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The Michael Parkinson Collection

His playlist

By Alan RussellPublished 7 months ago 3 min read

Regardless of how hard a giver tries to it is next to impossible to disguise the gift of a CD as anything else but. The recipient knows it is a CD once they are holding it. The true Christmas surprise only comes with the unwrapping. This happened to me twice over Christmas 2023 when my wife gave me two presents which were definitely CD’s that both had a connection to many memories and to music I enjoy.

‘The Michael Parkinson Collection’ is a double album of his favourite tracks. The nearly forty tracks are of big bands such as Woody Herman and Duke Ellington who both float nebulously between jazz and swing. Balladeers such as Frank Sinatra, Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald and Jamie Cullum. Then there is the pure jazz of Charlie Parker, Quincy Jones and Chet Baker. I guess the only genre this collection could be slotted into is ‘cool’.

‘Cool’ in the sense that it is easy listening. ‘Cool’ in the sense that it can be enjoyed at anytime be it with a late glass of twelve year old malt. Or, with a strong Americano coffee before sunrise and before the rest of the household has woken up to face the day. ‘Cool’ in the sense that it can be enjoyed anywhere. In the car, in the study or in complete privacy through a pair of headphones.

Another genre it could be allocated to is what I would call ‘Martini music’. That is music that can be ‘enjoyed any time, any place anywhere’ for those who remember that Italian vermouth’s advertising campaign of the sixties, seventies and eighties.

Every one of the tracks reminds me of some of the albums we had at home when I was growing up that my parents and brothers bought. I added to the collection when I eventually had my own spending power over and above my pocket money with Count Basie, Stan Getz and Jacques Loussier. We may not have had all of the artistes that figure in this collection but there was something that linked them all over fifty years. That is an enduring quality which I can only put down to people who had worked extremely hard to achieve a plateau of talent that made their craft on stage or in the recording studio look effortless. A quality achieved without any or the barest minimum of digital assistance.

As the singer Aretha Franklin (1942-2018) said ‘Music does a lot of things for a lot of people. It’s transporting for sure. It can take you right back, years back, to the very moment certain things happened in your life.’

As well as the memories of our record collection at home were the memories from I have from working at The Hinds Head in Bray in the Thames Valley. During my first shifts as a trainee manager behind the bar at The Hinds Head one of the first customers I served was Michael Parkinson (1935-2023), or Mr Parkinson as my manager insisted on me calling him. That pretence of deference was soon dispensed with when I was told by the man himself I was OK to refer to him as Michael.

Wafting through time from those days are the aromas of dark wood panelling that secreted the aromas of countless joints of roast beef, the smoke from Monte Cristo cigars and lingering bouquets of fine wines. Above all of those olfactory stimulants comes the ambience of friendship, good conversation, happy times and the warmth of warm open fires during the winter.

Another connection to those long gone days is track ten on the first disc. It is Marion Montgomery (1934-2002), backed by her husband Laurie Holloway on piano, singing ‘At Last’. Surprise, surprise I was given a double CD of hers for Christmas as well and that is another story.

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About the Creator

Alan Russell

When you read my words they may not be perfect but I hope they:

1. Engage you

2. Entertain you

3. At least make you smile (Omar's Diaries) or

4. Think about this crazy world we live in and

5. Never accept anything at face value

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    Alan RussellWritten by Alan Russell

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