Jimi, Miles and me …

Friday night:Randall Abrahams

Friday night. Certainly a few darkened hours to prepare for. But in most cases the week has just taken too much out of one and, unless there’s something really special about to go down, it’s a time to relax and refuel. I read in a health magazine that music has a definite influence on one’s mental and physical being. If you have any questions regarding the validity of this argument I have just two words for you: Keith Richards.

So, on to Friday night. It’s all a question of discovery, and in most cases one needs a medium for discovery. You may visit a professional or travel or read or try all of the above. I’m not part of the “I have to go and find myself” discovery tradition. I don’t need two years in a foreign country to grow. I believe that where you’re at is generally where you’re at and South Africa is as good a place to grow as any. So for a journey of discovery I try to set aside some good listening time.

This time Miles Davis takes precedence. Friday night turns into a lounge strewn with the Columbia box sets: Miles Davis and Gil Evans, The Complete Live at the Plugged Nickel, Quintet and The Prestige Recordings. Oh, and a smattering of Hendrix releases such as the new Live at the Fillmore East.

Sometimes it’s difficult to come to terms with one’s own affinity for music if you work in the industry because it fills hours of your life designated as “work time”. More than likely, you hear without listening because you’re asking whether the song fits the format of the radio station or whether it’s a big enough hit to validate inclusion in a TV show? Friday night is an opportunity to let those questions vanish and to really listen.

I hear Hendrix and the lack of tension between himself and Band of Gypsies bassist Billy Cox and drummer Buddy Miles. That tension was always apparent with the Experience, as Mitch Mitchell believed he was a virtuoso in the same league as his band leader.

With the Band of Gypsies, Hendrix leads while the band acts as foundation and you’re immediately back inside the Fillmore discovering Hendrix’s brand new direction, moving away from his fixation with British groups like The Who and getting back to blues basics, in a sonically intriguing way.

Then I move across to Miles – about six hours away by plane at the Plugged Nickel. Herbie Hancock is on piano and Tony Williams on drums and they’re off at a roaring pace. If you know the So What melody, imagine taking a slug of icy neat vodka and speeding along the highway at the speed of light. Miles doesn’t do the driving – he just kinda directs things in a virtual four dimensional reality. You need a double Stoli with some good orange juice to move from Jimi to Miles.

At some stage Friday night becomes Saturday morning and it’s over to Jimmy Webb to slow down the mood with a tale of a lover driving from Phoenix to Oklahoma and on to Alberquerque. Finally, to make sure I know what time I’m getting to bed, I let Sinatra deliver that classic line with only a Jack Daniels-soaked solo piano accompanying him: “It’s quarter to three, there’s no one in the place, ‘cept you and me.”

And that’s all there is to Friday night this time – just me with a few friends learning new things and checking out old scenes. And with music as a path to discovery, it’s one hell of a ride.

Randall Abrahams is station manager of Yfm and presents Hitweek on e-TV on Tuesday nights at 10pm

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