I received word this afternoon: Paul has passed away.
I’ve been dreading and expecting this all week. And I still can’t believe it.
As I’m processing this, I’ve been checking out some of his music where I can find it online. (As I write this I’m enjoying some improvisations he recorded with Michael Venart and company).
One of his main projects I’ve admired in recent years has been his duo with Rob Power, called Spanner. There’s info on Rob’s site about their eponymous 2006 album, as well as Dark Boat (2009). I highly recommend this music.
You can hear him on YouTube playing a piece called Nautilus for clarinet and electronics by David Keane.
On a note closer to home, here’s a touching home-made video of Paul on soprano saxophone and his son Nick on guitar playing an original song called “Apple Cider.”
My heart goes out to his family.
I’m going to jump right back in here, although it’s been a while since I last wrote. Since 2018 began, I’ve been exploring ska music fairly heavily, even writing an encyclopedia article about it for one of my MA classes at York University. Of course, this exploration led me back to The Specials, a band I first encountered on my initial forays into ska and reggae while preparing to join the now defunct Idlers on a Canadian tour in 2011.
And this brings me to Amy Winehouse. I had no idea she had performed with The Specials, first of all, nor any clue she had recorded an EP with them. Just do a search for “Amy Winehouse ska ep” and you’ll easily find it. The version I’ve listened to repeatedly of late is the one that features the album cover art work, including a cartoon drawing of Ms. Winehouse. All the tracks are awesome. I find myself frequently singing “Monkey Man” with the beloved vocalist’s inflections, as best I can manage. And I absolutely adore her version of Sam Cooke’s “Cupid.” The band is groovy as fuck.
All this interest led me to the documentary Amy, which I watched on Netflix this afternoon. It is superbly well-done but sooooo tragic. Seeing her body being brought out of her London apartment as a bystander off camera shouts “Rest in peace, Amy!” is heartbreaking.
I’ve always admired her as an artist but hadn’t taken the time to really examine her music, to really dig deep with her. And now she’s gone, having left us with only two albums. So, while I’m up to my eyeballs with research and school work, I’ll be taking some time here and then to really listen. And to bask in her soulful sounds.
I suggest you do the same.