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Baker's Dozen

Songs Of Praise: David Keenan's Baker's Dozen
Jennifer Lucy Allan , December 2nd, 2020 09:46

Jennifer Lucy Allan hears about high-fiving Edgar Froese, frightening the neighbours, disavowing the devil and how Scottish author David Keenan is all about saying yes. Portrait by Heather Leigh.


Sonny Rollins – East Broadway Rundown
I came into free jazz through psychedelia, because I began buying anything that had a mad psychedelic sleeve. What I love the most is when free jazz gets to an atomic level, taking one phrase and spending 25-minutes taking it apart – inverting it, riffing off it, turning it into a smeared drone, bursting into a groove again. Sonny Rollins is one of the main guys who can get to the absolute atomics of jazz, and I love this record so much in so many ways – he's got Coltrane's rhythm section, and it's just before he takes his sabbatical and goes out jamming on Brooklyn Bridge. The image of him rehearsing on Brooklyn Bridge is everything I love about New York.

The first time I ever went to New York was with my brother. I went to interview David S. Ware, another one of my favourite saxophonists. We stayed with Alan Licht in Hoboken, who I would swap photocopied music articles with. His house was the biggest dump ever. He had the rarest records lying out of their sleeves, stuck down the back of his bed. There was fungus growing in the shower, and he gave us towels that looked like he'd rubbed them in soil. So we got a hotel and moved out. We went to the Knitting Factory and saw Charles Gayle doing all these mad anti-abortion mimes, dressed as a clown doing this ripping free jazz and then a doll would drop from between his legs and he'd shoot it in the head.

We met David S. Ware, who picked us up in this souped-up sports car, he had beautiful leather driving gloves and a beret on – he looked fucking amazing. He's a maniac driver, loved speed. My brother's in the back and I get in the front, and he heads for Brooklyn Bridge, then puts on Sonny Rollins! So it's the first time I'm in New York, I'm in David S. Ware's car going about 120mph over the Brooklyn Bridge blasting East Broadway Rundown. Then he turns the volume down and says, ‘can I ask you a question, man?’ and I say yeah, and he asks: ‘Do they have speed cameras in the UK?’ and I say yeah they do. And he sighs, and says, ‘they've got that shit over there too, huh?’, shakes his head, turns the music back up, and speeds on.