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Bebop Spoken There

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As we all know there are no live gigs taking place in the immediate future. However, any links to jazz streaming that are deemed suitable - i.e. with a professional approach - will be considered for posting.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Robert Walser: 1878-1956

No, not another deceased jazz musician, but a Swiss writer, whose work is being hailed by a small group of people, known as the Robert Walser Institute (see http://www.instituterobertwalser.com/). I mention this because jazz singer Gabi Heller is involved, and some of us jazzers were at a very entertaining reading of Walser’s work on Friday evening. This was held at Culture lab onsite, which is one of the Arches on Forth Street, Newcastle. The readers, Gabi, Claire Webster Saaremets and Tim Bennett were all accomplished actors who read well, such passages as Walser’s ‘Job Application’ in which he said that he would be a faithful honest employee who just wanted peace to get on with the job. This was a refreshing contrast to the way people are encouraged to do such applications now, by praising themselves profusely. The writing is hard to describe, showing an original way of looking at the world, questioning everything, sometimes winsome, with contradictions, and with some parts where the reader is unsure whether the material is autobiographical or not. After a piece about a flower ceremony, the readers picked up flowers, then listeners were encouraged to take the flowers provided. Each flower had a label attached which bore a quote from the writer, for example ‘Who has an airy spirit, is more likely to go bonkers from time to time’ In fact, Walser spent the final years of his life in an asylum, but as Gabi suggested, no-one seemed sure of what this illness was, and it may have been simply that he couldn’t quite cope with mainstream life. It did produce the following quote from Walser who, when asked why he wasn’t writing, replied that he wasn’t here to write, he was here to be mad! The readings were interspersed with music which had been inspired by the work, such as a piece by guitarist Glenn Jones entitled Snowdrops (for Robert Walser). And this is where the jazzers could get involved, as the work is crying out to have some kind of musical commentary. I suggest a lone saxophone or clarinet with drum accompaniment, just for starters. Discussion of the work was encouraged, and there was a book display, and also wine and nibbles, so what’s not to like? More Walser inspired events are promised for the future I’m glad to report. Ann Alex.

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