ModJazz

Newbreed – The Bongolian

The Bongolian are based in Wales & London, UK with band members being: Nass Bouzida: Organ, Moog & Bongos, Johnny Drop: Drums, Glyn “tufta” Edwards: Electric Piano, Dan Rooms: Percussion, Trev Harding: Bass Guitar.We recently caught up with Nass and had a good old chatter!

01. How long have you been active for and how did you get together?

We’ve been together for 17 years , The Bongolian was originally my studio project, but as soon as the LP was released, and such a huge success we are asked by the organisers of France’s biggest festival; Transmusicale to perform the LP live then other offers flooded in so the need for a full live band came about.

02. What influences do the band members have in common?

A love of Nandos, check trousers and eggnog.

03. Many folks reading this interview will be aware of your other band Big Boss Man, so why did you form Bongolian and what are the main differences?

Trev from BBM slaps the bass guitar rather than his usual axe work, and it’s a much more percussive, rhythmic and V-neck jumper based affair.

04. How would you describe the style you play?

Chaotic! Space-age Latin Boogaloo.

06. What are your live shows like?

The live show is a celebration of heavy bongo beats, funky organ and grinding oscillator work. Brian Auger meets Mongo Santamaria in Carnaby Street.

07. What are your main influences in music?

Mod-Jazz with a touch of Psychedelic Bongos!

08. What are your main influences outside of music?

Wood Carving ( mainly medieval cutlery; spoons, knives, forks etc.)

09. Who writes your songs and what subjects do you deal with?

Nasser writes all the songs and Subject matters usually revolve around past experiences of his childhood in Bolton.

10. What’s your favorite song in your repertoire currently? What’s your favourite song by another artist?

Psyche Yam from the Blue Print LP is my live fave at the mo. My fave song by another artist is “Simply the Best – T Turner” or anything from “No Jacket Required”!

11. How would you describe the current underground scene? Do you participate?

Thriving and yes I participate, especially enjoyed the New LP “Moog Maximus” Launch in London’s Blow Up club in Soho.

12. What has been the biggest challenge to date?

Creating all layered analog synth tones for the LP Moog Maximus and then arranging for live performance.

13. How often do you Rehearse? Play Live? Record? Anything interesting coming up?

We rehearse in Beat Mountain, (www.beatmountain.com) – we stay in the studio for weeks on end, carving out the musical maze that is the sound of The Bongolian. We have had quite lot of plays on BBC Radio so we are aiming to tour UK/Europe in Autumn. New Bongolian album is due for release in July.

14. What do you think of the music coverage in the media?

Quite good!

15. Do you rate any current mainstream or underground bands?

Pine Cone are a great band!

16. Who/Where would you most like to record with and why?

Lonnie Smith at Abbey Road or Electric Ladyland would be good!

17. What should we expect from you in the future? What are your plans and ambitions? What interesting gig dates have you got coming up?

I’m working on a hard, uptempo, latin-soul album, and working with Big Boss Man on a new LP, and setting up a new UK and European tour for Autumn. Also check out: www.beatmountain.com  – where I have recorded 548 drum and bongo breaks for use in any musical endeavors.

Tour Dates:
27 May ‘17 Mod & Sixties Festival, Margate, UK
01 July ’17 South London Soul Train, Peckham, UK
22 Sep ‘17 International Festival of Psychedelia, Liverpool, UK
Autumn ‘17 Moog Maximus, European Tour, TBA Europe.

Discography: Vinyl Releases:
7” Singles:
2002: Bongo Head
LPs :
2002: ‘The Bongolian’,
2005: ‘Blue Print’,
2007: ‘Outer Bongolia’,
2011: ‘Bongos for Beatniks’
2016: ‘Moog Maximus’
Main Site:
bongolian.com
Social Networks:
facebook.com/thebongolian
twitter.com/@the_bongolian
spotify.com/thebongolian


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drrobert

I run The New Untouchables organization and events like the Brighton Mod Weekender, Le Beat Bespoké Festival (and compilation series of the same name) and I co-organize Euro Ye Ye with the Trouble & Tea crew. I have run many clubs over the last 20 years in London, where I live and current nights include Timebox, Zoo Zoo, Crossfire, 100 Club and Mousetrap allnighter which has just celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2011. I have been lucky to DJ all over the globe including Japan, Canada, USA and Europe and met some great people on my journey. I run RnB Records to offset my vinyl addiction: newuntouchables.com/rnbrecords for rare vintage vinyl.

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May 9, 2017 By : Category : Articles Bands Beat Club Soul Front Page Interviews ModJazz Picks Psych UK Tags:, , ,
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Jazz for Modernists 11 Blue Note 45s

The iconic status of Blue Note’s catalogue of LPs from the 1950s and 60s in the field of funky and soulful modern jazz is, of course, a testament to the high quality of its recording artists, the general excellence of the music and the production values instilled by owners Alfred Lion and Francis Wolff and perfected by audio engineer Rudy Van Gelder (RIP). However, it would be fair to state that the cover art, designed for the most part by Reid Miles, and with informative sleeve notes by the cream of contemporary jazz critics, together form an integral part of both the listening experience and the overall modernist package. Of those who own the vinyl, especially, who can disassociate the music of, say, John Coltrane’s Blue Train from its cover, or Dexter Gordon’s Our Man in Paris?

One consequence of this is that this most revered of labels tends to be valued for its 33 rpm products almost exclusively, something perhaps a little unusual for the world of mod music collectors. So it may come as a surprise to some (it was to me) to find out that, in addition to the 400+ LPs recorded on Blue Note between 1955 and 1972, the same period also saw something in the region of 350 7” 45 rpm singles released by the label. A handful of rare export copies came in picture sleeves, but on the whole we’re talking blue and blue and white label in paper bag territory.

The first thing to say is that virtually all the singles were sides already cut for an LP. Certainly this holds true for the ‘A’ sides, though a notable exception is the 1958 vocal version of Horace Silver’s ‘Señor Blues’ (see number two in list). The ‘A’ sides are overwhelmingly the ‘catchiest’ track on the LP, and in some cases, such as Horace Silver’s Tokyo Blues LP (1962), as many as three tracks were released on separate singles (as parts 1 & 2), such were the commercial possibilities of that finger-snapping record. Some tracks recorded in the studio for an album were edited in length for the singles or divided across both sides as ‘Parts 1 & 2’. Whether always the same take is something I haven’t yet been able to ascertain.

In future articles, we will look in more depth into the Blue Note singles catalogue (even acknowledging some of the 78s that were released from 1939 to 1955). This will involve examining the social context for their releases and their audience and reception compared with the albums. For now, though, here is an introductory selection of 10 major releases, many of which have been played over the years on the mod scene.

 


sonny_rollins

01. Sonny Rollins, ‘Decision (pts 1 & 2)’ (1957) – Blue Note-45-1669

After nine LPs for Prestige, New York-born tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins recorded four for Blue Note between December 1956 and November ’57. Four singles were culled from these sessions, including this marvellous mid-tempo slice of soulful hard-bop taken from the 1957 LP now known as Sonny Rollins, Vol. 1 (BLP-1542). A stellar line-up featuring future Miles Davis pianist Wynton Kelly, drummer Max Roach, bassist Gene Ramey and trumpeter Donald Byrd trace out over 8 minutes the transition from bebop to soul jazz.

WATCH & LISTEN HERE


02. Horace Silver Quintet (with Bill Henderson), ‘Señor Blues’ (1958) –Blue Note-45-1710

Horace Silver initially recorded this Latin-tinged tune as an instrumental in late 1956 for the 6 Pieces of Silver LP (BLP1539) and a shorter, alternate take was duly released as a single coupled with ‘Cool Eyes’ from the same session. Then, in 1958, a new lyric version, with a different line-up (though Donald Byrd remained) was recorded with Chicago-born actor and vocalist Bill Henderson. Apparently one of the labels best-selling 45s, ‘Señor Blues’ turned up on the excellent 1993 compilation Blue ‘n’ Groovy. Henderson, who passed away earlier this year at the age of 90, also recorded two singles with Jimmy Smith in 1958.

WATCH & LISTEN HERE


03. Herbie Hancock, ‘Watermelon Man’/ ‘Three Bags Full’ (1962) – Blue Note 45-1862

Covered by John Hendricks, Mongo Santamaría and Manfred Mann, among others, Chicago-born pianist and composer Herbie Hancock’s ‘Watermelon Man’ is now a jazz standard both in this, its original form, and the electro-funk version he made over ten years later for the 1973 Head Hunters LP. Some see this track, taken from debut LP Takin’ Off as the first blueprint of one of the label’s key signatures of the next five or six years: the inclusion on an LP of at least one exotically-titled funky, latin-tinged soul-jazz number which, in edited form at least, could get dance floors moving. Featuring Dexter Gordon on tenor sax, trumpeter Freddie Hubbard and, with Hancock, a rhythm section comprising Billy Higgins (drums) and Butch Warren (bass), ‘Watermelon Man’ was written with commercial success in mind and evokes from Hancock’s childhood the cry of a Chicago street vendor and the rhythmic beat of his wagon wheels.

WATCH & LISTEN HERE


04. Jimmy Smith, ‘Can Heat’/’Matilda Matilda’ (1963) – Blue Note 45-1905

Taken from his penultimate Blue Note LP, Rockin’ the Boat (BLP4141), featuring Lou Donaldson on alto sax, ‘Can Heat’ is just one of over 40 singles released by Jimmy Smith on the Blue Note label between 1955 and 1972. This one, a nice slice of mid-tempo r & b/soul jazz, is classic mid-60s Smith, one for getting the dance floor bubbling as opposed to an out-and-out mover. A lovely tune, though, for relaxing to with a glass of cool beer or camomile tea for more adventurous souls.

WATCH & LISTEN HERE


05. Stanley Turrentine, ‘River’s Invitation’ (pts 1 & 2) (1965) – Blue Note 45-1917

Another stalwart of Blue Note’s soulful side, Pittsburgh tenor man Stanley Turrentine (1934-2000) had already recorded with R & B heavyweights Lowell Fulsom and Earl Bostic before teaming up with Max Roach in 1959. In 1960, he married organist Shirley Scott, going on to record with her for Prestige and Impulse! ‘River’s Invitation’, a sparkling orchestral version of Percy Mayfield’s gospel-drenched blues, is taken from Joyride (BST84201) and features Herbie Hancock and guitarist Kenny Burrell.

WATCH & LISTEN HERE


06. Lee Morgan, ‘The Rumproller’ (pts 1 & 2) (1965) – Blue Note-45-1918

Readers of our recent top 10 soul-jazz LPs will know that trumpeter Lee Morgan’s ‘The Sidewinder’ (both as single and LP) was a massive success for Blue Note in 1964. ‘The Rumproller’, released in late 65/early 66, was the follow-up single and LP (though in the meantime Morgan had recorded the excellent Search for the New Land). A funky blues in the ‘Sidewinder’ fashion, this track was written by pianist Andrew Hill, one of Blue Note’s more experimental artists whose LPs for the label are highly recommended.

