Monday 17 July 2017, 7.30pm
JOHN COLTRANE : 23 September 1926 - 17 July 1967
A stellar line-up to commemorate the 50th anniversary of John Coltrane’s passing. Showcasing Paul Dunmall’s blistering Coltrane influenced quartet together with special guest, lifelong Coltrane devotee and one of Europe’s foremost saxophonists Alan Skidmore. And making its premiere performance the newly formed international trio of Julie Kjær (DK), Mark Wastell (GB) and Ståle Liavik Solberg (NOR).
Paul Dunmall / tenor saxophone
Howard Cottle / tenor saxophone
Olie Brice / double bass
Tony Bianco / drums
plus special guest Alan Skidmore / tenor saxophone
Julie Kjær / flute
Mark Wastell / percussion
Ståle Liavik Solberg / percussion
Ascension-styled full ensemble finale
John Coltrane playlist compiled by John Thurlow
During the middle 1980s Paul and Alan were the two horn front line of TENOR TONIC, a hard working quartet with Paul Rogers and Tony Levin, but their paths have crossed rarely since. This evening should prove a joyous reunion. Both men have worn their Coltrane loyalties on their sleeves for decades and each saxophonist has come close to the source. As a teenager Alan witnessed first hand the 1961 appearance of the John Coltrane Quintet at the legendary Walthamstow concert, even gaining access to the green room after the show and sitting just feet away from the man but being young and feeling a little too awe struck to strike up a conversation. He has also had the great pleasure of working for a week at Ronnie Scott’s as a member of Elvin Jones’ Jazz Machine and appearing in the 80s with Rashied Ali for a radio and TV tribute to Trane in Baden-Baden, Germany. In the early 1970s Paul Dunmall lived for three years in America and through his studies at the Divine Light Mission ashram had the good fortune to meet, play and perform in a big band led by Alice Coltrane.
Paul Dunmall's massive sound on saxophone and melodic sensibility has always demonstrated the influence of John Coltrane on his playing and he makes this debt even more explicit in the long standing duo with drummer Tony Bianco whose own rolling, polyrhythmic excursions and free-time explorations are descended from both Elvin Jones and Rashied Ali. Joining them in the quartet are saxophonist Howard Cottle and Olie Brice on double bass.
Having been gifted Eric Dolphy's instrument by his mother after his untimely passing, Coltrane began playing flute publicly in 1966 during the tour his quintet undertook in Japan. Expression, the last album issued during his lifetime contained the 16 minute piece To Be in which he and Pharoah Sanders both use flutes exclusively. During this period Coltrane also began to use multiple percussionists and drummers to create a constant ebb and flow of rhythm and percussive colour to his ever increasing palate of sound. This trio of two percussion and flute pays homage to that sound world.
Alan Skidmore plays soprano and tenor saxophones, flutes and drums. He is the son of saxophonist Jimmy Skidmore, who gave him a discarded tenor that Alan ignored until he was about 15. At that time he decided to teach himself to play. Skidmore began playing professionally in 1958, and did various commercial engagements, including tours with comedian Tony Hancock and singer Matt Monro and five years in the house band at London’s Talk Of The Town nightclub. In 1961 he made the first of many appearances on BBC Radio’s Jazz Club, and also fell under the spell of his idol, John Coltrane. In the following years Skidmore worked with numerous important and/or successful bands, including Eric Delaney, where he replaced his father when Jimmy decided to leave (in 1963), Alexis Korner (1964), John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers (1964), Ronnie Scott (1965), Georgie Fame And The Blue Flames (1970), Mike Westbrook (1970-71), Mike Gibbs (1970-71), and Chris McGregor’s Brotherhood Of Breath (1971). In 1969, he formed his own quintet (Kenny Wheeler, Tony Oxley, John Taylor and Harry Miller), with which he won the best soloist and best band awards at the Montreux International Jazz Festival and gained a scholarship to Berklee College Of Music, although he did not take this up. In 1973, he co-founded S.O.S., probably the first all-saxophone band, with Mike Osborne and John Surman. He has subsequently formed various small groups of his own, including El Skid (co-led with Elton Dean), SOH (with Ali Haurand and Tony Oxley), and Tenor Tonic (with Paul Dunmall, Paul Rogers and Tony Levin), and has worked with the George Gruntz Concert Band, the Elvin Jones Jazz Machine, the Charlie Watts Orchestra, Stan Tracey, Mose Allison, Van Morrison, Georgie Fame again, and with the West German Radio Band. Unquestionably one of the best jazz saxophonists Britain has ever produced.
