Tuesday, February 26, 2013

In the Time Machine with Bryan Ferry

"...That is the germ of my great discovery. But you are wrong to say that we cannot move about in Time. For instance, if I am recalling an incident very vividly I go back to the instant of its occurrence: I become absent-minded, as you say. I jump back for a moment. Of course we have no means of staying back for any length of Time, any more than a savage or an animal has of staying six feet above the ground. But a civilized man is better off than the savage in this respect. He can go up against gravitation in a balloon, and why should he not hope that ultimately he may be able to stop or accelerate his drift along the Time-Dimension, or even turn about and travel the other way?" Thus spoke the Time Traveller in an extract from the famous H. G. Wells novella "The Time Machine" published in 1895. 

Flash forward, sometime in late spring 2012, early evening.

Mr Ferry was seen entering a telephone booth in East London smartly dressed in a 1920s style short tuxedo. He was carrying with him a black leather briefcase which contained an ebony comb, a bow tie and an extra set of gold cuff links. In a secret compartment, very few people knew that Mr Ferry was also carrying a brown envelope containing a selection of outstanding songs spanning the period from his Roxy Music days to his present solo carreer.

Flash back, early autumn 1927, late evening.
A smartly dressed gentleman enters the Cotton Club in Harlem, New York City and introduces himself as Mr Ferry from old Albion. After the end of the show he gets to meet the musicians back stage and is last seen having a drink with Duke Ellington by the piano.   

Flash forward, late summer 1928, midday.

Mr Ferry is seen exiting the 44th Street Studio in New York carrying a heavy box with a Victor Recordings label on the cover. He steadily walks towards a particularly quiet and shady back-street and enters a telephone booth.

Flash forward, November 2012.

The album "The Jazz Age" by the Bryan Ferry Orchestra is released.

Flash back, autumn 1927, late evening.

- "Them cats in the band, like your songs Mr Ferry even if I must admit they are kind of strange compositions"
- "How do you, feel about them Mr Ellington?" 
- "Let's say that I can see real potential in quite a few of them. I just need a little more time to work them out. You see, we can arrange them in different styles. We don't have to be all Louis, King Oliver and Orleans to make a hit these days. I would like to give some of the songs a more sophisticated, velvety feeling that will make them shine and I can guarantee the audience will love them."
- " But Mr Ellington, I told you, I don't intend to release these songs once they are recorded. Not at this particular time at least. I would just like to have them recorded and keep them for my private pleasure."
- " That's a pity Mr Ferry but, then again, you are the one who is putting up the money for all this."
- " I certainly appreciate your discretion on the whole matter Mr Ellington and I am glad you don't mind if I give fictitious names to the musicians in the band."
- " Mr Ferry, these are all your songs and as far as I am concerned, our meeting never took place. See you at Victor."

So there you have it. When you play this record, please spare a thought for all the trouble that Mr Ferry has gone through to have this music recorded. One can only imagine what the audience of the 1920s whould have thought of these songs if they were released at that time. I sincerely think we should convince Mr Ferry to make a few gramophone records out of "The Jazz Age" and get in the telephone booth once again.

Listen to:

Bryan Ferry - Reason or Rhyme (2010)

The Bryan Ferry Orchestra - Reason or Rhyme (1920s) 

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