WATCH & LISTEN HERE


08. Lee Morgan, ‘Cornbread’ (pts 1 & 2) (1965) – Blue Note-45-1930
Recorded at the end of the funky summer of 1965, the Cornbread LP (BST84222) reached the Billboard top 10 when it was finally released in early ’67. Featuring the great ballad ‘Ceora’, the record holds a special place in this writer’s heart as the first Blue Note LP he bought as a teenager. The title track, another infectious bit of bluesy funk, was released as a single.

WATCH & LISTEN HERE



09. Duke Pearson, ‘Sweet Honey Bee’/’Ready Rudy?’ (1967) Blue Note-45-1931
The next single in the catalogue after ‘Cornbread’, ‘Sweet Honey Bee’, by in-house Blue Note pianist and composer Duke Pearson was taken from a late ’66 LP of the same name. At this time, Blue Note was often pairing its funky players with modal modernists and here Miles Davis bassist Ron Carter provides a more spacious and contemplative feel to the rhythm section. Flautist James Spalding, though, dominates with the melody that structures this bouncy mid-tempo track.

WATCH & LISTEN HERE


10. Lou Donaldson, ‘Alligator Boogaloo’/’Rev Moses’ (1967) Blue Note-45-1934

Coming on like a slower-tempo ‘Hot Barbecue’ (Jack McDuff), with Lonnie Smith at the organ, this Lou Donaldson swinging groove remains a bona fide mod jazz favourite. Though the album version weighs in at over six minutes, the single, as can be seen from the picture, is an edited version of less than 3 minutes and thus ideal for the discotheque. However, many mods will want to find the (original) vinyl LP for the iconic cover of Peggy Moffitt wearing a psychedelic Rudi Gernreich gown.

WATCH & LISTEN HERE


11. Bobby Hutcherson, ‘Ummh’ (pts 1 & 2) (1970) Blue Note – 1966
And so into 1970! This list is completed with a brief homage to the late great vibes player Bobby Hutcherson (1941-2016). LA-born Hutcherson was a regular featured artist at Blue Note and played on key dates such as Eric Dolphy’s Out to Lunch (1964). His own series of dates for the label, including Dialogue (1965), Components (1966) and Happenings (1967) are among the most thoughtful and atmospheric in the entire catalogue. By the time of San Francisco (1970), he had moved from the fringes of the avant-garde into the realm of jazz fusion and funk. Taken from this album, Ummh (pts 1 & 2) features Jazz Crusader Joe Sample on electric piano, John Williams on fender bass, drummer Mickey Roker and tenor sax player Harold Land (he that inspired the title of a song by Yes). It is one relentless gargantuan groove which hopefully Bobby above is still playing along to.

WATCH & LISTEN HERE


Postscript
In 1998, Dean Rudland compiled a selection of Blue Note 45s under the title ‘Blue 45s-the ultimate jukebox’. I don’t have a copy of this, but it might still be available and will no doubt have more useful information.


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James Thomas

James Thomas was born in Bristol just the wrong side of 1970 (1971). His first encounters with the 1960s were his two-year-old elder brother’s reminiscences of the Moon Landing (since deleted by the BBC) and an afternoon in 1975 listening to the Beatles with his parents. He remembers 2-Tone and the ’79 revival, but was the one in his primary school still wearing flares until he persuaded his mum to buy him a black Harrington jacket (a stylish-enough copy by Burtons) and asked a hair stylist to make him ‘look like Suggs’. In the 1980s he became obsessed with almost every aspect of the 1960s, whether it were Star Trek, the length of George Harrison’s hair in March 1965 or the first colour TV broadcast of a cricket match (he thinks it was 1968). After being side-tracked by progressive rock (an ongoing guilty pleasure), James came to his senses in 1986 on seeing footage of Booker T and the MGs and Otis Redding on a programme celebrating the 60th anniversary of television. A flirtation with ‘indie pop’ (in the bowl-cut and anorak days) led to too much introspection, but also a new interest in the psychedelic sounds of the 1960s that seemed to go hand in glove with a liking for The Pastels and The Razorcuts. A summery afternoon in the jazz tent at Bristol’s annual (and long gone) Ashton Court Festival in 1989 opened his mind to the sounds of Lee Morgan, Horace Silver, Art Blakey and most forms of modern jazz. In 1990, James attended his first proper 60s club night, the revered Kaleidoscope Pop! in Leeds. On his return from the North in 1992, he developed a new commitment to Mod culture. He recalls early Untouchables Brighton New Year rallies and in 1994 moved to London. A real education for him (in so many ways...) was a period in Barcelona (1997-2002) where he helped out with the Magic in the Air club for a year or two and where his IQ was permanently reduced by a record dealer who made him clean vinyl for four weeks in a windowless room. After a decade or so in the West Country, he is now living again in London, where he plans to write about jazz, meet like-minded people and study the history of the cravat.

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December 6, 2016 By : Category : Bands Front Page ModJazz Music Picks Tags:, , ,
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Jazz for Modernists 8 – Interview with Julie Tippetts and Keith Tippett (Part 2)

This entry is part 7 of 7 in the series James Thomas on Jazz

Here is part 2 of JTM’s interview with Julie Tippetts and Keith Tippett.

09: The period 1967-1972 was generally one of great dialogue between jazz, blues, folk, improvisational forms and rock music. On a personal level, did you experience this as a process of mutual discovery, each of you learning about the other’s musical backgrounds?

KEITH: As in our lives where we have grown together, also in the music. And may I take this opportunity to state that Centipede and the composition Septober Energy (1971) encompasses all these genres. Performing live with an orchestra including Jazz musicians/Soul and progressive rock musicians/improvising musicians and classical musicians had never been done before or since.

Centipede, Septober Energy (1971)

10: In April, 1971, Julie, you recorded Quartet Sequence, with The Spontaneous Music Ensemble. How did this come about and what was it like to step into this new area of improvisational singing?

JULIE: Our shared manager at the time, Giorgio Gomelsky, was also recording people like John Stevens and John McLaughlin, so I had the opportunity to listen to and try out all sorts of diverse musical areas of creation. Joining The Spontaneous Music Ensemble with John Stevens, Trevor Watts and Ron Herman was part of a natural progression moving into a freer approach to playing. As was (Ovary Lodge (with Keith, Frank Perry and Harry Miller), and collaborations with [previous SME member] Maggie Nicols. She and I set up our friendship and teamwork in Centipede. We did lots of improvising together in preparation for the concerts. We have always had an incredible rapport.

Spontaneuous Music Ensemble, Frameworks 

11: Much of this music is considered ‘improvisational’ or ‘experimental’. Is improvisation primarily a response to another musician’s performance or is it aiming to represent something tangible (a landscape, an idea, an emotion etc)?

KEITH: It is definitely not experimental. Composition is frozen improvisation. The ability to solidify on paper the idea you have created in sound. This is just the start. Likewise with the technology available today, what starts as an improvisation in a Dartington concert can be heard on a beach in Bali on cd 5 months later. All composers are improvisers.

12: Julie, you have periodically returned to more ‘conventional’ song forms throughout your career, working again with Brian Auger on Encore (1978), Fire in the Mountain (1989) with Working Week and quite recently, Sessions (2008) with Nostalgia 77 (with Keith). How would you describe the main differences in approach to structured song and improvisational singing?

JULIE: I love music… My privilege has been, being open enough to be part of many genres. I feel comfortable in composed or spontaneous music.

13: In 1975, you recorded Sunset Glow, a recording that in parts evokes for me works like Tim Buckley’s Starsailor (1970), Robert Wyatt’s Rock Bottom (1974) and Linda Perhac’s Parallelograms (1970). For those who love your 1960s work, could this LP be the gateway into your more experimental work, perhaps the one they could relate to most?

JULIE: I don’t think so really. For me personally, I can’t possibly make that statement. I have loved every limb of the body of work I have produced or been part of producing. It’s all part of the same journey. How people conceive it, or accept it, is part of their journey.

Julie Tippetts, Sunset Glow (1975)

14: Keith, during the 1980s and 1990s, you actively promoted the Rare Music Club in Bristol, an arena for experimental and collaborative music, based in part around your group Mujician. What were the major successes of that and did the experience make you optimistic about future music in Britain?

KEITH: The Rare Music club put on a programme of improvised music/jazz/20th century/contemporary western classical music/ and folk music from various countries. At least 3 different musics per night. Wonderful idea. I thought it would be commercial. I was wrong. Mujician was the house band and we were subsidizing guest artists. There was no profit whatsoever. Even with a hard-working committee raising small amounts of money, we could only sustain the club by the musicians’ good will. We had some headline, internationally known artists, and prosperous Bristol (a University city) did not have interest enough – particularly local musicians and students. The future of non-commercial music is in more danger now in the UK than it has ever been (with the exception of contemporary western classical music, which the establishment funds)… Thank God for Europe… ps…I worked more in Tokyo last year than my home town Bristol!!

Mujician (Paul Dunmall, Keith Tippett, the late Tony Levin, Paul Rodgers)

15: Keith, teaching has been important to you and you include many younger musicians in your improvising groups and write scores for younger musicians to perform. When you perform, you always seem to be interested in how they respond to your musical cues and suggestions…..

KEITH: Younger musicians are the future of course… musical cues and suggestions are of course discussed and rehearsed. I also am still working with many of the older comrades who were first-generation creators of improvised music.

16: Are you hopeful about the future of jazz and improvisational music?

KEITH: I am hopeful to an extent. However Europe (East and West) is where the work place is. The audiences also seem to be more knowledgeable.


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James Thomas

James Thomas was born in Bristol just the wrong side of 1970 (1971). His first encounters with the 1960s were his two-year-old elder brother’s reminiscences of the Moon Landing (since deleted by the BBC) and an afternoon in 1975 listening to the Beatles with his parents. He remembers 2-Tone and the ’79 revival, but was the one in his primary school still wearing flares until he persuaded his mum to buy him a black Harrington jacket (a stylish-enough copy by Burtons) and asked a hair stylist to make him ‘look like Suggs’. In the 1980s he became obsessed with almost every aspect of the 1960s, whether it were Star Trek, the length of George Harrison’s hair in March 1965 or the first colour TV broadcast of a cricket match (he thinks it was 1968). After being side-tracked by progressive rock (an ongoing guilty pleasure), James came to his senses in 1986 on seeing footage of Booker T and the MGs and Otis Redding on a programme celebrating the 60th anniversary of television. A flirtation with ‘indie pop’ (in the bowl-cut and anorak days) led to too much introspection, but also a new interest in the psychedelic sounds of the 1960s that seemed to go hand in glove with a liking for The Pastels and The Razorcuts. A summery afternoon in the jazz tent at Bristol’s annual (and long gone) Ashton Court Festival in 1989 opened his mind to the sounds of Lee Morgan, Horace Silver, Art Blakey and most forms of modern jazz. In 1990, James attended his first proper 60s club night, the revered Kaleidoscope Pop! in Leeds. On his return from the North in 1992, he developed a new commitment to Mod culture. He recalls early Untouchables Brighton New Year rallies and in 1994 moved to London. A real education for him (in so many ways...) was a period in Barcelona (1997-2002) where he helped out with the Magic in the Air club for a year or two and where his IQ was permanently reduced by a record dealer who made him clean vinyl for four weeks in a windowless room. After a decade or so in the West Country, he is now living again in London, where he plans to write about jazz, meet like-minded people and study the history of the cravat.

