Take Five with Machrijam

Martin Connolly By

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Financial appreciation would help. Or just appreciation. In modern mainstream media outlets, jazz musicians don't get the publicity they deserve. Pop music occludes whatever coverage they might get. When a jazz great passes away and is hardly mentioned in the news I feel that mainstream media has failed them and failed the public. To talk about the medium itself, jazz should always have a hard element within it, even when it's a quiet, romantic piece. It should eschew a softening, when that softening is designed to take away the hard element.

What is in the near future?

I have no plans at the moment to do anything more with the guitar than just enjoy it. I suspect my muse will turn me toward the computer keyboard in the not-too-distant future, to type words, not tap out a tune... Recording is not the same as just playing: the two are distinct. I will likely play an up-coming festival, with my Ibanez, two small amps (for surround sound) and a looper. That's a mighty set-up. Played live and with no stress about fashioning an eternal sonic monument.

What is your greatest fear when you perform?

That I'll lose my creativity and just fall into the simple pattern of the bare chords of the song. I play best when I don't really have any clue about what's coming next. The fingers take over. Nervousness intrudes on that precious process.

What song would you like played at your funeral?

Play anything, I won't hear it. But, don't play anything by Adele or Sam Smith. I might wake up and do some damage.

What is your favorite song to whistle or sing in the shower?

I whistle. "Summertime," any version, or Ella's. Or the "Theme from Spartacus," Santana's version, which is a beautiful, beautiful piece.

By Day:

I teach at a university in Japan. I research literature. (To wit, which may of interest to readers, I once published a paper on Paul McCartney and James Joyce.)

If I weren't a jazz musician, I would be a:

I'd be a blues musician. Or a cowboy. Or both.

If I could have dinner with anyone from history, who would it be and why?

James Joyce. I'd like to see if I could drink him under the table.

Have you ever written about music?

Yes, indeed I have. The Conjuring Cowboy is about music in many ways. Plus, in my latest book, Contemporary Bloody Literature, I wrote a long poem about the joy and mystery of vinyl records (getting in a fair few digs at the modern way of streaming and downloading whatever you like). My books are here. Furthermore, I run a jazz website, on which you can find my reports on jazz gigs by top jazz artists, whom I sometimes even get to meet. This website allows me to share my love of jazz with the world, and hopefully provides visitors with often highly detailed accounts of players' performances. There is also a page showing photographs I took of legendary jazz players (Miles, Cab Calloway among them) over the years, when I accompanied Jim, who was acting as a jazz journalist.
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