Wednesday 17 July 2019, 7.30pm
In memoriam JOHN COLTRANE : 23 September 1926 - 17 July 1967
A fitting tribute to commemorate the 52th anniversary of John Coltrane’s passing. In 2017, Alan Skidmore guested with Paul Dunmall’s Sun Ship Quartet at an energy charged, sell-out evening at Cafe OTO which commemorated the 50th anniversary of Coltrane’s passing. Tonight he makes a triumphant return, this time leading his own blistering quartet and will present a programme of Coltrane music; showcasing tunes that Alan has been perfecting for well over half a century.
Few have surpassed Alan Skidmore’s life long commitment to the music of John Coltrane. 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 Coltrane himself. He has also had the great pleasure of working with both of Coltrane’s regular 1960s drummers; performing at Ronnie Scott’s as a member of Elvin Jones’ Jazz Machine and appearing in the 1980s with Rashied Ali for a radio and TV tribute to Trane in Baden-Baden, Germany.
Alan has recorded five albums dedicated to the legacy of John Coltrane; Tribute to ‘Trane (Miles Music), After the Rain (Miles Music), Impressions of John Coltrane (ITM), Berlin (ITM) and Naima (ITM).
“Of all the tenor players who have chosen to work within the Coltrane legacy, he is perhaps the most convincing.” (Brian Case, Melody Maker)
“After three decades of liaisons with legends such as Herbie Hancock and Georgie Fame, Skidmore only really needs his smouldering saxophone to get us drooling. As usual he massages and then assaults our ears with the kind of heady, devotional jazz that gets even the non-smokers in the audience gagging for a cigarette. His set comprises music written by John Coltrane and the band is obviously at home evoking his slow-burning dreamscapes and his fiery crescendos. As they strike up with Resolution you would swear that Elvin Jones, Jimmy Garrison and McCoy Tyner are in the room, so authentic are those swelling sheets of sound.” (James Griffiths, The Guardian)
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.