Stride Magazine -


BEST 5 POETRY BOOKS 2003 [Tony Frazer]

Tom Raworth, Collected Poems
Michael Ayres, a.m.
M T C Cronin, beautiful, unfinished
Jennifer Moxley, The Sense Record
Christopher Middleton, Of the Mortal Fire


Bite the Gnatze, Wilde dans in een afgelegen berghut
     Countrified New Dutch Swing--gorgeous & funny by turns, & it swings darn hard courtesy Alan Purves at the drumkit. If Bill Frisell heard this he'd turn green with envy (& maybe it'd inspire him to put a little more spine into his watery country-jazz output for Elektra Nonesuch....but I digress).

Geof Bradfield, Rule of Three
(Liberated Zone)
     If you want a cracking mainstream tenor/bass/drums jazz album, don't look to the major record labels: this is the real deal. Everything from Ellington's "Day Dream" to Andrew Hill's "Reconciliation" and a pile of pin-sharp originals.

Rhodri Davies, Trem
     This sets out an entire new vocabulary for the concert harp, thrilling and alien; it's also a genuinely absorbing listening experience, by turns fascinating and alarming.

Whit Dickey, Prophet Moon
     Whit Dickey & Joe Morris are great here, but the reason to get this is Rob Brown, who really shows his mettle here. Free jazz that's cool and hot at the same time.

Marty Ehrlich, Line on Love
     The first track, "Hymn", is one of the most moving performances of the year. A great group--Craig Taborn, Michael Formanek, Billy Drummond ­ but as always it's Ehrlich's gutsy blowing that draws everything together & makes the listener sit up.

Vijay Iyer, Blood Sutra
(Artists House)
     Iyer's fourth quartet disc, this is easily his best so far, still having the fierceness of Panoptic Modes but now more subtly modulated over the course of the album, & finally peaking on a wrenching, epic reading of "Hey Joe".

Ahmad Jamal, In Search Of: Momentum
(1ˆ10) (Birdology/Dreyfus)
     In an age where the piano trio format usually means streamlined politeness, it's a pleasure to listen to Jamal's new disc, where lilting song and battering-ram assaults can exist within a bar of each other. Mannerism? Yes, it is, & it sounds great.

Fredi Luescher, Cécile Olshausen, Nathanael Su, Dear C. The Music of Carla Bley
     It would be hard to surpass this one for beauty. It's Carla Bley minus all the archness, triple-distilled and radiant. Su's alto carries out Konitz/Desmond reductionism one step further, and Luescher is nearly as economical at the keyboard as Carla herself.

Giorgio Pacorig, My Mind Is on the Table
     More great piano-trio music, by an Italian pianist who even has a go at a couple Ornette pieces & gives Paul Plimley a run for his money in the process. 

Evan Parker and Joe McPhee, Chicago Tenor Duets
     Evan's recent records show him stuck on something of a musical plateau, going over the same territory again and again. But every so often he's jolted out of routine with the right sparring partner, as on here, where McPhee is certainly giving him no quarter. Wonderfully dour music, & a rival to the 1993 Parker/Braxton duet album on Leo. After I reviewed this one I lent it to a friend, & now he's refusing to give it back ­ what higher recommendation?

Trio-X (Joe McPhee, Dominic Duval, Jay Rosen), Journey
     An instant suite set down in the studio by a longstanding trio; McPhee sounds scarily powerful whether he's on alto or tenor. 

•[Geoffrey Godbert]

Barry Tebb, Collected Poems
(Sixties Press).
     Soaring confirmation that his poet lives every poem a ­ real ­ day at a time.

Richard McKane, Coffeehouse Poems
     Poems in English and Turkish by the best Coffee House poet in the world.

Ten Russian Poets
     A Survivors' anthology of outstanding 20th century poems from the leading poetry nation on earth.

TEN BEST DOORS 2003 [David Hart]

1. Glass swing doors, MAC Hexagon room, Birmingham.
2.  Room 543 English/ Humanities, University of Warwick.
3. My new back door, after the burglary.
4. Double doors, old building, Lifelong Learning, Selly Oak, B'ham.
5. A door in the Forest of Dean.
6. Front door, Sacrista Prebend, Southwell.
7. A door in Rickmansworth.
8. H's acupuncture door, Moseley, Birmingham.
9. Double doors, Summer School, Continuing Education, Warwick U..
10. Room 112, Undergraduate Building, Heartlands Hospital, B'ham.
10a. A car door, Cornwall.