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September 29, 2016 By : Category : Bands Front Page Interviews ModJazz Music UK Tags:, , , ,
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Jazz for Modernists 8 – Interview with Julie Tippetts and Keith Tippett (Part 1)

This entry is part 6 of 7 in the series James Thomas on Jazz

Julie Tippetts and Keith Tippett have been at the forefront of improvisational British music and composition for over 45 years. Considered “one of the foremost vocalists in the field of European contemporary jazz and improvised music”, our readers will, of course, be familiar with Julie’s wonderful, soulful singing in the 1960s with Brian Auger and Steampacket. Since 1969, she has worked with Keith and many others in the fields of free jazz, poetry, improvisational music and, occasionally, soul and r ‘n’ b. Keith has led various ensembles such as Centipede, Ark, Tapestry and Mujician and collaborated with dozens of musicians across the fields of contemporary jazz, rock, improvisational and classical music since 1967. His brilliant piano playing can be heard on recordings made with, among many others, Louis Moholo, Stan Tracey, Howard Riley, John Tilbury, King Crimson, Robert Wyatt, and Shelagh Mcdonald. Julie and Keith kindly agreed to talk to Jazz for Modernists about their long musical partnership, thoughts on music-making and plans for the near future.

01: What projects are you both currently working on, separately and together?

KEITH: Plans for another CIS (Couple in Spirit) album. Masterclasses and solo performances in Australia this year. Incidentally, a new solo album has just been released, Mujician Solo IV Live in Piacenza (Dark Companion Records, 2015). Working with Pino Minafra’s Minafric at festivals in Italy…working at the Ravenna Festival as a duo and future work with the Archipelago Orchestra in Europe.

JULIE: Keith and I are planning a new “Couple in Spirit” CD. We’re performing in Italy with the duo and Pino Minafra’s Orchestra. Martin Archer and I are preparing CD number 5 and have put an ensemble together which has been invited to perform in Canada in May.

02: A couple of years ago, Julie read her poetry at the Vortex in Dalston, London, to improvised accompaniment from Keith. How do you both conceptualise the relationship between poetic sound/meaning and the piano and other instruments?

KEITH: There is a big difference between the spontaneous composition of CIS (with or without Julie’s poems) and my accompanying of Julie’s poems. In the latter, the words are the primary focus. The poems that Julie decides to use/or not with Couple in Spirit are part of the whole sound world. Actually, we have only ever done one poetry/music concert. Perhaps as it was so well-received, we should do more.

JULIE: As long as I can remember, I have written thoughts down in the form of poems or lyrics, whether fabricated imaginings or drawn from true-life experiences. Several years ago I compiled an anthology of selected poems which I began to take on stage to recite, sing or half-sing during improvisation performances. Total improvisation is completely unprepared and ‘plucked from the air’ with no preconceived structure or landmarks. A selection of my poems is treated in the same way as my various small percussion instruments. They are there to draw from, either partially or in completion, or not referred to at all. Sometimes I have a table prepared on stage and never use anything, but they are there if I hear a place for them. Many of my poems, or parts of them, seem to work well with other instruments, and Keith is a master at colouring and creating atmosphere, so there can be many such inclusions in our duet performances.

03: Poetry enjoys a long association with jazz. In Britain, for example, Michael Horowitz, Pete Brown & the New Departures crowd in the 1960s, Michael Garrick’s collaborations with Norma Winstone and John Smith and, of course, Stan Tracey’s Under Milk Wood suite, based on Dylan Thomas. Other than Julie’s work, Keith, have you ever set a poetic work to music or been inspired by a particular poem?

KEITH: The short answer is no. However, sometimes I put the music to the words (eg “Sun-the Living Son” (from Mary Wiegold’s Songbook), the last song of From Granite to Wind etc.). But more often than not, the words are sculpted to the music (for example, “The Monk watches the Eagle”, “Film Blues”, “A Song”).

04: Julie, how long have you been writing poetry? What and who are your poetic inspirations and what are your aims when writing?

JULIE: As with music, my love of poetry covers many types and styles of writing. Reading a wonderful poem can trigger off your own thought forms in streams of imaginings. Likewise, certain states of mind or moving situations or observations can start the unstoppable flow. When writing poetic forms to music, it is the music which tends to dictate what to write. It’s unexplainable really.

albums_comp

05: Can you tell me a little bit about how you both met and started making music together in the late 1960s?

KEITH: Julie came to a gig at the 100 Club, Oxford Street. She was managed by the late Georgio Gomelsky who had just signed myself and the Sextet. I, of course, was well aware of who she was, and a few days later was excited to be asked to play and write some arrangements on her 1st solo album 1969. A fantastic album, with some fantastic musicians performing on it.

JULIE: We had the same manager for a while, and he introduced us. He played me some of Keith’s recordings, and I remember thinking…”I’ve been waiting to hear music like this, without even realising it”. I was preparing pieces for the 1969 album, and it became obvious that Keith would be ideal to do some arrangements for it. Luckily, he agreed, and it became our first collaboration. I loved, and still love the outcome. That album was my first solo in my own right. The musicianship was fantastic, and I can’t really fault it to this day. It holds so many memories and opened so many musical doors.

06: Keith, you were born and raised in Bristol. What was your introduction to jazz and did the city have many modern jazz clubs or venues when you lived there?

KEITH: My introduction to jazz of any sort was Kenny Ball and his version of the Russian folk tune known to the record buyers as “Midnight in Moscow”. All the music I had heard up to that point (1962) had been western classical music and church choral music. I was studying piano, had been a chorister, was playing with the Bristol Youth Brass Band and was to go on and study the organ. However, this was pre- television (in our house) and it was the radio that delivered this wonderful music to me. I formed a ‘trad’ band with friends at school and performed traditional jazz at weddings/care homes/1 radio broadcast (BBC Bristol)/cabaret at weekends (at Talk of the Town nightclub) chaperoned by the banjo player’s dad. We were not allowed to attend pubs or jazz clubs as we were too young.

07: Julie, you came to improvisational music and freer jazz singing styles after a career as a successful rhythm and blues singer with Steampacket and Brian Auger’s Trinity. During that period, did you listen to or see much free jazz in London, perhaps Ornette Coleman or Albert Ayler?

JULIE: I was working constantly with Brian Auger for 4 years and seldom had the chance to hear other performers unless they were on the same bill as us. I remember there was a festival with Pharoah Saunders playing, which enticed us to try our set beginning with an unprepared “free” improvisation. Not sure how it worked at the time, but it was a taster of what was to be later developed on my own musical journey. As a band, we all took our favourite types of music on the road with us, and jazz was always one of the choices. My dad, being a trumpeter and band leader, who I sang with when I was 16, introduced me to many different musical forms, including jazz, Latin American and also Caribbean calypso. My mum loved Nellie Lutcher, Louis Jordan, Frank Sinatra etc, so my musical hunger was well fed from a variety of recipes. My own particular passions were Ray Charles, Tamla Motown, Oscar Brown Jr, Nina Simone and the Blues greats like Howling Wolf, John Lee Hooker, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee etc, and lots of African music and Flamenco guitar.

08: Keith, your first two LPs as leader of the Keith Tippett Group were you are here…I am there, recorded in 1969 and Dedicated to You, But You Weren’t Listening, from a year or so later. Both feature the brass triumvirate of Elton Dean (alto/saxello), Marc Charig (cornet) and Nick Evans (trombone). Were these records the summation of ideas going back to 1967?

KEITH: They were not the complete spectrum of the various music we were involved in during this period. But it would be true to say that at that moment Dedicated to you was typical of what the sextet was playing at that time.” You are here was released so late after the actual recording (a problem between Giorgio and Polydor) that we were not playing that material anymore and as young musicians, we were maturing rapidly. Also, we were working with many other musicians and ensembles.

PLEASE VISIT THE WEBSITE HERE!

PART 2 coming soon…

 


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James Thomas

James Thomas was born in Bristol just the wrong side of 1970 (1971). His first encounters with the 1960s were his two-year-old elder brother’s reminiscences of the Moon Landing (since deleted by the BBC) and an afternoon in 1975 listening to the Beatles with his parents. He remembers 2-Tone and the ’79 revival, but was the one in his primary school still wearing flares until he persuaded his mum to buy him a black Harrington jacket (a stylish-enough copy by Burtons) and asked a hair stylist to make him ‘look like Suggs’. In the 1980s he became obsessed with almost every aspect of the 1960s, whether it were Star Trek, the length of George Harrison’s hair in March 1965 or the first colour TV broadcast of a cricket match (he thinks it was 1968). After being side-tracked by progressive rock (an ongoing guilty pleasure), James came to his senses in 1986 on seeing footage of Booker T and the MGs and Otis Redding on a programme celebrating the 60th anniversary of television. A flirtation with ‘indie pop’ (in the bowl-cut and anorak days) led to too much introspection, but also a new interest in the psychedelic sounds of the 1960s that seemed to go hand in glove with a liking for The Pastels and The Razorcuts. A summery afternoon in the jazz tent at Bristol’s annual (and long gone) Ashton Court Festival in 1989 opened his mind to the sounds of Lee Morgan, Horace Silver, Art Blakey and most forms of modern jazz. In 1990, James attended his first proper 60s club night, the revered Kaleidoscope Pop! in Leeds. On his return from the North in 1992, he developed a new commitment to Mod culture. He recalls early Untouchables Brighton New Year rallies and in 1994 moved to London. A real education for him (in so many ways...) was a period in Barcelona (1997-2002) where he helped out with the Magic in the Air club for a year or two and where his IQ was permanently reduced by a record dealer who made him clean vinyl for four weeks in a windowless room. After a decade or so in the West Country, he is now living again in London, where he plans to write about jazz, meet like-minded people and study the history of the cravat.

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July 9, 2016 By : Category : Bands Front Page Interviews ModJazz Music UK Tags:, , , , ,
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Jazz for Modernists 3 – Ornette Coleman (1930-2015) (Part 2)

This entry is part 1 of 7 in the series James Thomas on Jazz

 

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August 29, 1965. Croydon. England. Shortly before the Beatles endured relentless screaming at the Hollywood Bowl, the Ornette Coleman Trio greeted a smaller, more ‘listening’ audience at Fairfield Halls, a much-appreciated venue on Greater London’s southern fringes. This was Coleman’s first British date, part of a major European tour lasting until May 1966 (including, later that spring, a four-week residency at Ronnie Scott’s and concerts in other major cities). The trio’s European trip dovetailed with a period of revolutionary experimentation in popular culture, that transitional period when London was in full swing, California was ‘a-dreamin’’, Byrds’ guitarist Jim McGuinn (on ‘Eight Miles High’) imitated John Coltrane and the Beatles transformed themselves from the slightly anxious individuals of Help! to the dandified aural astronauts of Revolver.

