chose classical music. Lehrer took a duet from Richard Strauss’s ‘Der Rosenkavalier’ and Scott took the opening of Maurice Ravel’s ‘Daphnis et Chloe’. Isn’t that interesting?
Another thing that Ronnie Scott said was in explaining that he hadn’t included any of the big names of saxophone — Charlie Parker, Lester Young, Coleman Hawkins — as he could hear a lot of their influence in the sax players of the time. As an example he includes a recording by Charles McPherson. He does select John Coltrane’s beautiful rendition of ‘In A Sentimental Mood’, accompanied by Duke Ellington on piano. (It’s a great arrangement…I must transcribe the piano part.)
Tonight I’m off into town to listen to my friend Jennifer McMahon singing with a trio, which should be really good!