[Richard Hogben]

5) "You're worse than Sunderland." A pithy reminder of the strength of local rivalries in the North-East of England, just after the fifth goal went past the Newcastle goalkeeper, November 9.

4) "Shall we buy a ground for you?" Taking their cue from well-respected Government ministers such as Geoffrey Robinson and Peter Mandelson, the Chelsea followers offer to lend their Arsenal counterparts a sum of Russian roubles to use as a deposit on a residence in Islington as rapidly rising house prices overtake their meagre savings, October 18.

3) "Sign On! Sign On! With a pen in your hand, and you'll never get a job. You'll never get a job." A heart-rending reworking of the 1960's song "You'll Never Walk Alone", displaying an unlikely empathy between the well-heeled socialite from the West End of London and his down-trodden Liverpudlian cousin, May 11.

2) "Chim-chiminey, chim-chiminey, chim-chim cheroo. Who needs Wayne Rooney when we've got Mutu?" A thoughtful study of the dichotomy between the competing claims of headstrong youth and tried-and-trusted experience, November 1.

1) "He's fat, he's round, he's sold your f***ing ground, Al-Fayed, Al-Fayed". A moving appreciation of the plight of the homeless Fulham fan, April 26.

[Bob Arnold]


Joe LeSueur, Digressions of Some Poems of Frank O' Hara

     An old friend & lover is the tour guide. The world was once that good.

Vincent Tripi, Small Town

     Out of the wild blue yonder came this little gem in the morning mail and it's a bird's eye-view of being townie.

Cid Corman, One Man's Man

     Cid takes us all to haiku heaven. Gennady Aygi, Child-and-Rose this arrived in the mail one evening from New Directions and I opened the packet, loved the look of the book immediately ­ a quite different gatefold wrap with color painting ­ and began reading and never stopped for two hours.

Mountain Home
, translated by David Hinton               
     The rivers and mountains poets, rooted in Taoist thought, 5th century C.E. through the Sung Dynasty China, is some of the richest, simply empowering and bedrock centuries of spiritual muse ever.

The Complete Poems of Kenneth Rexroth

     One sure sign that he is something to reckon with is just how many people are trying to forget him.

     I no longer read them much but would if Pynchon wrote more. These listed are not novels but read like novels (that should count)

Michael Perry, Population: 485

     An ambulance's driver's vintage storytelling.

Sam Fuller, A Third Face

     Filmmaking as novel form.

Robert Mellin, Tilting

     On the bookshop shelf, ideal for display, this book is a bold marauder. The author is a practicing architect teaching at McGill, who since 1987 has been thoroughly documenting a way of life on Fogo Island just off the northeastern coast of Newfoundland.

Hunter S. Thompson, Kingdom of Fear

     This is one more album of scattered shot writings that we have come to expect from this journalist since his hey-day of the early 1970s. Before that, he wrote two masterpieces from the era: one on the Hells Angels and all things rolling; the second on a fast-wired and now infamous journey once upon a time to-and-from Las Vegas. Both books made him famous. Unlike his brethren, he didn't succumb to mediocrity after awhile, in fact anything but, and this new collection paves the way in local Colorado of his home town conflicts, prankster theater, habitual target practicing with hand weapons and forever writing. 

Gregory Corso, An Accidental Biography, the selected letters of Gregory Corso
ne more fine example of an author's long time publisher pulling through with a nearly impossible assignment of pinning down one of the best known vagabond American poets of 20th c. letters. And they do it. People will laugh ­ people that knew Corso will laugh ­ but how Corso lived his life and survived (the miracle) plus leaving in his wake some of the damnedest best poetry, Beat or otherwise, is breath taking.


D'Gary, Akata Meso

     Call it jazz. Almost all jazz I listen to is 1920s-to when the funk went out.

Rodney Crowell, Fate's Right Hand
; Heroes of the Blues: The Very Best of Furry Lewis; Roscoe Holcomb: An Untamed Sense of Control; Wanda Jackson: Heart Trouble. Each with a certain all-that- jazz feel.


I never go. But the best burger is at The Cattle Baron in Roswell, New Mexico.
Best home-made pies: Marion's Pies in Chatham, Cape Cod.
Best meal out with a friend if you split the bill, The Bear Cafe, Woodstock, NY.
The best all-day breakfast/lunch/supper, Michael's of Taos, New Mexico.
Best smoothie, hot-dog and fries shared with a loved one between trains: Union Station, Chicago.