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By 1965, Coleman’s freedom-searching, boundary-shifting music was not simply a badge of uber-beatnik identity or confined to the margins of experimental jazz and the classical avant-garde, but had infiltrated the previously ‘straight-ahead’ forms of R & B and folk music. The shift from beat, folk and R & B to psychedelic rock privileges (in addition to pot and LSD) a new awareness of Eastern and Indian music among such luminaries as George Harrison, Brian Jones, David Crosby, Jeff Beck, Donovan, Ray Davies and Jerry Garcia. True. The importance of Indian sounds and imagery is paramount. But not only had Eastern-style modes already featured in jazz (check out John Coltrane’s modal 1961 classic ‘India’, but the ‘free’ music of Coleman, Coltrane, Cecil Taylor and Albert Ayler contributed other important elements to the development of psychedelic and ‘progressive’ music from 1965 onwards.

Coleman’s influence on British jazz dates to 1959. Whilst not all his Atlantic LPs were released immediately in Britain, copies of non-UK albums were shared by American GIs, imported by specialist shops and played on more daring European radio stations. Despite hostility to Coleman’s new approach within some modern jazz circles, British jazz from 1960-1965 was familiar with notions of freedom. Joe Harriott, independently of Coleman, recorded Free Form (1961) and Abstract (1963) with other West Indians: Coleridge Goode (bass) and Shake Keane (trumpet, flugelhorn), and British-born Pat Smythe (piano) and Phil Seamen (drums). By 1966, Harriott was also experimenting with Indian music, soon to record Indo-Jazz Fusions I & II with composer and multi-instrumentalist John Mayer. Around 1960, Coleman-loving New Departures poets Peter Brown and Michael Horowitz invited Ronnie Scott’s house rhythm section (including pianist Stan Tracey and bassist Jeff Clyne) to live performances combining spoken word and jazz. These led to the New Departures Quartet, featuring legendary Scottish saxophonist Bobby Wellins, which released an LP in 1964 for Transatlantic Records.

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Coleman’s blues-drenched radical music was also an (often overlooked) influence on the emerging British R & B scene, particularly on musicians working with Alexis Korner and Graham Bond. Although partly a reaction to the conservatism of ‘trad jazz’, from the late ’50s British R & B had incorporated modernist and mainstream jazzers. Bond’s alto work with tenorist Don Rendell was compared to Coleman. Though Bond actually preferred Eric Dolphy, Coleman was a major inspiration to the other members of the Graham Bond Organization: bassist Jack Bruce, drummer Ginger Baker and saxophonist Dick Heckstall-Smith. Bruce later claimed he and Baker had envisaged Eric Clapton’s role in Cream mirroring Ornette’s in his trio. Bruce, with Heckstall-Smith, future Colosseum drummer John Hiseman and guitarist John McLaughlin, would record the Ornette-inspired Things We Like LP in August 1968, three months before Cream’s final performance at the Albert Hall.

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By August 1965, then, Coleman was a key figure within several interlocking contexts: the New Departures poetry crowd, freer modern jazz, avant-garde improvisational music and the trajectories of various pioneering musicians (Bruce, Baker, Heckstall-Smith, Syd Barrett, proto-Soft Machine) looking to push R & B into unchartered waters. These people shared Ornette’s fluid, egalitarian philosophy of freedom in which each instrument could potentially represent any human voice. The British debut of the Coleman Trio, early in the counter-cultural ‘underground’, was a symbolic opportunity to affect and engage with the experimental zeitgeist. Organized by Michael Horovitz, pioneering improvisational music promoter Victor Schonfield (who’d met Ornette in New York in 1964) and Pete Brown, the Croydon concert was part of Horovitz’ Live New Departures series of multi-media performances, poetry readings, concerts and happenings. Due to unsatisfactory British Musical Union laws, Coleman composed a piece of classical music to qualify him as a ‘serious’ musician and therefore bypass regulations prohibiting performances by American jazz musicians.

The resulting twenty-four-minute ‘Forms and Sounds for Wind Quintet’, performed by the Virtuoso Ensemble, provided an interesting interlude between pianist Mike Taylor’s quartet (featuring John Hiseman, bassist Tony Reeves and sax player Dave Tomlin) and the Coleman Trio. The Trio, with drummer Charles Moffett and bass virtuoso David Izenson, then perform stunning versions of seven tracks including ‘Sadness’ and ‘Doughnut[s]’ from the recently released Town Hall, 1962 LP and the John Cage-inspired ‘Silence’ (where Coleman answers with witty aplomb a heckler requesting Ray Noble’s tricky standard ‘Cherokee’). The Croydon concert, now available on CD, was released in 1967 in Germany as the double box set An Evening with Ornette Coleman (see first photo). An exceptional testimony to Coleman’s unique genius and an intriguing source of future musical adventures in British music, critic Barry McRae called it ‘some of the greatest jazz ever presented in this country’ (“Ornette Coleman – Live”, Jazz Journal ,October 1965).

Some of those adventures up to 1970 can be traced here. In October 1965, Mike Taylor’s quartet recorded Pendulum, one of the rarest items in British jazz. Released on Columbia in June 1966, it reveals Taylor’s huge potential as a pianist somewhere between free jazz and lyrical post bop. Like Pete Brown, Taylor would collaborate with Cream, writing music for ‘Passing the Time’, ‘Pressed Rat and Warthog’ and ‘Those were the Days’ from Wheels of Fire (1968). Jack Bruce would feature on his second LP Trio (1967). A friend of the equally troubled Graham Bond and a heavy user of LSD, Taylor was found drowned in 1969. Another important 1966 release was Challenge (Eyemark Records) by the Spontaneous Music Ensemble, formed by drummer John Stevens and saxophonist Trevor Watts. Recorded in March, the album included two direct tributes to Ornette and Eric Dolphy (‘2.B. Ornette’ and ‘E.D’s message’). SME, who enjoyed a residency at London’s Little Theatre, signed to Island records for their second LP, Karyobin (1968), featuring some of the earliest recordings of leading British alto player Evan Parker.

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An important link between Ornette and British psychedelia was Steve Stollman, brother of Bernard, founder of US avant-garde label ESP-disk, one of whose earliest releases was Coleman’s Town Hall, 1962 LP. Stollman was in London in early ’66 to promote ESP. With Barry Miles and John ‘Hoppy’ Hopkins, founders of International Times, he helped organize the Spontaneous Underground ‘happenings’ at the Marquee, one of which (Trip, 13 March 1966), featured Pink Floyd Sound and the free improvisation trio AMM. Formed by Eddie Prévost (drums), Lou Gare (saxophone) and Keith Rowe (guitar) and soon to be joined by oboist Lawrence Sheaff and avant-garde composer Cornelius Cardew, AMM were part of Mike Westbrook’s big band before reaching the ears of Victor Schonfield in late 1965. Alongside Donovan, an African vocal group and ESP’s British signings the Peter Lemer Quintet (whose 1967 LP Local Colour featured baritone saxophonist John Surman), AMM played the first Spontaneous Underground event, the so-called ‘Giant Mystery Happening’ (30 January, 1966). Performing with Pink Floyd on several occasions in 1966-7, they inspired the sonic guitar experiments of Syd Barrett, who attended the recording of their debut AMMUSIC (May 1966). Whilst not the only inspirations for Pink Floyd, AMM or any other British improvisational or psychedelic act, Coleman was a key influence on Barrett and organist Rick Wright, while Eddie Prévost remarked in 2002 that ‘the music of Ornette Coleman and Albert Ayler gave us permission to disobey’ (George McKay, Circular Breathing, 2005, pp. 196).

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This refusal to ‘obey’ musical rules helps explain Coleman’s influence on British music in the late 1960s. The Trio’s 1966 gigs at Ronnie Scott’s and elsewhere divided the jazz world in much the same way as Bob Dylan’s almost contemporary British tour did amongst folkies. Melody Maker’s Benny Green, disparaging of the saxophonist’s chromatic playing and anticipating Withnail and I, remarked: ‘Like a stopped clock, Coleman is right at least twice a day’ (John Fordham, Jazz Man: The Amazing Story of Ronnie Scott and his Club, 1995, p. 121). Disappointingly, Thelonius Monk was another critical attendee at Ronnie Scott’s. However, others left with positive impressions, including future Yes drummer Bill Bruford and a young Ian Dury.

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The boundaries between jazz, rock and improvisational performance were breaking down fast. Coleman’s next London concert in February 1968 (at the Albert Hall) featured Yoko Ono (whom he’d met in Paris) simulating what (in a recorded rehearsal at least) sounds like her nascent passion for John Lennon. The revolutionary atmosphere of 1968 in Britain was probably more suited to incendiary free jazz and improvisation than 1967. In addition to Jack Bruce’s first solo LP, 1968 saw Heckstall-Smith, Hiseman and Tony Reeves appear on John Mayall’s Bare Wires LP and the formation around this trio of Colosseum, arguably the first progressive jazz-rock band. Fusion was also happening within Folk: Ornette was familiar to the groundbreaking acoustic guitarist Davy Graham and future members of Pentangle and Notting Hill’s Third Ear Band (featuring Dave Tomlin on violin). Alongside Coltrane, Ayler, Roland Kirk and Sonny Rollins, by the end of the decade Coleman’s example had not only inspired experimentation, but also cemented the saxophone within ‘progressive’ rock. Among major British players in this field were: George Khan (ex Peter Lemer Quintet, Pete Brown & the Battered Ornaments), Barbara Thompson (Colosseum), Elton Dean and Lyn Dobson (Keith Tippett Group, Soft Machine), Ian McDonald and Mel Collins (King Crimson), David Jackson (Van der Graaf Generator) and Phil Shulman (Gentle Giant).


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James Thomas

James Thomas was born in Bristol just the wrong side of 1970 (1971). His first encounters with the 1960s were his two-year-old elder brother’s reminiscences of the Moon Landing (since deleted by the BBC) and an afternoon in 1975 listening to the Beatles with his parents. He remembers 2-Tone and the ’79 revival, but was the one in his primary school still wearing flares until he persuaded his mum to buy him a black Harrington jacket (a stylish-enough copy by Burtons) and asked a hair stylist to make him ‘look like Suggs’. In the 1980s he became obsessed with almost every aspect of the 1960s, whether it were Star Trek, the length of George Harrison’s hair in March 1965 or the first colour TV broadcast of a cricket match (he thinks it was 1968). After being side-tracked by progressive rock (an ongoing guilty pleasure), James came to his senses in 1986 on seeing footage of Booker T and the MGs and Otis Redding on a programme celebrating the 60th anniversary of television. A flirtation with ‘indie pop’ (in the bowl-cut and anorak days) led to too much introspection, but also a new interest in the psychedelic sounds of the 1960s that seemed to go hand in glove with a liking for The Pastels and The Razorcuts. A summery afternoon in the jazz tent at Bristol’s annual (and long gone) Ashton Court Festival in 1989 opened his mind to the sounds of Lee Morgan, Horace Silver, Art Blakey and most forms of modern jazz. In 1990, James attended his first proper 60s club night, the revered Kaleidoscope Pop! in Leeds. On his return from the North in 1992, he developed a new commitment to Mod culture. He recalls early Untouchables Brighton New Year rallies and in 1994 moved to London. A real education for him (in so many ways...) was a period in Barcelona (1997-2002) where he helped out with the Magic in the Air club for a year or two and where his IQ was permanently reduced by a record dealer who made him clean vinyl for four weeks in a windowless room. After a decade or so in the West Country, he is now living again in London, where he plans to write about jazz, meet like-minded people and study the history of the cravat.

