Thursday, March 15, 2007

Are we in an era of the jazz BAND?

More and more the groups of musicians are showing their commitment to performance by being a band rather than a project with a band leader - so that a band such as Polar Bear has a nominal leader/composer (Seb Rochford), but the performances definitely have a group dynamic to them. It's certainly not the Seb Rochford Quintet, nor a short-term project commissioned for a festival or similar. Nor is it "Seb Rochford's Polar Bear". Of course, bands become associated with particular members, sometimes wrongly - how often is Acoustic Ladyland thought of as having Seb as leader and not Pete Wareham? - but there's more to it than being a leader with sidemen. That approach is of course still very important to jazz but even then too often allowed the sidemen to be submerged. For me the trail has been blazed by Partisans which has now reached its 10th anniversary, but I know that Phil Robson and Julian Siegel have battled against fuddy-duddy promoters who thought that it was past its "sell by"date because they have viewed it as a short-term project.
It's something that existed here with bands like Soft Machine. Partisans is a link to the new generation. Polar Bear and Acoustic Ladyland helped matters further, while now Babel has releases about to appear by Led Bib (with Mark Holub as leader) and Fraud (music and leadership by James Allsop and Tim Giles), both fearlessly and proudly to be bands. (Last night I heard Curios, which for some could be regarded as Tom Cawley's piano trio, but it has more than that with the interplay between Tom, Sam Burgess and Josh Blackmore as crucial in the interpretation of Tom's music.) Gwilym Simcock had a similar unanimity of purpose when he performed with Phil Donkin and Martin France at the Vortex a couple of weeks ago. It was billed as Gwilym Simcock, but in my view that underestimated what went on. I hope that he gives this line-up a name, which can then contrast with a Gwilym Simcock trio gig, which would consist of leader + X on bass + Y on drums. When band members are hand picked to give a particular edge to performance and the group develops and develops, then it's a good sign for the group to become a band with a specific name.
Another stimulus to this blog has been that I noticed on the Cheltenham Jazz Festival programme that they bill Fulborn Teversham as "Sebastian Rochford's Fulborn Teversham". WRONG. Pete Wareham and Nick Ramm have been vital members all along.

1 comment:

Tolla said...

Good words.