“A robust and heavy hitting performer who has gone on to concentrate largely on free improvisation without sacrificing a rigorous melodic logic, a sparing lyricism and the technique to drop in on bebop occasionally.” – John Fordham, The Guardian
For 30 years Paul has carved out a reputation for himself and is now widely recognized as one of the most uncompromising and talented reed players on the International jazz/improvised music scene. Whether playing in Small or large groups, his musical sensitivity and imagination, combined with a powerful sound, make him one of the most distinctive improvisers playing today. He has performed with Alice Coltrane, Johnny Guitar Watson, Danny Thompson, LJCO, Mujician, Henry Grimes/Andrew Cyrille and a duo with Chris Corsano.
Tony Bianco grew up in New York City where he experienced the greats of jazz first hand - Mingus, Tony Williams, Elvin Jones - and fell in love with the music. In the early 90s he relocated to Berlin and got involved in the free scene there and playing with Alexander Von Schlippenbach, Aki Takase, Gerd Dudek and Reggie Workman. In the mid 90s he moved to London and hooked up with Paul Dunmall, Loz Speyer, Elton Dean, Dave Liebman, Paul Rutherford and many more.
Olie Brice is a double bassist, improviser and composer. Raised in London and Jerusalem, he now lives by the sea in Hastings.
Olie Brice leads and composes for two groups, a trio (with Tom Challenger & Will Glaser) and an Octet (with Alex Bonney, Kim Macari, Jason Yarde, Rachel Musson, George Crowley, Cath Roberts & Johnny Hunter). Both of these groups were featured on the critically acclaimed double album ‘Fire Hills’. Previously Brice lead a quintet – “one of the most interesting and satisfying bands on the current UK scene” – which released two albums, ‘Immune to Clockwork’ and ‘Day After Day’. He has also composed a piece for improvising string quartet, ‘From the Mouths of Lions’, which will be released in 2024.
Brice is a committed free improviser, who has performed, toured and recorded with many of the leading names in the music. Frequent collaborators include Mark Sanders, Paul Dunmall, Rachel Musson, Tobias Delius, Cath Roberts and Luis Vicente, and he has also appeared with the likes of Evan Parker, Tony Malaby, John Butcher, Ingrid Laubrock, Ken Vandermark, Eddie Prevost and Louis Moholo. He is part of several ongoing improvising ensembles including Somersaults (with Tobias Delius & Mark Sanders) and The Acrylic Rib (with Albert Cirera & Nicolas Field).
Brice is also in demand as a bass player in creative ensembles led by many artists, including Dee Byrne’s Outlines and Out Front (Nick Malcolm’s quintet playing the music of Andrew Hill and Booker Little). He regularly performs at venues and festivals across Europe. Brice has been the recipient of Arts Council England funding multiple times and in 2021 received a composition commission from Jazz South.
“Brice makes the entire body of his bass sing. He has the ability to deliver a fractal line that is as purposeful as any by the great jazz bassists, but to do so within an entirely abstract setting” - Brian Morton, Point of Departure
Howard Cottle has played with, Chris McGregor's Brotherhood of Breath, The Jazz Warriors, Slide Hampton, John Hicks, Harry Beckett, Kenny Wheeler, Evan Parker, Paul Dunmall, and has also played and Studied with Steve Grossman.