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September 23, 2015 By : Category : Front Page General Inspiration ModJazz Music USA Tags:, , , , , , , ,
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Jazz for Modernists 2 – Ornette Coleman (1930-2015) (Part 1)

This entry is part 2 of 7 in the series James Thomas on Jazz

Jazz for Modernists 2 – Ornette Coleman (1930-2015) (Part 1)

(Don Cherry & Ornette Coleman at Five Spot Café, New York, November, 1959)

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On June 11, 2015, the world of jazz (and beyond) lost one of its most revolutionary figures of the past sixty years: Texas-born composer, saxophonist, occasional violinist/trumpeter and all-round visionary Ornette Coleman (1930-2015). Like John Coltrane and pianist Cecil Taylor, his major North American contemporaries in the foundations of what became known slightly problematically as ‘free jazz’, Coleman’s influence was enormous, his legacy both undeniable and at times controversial. This brief article (the first of two) does not attempt to cover his life or major works, though it examines recordings from 1958 to 1965. Readers looking for reliable general appreciations of Coleman can consult other recent obituaries:

Instead, through an overview of his earliest UK releases, coupled with some fascinating nuggets of information about key listeners, I will outline Ornette’s importance for British music during the first half of that decade. In part two, I will examine in more depth his importance for the specific shift in our beloved modernist world towards the experimentations of the counter-culture and underground scenes of the middle and later sixties.

1959. A pivotal year for jazz in Britain. The disbanding of the Tubby Hayes – and Ronnie Scott-led Jazz Couriers; the second UK tour by the Modern Jazz Quartet and the opening of Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club at 39 Gerrard Street. It also signalled the first official British release of an Ornette Coleman LP: Tomorrow is the Question! (Contemporary/Vogue), described by blogger ‘London Jazz Collector’ as “Perhaps tame by future “free jazz” standards, but adventurous and uncompromising in its time”. This is a fair appraisal of a record which, like its predecessor Something Else! (1958), still provided (minus piano) a fairly conventional bop rhythm section to Coleman’s (and trumpeter Don Cherry’s) non-chordal harmonic and melodic improvisations. By the time his quartet had divided opinion with its residency at New York’s Five Spot (November 1959), Coleman’s first Atlantic LP, The Shape of Jazz to Come had appeared in the States (though its official UK release was not until 1966).

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With Coleman’s quartet now featuring Cherry, Billy Higgins (drums) and dapper bassist Charlie Haden, The Shape of Jazz to Come is considered a major staging post on the journey from bebop to free jazz. Critic Piero Scaruffi writes: “The idea was to make every member of the band a soloist equal to the others and to free the improvisation from musical constraints: basically, each individual was only bound to the mood of the other individuals, not to the technical aspects of the music that they were playing” (http://www.scaruffi.com/history/jazz15a.html). The music, though, was still rooted in the blues and even pre-blues forms (field hollers, laments). This is perhaps not surprising, as Coleman had paid his dues in various rhythm and blues combos in Texas and on the West Coast during the 1950s. For this reason alone (to say nothing of his band’s sartorial elegance c.1960-1962), the quartet’s LPs on Atlantic are required listening for today’s open-minded modernists. Take ‘Lonely Woman’, from Shape, for example, or ‘Ramblin’’ from its follow-up Change of the Century (1960). Both tracks are infused with blues feeling. The first is an impression of a rich white woman wearing “the most solitary expression in the world”. Of the second, Coleman wrote in the sleeve notes: “Ramblin’ is basically a blues, but it has a modern, more independent melodic line than older blues have, of course”. Perhaps music writer Richard Williams summed it up perfectly last week, reminiscing about his first encounter with the 1961 LP This is Our Music. Rightly hailing the “impossibly cool” cover appearance of the quartet (now with drummer Ed Blackwell), he wrote: “Nothing about it, the raw timbre of the horns, the lack of conventional chord sequences bothered me in the slightest. What it had, apart from undoubted modernity, was the “cry” that went back to the origins of the blues”.

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Early receptions of Coleman’s music in the UK jazz press (Melody Maker, Jazz Journal, Jazz Monthly etc) were not always complimentary. Alun Morgan, in Jazz Monthly (June 1959), for example, remarked that he “appears to be handicapped by his own bad fingering in places and frequently produces two simultaneous notes an octave apart (in Claire O’Neal, Ornette Coleman, 2013, p. 22). However, for some young ‘in-the-know’ jazz musicians, this rejection gave him an appealing outsider status. Composer and double-bassist Gavin Bryars remembered “as a kid in Goole hearing the Ornette Coleman Quintet on the radio, 1958 or 1959, and thinking it was fantastic. I also loved it because it was being so much reviled by the jazz press, I thought this must be great” (Ben Watson, Derek Bailey and the Story of Free Improvisation, 2004, p. 82). The views of Morgan and Bailey encapsulate the divided opinions Ornette Coleman engendered throughout his career.

One important audience for this new music comprised intellectuals, poets and beatniks associated with Michael Horovitz’ New Departures, a new poetry journal emanating from Oxford. A student at Brasenose College, Oxford University, Horovitz, alongside Liverpool poet Pete Brown and David Sladen, played a key role in introducing readers to beat writers such as Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs. In June 1965, he would also be one of the brains behind The International Poetry Incarnation at the Albert Hall, often claimed to be the birthplace of the British ‘Underground’ counter-culture and (less plausibly) ‘Swinging London’. In volume 4 of New Departures (1962), a number devoted to jazz, Coleman’s work was appraised seriously alongside contemporaries Eric Dolphy, John Coltrane and Cecil Taylor. Dolphy, who played UK dates in 1961, had appeared as part of a double quartet on Coleman’s extended improvisation Free Jazz (1961), which was initially only available in Britain on import. However, specialist jazz record shops in major cities were not slow to meet the demand for the new experimental forms of jazz. Furthermore, the case of London-based West-Indian sax player Joe Harriott, whose Free Form (1961) was recorded just before Free Jazz, shows that British modern jazz was undergoing its own revolutionary changes.

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Between 1962 and 1965, despite a self-imposed two-year break from live performance and recording, Coleman was gaining significant attention in Britain on the fringes of beatnik and mod circles. In Cambridge, where the New Departures crowd would stage readings and ‘happenings’, future Pink Floyd members Rick Wright, Syd Barrett and their entourage were fans. In Syd Barrett and Pink Floyd: Dark Globe (2010), Julian Palacios paints a vivid picture of free-jazz-loving ‘hip undergraduates’ rubbing shoulders with Vespa-riding mods, Barrett seemingly with a foot in each camp. In Canterbury (and later Mallorca), Australian beatnik Daevid Allen shared his love of Ornette with Robert Wyatt, Kevin Ayers and Mike Ratledge (who in 1966 would become Soft Machine). Wyatt, who in Jonathan Green’s essential Days in the Life: Voices from the English Underground, describes his mod youth in the early sixties, recently paid generous tribute to his hero: “His voice is immediately unique, as if he were the last surviving speaker of an ancient language”.

By the time of his first UK concert, at Fairfield Halls, Croydon, August 29, 1965, hastily organised by Horovitz, Brown and promoter of experimental music Victor Schonfield, Coleman’s music enjoyed currency not only among jazz and improvisational avant-gardes, but also the more searching elements of the rhythm and blues/nascent rock world. Two further Atlantic LPs (with bassists Scott LaFaro and Jimmy Garrison) had appeared in Europe: Ornette! (1962), recorded just five weeks after Free Jazz in January 1961 and Ornette on Tenor (1962), the latter of which Richard Cook and Brian Morton say “hooks Ornette back into the raw R&B of his Texas roots” (The Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD, 2000, p. 300). His new trio, featuring Charlie Moffett on drums and David Inzenzon on bass, had recorded Town Hall Concert (in December 1962) and a June 1965 soundtrack with free tenor player Pharaoh Sanders for the film Chappaqua (though director Conrad Rooks would ultimately use music by Ravi Shankar). The Kinks (minus Ray Davies) had seen the new Coleman trio perform in Greenwich Village in February 1965, while bands from the emerging American rock underground (Grateful Dead, Velvet Underground, The Fugs) were incorporating elements of his free improvisational styles into their own blues, folk and European-based music. Part two of this article will return to Ornette Coleman’s influence on the psychedelic and underground British music of 1965-1970.


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James Thomas

James Thomas was born in Bristol just the wrong side of 1970 (1971). His first encounters with the 1960s were his two-year-old elder brother’s reminiscences of the Moon Landing (since deleted by the BBC) and an afternoon in 1975 listening to the Beatles with his parents. He remembers 2-Tone and the ’79 revival, but was the one in his primary school still wearing flares until he persuaded his mum to buy him a black Harrington jacket (a stylish-enough copy by Burtons) and asked a hair stylist to make him ‘look like Suggs’. In the 1980s he became obsessed with almost every aspect of the 1960s, whether it were Star Trek, the length of George Harrison’s hair in March 1965 or the first colour TV broadcast of a cricket match (he thinks it was 1968). After being side-tracked by progressive rock (an ongoing guilty pleasure), James came to his senses in 1986 on seeing footage of Booker T and the MGs and Otis Redding on a programme celebrating the 60th anniversary of television. A flirtation with ‘indie pop’ (in the bowl-cut and anorak days) led to too much introspection, but also a new interest in the psychedelic sounds of the 1960s that seemed to go hand in glove with a liking for The Pastels and The Razorcuts. A summery afternoon in the jazz tent at Bristol’s annual (and long gone) Ashton Court Festival in 1989 opened his mind to the sounds of Lee Morgan, Horace Silver, Art Blakey and most forms of modern jazz. In 1990, James attended his first proper 60s club night, the revered Kaleidoscope Pop! in Leeds. On his return from the North in 1992, he developed a new commitment to Mod culture. He recalls early Untouchables Brighton New Year rallies and in 1994 moved to London. A real education for him (in so many ways...) was a period in Barcelona (1997-2002) where he helped out with the Magic in the Air club for a year or two and where his IQ was permanently reduced by a record dealer who made him clean vinyl for four weeks in a windowless room. After a decade or so in the West Country, he is now living again in London, where he plans to write about jazz, meet like-minded people and study the history of the cravat.

