Reference Library – Parish – North Elmham
A NEW DIRECTION IN JAZZ WITH MAMMAL HANDS AT MILESTONES JAZZ CLUB Admission – 7 / 6 (concession).
The next concert at Milestones Jazz Club on Sunday 6 March features a first time appearance at the club for a young band making waves on the UK jazz scene – Mammal Hands.
Mammal Hands are a musically determined trio playing inimitable music at times wistful and melancholic, sometimes raucous, catchy and explosive – glacial stillness quickly followed by percussive intensity.
The band incorporates ambient and groove-orientated influences from Steve Reich to Bonobo, Pharoah Sanders to The Cinematic Orchestra, North Indian and African music to attempt a new, contemporary direction in jazz. Mammal Hands met in 2012, while busking in Norwich – brothers Nick and Jordan Smart were already playing together as an electronica duo but with drummer Jesse Barrett joining the band they developed a distinctive sound drawing on their love of jazz, electronic, contemporary classical and world music. Since then they have been signed by the prestigious record label, Godwana Records, have wooed audiences on the road from the Montreal International Jazz Festival to Ronnie Scott s and received support and glowing praise from Jamie Cullum, DJ Gilles Peterson and Bonobo. New music from their soon to be released second album displays a development of the approach in their 2014 debut, ‘Animalia’, a thoughtful blending of composition with spontaneity and interplay. This concert is a taster for the band’s nationwide spring/summer tour presenting new music from their upcoming second album. The band s full line-up features Jordan Smart (saxophones), Nick Smart (keyboard) and Jesse Barrett (drums and percussion).
All Milestones gigs are held on the first Sunday of every month and take place at Hotel Hatfield, Esplanade, Lowestoft with the doors opening at 8pm.
Admission – 7 / 6 (concession).
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POEMS FOR THE YOUNG AT HEART by Martin Stannard From GCSEs to studying English Literature at British Universities, poems are too often analysed deconstructed – in terms of Structure, Form and Content, and usually in that order. Resting upon a history of metred poetry, specific forms and rhyming patterns, poetry is presented to the reader as a craft. Unfortunately, because education policies are ever pressing, it is my contention that this has led to a specific type of crafted poem being produced over and over to meet the suction pump of this academic consumption. The division between Structure, Form and Content is false and there is no crafty analogy between building a boat and writing a poem as GCSE teaching materials suggest.
A poem may be the water or the boat or both. That is, poetry can go off at tangents, fall apart, meander, spill into half remembered dreams, create dreams and puncture the present with memories in a breath. Martin Stannard s Poems for The Young At Heart is fresh and fluid throughout, with an Appendices that takes a swipe at that crafty formula: notes attempt to unravel a cut up/random poem, ending up in a nonsensical explanation; and a quiz tests the assumptions as to what a poet is (or what the poet presumes he/she is). Poems for The Young At Heart is a packed volume of poems, thoughtful and playful; and entirely conscious of what s regarded as the unconscious. The worldly element of the book is that Martin Stannard teaches in China.
Rather than an introduction, there is a prologue a poem written on a porcelain pot in the Tang Dynasty, translated by the poet. When I was born you, my love, were not. When you were born I was already old. I long to be a butterfly, seeking out flowers and resting every night upon fragrant grasses. A prologue hints at a drama about to unfold. One Week In The Life follows. The week shapes the sequence.
Here is a mundane scene set on a farm that could be in China, East Anglia or anywhere. Pandora is away. A letter is expected tomorrow.
But no letter arrives. Time passes. Come Sunday he should be in church but thinks of all the drunkenness and lechery in town, where Pandora is, but she will be at her lodgings, thinking about being here (back with him on the farm).
Monday: a pigeon brings a note from Pandora: she is lonely among the masses. Brick walls and glass towers/do not divide us Rather we are held together by their shadows. On the last day of this week a Thursday – Pandora returns. But she is not staying. Tonight the Johnson s barn will burn to the ground. It will be blamed on one of the gangs from town. There is something wrong with me. There is evil.
It exists. The absence of Pandora gives rise to melancholy but is always underpinned with sudden turns of phrase contradictory and amusing – and the poet s impending act of burning Johnson s barn down pulls us up sharply as the lament turns to action. The next section, Occasional Poems comprises 37 poems, a tour de force of subjects, emotions and philosophical explorations. In An Albatross is Perched on My Shoulder the poet almost becomes the Ancient Mariner and the melancholy turns into an absurd comedy with the weight of the bird upon him. However, in the next poem as the Wright Brothers attempt to fly birds fall to the ground and the poet ponders if birds ever think about falling. Birds, large, small and of different colours, occupy aspects of these poems, centrally or as an aside.
Not the Hitchcock birds of threat but perhaps a symbol of freedom loaded with dread. And, perhaps, in an act of deconstruction, I should go through the book with a marker pen and highlight all the birds I can find No, I ll leave this as a possible appendix for Martin Stannard s next book of poems. A Happy and Prosperous Life is a whirlwind contemplation of life and death, where the seriousness of the contemplation is turned on its head with humour. It is this seizing of a thought (sometimes universal, sometimes mundane) and batting it about before turning it over which is so engaging.
Does he really think that? Or this? The poet s fusion of the formal and colloquial makes his poetry engaging. In Blessed he invokes Jesus and then writes I m going to go/up a mountain with my team-mates.
The twist, from the saintly to the call centre or terrace, place one image on another, like film. As we are increasingly drawn into the run of these poems, the humour steps out like a Surrealist hammer, as in Design Flaw and there is more to Occasional Poems for they begin in a stammer and end in a stutter with the growing substance in-between. Like life itself a life? One of my favourites presently is For Mark Holliday , the poet s friend, poet and co-collaborator. Though dicing with the prospect of writing a comprehensible and moving poem, Stannard comes close to the tugging contradictions of the poet.
About a poem he writes Rather/it s a statement of desire and pessimism with a strong dose of defiance. Defiance of what I am not sure, but without defiance there can be no hope of fulfilment, and without fulfilment there is only dismay and a crushing disappointment Another section, Chronicles, promises to chart time but here is the compression of time. I am having a time begins each of the 23 poems.
Each poem implodes on the next so that we chart a churning mind rather than a passing of time the activity we place in our diaries. And what is the numbering? An code? Chronicles is preceded by Dramatic Works Flirts in Skirts.
This comprises of a number of very small and repetitive duologues between two males exchanging banter, they say these days. I think Flirts in Skirts is about more than itself in this volume. The sudden dropping of the first person which the poet uses so effectively, is replaced with two other voices. One character may summon Satan but their exchange is inconsequential, for nothing happens as a result.
For anyone who writes drama for the stage, an exchange that doesn t lead to action isn t considered drama. In Poems For The Young At Heart, the singular voice of the poems promises action, while the drama laments activity. The energy is in thought and dreaming, not in casual exchange.
He literally writes on his nerve endings. In essence, Martin Stannard plays with the contradictions in the tumbling mind which are all our contradictions.
He literally writes from his nerve endings.
Poet and broadcaster Ian McMillan puts it far better than I: Here is a major book by a major British poet who dances in the ballroom where the avant-garde meets the mainstream and, more importantly, makes us all want to dance there too. A highly recommended book indeed.