REVIEW OF THE YEAR 2003 ­ There Will Never Be A Better Time [A.C. Evans]

2003: Polly Jean Harvey's vocal performance on 'There Will Never Be A Better Time' stands as the defining moment of this ludicrous year, when the reactionary British Left kept its collective head firmly in the sand. Will they ever learn? No! - The political bandwagon is just so irresistible.

The Best and the Rest… La Musique

A Soundtrack of the Year from many of the 'usual suspects' ­ Tori Amos, Sheryl Crow, Polly Harvey, The Banshees, Cassandra Wilson and Beth Orton. Ever-cool Suzanne Vega adds gravitas, and newcomers Goldfrapp add a certain decadent something. Perhaps the hard-edged confessionalism of Skin's Fleshwounds
speaks for us all, even though the 'couldn't-care-less' pop appeal of Bangles, Republica and Transvision Vamp remains undimmed. Femme rock rools OK.What else is there? Brecht & Weill of course! Oh, yeah ­ and Marilyn Manson! Classical music just doesn't stand a chance does it?

Best TV Pop Performances of the Year
Goldfrapp 'Train'/'Black Cherry'/'Strict Machine' Later 16/5/2003 (BBC2)
Marilyn Manson 'mOBSCENE' Friday Night With Jonathan Ross 6/6/2003 (BBC1)
Desert Sessions/Polly Harvey 'Crawl Home'/'I Wanna Make It Wit Chu' Later 4/10/2003 (BBC2)
Tori Amos 'Cornflake Girl' V Graham Norton 17/11/2003 (C4)

Best Archive TV Pop Performance of the Year
Bangles 'Walk Like an Egyptian' (1986) TOTP2 21/10/2003 (BBC2)

Best Pop Albums of the Year
Goldfrapp Black CherryThe Desert Sessions 9 & 10
(with PJ Harvey)
Marilyn Manson The Golden Age Of The Grotesque
Skin Fleshwounds

Best Live Pop Album of the Year
Siouxsie and The Banshees The Seven Year Itch Liv

Best Pop Compilation Albums of the Year
Beth Orton (1) Pass in Time. The Definitive Collection
 (2) The Other Side of Daybreak
Sheryl Crow The Very Best Of
Tori Amos Tales of A Librarian. A Tori Amos Collection
Suzanne Vega Retrospective. The Best Of
Uncut Starman - Rare & Exclusive Recordings of 18 Classic David Bowie Songs (CD with Uncut Magazine)

Best Pop Reissues of the year
Ziggy Stardust & the Spiders from Mars
(Hammersmith Odeon, July 3rd 1973)
Sonic Youth Dirty
(Deluxe Edition)

Best Jazz Album of the Year
Cassandra Wilson Glamoured

Musical Rediscoveries of the Year
Lotte Lenya & Others Die Dreigroschenoper/Berlin 1930 Songs & Chansons
Republica Ready to Go The Best Of
Transvision Vamp Baby I Don't Care

Most Bizarre Songs of the Year
PJ Harvey/Chris Goss 'There Will Never Be A Better Time' Desert Sessions 9: I See You Hearin' Me
Beth Orton's 'Carmella (Four Tet Remix)' re-surfaced on The Other Side of Daybreak

The Best and the Rest…Les Livres
Get real ­ this was a time for reading Freud and Nietzsche. Professor Brian Leiter from the University of Texas at Austin delivers the must-read of 2003 with his Nietzsche on Morality
, a close look at Zur Genealogie der Moral (1887). Not only does this book re-affirm Nietzsche's devastating expose of the non-moral origins and function of 'morality', it also shows how Post-Modernists have misinterpreted Nietzsche ­ distorting his philosophy in the same way as they abuse science (as revealed by the Social Text scandal of 1996). Still, we all knew that 'post-modern philosophy' is just another trendy goulash didn't we? Is this Deconstruction? ­ You bet your life it is!