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July 8, 2015 By : Category : Front Page ModJazz Music Picks Reviews Tags:, , ,
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Masters – James Taylor

This entry is part 4 of 8 in the series Masters2

James Taylor was born in 1964 and played organ in Medway legends the Prisoners, making four classic albums between 1982 and 1986. After the band spilt he formed the James Taylor Quartet, initially predominately playing Hammond-heavy versions of TV theme tunes and film soundtracks before developing his own brand of what would soon be known as acid jazz. Taking in jazz, funk, soul, hip-hop, rock and more the JTQ have enjoyed huge success in a near 30 year period which continues to the present day. Ahead of the JTQ’s appearance at the Margate Weekender, James Taylor talks to Mark Raison for NUTSMAG.

01. When did you start taking an interest in music?

As early as I can recall, I remember seeing the Beatles on Top of the Pops in 1968 playing ‘Hey Jude’. I was into all sorts of music from an early age; eclecticism was always my thing and still is now.

02. Where they any musicians in your family?

My uncle had his own band playing sixties soul and my mother and grandmother were piano players and they gave me my earliest musical education. I had my first piano lesson when I was four years old. I was very interested in trying to work out tunes that I had heard on the radio and TV, so no change there really. My brothers and I formed a band playing Stevie Wonder covers.

03. Around the time of recording the first Prisoners LP, Better In Black, you briefly went to university but soon quit. What route do you think your musical path would’ve taken if you’d not made that decision?

Hard to say, I left after a few days when I realised there was no way I could take the whole thing seriously. I wanted to play with the Prisoners. I was not interested in engineering and I was bored of education. It was a scary decision to say to my professor “I want to be a musician” and to turn my back on serious education but I felt gigging was the most exciting thing in my life, so there was not much of a choice really. I still feel the same way.

04. On the first two Prisoners albums, before your Hammond, you got a great sound out of a Casio keyboard.

Thank you. I found the Casio in a keyboard shop and noticed it had a setting called ‘electric organ’. I played along with my 7” vinyl of ‘Green Onions’ and I was able to get a sound not too dissimilar to Booker T. Jones so that’s how I whiled away the evenings. As a sixteen year old before joining a band, I was hooked on all things Hammond-ish.

05. After the Prisoners, how did the James Taylor Quartet take shape and what was your original ambition for the band?

I was pissed off when the Prisoners spilt up because I just wanted to gig, so I put my own band together and just carried on really. You know when things fall apart sometimes it forces you into a new position or way or operating that was unforeseen but that in some way brings you forward unexpectedly. It was fortuitous that Eddie Piller liked our sound and started putting out our records. I was very surprised that other people liked our stuff; I thought I was the only Hammond nut around, turned out there were others.

06. Wait A Minute was a highpoint of the original JTQ line-up and included ‘Theme From Starsky and Hutch’ which is still what many people best know you for. What are your recollections of recording that LP and of Pee Wee Ellis and Fred Wesley from the JB’s who played on it?

We were at a rather posh studio with a very expensive producer. We had a great laugh actually, didn’t want to come home. Pee Wee and Fred were really amazing. They complimented our sound and it felt odd to hear your heroes playing on your own record. I knew ‘Starsky’ would be popular but I didn’t think it would still be doing the rounds now, it’s aged well.

07. With Get Organized came changes to the quartet line-up. After working with the same musicians you’d known from Medway, how was it suddenly working with young jazz musicians known in their own right?

That was a period where I felt a lot of pressure from Polydor to be at the centre of this new emerging musical scene, but at the same time I really enjoyed working with all these great new players. I found a way to use the Hammond alongside all sorts; it was a kind of stretching experience. I felt that the early line-up had sort of extinguished itself and I had to decide how best to go forward. It was very liberating but when you separate from the people who share and understand your musical development closely it’s a shock to discover other people don’t see things quite the same, I had to be flexible. So it was a steep learning curve, it took a while until I found my feet again after the first band finished.

08. That period from the late 80s to early 90s encompassed rare groove, jazz, hip-hop and soul. It moved fast and the JTQ were right in amongst it; making albums at a rapid rate. How do you view those times?

We gigged and recorded flat out so it was tiring but very exciting. I could have taken more time out to examine things a bit I guess, but when you’re moving so fast you kind of don’t want to stop. The band was regularly selling out large venues all around the world. We were considered a very bankable act by the UK music scene and promoters, so we just lived on a bus basically, marriages fell apart, people got stressed out a bit, but it was a non-stop party for the first eight to ten years at least!

09. You had/have a strong reputation as a live act but was there pressure from record companies – when the acid jazz scene was at its height – to have bigger chart success?

Yes. Everyone in the business wanted us to be a vocal act, I was okay with this but instrumentals were always my passion, so it was good to make soul records as long as we could gig Hammond instrumentals as well. We had hits, a lot of commercial success was fun for a while but I soon felt the need to rebalance things and get back into our more core sound.

10. The Template celebrated 25 years of the JTQ in 2011. It’s a great album but you seem to operate more under-the-radar these days.

Thanks, but I wonder why you feel that to be the case? In the last three months we’ve played a week of sold out shows at Ronnie Scott’s, sold out the Queen Elizabeth Hall, the Sage in Newcastle, headlined the Liverpool Jazz Festival. These are big gigs and we’ve been played on all the national BBC radio stations. As well as this we’ve recorded an album for TV/film and advertising, another live album for Ronnie’s, and I’ve written and am about to record a huge choral/Hammond piece for Cherry Red. I think you maybe feel we are under the radar because you’re not personally aware of these things. We are still one of the biggest jazz acts in the country and are permanently in demand worldwide, the problem is I’m running out of energy, I’m fifty now!

11. Your recent album, Closer To The Moon, contains elements of classical music. For many ‘classical music’ seems like something impenetrable and intimating, as well as outside their taste. What’s your interest in it?

Closer isn’t a classical record though, it’s just got some of those sounds on it. I’m interested in music which connects directly with me, this could be Stevie Wonder or J S Bach, I don’t really make a distinction. The Hammond works well in a variety of musical genres so I’ll make a record with Billy Childish or with a cathedral choir or Tina Turner, it’s all good. I recognise that classical music is a turn off to loads of people but what can I do? I’m just into it just like I’m into the Small Faces, so I’m excited to represent myself using aspects of the classical idiom. Have you heard those string arrangements of Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake?
Classical music.

12. What period of your career so far do you look back on most fondly and why?

I like things as they are now because I have complete freedom musically, so I guess now is the best period for me, it still feels very exciting to play the Hammond on stage, just as it did my first gig with the Prisoners. Being a musician is a privilege and it’s not a thing that I take for granted or shy away from.  I’ve enjoyed my career in music and I’m very grateful for your scene for being so supportive to us for so long. The mod scene got us started really and it’s always great to see mods in the crowd showing the others how to dance and dress. I’ve really enjoyed answering your questions, it’s given me a chance to reflect on many things and I’m very much looking forward to your festival down in Margate. I’ve never played there before so I can’t wait, also pleased to see that we share the bill with other great musicians: Graham, Allan and Simon [Graham Day and the Forefathers]. I reckon it’s going to be a memorable gig.

Find out more info about the Margate Weekender.


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Mark Raison

I've spent three-quarters of my life wandering the mod path with detours down its side streets and dark alleys. From an enthusiastic youth to a still-enthusiastic-but-harder-to-tell grizzled old goat, I've dabbled in all parts of the scene from writing fanzines 'Round Midnight and Something Has Hit Me; to promoting bands; attempting to manage bands; singing in the mighty garage combo The Electric Fayre; putting on indie, psych and soul clubs including Freak Scene, Orange Sunshine, and Shake!; writing liner notes for Reg King releases on Circle Records; and, in fitter times, tucking away the odd goal for the New Untouchables. I still DJ from my box of R&B humdingers but more often you’ll find me tapping away on my blog at monkeypicks.co.uk. I like the poetry of Charles Bukowski and dislike the taste of cheese.

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April 23, 2015 By : Category : Bands Front Page General Interviews ModJazz News Picks Tags:, , , , , , ,
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Jazz for Modernists 1- Intro

This entry is part 3 of 7 in the series James Thomas on Jazz

Introduction: Ten for Starters

Hello, my name is James Thomas. Welcome to a new series about modern jazz in connection with modernism as understood by the New Untouchables, an important subject sometimes under-represented among mods and 50s/60s fans.

What was the role of jazz for the mod attitude and aesthetic? How much did early mods really listen to jazz? Where did they buy their records/hear live music? Did some mods follow ‘trad jazz’ due to its links with early  British R&B? How was jazz represented in fiction, film and other forms of cultural media? What about British and European modern jazz?

Jazz is fundamental to Mod history. The Ace/Kent label has produced a series of excellent ‘Mod Jazz’ CDs/LPs, concentrating on music for the dance floor. These are brilliant introductions to soul-jazz, funky hard bop, danceable cool, Latin and jazzy R&B. See, AN EXAMPLE IS HERE!

Jazz ‘beyond’ the dance floor, though, is equally ‘where it’s at’. Far from being ‘too intellectual’, modal jazz, the New Thing, post-bop, free jazz and their offshoots complement well the existential attitude of today’s mindful modernist.

Here are ten introductions to various styles of modern jazz. They’re not a ‘top ten’ of ‘mod jazz’, but they cover a lot of ground and introduce some essential names.

1. Bebop

Dizzy Gillespie & His Sextet: ‘Night in Tunisia’ (1946) (From Bluebird 66528-2CD The Complete RCA Victor Recordings, 1995)

GREAT VIDEO HERE!

dizzy_g

Written in 1942 (by Dizzy Gillespie and pianist Frank Paparelli), ‘(A) Night in Tunisia’ is a standard of bebop, the style pioneered in the early 40s by, among others, trumpeter John ‘Dizzy’ Gillespie, alto saxophonist Charlie Parker, pianists Thelonius Monk and Bud Powell, drummers Kenny Clarke and Max Roach, guitarist Charlie Christian and double bassist Ray Brown. Bebop (or bop), evolving from big band swing, was developed by Kansas City – and New York-based musicians experimenting with harmony, rhythm and improvisation. ‘Night in Tunisia’ has often been covered; twice by drummer Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers (1957 and 1960). Though not the first version (Gillespie recorded it for Continental in 1944 with singer Sarah Vaughan & Her All Stars as ‘Interlude’), this 1946 recording is possibly the most important.

2. Cubop/Latin

Charlie Parker/ Machito & His Orchestra: ‘Okiedoke’ (1949) (From High Definition Jazz HDJ 4076-CD The Latin Bird, 2000)

GREAT VIDEO HERE!

Charlie_parker

Dizzy Gillespie encountered Latin rhythms in Cab Calloway’s 1930s orchestra through Cuban bandleader Mario Bauzá, later leader of the dance orchestra of singer-percussionist Machito (Frank Grillo). In May 1943, at Manhattan’s La Conga club, the orchestra (minus Machito) wrote ‘Tangá’, probably the first fusion of Cuban rhythms and black swing-band phrasing. The inevitable dialogue between Latin music and bebop became known as Cubop. Gillespie’s 1947 big band included percussionist Chano Pozo, composer of ‘Tin Tin Deo’ and ‘Manteca’, while West-Coast pianist/bandleader Stan Kenton appeared with Machito’s Afro-Cuban orchestra at New York’s Town Hall (January 1948). Norman Granz recorded Machito for his Clef label in 1948 and, soon after, with Charlie Parker. ‘Okiedoke’, where Parker’s solo is fairly straight bebop, is a good example of the genre.

