Getting together with an old friend is a wonderful thing. It is amazing how, in this age of instant communication, the complexities and congestion of life can cause years to go by between visits or even a phone conversation between once near-constant companions.
But once the initial contact is made, a reunion is scheduled and the old friend arrives on your doorstep, it only takes a big hug and and a few minutes of conversation for the time-since-the-last-time to melt away and the warmth and comfortableness to settle back in. And as glasses are raised and toasts are made and a meal is shared, the give and take and the laughter and the catching-up and the questions and answers and the reminiscing and the laughter make for a memorable and precious evening that begs those involved to make getting together again, soon, a real priority.
Resurrecting an old favorite recording, while not like the give-and-take of a reunion with a good friend, can be a rather wonderful and revealing experience as well.
The Turning Point by British Blues master John Mayall was one of my most frequently listened to albums in and around the early 1970’s. A live album, recorded on July 12, 1969 at Bill Graham’s Filmore East in New York City, it features a Blues quartet made up of Mayall on vocals, harmonica and electric guitar; Jon Mark on acoustic finger-style guitar; Steve Thompson on bass guitar and Johnny Almond on saxophones and flute. No drums. That, for the day, was a big deal for a Blues band.
This “Blues without bashing” experiment proved to be hugely successful. With songs that made use of “the dramatic tension of near silence and subtle melodic interplay” (from the 2001 CD liner notes by John McDermott), Mayall and company created music that sounds as fresh and contemporary to my ears today as it was exciting and years ahead of its time back in 1970. Listening to it again the other day both brought me back and joyously reminded me that music this good does indeed never get old.
The Turning Point by John Mayall. Highly recommended.