Aphrodite’s Child – Four Horsemen

Aphrodites Child Four Horseman

Philosophy, drama, democracy…Vangelis, Roussos, Mouskouri: what did the Greeks ever do for us? 500MH is off to the Aegean tomorrow to find out, so here’s something to whet the appetite, and with several of the above ingredients to the fore.

In 1970 nothing could seem more natural than to interpret the Book of Revelations through the medium of the double concept album, as was the case with Aphrodite’s Child’s snappily titled 666.

From the Biblical end of the Balearic spectrum, Four Horsemen seems well suited to the current scorching UK temperatures…and particularly for those of us who are currently packing their espadrilles.

αντίο για τώρα…

Download: Aphrodite’s Child – Four Horsemen (right click)

Sun Ra – Nuits de la Fondation Maeght

Jeanloup Sieff Fondation Maeght

In DJ-ing circles, the term “cosmic” often signifies little more than playing a Depeche Mode B-side at the wrong speed. Nothing wrong with that of course, but if you’re yearning for something a little deeper, let us transport you back to Provence in 1970.

The Fondation Maeght is an extraordinary art institution nestling in the hills of Saint Paul de Vence, Côte d’Azur, which I’ve been lucky enough to visit on a couple of occasions. Founded by dealer Aime Maeght in 1964, it was described by the Culture Minister of the time as “by no means a palace, by no means a museum”. Suffice to say, if your travels take you to the Nice/Antibes area, it’s well worth a visit.

Celebrated fashion photographer Jeanloup Sieff took the above photo at la Fondation in 1965. The model is wearing a “little white dress” by the architecturally-inspired  designer André Courrèges. She is standing behind Alberto Giacometti‘s giant bronze, Grande Tête. Can all this be seen as a signifier of women’s emancipation in France in the 1960’s?  If you are at all intrigued by that question, I’d point you in the direction of issue 26 of Tate Etc. magazine, where the debate rages for several hundred words.

One can only imagine the atmosphere at Sun Ra‘s gig there some 5 years later. Luckily the music was preserved, initially – and somewhat bizarrely – on 7″ singles and subsequently via LP and CD.

Ranging from the (by his own unique standards) accessible to the defiantly cosmic, the set is no easy listen…but in a world of instant gratification, all the more satisfying for that.

The selection below registers somewhere in the middle on our trusty Cosmometer™…

Download: Sun Ra – Spontaneous Simplicity (right-click)

Patrice Rushen – Haven’t You Heard

Paradise Garage 84 King Street

If you were wondering what the site of the Paradise Garage looks like right now (well, last week) the picture above shows that’s it’s disappointingly covered in scaffolding…although the large photo-blocking truck has probably moved.

From this you’ll probably gather that 500 Miles High has recently visited New York City…an all-too-short trip that was actually low on music-related activity, but high on everything else.

So, what track – from the long list of classics – to post in our first (and probably last) Garage feature? Strangely, there’s never been an out-and-out disco track on 500MH before – an oversight I’m delighted to correct now…

Download: Patrice Rushen – Haven’t You Heard (right click)

St John Coltrane African Orthodox Church

John Coltrane 500 Miles High

The undoubted musical highlight of our recent trip to California was an invitation to join the weekly service of the Church of St John Coltrane  in San Francisco. As a former jazz-head, I’d long been aware of this unusual offshoot of the African Orthodox Church, but nothing prepared me for the sheer intensity of the proceedings there.

Our family group was walking through the Fillmore district as part of a Sunday lunchtime sight-seeing stroll and my only expectation was to have a quick look at where the Church is based – turns out it’s in a bland, modern community centre – not the battered Victorian storefront I was hoping for. Having got over this mild disappointment we briefly paused outside when the pastor enthusiastically beckoned us in.

Thinking we might just stand as the back of what was a pretty small room, we were surprised (and my daughter a little alarmed) to be ushered in to the middle of things. “Things” being part jazz concert, part religious service and part 1960’s-style freak out. Though I personally found it an amazing musical – and perhaps at some imponderable level, spiritual – experience, not all members of our party were comfortable with staying for the duration and we made our apologies just as they were warming up for A Love Supreme, presumably the service’s climax.

Now it’s fair to say that organised religion plays little part in my day-to-day life, so who am I to analyse this curious musico-religious hybrid, but I can safely say the participants over there are tapping into something deep. If nothing else this experience has sent me back to my mid-60’s jazz albums with a renewed vigour.

At this point it perhaps seems inappropriate to “share” a John Coltrane track, but here’s a slice of late-period JC to kick-start your own Sunday service…

Download: John Coltrane – Stellar Regions (Alt. Take) (right click)