The first manifestation of this ‘project’ (I thought it might have been a book but for now it is this blog) was a notebook begun on the 9th of December 2010. This was an attempt to record different kinds of encounters with music…though not the music I selected and listened to. So I listed all the albums I bought, the gigs I went to, the music I found (mostly discarded CD-Rs) and I recorded instances of sound ‘made visual’ in various walks around my neighborhood. Then I started to write down memories of particular places associated with music in my past. All of this had an echo of projects by Georges Perec – particularly An Attempt to Describe a Number of Places in Paris and Je Me Souviens.
I have a (clearly flawed) memory of reading a short essay by Perec documenting all his purchases over the course of a day. I can only remember two of the items…a can of petrol for his moped and a jazz record (maybe there was a pen too. Or some writing paper). I wanted to know which record it was that Perec bought…but now I can’t find the essay and doubt if it was by Perec at all. The fact that I remember two of the items suggests to me that the essay does exist and is not a figment of my imagination. I have wasted a great deal of time on the internet trying to find this piece and I have tracked back through the Perec books I own with no success. On one blog:
there is a clip of Howard McGhee playing Shades of Blue but there is no explanation of why it is there. I found other stuff though. In the biography, David Bellos documents youthful sessions where Perec and his best friend would listen to sought after ‘west-coast jazz’ albums. In Perec’s Je me Souviens (published by Hachette in 1978 and not, as yet, translated into English)) – a numbered list of apparently random memories – there are (according to Perec’s index) 20 references to jazz.
Here are some examples:
4. I remember Lester Young at the Club Saint-Germain; he wore a blue silk suit with a red silk lining.
6. I remember that Art Tatum called a piece Sweet Lorraine because he had been in Lorraine during the 1914-18 war.
41. I remember a piece by Earl Bostic called Flamingo.
87. I remember when Caravan by Duke Ellington was a rare record and that, in those days, I knew of its existence without ever having heard it.
223. I remember record sleeves, most often jazz ones, drawn by David Stone Martin.
301. I remember Sidney Bechet wrote an opera – or was it a ballet? – entitled The Night of the Sorceress.
But none of this gets me any closer to working out the question about the jazz record and the can of petrol.