Best Non-Fiction of the Year
Brian Leiter Nietzsche on Morality
Rudiger Safranski Nietzsche A Philosophical Biography
Sigmund Freud An Outline of Psychoanalysis
Sigmund Freud Beyond The Pleasure Principle and Other Writings

Most Surreal Book of the Year
Iain Sinclair. London Orbital A Walk Around the M25
'…we were in my liminal territory, we ran with my myths…'

Best Poetry Translations of the Year
Maurice Maeterlinck Hothouses Poems 1889
(translated by Richard Howard)
Pierre de Ronsard Selected Poems
(translated by Malcolm Quainton & Elizabeth Vinestock)

Best Poetry Collection of the Year
Adrienne Rich The Fact of A Doorframe Selected Poems 1950-2001
It has long been my view that no 'mainstream' poetry of any value has been published in this country or the States since Plath's Ariel (1965). However, despite the superfluous influence of fake poet Charles Olson, Adrienne Rich, with her collection The Fact of A Doorframe, shows that all is not quite lost (yet).

Literary Rediscoveries of the Year
Anais Nin Collages
Noel Coward The Lyrics O 
Sokal & Bricmont. Intellectual Impostures. Post Modern Philosophers' Abuse of Science

Reaffirmation of the Year
Naturalism, Open Realism ­ the mainstream is the new frontier.
'The theme …was freedom, freedom of the imagination, of expression, of style, of subject.'- Anais Nin


10) Time stops for the woman with unlikely hair
     Sun. Aug. 3rd. The woman I set my watch by, who always wears cream and navy, whose hair is done in a rush of grips and fixative, is not at the bus stop at 10.30 am. This is ominous.

9) Occult practices observed by schoolchildren
     On 31st Oct, ten Harry Potter wizards, three Grim Reapers, and several unidentifiable mini-witches are seen in the street at 8.50 am .

8) An abundance of mutilated pigeons
     It has been noted that a significant number of pigeon parts have been found strewed on the road beneath the rail bridge. Whole dead pigeons have been sighted on the pavement, wings neatly folded.

7) Missing Gates
     Every other house in the street has experienced the loss of a gate. Police say it has something to do with summer heat.

6) Window broken at Post Office.
     No-one saw this. Some say it was deliberately smashed. Going by the lack of evidence, I reckon it was caused by a very localized earth tremor.

5) Strange growth of DSS B`n`B.
     After an unfortunate fire in the summer, which gutted the newly-refurbished hotel, the premises have swelled from two to three terraced properties.

4) Bottle banks mysteriously emptied.
     On  Mon. 25th Nov. I deposited clear glass in the clear glass receptacle at the local row of bottle banks, and actually heard them hit bottom.

3) Man with Kango hammer caught breaking up privately-owned tarmac.
     On Sept. 3rd at 7.45 am, a man was seen breaking up a pathway beside a row of garages. Accosted by a garage owner, he blamed his behaviour on a message from beyond the grave he`d seen in a Sunday supplement.

2) Brick pillar removed from outside no. 31.              
     Overnight, a two metre high, 60cm square gate post disappeared without trace from the property.

1)Inexplicable shower of silver coins by the bus stop opposite the fish shop.
     The cause of the phenomenon unwitnessed, but the coins spread across the pavement and road, covering an area of about 3 metres in diameter. A woman with a pushchair, a teenage cashier, and an old fella eating chips all testified to collecting coins from the shower. The cashier said she had picked up £1.85 before feeling difficult about it.

TOP TEN JAZZ CDs [Paul Donnelly]

The Box Set
, Jimmy Lyons (Ayler Records)
     5 cds worth of live playing from an alto player who never ran short of ideas. His voice is pure and true whether in trio, quartet or solo setting and the work with bassoonist Karen Borca from 1984/5 shows two distinct voices, as near as humanly possible, in harmony. This is a real and rare treat.

Live At The BBC,
Ninesense (Hux Records)
     Another reminder of what Elton Dean and his merry band could do. All on form, Tippett, Charig, Malfatti, Skidmore et al tear through the repertoire while the Miller/Moholo axis never sounded so powerful as they drive ‘Bidet Bebop’. Lovely to hear the all too rare Mongesi Feza again.

Flowers For Johnny
, Anders Gahnold Trio (Ayler Records)
     A beautifully captured double live cd of the trio featuring alto saxman, Gahnold, drummer Gilbert Matthews and the impeccable bassist Johnny Dyani, to whom it is dedicated. Unmissable example of a trio at work in the free arena whilst retaining a firm grasp of melodic form.