3. Cool Jazz

The Modern Jazz Quartet: ‘Ralph’s New Blues’ (1955) (From Prestige LP 7005 Concorde)

Formed in 1952, The Modern Jazz Quartet became synonymous with ‘Cool jazz’, a term covering various styles that, from around 1946, dispensed with bebop’s fiery tempos. Although mainstays Milt Jackson (vibes) and John Lewis (piano) were trained in bop improvisation, Lewis was in the Miles Davis Nonet, which in 1949/50 recorded some important sides with arranger Gil Evans (released in 1957 as Birth of the Cool). Davis, Lewis and Evans (with Stan Getz, Zoot Sims, Lee Konitz, Paul Desmond, Dave Brubeck and Gerry Mulligan) took a more subdued, ordered approach, influenced by European classical (particularly Baroque Chamber) music. The MJQ were popular in Europe, providing the soundtrack to Roger Vadim’s 1957 film Sait-on jamais (released in the US as No Sun in Venice and the UK as One Never Knows).

4. Hard Bop

Horace Silver & the Jazz Messengers: ‘The Preacher’ (1955) (From Blue Note LP 1518 Horace Silver & the Jazz Messengers)

HoraceSilverAndTheJazzMesse

Connecticut-born Horace Silver (1928-2014) was a key pianist in ‘hard bop’, a style developed from the mid-50s to the mid-60s. Absorbing bebop’s new vocabulary, it drew on blues, gospel and rhythm & blues (big and small band) in contrast to the classical influences of ‘cool’ and chamber jazz. Hard bop numbers were longer than bebop or straight R&B, melodies alternating with lengthy soloing. Around 1953, Silver and drummer Art Blakey formed the Jazz Messengers, a constantly-evolving combo featuring the cream of East Coast jazz musicians. The catchy, gospel fused ‘The Preacher’ was initially deemed too ‘old-fashioned’ by Blue Note producer Alfred Lion. Silver’s own quintets, incorporating Latin, soul and modal jazz influences, recorded many fine albums for Blue Note, including The Tokyo Blues (1962), Song for My Father (1964) and The Jody Grind (1966).

5. (Cutting-Edge) Hard Bop

Thelonius Monk quartet, with John Coltrane: ‘Bye-ya’ (1957) (From Blue Note CD Thelonius Monk Quartet with John Coltrane at Carnegie Hall, 2005)

‘Straight ahead’ and ‘funky’ hard bop, exemplified by Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, trumpeter Lee Morgan, saxophonists Sonny Rollins and Julian ‘Cannonball’ Adderley and Horace Silver’s groups was probably the dominant form of mainstream modern jazz from 1955-1967. However, many musicians involved were not content to repeat the formula. The first great Miles Davis Quintet (1955-1958), featuring John Coltrane on tenor sax, pushed boundaries on LPs like Relaxin’ (Prestige, 1957). In 1957, Coltrane joined the quartet of unclassifiable genius Thelonius Monk for a residency at New York’s Five Spot Cafe. His playing on Monk’s calypso-inspired ‘Bye-ya’, recorded at a recently unearthed concert at Carnegie Hall (November 1957), reveals how Coltrane’s ‘sheets of sound’ style owed much to his interaction with Monk’s abstract
piano phrasings.

6. Modal Jazz

Miles Davis: ‘All Blues’ (1959) (From Columbia LP CL1355/CS1863 Kind of Blue)

miles_davis

From Miles Davis’ epoch-defining Kind of Blue, ‘All Blues’, featuring Coltrane and pianist Bill Evans, is a foundational example of modal jazz (the title track of Milestones (1958) is often considered the first). Theorised by composer/bandleader George Russell (1923-2009), modal jazz uses scales or modes rather than chords for harmonic progression. This sounds technical and it’s often easier to identify than describe modal playing. Suffice to say, improvisation around scales allowed greater melodic and harmonic freedom and drone effects evoking an exotic, ‘Eastern’ flavour. Coltrane pursued modal styles after 1960 on tracks like ‘India’, ‘Impressions’ and ‘A Love Supreme’. Pianists McCoy Tyner (from Coltrane’s quartet) and Herbie Hancock (whose ‘Maiden Voyage’ is key) brought modal techniques to hard bop on their Blue Note sessions and those of artists like vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson and saxophonist
Joe Henderson.

7. Soul jazz 

Ray Bryant Trio: ‘Shake a Lady’’ (1964) Sue 108

Ray-Bryant-Prestige-7098

It’s quite difficult to distinguish ‘soul jazz’ from ‘hard bop’. ‘Moanin’, by Philadelphia-born pianist Bobby Timmons, is considered early soul-jazz; yet the first LP it features on, Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers (1958), is classic hard bop. Soul jazz perhaps emphasises gospel’s call-and-response structure more. While hard bop usually privileges at least one brass instrument, soul jazz often worked in a rhythm trio format, particularly with Hammond organists like Jack McDuff, Richard Holmes and Jimmy Smith. Another Philly pianist, Ray Bryant (1931-2011), perfected a funky soul jazz style for various labels (Columbia, Prestige, Sue and Cadet). His dance floor mover ‘Shake a Lady’, covered the following year by “Cannonball” Adderley, is classic soul jazz.

8. Post-Hard Bop

Charles Mingus: ‘Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting’ (1959) (From Atlantic LP 1305 Blue & Roots)

charlie_mingus

Double bassist, bandleader, writer and composer Charles Mingus (1922-1979) was a legendary figure for modernists, beats, original hipsters and progressive folkies like Bert Jansch and Davey Graham. His extensive discography includes five or six essential LPs for modernists, including Pithecanthropus Erectus (1956), Mingus Ah Um (1959) and Blues & Roots (1960). ‘Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting’ kicks off the latter in fine style, a frenetic, buzzing take on soulful blues featuring a six-strong horn line-up (including future Blue Note star, altoist Jackie McLean, the gospel-driven piano of Horace Parlan and Mingus’ stunning lead bass). Somewhere between Ray Charles and the free jazz of Ornette Coleman, this is five minutes of aural tension that all modernists need to hear.

9. Avant-garde/New Thing

Eric Dolphy: ‘The Prophet’ (live) (1961) (From New Jazz LP NJ 8260 At The Five Spot)

ERIC_DOLPHY

Los Angeles-born multi-instrumentalist (flute, alto sax, bass clarinet) Eric Dolphy (1928-1964), like fellow travellers Ornette Coleman, Sun Ra and Cecil Taylor, was part of the so-called ‘New Thing’ in jazz. Veteran of sessions with Chico Hamilton and Mingus, in 1960 Dolphy recorded his first two LPs for New Jazz: Outward Bound and Out There, and featured on Coleman’s groundbreaking Atlantic LP, Free Jazz. In 1961, a momentous year, he recorded with Coltrane (Olé), George Russell (Ezz-thetics), pianist Mal Waldron (The Quest) and trumpet prodigy Booker Little (Far Cry). That July 16, a quintet featuring Dolphy, Little, Waldron, bassist Richard Davis (who would play on Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks) and drummer Eddie Blackwell recorded at New York’s Five Spot around two hours of fantastically modern music, including ‘The Prophet’, described by critic Michael G. Nastos as “a puckery blues… armed with minor phrasings and stretched harmonics” (Allmusic). Dolphy’s masterpiece Out to Lunch (1964) would be his only recording for Blue Note.

10. Avant-garde/Post-bop

Andrew Hill: ‘Siete Ocho’ (1964) From Blue Note BLP 4159/BST 84159 Judgment!

andrew_hill

Of Haitian origin, Chicago-born pianist Andrew Hill (1931-2007) recorded a dozen or so outstanding, challenging sessions for Blue Note between 1963 and 1970. With one foot in tradition, another in the future, Hill, like Eric Dolphy, Freddie Hubbard and the second great Miles Davis Quintet with Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter and Tony Williams, skirted the fringes of the avant-garde around a broad range of styles now defined as ‘post-bop’. Opening his third Blue Note session, Judgment! (1964), ‘Siete Ocho’ (Spanish for 7/8) is a pulsating nine-minute dialogue between Hill’s exploratory piano and Bobby Hutcherson’s atmospheric vibes, propelled by probing bass from Richard Davis and powerful drumming from Coltrane’s sticks man Elvin Jones.


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James Thomas

James Thomas was born in Bristol just the wrong side of 1970 (1971). His first encounters with the 1960s were his two-year-old elder brother’s reminiscences of the Moon Landing (since deleted by the BBC) and an afternoon in 1975 listening to the Beatles with his parents. He remembers 2-Tone and the ’79 revival, but was the one in his primary school still wearing flares until he persuaded his mum to buy him a black Harrington jacket (a stylish-enough copy by Burtons) and asked a hair stylist to make him ‘look like Suggs’. In the 1980s he became obsessed with almost every aspect of the 1960s, whether it were Star Trek, the length of George Harrison’s hair in March 1965 or the first colour TV broadcast of a cricket match (he thinks it was 1968). After being side-tracked by progressive rock (an ongoing guilty pleasure), James came to his senses in 1986 on seeing footage of Booker T and the MGs and Otis Redding on a programme celebrating the 60th anniversary of television. A flirtation with ‘indie pop’ (in the bowl-cut and anorak days) led to too much introspection, but also a new interest in the psychedelic sounds of the 1960s that seemed to go hand in glove with a liking for The Pastels and The Razorcuts. A summery afternoon in the jazz tent at Bristol’s annual (and long gone) Ashton Court Festival in 1989 opened his mind to the sounds of Lee Morgan, Horace Silver, Art Blakey and most forms of modern jazz. In 1990, James attended his first proper 60s club night, the revered Kaleidoscope Pop! in Leeds. On his return from the North in 1992, he developed a new commitment to Mod culture. He recalls early Untouchables Brighton New Year rallies and in 1994 moved to London. A real education for him (in so many ways...) was a period in Barcelona (1997-2002) where he helped out with the Magic in the Air club for a year or two and where his IQ was permanently reduced by a record dealer who made him clean vinyl for four weeks in a windowless room. After a decade or so in the West Country, he is now living again in London, where he plans to write about jazz, meet like-minded people and study the history of the cravat.

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May 5, 2015 By : Category : Front Page ModJazz Music Picks Reviews Tags:,
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Pid – Hey! Mr DJ

This entry is part 13 of 20 in the series Hey! Mr DJ

Pid is one of Birmingham and the UK Scenes’ most respected and longest serving DJs, who has appeared at nearly every Modernist Type Event there is on offer over many years. We asked him a few questions recently and here is his replies.

01. How and when did you get into music and what were you listening to then?

As a kid I used to get dragged along to watch bands at various working men’s clubs by my Parents, mostly Jazz stuff, then in the late 70’s my mate played me The Jam LP, All Mod Cons and that got me into the mod thing.

