The Albion Beatnik Bookstore website (or how a bookshop can change a light bulb)

The web page of the Albion Beatnik Bookstore in Oxford: muses and misspills on books, jazz, poetry, stuff like false flags and smoke screen: is randomly decrepid and is neo-bankrupt: is so analogue it's anal.

Fettled Hands: You Can Call Me Hal

Pianists each have a distinct touch and each have fettled hands. My pick of the best is displayed below. Dinu Lipatti could stretch an octave and five, brittle and perfect, fluttered his fingers … Continue reading

6th January 2017 · Leave a comment

Catgut & Chopsticks: Chris Garrick & David Gordon

The Bookstore is christened the Beatnik because of Kerouac and Ginsberg’s association with jazz. The shop has a wholesale stash of jazz literature, a wonderful jazz CD cupboard painted (in fact on both … Continue reading

5th January 2017 · Leave a comment

A One-Night Stand with Erroll Garner

I am reminded by the recent release of lost studio takes by Erroll Garner, Ready Take One, that my eyes have been thrown always to the heavens with wonderment at … Continue reading

28th September 2016 · 1 Comment

She’s Leaving Home

She’s Leaving Home on the Beatles’ Sgt Pepper album is one of the more sublime and yet sorrowful songs in their catalogue. Like Eleanor Rigby from the earlier Revolver LP it did not include any … Continue reading

13th September 2016 · Leave a comment

Miles and Muhammad Ali: the Momentum of the Moment

The personas of Miles Davis and Muhammad Ali have fascinated the world always. Both men are iconic: you would expect to see them in any poster shop in any far-flung corner of the world … Continue reading

1st August 2016 · Leave a comment

Miles, Boxing & Jack Johnson

“Boxing’s got style like music’s got style,” said Miles Davis. “Joe Louis had a style… and Sugar Ray Robinson had his style – as did Muhammad Ali… But you’ve got … Continue reading

31st July 2016 · Leave a comment

Call It Anything: Miles at the Isle of Wight

The third Isle of Wight Festival took place in August 1970. With Bob Dylan as headline act the previous year (returning from voluntary exile and turning his back on America’s … Continue reading

2nd July 2016 · 1 Comment

Rebellion & Scar Tissue

I wonder what gives old guys like this, haphazard and without shirt and tie, an authenticity to their rebellion, because don’t we laugh normally at older people who flash their trendiness … Continue reading

4th June 2016 · Leave a comment

A Straight Line to Joy: a Choice of Jazz Books

There are only a few writers who are able to write well and with authority on all aspects of jazz. Philip Larkin pleaded for a “belle-lettriste of jazz, a Newman … Continue reading

2nd January 2016 · Leave a comment

In Search of Dinu Lipatti

DINU LIPATTI was a Romanian pianist who died in 1950 at the tragically early age of 33. He succumbed to complication arising from Hodgkins’ lymphoma. Yet for all its brevity and … Continue reading

2nd January 2016 · Leave a comment

An Introduction to Charles Mingus, the Angry Man of Jazz

“He got so heavy that the bass was something he just slung over his shoulder like a duffel bag, hardly noticing the weight. The bigger he got, the smaller the … Continue reading

22nd December 2015 · Leave a comment

From Straight Lines We Make Curves… An Appreciation of Michael Garrick

English jazz pianist and composer MICHAEL GARRICK, a pioneer in mixing jazz with poetry recitations and large-scale choral works, died in November 2011. For the non-cognoscente his compositions could be overly complex, … Continue reading

18th December 2015 · 1 Comment

The Jazz Etiquette

Alternate Wednesday in term time, the likes of Gilad Atzmon, John Etheridge, Alan Barnes, Tim Whitehead and Chris Garrick play here. The shop space is quite a groovy atmosphere, lights turned low, … Continue reading

17th November 2015 · 1 Comment

Maybe I’m Amazed

Here is the finest of Paul McCartney’s songs, the highlight of the album released to announce formally the break-up of the Beatles, the eponymous McCartney, the song of course being Maybe I’m Amazed; … Continue reading

15th November 2015 · Leave a comment

Miles as Engine Driver

Miles Davis battled various physical ailments throughout the last twenty years of his life until his death in 1991. He had spent five years sidelined in the late 1970s, holed up … Continue reading

10th November 2015 · Leave a comment

Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli: Hobnail Boots and Angel’s Slippers

ARTURO BENEDETTI MICHELANGELI was notorious more for cancelling his own concerts than attending them, or for driving his Ferrari cars in the Mille Miglia road race rather than working in the recording studio. … Continue reading

18th August 2015 · 1 Comment

Louis Armstrong: “The Beginning and End of Music in America.”

LOUIS ARMSTRONG transformed jazz in the 1920s and gave it a direction and purpose. He remains one of its most important figures, changing the nature of soloist and ensemble. He … Continue reading

23rd February 2015 · Leave a comment

Under an English Heaven: Michael Garrick’s Jazz Praises

MICHAEL GARRICK’s Jazz Praises, composed in the 1960s, is a unique creation. Critic Derek Jewell endorsed it enthusiastically in The Sunday Times and it was broadcast on both television and radio. It … Continue reading

23rd February 2015 · Leave a comment

A Chameleon Chasing an Audience: the Musical Life of Miles Davis

“I’m always thinking about creating. My future starts when I wake up every morning . . . Every day I find something creative to do with my life.” Born in 1926, … Continue reading

23rd February 2015 · Leave a comment

The Legend of St Elmo: Elmo Hope & Bebop Piano

ELMO HOPE is seemingly a forgotten pianist of the bebop era. His unfulfilled musical life tells us much about the jazz experience of 1950s America, but much more about the … Continue reading

23rd February 2015 · Leave a comment

Joe Harriott: Fire in His Soul

JOE HARRIOTT is no longer a forgotten father figure of modern European jazz. An excellent new biography of this seeringly brilliant and individual saxophonist has been published… Since his death in … Continue reading

23rd February 2015 · 1 Comment

“Son, You Hot!” Hampton Hawes and the Fire Inside

HAMPTON HAWES (1928-1977) was one of the greatest jazz bebop pianists. But at the summit of his career, celebrated as New Star of the Year by Down Beat magazine in 1956, … Continue reading

23rd February 2015 · Leave a comment