Napoli’s Walls
, Louis Sclavis (ECM Records)
     Sclavis’ new quartet offers its take on the meetings between artist Ernest Pignon-Ernest and the walls of old Naples. Mournful European echoes as Vincent Courtois’ cello casts dark shadows down Napoli’s streets.  Sclavis, as ever, excels on bass clarinet in particular.Jazzloops
, Hugh Hopper (Burning Shed)               Atmospheric loops and samples of Hopper  and some of his associates. Dark and otherworldly, harking back to a lifelong fascination with tape loops.

Gianluigi Trovesi Ottetto
, Fugace (ECM)
     A sustained homage to jazz from W.C.Handy to the present, taking in Italian traditional music, some Mingus-like swagger, funk, harpsichord snatches and elements of electronics along the way. Pretty unclassifiable, which is always nice.

BBC Radio 1971-74
, Soft Machine (Hux)
     From the dark turbulence of their fifth album through to the guitar led jazzrock of ‘Bundles’ this documents a band that were often much better live. Then they turned into a blind alley from which they never re-appeared.

Before The Dawn
, Satoko Fujii Orchestra East (Natsat)
     All the energy and intensity of a large free-blowing ensemble tempered by the rigorous structures of big-band compositions. Somewhere near to Brotzmann’s Tentet, perhaps, for sheer excitement and exuberance.

Askin’ The Way
, Back Door (Cultural Foundation)
     A comeback that shows them doing what they do best ; old favourites and new tunes that mix acerbic sax and gutsy bass all driven by their original and best drummer.

When Worlds Collide : The Music OF Frank Zappa
, The Muffin Men/Ensemble 10:10 (label contact:
     Uncle Frank may have had hard words for some jazz but this meeting to celebrate his work shows how much of his music slipped into the category. Arrangements swing and exhibit more life than some of the moribund regurgitations that surface in the name of jazz. Fine sax, flute and guitar soloing in evidence as well as superb arrangements for all sixteen players. What next ? ‘G-Spot Tornado’ ? 

[Rupert Loydell]


Larissa Szporluk, The Wind Master Cherry, the Wind
(Alice James)                 
     Eroticism, mythology, twisted innocence and more in a playful, accomplished lyricism.

Michael Teig, big back yard
(Boa Editions)
     Terse, elusive, discursive lyrics from one of the people who brought us the wonderful Jubilat

Olena Kalytiak Davis, shattered sonnets love cards and other off and back handed importunities
(Bloomsbury/Tin House)
     Quirky poems, which wander everywhere, winging it between romantic confession and personal experiment. Surprising and delightful.

Michael Brennan, The Imageless World
     Full of new images and ways-of-seeing and -saying, these ‘letters home’ are wonderful missives from ‘the room of seven thousand books’.

John Kinsella, Peripheral Light
     At last! A rigorously chosen and ordered, readable and coherent ‘selected and new poems’ from this effusive author/editor/publisher.

Robert Duncan, Letters
(Flood Editions, reissue)
     Beautiful facsimile edition.

Tony Lopez, False Memory
     The complete sonnet sequence ­ which the author has been working on for several years ­ in one volume. A shattered, disassembled critique of consumer society and it’s media; terse, elusive, difficult and rewarding.


Removed for Further Study: The Poetry of Tom Raworth
(The Gig 13/14)
     Timely and thorough collection of essays and writing about Tom Raworth, timed to accompany the massive Collected Poems
Carcanet issued this year.

Andrew Duncan, The Failure of Conservatism in Modern British Poetry
     Ultimately unsuccesful, disappointingly (not) edited, opinionated and personal discussion by this erratic and gobby author. Well worth the read though.

Pierre Joris, A Nomad Poetics
     Wide-ranging, provocative ­ and at times repetitive ­ discussion of poetics in relation to Deleuze’s idea of rhizomes and networks, and the concept of always being between things.


Jon MacGregor, If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things
     Indeed. The nearest a book published by a mainstream publisher has come to prose-poetry. This is a beautiful, evocative, slow-moving description of what goes on one day in one particular street.

Jeff Noon, Falling Out of Cars

     Noon finally writes his masterpiece. A beautifully fragmented road trip, full of mirrored images, drug-induced visions and disappearing words.

Alan Garner, Thursbitch

     Underlying this accomplished story of two couples, two times and one place there’s a mythological passion and a surprisingly dark vision of the nature of things. Garner’s best since Red Shift
, which in some ways this revisits or rewrites.

Russell Hoban, Her Name Was Lola

     Hoban has, in many ways, been writing versions of the same story for a decade now. This is one of the best, although he has yet to recapture the power and originality of Riddley Walker