02. Where was your first DJ slot?

I think it was upstairs at the Upper Grounds Pub (nick name The Rat Pan) in Witton, Birmingham.

03. What was your most memorable DJ spot?

The Isle of Wight rallies, probably when the Action played.

04. What so far, has been your worst DJ experience?

Ronnie Scotts in Brum a few years back, it was the August Bank Holiday Monday after one of the rallies – I was knackered. They’d asked me to DJ at a soul all-dayer in between these soul bands that were doing all this Blues Brothers stuff, they were shit. It finished about 2.30am, they didn’t give me a cent and I had to be up for work at 5am.

05. Your favourite scene DJ’s and why?

Any DJ who can keep folk on the dance floor.

06. What has shaped your DJ sound and why?

The variety of sounds, anything from early R&B to 60s beat and psych.

07. What was your best ever find/discovery?

It was an over the phone auction and I won a track called Love is in the Air by The Liberation Street Singers.

08. Who was your biggest influence musically and your favourite artist(s)?

Biggest influence was definitely all the early Jam songs,  I haven’t any favourite artists in particular.

09. Where can folks currently catch your DJ set?

The Moseley Arms, Digbeth, Birmingham and some of the NUTS rallies/events.

10. Please give us a top 10 all time favourites and a current top 5 spins?

Blimey, tough one, will probably be completely different tomorrow.

All time top Ten:

  1. Howlin’ Wolf – Smokestack Lightning
  2. Danny Owens – You’re a little too late
  3. Biily Hawks – Oh baby, I believe I’m losing you
  4. The Contours – First you look at the purse
  5. Jackie Wilson – Soul Galore
  6. The Action – Lonely Room
  7. Tintern Abbey – Vacuum Cleaner
  8. Tito Puente – Hit the Bongo
  9. Jimmy Smith – The Cat
  10. Mose Allison – Baby Please Don’t Go

Current Top 5 Tracks:

  1. Evil Eve – Tommy Youngblood.
  2. Jolly Jax – Preciate’ it.
  3. Silas Hogan – I’m in love with you baby.
  4. Lloyd Nolan – I don’t know about you.
  5. Liberation street singers – Love is in the air.

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drrobert

I run The New Untouchables organization and events like the Brighton Mod Weekender, Le Beat Bespoké Festival (and compilation series of the same name) and I co-organize Euro Ye Ye with the Trouble & Tea crew. I have run many clubs over the last 20 years in London, where I live and current nights include Timebox, Zoo Zoo, Crossfire, 100 Club and Mousetrap allnighter which has just celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2011. I have been lucky to DJ all over the globe including Japan, Canada, USA and Europe and met some great people on my journey. I run RnB Records to offset my vinyl addiction: newuntouchables.com/rnbrecords for rare vintage vinyl.

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June 3, 2013 By : Category : Club Soul DJs Front Page Interviews ModJazz Music RnB UK Tags:, , ,
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Big Boss Man – (NewBreed)

This entry is part 5 of 10 in the series NewBreed1

Big Boss Man, London, UK – Masters of the Hammond/Bongo/Fuzz Boogaloo Beat Sound!

Band Members:

Nass a.k.a “the Bongolian” – Organ, mono-synth, bongos, vocals.
Scott Milsom
a.k.a “the Hawk” – Bass,
Desmond Rogers
– Drums,
Trev Harding
– Guitar

1. How did you guys meet and what drove you to make music together?

Nass, Scott and Trev met in Newbury in the ‘80’s on the mod/scooter scene, we met with Des later when Scott moved to Bristol. We started making music ‘cause we loved all the Hammond and Bongo sounds the DJs were spinning and wanted to play it live – back then you could not download tunes – you had to go where they were being played.

2. What are your live shows like?

Shit. Only joking! If you like to party then we think you’ll like it. We use old vintage analog gear – leslies, echo-boxes, tone benders, spring reverbs etc. to get our authentic groovy sound, then break down to bongos and soul drums.

3. What are your main influences in music? Who do/would you play covers by? And who do you despise?

We dig: Jimmy Smith, Mongo Santa-Maria, Jean Jacques-Perrey, James Brown and Bernard Purdie. We used to do Hammond covers of ‘I’m a Man’ and ‘Cloud 9’ and ‘Light my Fire’ when we started out we but don’t currently do any. Nass loves to watch X-factor, which a lot of people seem to despise for some reason – he hopes to enter next year!

4. What are your main influences outside of music?

Nass and Trev are keen fashionistas, Des plays in about 11 bands so has no time for anything else and the Hawk enjoys relaxing in a pair of dungarees watching the Dukes of Hazzard!

5. How many official recordings have you done? How many released? Where can they be found? And who write your songs and what subjects do you deal with?

BBM have released 3 albums; Humanize, Winner & Full English Beat Breakfast with Blow Up records – you can get vinyl & cds from and in- the-know record shops or downloads from iTunes etc. Nass writes a lot of the songs, with a few co-writes with Trev and group efforts, most of the tunes are instrumental whose titles are taken from “experiences” that happen on tour The songs with vocals are about subjects ranging from love and relationships , to dodgy promoters! nWe are currently working on the 4th LP which so far has been recorded “as live” in Ramshackle Studios.

6. What’s your favorite song in your repertoire currently?

Beat Breakfast from the last LP “Full English Beat Breakfast”  which is out on Blow Up records.

7. How would you describe the current underground scene? Do you participate?

We travel around the world; Moscow, Spain, Greece and are always amazed to find people know the music and have the records. We participate pretty regularly, and have done for many years, our fave event is Euro Ye Ye in northern Spain.

8. What has been the biggest challenge to date?

Touring 3000 miles round Spain in a beaten up old bus with a hole in the radiator was a bit of a mission as was doing the Big Boss Man re-mix of “the Bottle” for Paul Weller.

9. How often do you Rehearse? Play Live? Record?

We are doing one of the three all the time, when not doing one we do the other.

10. What do you think of the music coverage in the media?

60’s Hammond music is a bit niche so isn’t covered that much, but we’ve had reviews in Record Collector, Echos, Blues & Soul, Loaded and even HiFi Choice.

11. Do you rate any other current bands?

We met some Dutch guys the other day  from a band called Dewolffe that were doing a spin off “Hammond Battle” both seemed pretty cool.

12. Who/Where would you most like to record and why?

Hitsville USA – the original Tamla Mowtown studio, to try and capture the sound and vibe of those old classic recordings.

13. What should we expect from you in the future?  What are your plans and ambitions?

We are going release our new record in 2012, which will feature a few collaborations with other artists and then go out on tour in the UK and the rest of Europe to help promote it.

Band Promo Links:

www.big-boss-man.com
www.facebook.com/BigBossManOfficial

www.myspace.com/bigbossmanmyspace

 


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Eron Falbo - EDITOR

Brazilian polymath Eron Falbo came to London in 2009 after leaving his band ‘The Julians’ to pursue a solo career and become a cosmopolitician. Falbo began writing at the age of 11 for the school newspaper. By the age of 16 he had got his first job as a journalist. His experience in other magazines stretches from film critic to travel writer, passing through much but never leaving the culture spectrum. Apart from writing, Falbo is also an emerging singer. He was invited to record an album in one of the best studios in Nashville, Tennessee by none other than legendary producer Bob Johnston, who recorded the best material by the likes of Bob Dylan, Simon & Garfunkel, Leonard Cohen and Johnny Cash (all acclaimed writers). As of yet he’s only released one single, ‘Beat the Drums’ which was featured on Dermot O’Leary’s “Go Buy Monday” (single of the week) for BBC Radio 2, among other media. Currently, Falbo fronts the band ‘the Kyniks’ in venues in London and around the UK and can be occasionally spotted prowling the scene of the New Untouchables taking notes.

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February 6, 2012 By : Category : Bands Front Page Interviews ModJazz Music UK Tags:, , ,
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Gumbasia (1955) – Art Clokey

‘Gumbasia’, a 3 minute 34 second short film produced in 1953 and released on September 2, 1955, was the first clay animation produced by Art Clokey, who went on to create the classic series Gumby and Davey and Goliath using the same technique.

Clokey created Gumbasia while studying at the University of Southern California under the direction of Slavko Vorkapić. It was a surreal short of pulsating lumps of clay set to music in a parody of Walt Disney’s Fantasia. Gumbasia was created in a style Vorkapić taught called Kinesthetic Film Principles. Described as “massaging of the eye cells” this technique, based on camera movements and stop-motion editing, is responsible for much of the look and feel later seen in Gumby films. When Clokey showed Gumbasia to film producer Sam Engel in 1955, Engel decided to fund a 15-minute short film that became the first Gumby episode – Gumby Goes to the Moon.” – Wikipedia

For more than 50 years, Art Clokey worked with clay to produce works of art that form a catalog of “firsts” in the medium of film and animation. He made the first music videoGumbasia, in which colored clay shapes moved and transformed to the expressive jazz rhythms. He was the first to introduce the style and use of clay models of objects, animals and people in television commercials. He was the first to develop clay animation techniques and the first to use them in full-length feature films. He invented trimentional animation based on kinesthetic principles, and it became the signature of his long and productive career. A true original and light-years ahead of his time.

“Clay objects of all sizes, shapes and colors contort and reshape themselves to a jazz music score.” – IMDB


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admin

Pip! Pip! Are the Creative Business Engine behind various music based organisations of the cool underground variety. Providing angst, confusion, bewilderment and annoyance in equal amounts. We design/host/manage great sites like this one! Why not hire us one day soon?

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January 30, 2012 By : Category : Animation Front Page Inspiration Media ModJazz Picks Tags:, , , , ,
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The Beginning – In Everything

New outfit from Sweden featuring brothers Anders and Steffan Ljunggren from Jazz pop duo Trummor & Orgel and featuring some of Sweden’s top musicians, Andreas Stellan and Martin Fogelström from Dungen, Anna Järvinen, Ludwig Bell and The Works. Described it as sunshine pop with a 21st century feel is quite appropriate. The album sounds in parts like a contemporary version of the classic End album ‘Introspection’, which is fine by us here at NUTS HQ. The whole album is well worth a listen, with half a dozen stand-out tracks. Watch out for a London performance soon from these guys.

http://www.myspace.com/thebeginningsweden


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drrobert

I run The New Untouchables organization and events like the Brighton Mod Weekender, Le Beat Bespoké Festival (and compilation series of the same name) and I co-organize Euro Ye Ye with the Trouble & Tea crew. I have run many clubs over the last 20 years in London, where I live and current nights include Timebox, Zoo Zoo, Crossfire, 100 Club and Mousetrap allnighter which has just celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2011. I have been lucky to DJ all over the globe including Japan, Canada, USA and Europe and met some great people on my journey. I run RnB Records to offset my vinyl addiction: newuntouchables.com/rnbrecords for rare vintage vinyl.

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January 22, 2012 By : Category : Articles Front Page Genre ModJazz Music Reviews Tags:, ,
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