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CHRIS SEARLE – TALKING THE GROOVE: JAZZ WORDS FROM THE MORNING STAR (Jazz in Britain -Bandcamp) (2024)

I wasn’t sent this for review, but decided to buy it myself as I had enjoyed Chris Searle’s “Forward Groove” book (2008) so much. This one has been a long time coming, but turns out to be more of a compilation of reviews and articles, which is fine when it contains an article about the Sheffield jazz scene (a review of THE ANTHROPOLOGY BAND to be precise) “packed with rich, inventive music, septet and 11-piece.” MARTIN ARCHER, the man behind the Discus label talks about “Great music” coming out “every week in unstoppable currents”, citing artists such as GRATEFUL DEAD, HENRY COW, SOFT MACHINE and JONI MITCHELL. The “rousing, breath-laden, rasping trumpet playing of CHARLOTTE KEEFE (whose “Right Here, Right Now” album is reviewed) and the “electronic genius” of PAT THOMAS are mentioned in dispatches.


It's nice also to read a reference to the “Nottingham grooves” taking places at PEGGY’S SKYLIGHT Jazz Club, a venue, at which, although rather difficult for me to get to, I have witnessed three bands playing live in its intimate, welcoming atmosphere. The JOHN Mc LAUGHLIN article was also most interesting: “At 11, I was listening to Mississippi Blues, flamenco, Indian and Jazz music.” This is an artist I much admire, who is not afraid to stick his head above the parapet and talk about the “apartheid in Palestine.” It is notable that he played free concerts in Gaza in 2017 and must be deeply saddened at recent events : “Man has a dark side and it’s called stupidity (and greed).” There is also a reference to the gig his Fourth Dimension played in Ronnie Scott’s with Gary Husband, an African bassist and an Indian drummer.


The book is nearly 400 pages long and comes with a double CD of music, which “have particular reference to the subjects dealt with in the book or donated specially for this project.” The highlight for me were the two tracks by JOHN STEVENS’ SEPTET recorded for BBC Jazz Club in December, 1968. It’s a pity about the sound quality of the recordings of CHRIS Mc GREGOR and his group, but I have to admit that this particular form of Jazz Fusion doesn’t have much personal appeal to me - I am sure others will have different views! Much of the music leans towards the Avant-Garde and is self-composed, although there is 10-minute version of jazz standard ‘Too Marvellous for Words’ by the sax-led Bruce Turner Quartet, with MICHAEL GARRICK on electric piano, whose “Moonscape” (1964/ 2007), with his own trio, is a rare treat, playing at the Jazz against Racism festival in London in 1980. Also of interest to collectors will be a live Bristol gig by MUJICIAN with the stellar line-up of Paul Dunmall on tenor sax, Keith Tippett on piano, Paul Rogers on bass and Tony Levin on drums.

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