What's In Your Fridge: Ken Pickering

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      What’s in Your Fridge is where the Straight asks interesting Vancouverites about their life-changing concerts, favourite albums, and, most importantly, what’s sitting beside the Heinz Ketchup in their custom-made Big Chill Retropolitan 20.6-cubic-foot refrigerators.

      On the grill

      Ken Pickering

      Who are you

      I’m Ken Pickering, artistic director of Coastal Jazz. We produce the TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival, seasonal programs, education and outreach, and tons of other cool stuff. We’ll be all over town from June 18 to July 1 this year. As cofounder I’ve been responsible for curating most of our ass-kicking world-class programs since 1986. In the process we’ve established an international reputation that’s second to none. We’re having insane fun and we’d love to have you join us in this monster-mash celebration of music that is our 30th anniversary.

      First concert

      Honestly, I wish I could say it was Hendrix, Cream, or Captain Beefheart in the late '60s, but those gigs—all heard at PNE venues—definitely came a wee bit later when I was well into my teenage years. In fact my first concert ever came at an impressionable young age, probably around 10 or 11, in the early '60s at the PNE Forum with the Beach Boys. I attended solo—no parents or anyone else in tow. All I really remember is those blue striped shirts. At least I think that’s what I saw—to be honest I was too young to be smoking pot or drinking lemon gin. I made the seven-block walk up Renfrew Street to amazing gigs at the PNE regularly from the mid '60s onward, almost always managing to sneak into the shows. Now that was an art form unto itself.

      Life-changing concert

      Although I attended some amazing concerts (see above) the game-changer came slightly later, in 1969. By that time I was frequenting the very hip Record Gallery on Robson Street, which specialized in jazz and classical music. One morning I dropped in on Fraser Nicholson, the super-cool proprietor, and he asked me if I was going to hear Rahsaan Roland Kirk at the River Queen that weekend. As I began to protest and relate my broke high-school-student reality, he just popped the cash register, pulled out a five and said "Kid, get your ass down to the club." I did, it was amazing, and that music changed my life!

      Top three records

      There are so many contenders in this category. Today I’m feeling slightly nostalgic so I’m going to choose some classic shit that’s consistently moved me over the long arc of my life. This music has obviously stood the test of time.

      John Coltrane A Love Supreme First and foremost has to be John Coltrane’s masterpiece A Love Supreme, recorded in 1964 with his classic quartet for Impulse. This music never fails to bring a few tears to my eyes—the depth of emotion portrayed by Coltrane and his quartet is timeless. This music has helped get me through some of the toughest times in my life.

      Miles Davis Miles Smiles At some point I always go back to Miles Davis—his music has been integral to the soundtrack of my life. The album that knocked me out was my first Miles purchase, Miles Smiles, with his '60s quintet. That is one of the bad-ass jazz recordings of all time. Holy shit! A young Tony Williams swinging his arse off, Ron Carter, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, and Miles—this music should be a cornerstone of any music collection, not just for jazz aficionados but for everyone!

      Igor Stravinsky The Rite of Spring For number three I’m going to choose the first piece of classical music I heard that really blew my mind. I’m sure many have had a similar experience over the decades. I heard Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring in the late '60s—the music packed an emotional wallop that was riveting. The intensity rivalled that of the most intense free jazz, punk, or heavy metal. Some amazing riffs in there—no wonder the premiere caused a near-riot in 1913. Still sounds amazing a century later. Although I’ve got a few different versions, I really treasure the composer’s version in the Works of Igor Stravinsky box set which is available cheap. I listened to music from that box set nearly every weekend morning for years. Stravinsky rocks!

      All-time favourite video

      I’m not much of a video guy. I still don’t even have my hi-fi—remember those?—wired into my television. In supreme lo-fi, this video has been declared a national treasure, 'Trane’s only live performance of “A Love Supreme” is a must.  

      What’s in your fridge

      Not going to mention the wine, Campari and ice-cold gin because hey, they aren't unusual—they are most obvious necessities.

      Hot things. I’m into hot stuff—peppers, sauces, and all things related. Right now I’ve got a batch of my ass-kicking barbecue mop—sort of a combination of Apple City and Mario Batali but it’s my own improvised recipe. Damn, it rocks when I get that Big Green Egg smoking some butt. Also dig this amazing Korean garlic and sesame red chili pepper sauce—Gochuang—sourced at the public market and made locally. It's so awesome I bought three bottles!

      Chorizo. Next, always have at least two varieties of chorizo on hand from Oyama Sausage. Another one of my passions is rockin’ out improvised variations of killer paella in an authentic pan with bomba rice and other tasty ingredients on a very regular basis. My wife loves this stuff. Best when done on the aforementioned BGE over hard-wood charcoal with cherry- and apple-wood smoke. Don’t care if ain’t authentic Spanish paella because it ROCKS!

      Bacalhau. Finally there’s the bacalhau—I’ve been addicted to salt cod for years. Love doing it up in various Mediterranean styles—Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Greek—and can’t get enough of it. Some folks tell me it’s an acquired taste but that’s a point of view I just can’t get down with.

      For full information on the upcoming TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival, go here.