Tag Archives: Gail Ann Dorsey

➤ How Bowie threaded blue notes through his final surge of creativity

David Bowie, The Last Five Years,TV,video, Sue,

Bowie as a projected image in the video for Sue (Or in a Season of Crime)

“If you feel safe in the area that you’re working in, you’re not working in the right area. Always go a little further into the water than you feel capable of. Go a little bit out of your depth and when you don’t feel that your feet are quite touching the bottom, you’re just about in the right place to do something exciting” – David Bowie

THE MOST GRIPPING SEQUENCES in the new TV documentary about Bowie’s final surge of creativity are those which assemble every musician in the bands he worked with from 2012 to the end. Each band re-enacts pivotal moments when they rehearsed the music, inspired by his lyrics, and laid down the tracks for the albums The Next Day and Blackstar. Particularly revealing is the session when pure jazz soloists created the nerve-tingling Sue (Or in a Season of Crime), which Bowie added to his 2014 “best-of” collection, Nothing Has Changed.

To mark the first anniversary of the star’s death, this weekend BBC2 screened David Bowie: The Last Five Years, Francis Whately’s sequel to his other superb documentary Five Years broadcast in 2013. The role of jazz in Bowie’s musical temperament seldom gets discussed, though his producer Tony Visconti says the jazz influence had always been there in the music but underneath the surface. As a small child Bowie heard a jazz band and right away said: “I’m going to learn the saxophone. When I grow up, I’m going to play in [this] band. So I persuaded my dad to get me a kind of a plastic saxophone on hire purchase.”

In 2013 in New York he met Maria Schneider, a jazz composer, handed her a demo disc and asked her to extemporise around a tune called Sue. In turn, she told him he had to listen to this sax player Donny McCaslin and without missing a beat Bowie went straight into the studio with his group and Maria and out came possibly the purest jazz number of his career, a discomfiting tale of infidelity. It won Schneider a Best Arrangement Grammy in 2016.

➢ Watch the Donny McCaslin Group working
on Bowie’s Blackstar

Click any pic below to launch slideshow

REVIEWS OF THE LAST FIVE YEARS TV DOC

➢ A thrilling portrait of a late-life renaissance
– Jasper Rees at the Arts Desk

The opening yielded much joyful footage of Bowie goofing around on the Reality tour (2003), seeming much more like one of the boys than he ever managed with Tin Machine. The band still seemed spooked at the memory of his collapse, before he was carted off to retirement in an ambulance.

Maria Schneider was one of many musicians – three complete bands – who re-formed to walk through the creation of the music. Drummer Zachary Alford still looked shocked at the NDA handed him as he showed up to work on The Next Day. “If I said anything about it,” remembered bassist Gail Ann Dorsey, “I would be in big trouble legally.” Nobody was asked if Bowie really would have sued his collaborators for spilling the beans.

The recent collaborators reflected on the extent to which the new music was steeped in the past. But there was also good stuff from the old lags who worked (and sometimes slept) with Bowie in the feather-cut era: Ideally there would be a DVD with extras featuring much more from each of them. Chief keeper of the flame Tony Visconti sat at a console and played excerpts of Bowie’s unaccompanied vocal takes. On Blackstar came the haunting sound of Bowie wheezing like an ancient mariner fighting for every last scrap of breath. . . / Continued online

➢ A treat and a treatise on music’s departed genius
– by James Hall, Daily Telegraph

The Last Five Years wove previously unheard Bowie interview material with on-screen contributions from collaborators including producer Tony Visconti. The access and insights were faultless. Whately’s programme was essentially a treatise on artistic rebirth. And it showed that although Bowie’s musical style constantly changed, the themes that preoccupied him — alienation, escape, the notion of fame — were there until the end.

During his final creative burst, Bowie gradually revealed to collaborators that he was ill. In the most poignant scene, we learned that Bowie only discovered his cancer was terminal three months before he died. This was in October 2015 when he was filming the video for Lazarus, in which he sings the line “Look up here, I’m in heaven”. Bowie worked and cared and joked until the end. Through tears, Visconti said that he was at ‘the top of his game’. . . / Continued online

➢ David Bowie: What have we learned since his death? Some astounding new Bowie facts
have come to light – via The Guardian

70TH BIRTHDAY TRIBUTE CONCERT IN LONDON

tribute ,concert, David Bowie, Steve Norman, London

Brixton tribute concert for Bowie: Gail Ann Dorsey singing Young Americans with Spandau Ballet’s Steve Norman. (Photo: Getty)

❏ On what would have been Bowie’s 70th birthday his friend the actor Gary Oldman gathered at the Brixton Academy a 30-strong all-star lineup of musicians who had collaborated throughout his career, with some glorious orchestral and choral support. The show is the first in a run of gigs around the world taking place in cities that have a strong connection with Bowie and his work.