Ståle Liavik Solberg (drums/percussion) has established a base for himself as a central part of Oslo's thriving improvised music scene. Working with ensembles VCDC, Will it float? (with John Russell, Steve Beresford & John Edwards), Silva-Rasmussen-Solberg trio and in duos with Fred Lonberg-Holm and John Russell his open and attentive drumming has received many positive responses from musicians and audiences in both Europe and the USA. Solberg is also known as one of the driving forces behind the series Blow Out! in Oslo, and he curates the festival with the same name together with fellow drummer / percussionist Paal Nilssen-Love.
Julie Kjær's edgy and thoughtful playing and ‘dark, otherworldly imagery’ (Jazzwise) has become increasingly evident around Europe, inhabiting ground between composition and free improv. Experimenting with extended techniques, sound and rhythm she pushes her instruments to their limits. She tours internationally with Norwegian drummer Paal Nilssen-Love and his Large Unit and she has toured internationally and recorded with Django Bates and StoRMChaser. Currently her main focus is on her trio, Julie Kjær 3, with bass player John Edwards and drummer Steve Noble. They’ve just released their debut album on 14th March '16 on Clean Feed. Julie also plays with London Improvisers Orchestra and is a leader and side woman of several other English and Danish ensembles. In 2014 she was chosen to be a Sound and Music “New Voice” Artist and was chosen as a featured composer by the British Music Collection.
Mark Wastell is a versatile improvising musician who has played a central role in the British improvised music scene for over a quarter of a century. He has performed and recorded extensively and his varied resume includes projects with Derek Bailey, Phil Durrant, John Butcher, Lasse Marhaug, Rhodri Davies, Simon H. Fell, Burkhard Beins, John Tilbury, Mattin, Mark Sanders, Tony Conrad, Evan Parker, Tim Barnes, Bernhard Günter, Keith Rowe, John Zorn, Peter Kowald, Joachim Nordwall, Otomo Yoshihide, Paul Dunmall, David Toop, Alan Wilkinson, Max Eastley, Hugh Davies, Julie Tippetts, Alan Skidmore, Mike Cooper, Chris Abrahams, Stewart Lee, Clive Bell, Arild Andersen, Jan Bang, Maggie Nicols, Thurston Moore and David Sylvian.
My relationship with John Coltrane’s music began in 1974 when I arrived at university. The guy in the next flat told me he was an insomniac and that I had better get used to him being up all night playing jazz. He also recommended albums to me; one of which was Coltrane’s ‘More Lasting Than Bronze’ which I immediately went out and bought. That was my first Coltrane purchase and it made me want to get my hands on more Coltrane. Problem is, I have always been an obsessive collector. My first two jobs were in the West End in London, well within striking distance of all the record shops in Shaftesbury Avenue and Charing Cross Road. Early on, I bought a copy of Brian Davis’ Coltrane discography and I spent 8 years of lunchtimes in all those wonderful shops ticking off entries in the book. The second job also required me to work in Paris a lot and so I acquired every single French ABC-Impulse Coltrane re-release. My next career move saw me in a job that took me all over the world and the first thing I did when I checked into my hotel was to grab Yellow Pages and work out where all the record shops were. My aim all those years ago was to acquire every single note that Coltrane had played and that had been captured on tape. According to the ‘John Coltrane Reference’, I know I have achieved that goal. But they keep finding more stuff! I still buy every re-release, poorly recorded live recording, re-issues, remasters, box sets, mono versions, 180g vinyl re-issues. I have a few hundred vinyl albums and about 500 CDs. Oh, and just about every Coltrane tribute album ever recorded – about another hundred CDs. I even named my first cat ‘Coltrane’! (John Thurlow is the author of the upcoming Harry Beckett biography JOY UNLIMITED: the sound of Harry Beckett)