The London concert featured Mike Garson, Earl Slick, Adrian Belew, Mark Plati, Gerry Leonard, Sterling Campbell, Zachary Alford, Holly Palmer, Catherine Russell, plus such guests as Tony Hadley and Simon Lebon. Special highlights saw Gail Ann Dorsey singing Young Americans with Spandau’s Steve Norman on sax; and an audience singalong to Life on Mars? led by Adrian Belew and gifted vocals from Tom Chaplin from the band Keane. Plenty of live videos at YouTube.



➢ 10 Jan update: Gary Kemp joins his friend Robert Elms on BBC Radio London to discuss David Bowie, one year on. (Catch up on iPlayer for one month: starts at 13mins)

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s: “I’m not a rock star” Bowie often said – No, David, you were a messiah

➢ 13 Jan: Iggy Pop’s tribute to The Songs of David Bowie on BBC Radio 6 Music and iPlayer for another month

➢ As a confused teenager living in Seventies suburbia, singer Andy Polaris retraces his obsession with Bowie

➢ Commemorating Bowie at the BBC

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➤ 40 years of Ziggy + another feast of Bowie

Ziggy Stardust, Spiders from Mars, David Bowie, Top of the Pops,✱ Who needs reminding it’s 40 years since “I picked on you-oo-oo”? June 6 1972 saw the release of one of the most influential albums ever recorded — David Bowie’s The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders from Mars

➢ Bowie evening on BBC4, Friday June 22

9:00 BST David Bowie and The Story of Ziggy Stardust — exhilaratingly observant new TV doc narrated by Jarvis Cocker, 2012, directed by James Hale and exec-produced by Paul Bullock who brought us the brilliant Prince, A Purple Reign last year. Tight, total and definitive (in everything but an Angie contribution), it has contemporary rivals queueing to heap on the respect while nailing the genius with several gasp-out-loud revelations (you will sit up when Mike Garson hits the piano!). Quote of the era: “I can’t stand the premise of going on in jeans and being real.” A landmark. Repeated June 23, 25 and on iPlayer

10:00 The Genius of David Bowie — energised compilation of best archive performances, 2012, with breathtaking mature renderings of Heroes, Ashes and Fashion, plus magnificent Lou Reed and Iggy Pop as guests among others you’d rather ignore. Also June 23, 25

11:00 Ziggy Stardust & the Spiders from Mars — D A Pennebaker’s plodding, murky and utterly amateur film might as well have been bootlegged going by its appalling camerawork, shoddy editing, fudge sound (relieved only by its backstage footage revealing Bowie as the angst-ridden artiste). It was shot live at Hammersmith Odeon in 1973, the night Ziggy made his last stand even with Mick Ronson at peak power. “The first we knew we were unemployed was onstage,” the drummer Woody admitted at the Ziggy plaque unveiling in March. Historical curio worth a first watch just so you can feel the heat of real fan worship. If only the evident genius of Bowie himself could have been more watchably captured! But luckily I saw the whole wowie spectacle from Row C and the Standard was the first paper to break the news next morning. (This was the world pre-Twitter, remember.)

12:30 David Bowie at the BBC — live concert at the Radio Theatre, 2000, brilliant mix of classic songs (Fame, Man Who Sold The World, Always Crashing, Wild is the Wind) plus Gail Ann Dorsey on bass guitar. Also June 23, 25

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Where to draw a line between glitter and glam
— at Shapersofthe80s

If David Jones hadn’t become Bowie — at Shapersofthe80s

Behind Bowie’s “lost” Jean Genie video — at Shapersofthe80s

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Birth of Glam , Gary Kemp , Marc Bolan,Radio 2, documentary, glitter✱ TONIGHT — Another brilliant radio doc on The Birth of Glam presented by Gary Kemp goes out June 13 at 10pm BST on Radio 2 … Two years ago under its original title The Glory of Glam it prompted a major assessment of the difference between glitter and glam here at Shapersofthe80s. At that time we said “If this documentary doesn’t win a Sony radio award, there’s no justice.”

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