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London Scene 60's and 70's

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Sean Trane View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sean Trane Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 Nov 2011 at 2:54am
Michael Garrick, pianist, composer, arranger and music educator died in hospital on 11 November aged 78 after suffering from heart problems for some years.


Michael was one the UK's best known and loved musicians whose first recordings were made back in 1958. He will be remembered particularly for his work with Joe Harriott and Shake Keane in the 1960s which produced such albums as 'Black Marigolds', 'October Woman' and 'Promises' all of which are still available and then later with Ian Carr and Don Rendell.

The association with Rendell/Carr was particularly fruitful and produced the classic albums 'Dusk Fire', 'Phase 3' and 'Live'. He was an early supporter of poetry with jazz and again several recordings exist.

A 1972 trio album, 'Cold Mountain', shows off Michael's piano work to great effect and this will remain as a lasting tribute to him. Later works were for the New Jazz Orchestra and other big bands.

Michael continued working in a variety of settings right up to his death and he became a respected music educator and supporter of young musicians worldwide. He formed his own record label - 'Jazz Academy' - to feature his music and his pupils.

His autobiography 'Dusk Fire' was published in 2010 and he was honoured by the award of the MBE in the same year.

Michael Garrick will be remembered fondly by his former pupils, by his fellow musicians and by the jazz community at large. His legacy will surely be the many fine recordings he made in many different settings over the last 50 years.

from BritJazz
 
 
I know it's a repeat of the thread opened in the special thread.... but that thread will soon be embedded in other Newsbriefs topics... So this will be more visible two months from now
 
 
my music collection increased tenfolds when I switched from drug-addicted musicians to crazy ones....

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sean Trane Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 Nov 2011 at 5:01am
They're dropping like fliesCry
 
 

The jazz composer Graham Collier liked quoting an old friend's description of watching him handle a big band – like someone "directing 14 Jackson Pollocks". Collier, who has died aged 74, was not a monumental composer by the standards of colossi such as Duke Ellington. But if he was a step behind, he was a quietly combative, thoughtful, subtle and often eloquent practitioner, able to write complex, yet richly harmonised and lyrical scores in shifting time-signatures, which nonetheless liberated rather than cramped improvising soloists.

He was also a gifted educator, a polemicist, a critic of the pursuit of ephemeral fashions and the instigator of initiatives that accelerated the independence of jazz in his homeland. The British scene was an also-ran on the world stage when Collier arrived, but it became a big-hitting international contender during his lifetime – and the Tynesider laid down some pioneering markers as part of that change.

Collier was the first Briton to graduate from the jazz course at Berklee College of Music, Boston. In 1968 he became the first composer to receive an Arts Council bursary for a jazz piece, his Workpoints project, at a time when many in the arts establishment thought jazz was a commercial music undeserving of public subsidy. Many British jazz artists have since been funded because of Collier's mix of perseverance, belief, political nous and bolshieness.

He was an influential member of the London-based jazz generation of the late 1960s, fired by a new confidence that contemporary composition could finally be independent of its American models. Collier also initiated a jazz course at the Royal Academy of Music in London, and was the conservatoire's first jazz director and subsequently professor, from 1986 until his retirement in 1999.

He is perhaps best known, however, for running a workshop for unknown young musicians, including the pianist Django Bates and saxophonist Iain Ballamy, in London in 1984, from which sprang Loose Tubes, one of the most creative and influential jazz orchestras founded in Britain.

Collier was born in Tynemouth, Tyne and Wear. He played the trumpet and then double bass with an army band from 1954, serving for three years in Hong Kong. In 1961 he won a scholarship funded by the American jazz magazine DownBeat, attending Berklee under the inspirational composition teacher Herb Pomeroy. On graduation in 1963, he toured the US as a bassist with Jimmy Dorsey's swing band before returning to Britain to found the first version of an ensemble devoted to his own compositions, Graham Collier Music.

The group was to change regularly, in size and personnel, but it included some of the finest soloists on the London scene of the mid-60s, including John Dankworth's sideman Kenny Wheeler, the young Barbadian trumpeter Harry Beckett (who was to become a lifelong Collier associate), and Mike Westbrook's sax virtuoso discovery John Surman. Collier's later groups maintained the quality of that first line-up over the years, his bands including the composer/pianist Karl Jenkins, the trombonist and bandleader Mike Gibbs, the saxophonists Art Themen, Chris Biscoe and James Allsopp, and many more.

Collier's early groups made innovative recordings that have become cult classics, including the live sets from 1968 and 1975 issued on the US Cuneiform label under the title Workpoints. These pieces revealed his devotion to Ellington, Mingus and the Miles Davis/Gil Evans bands, but recast in a distinctively European harmonic language, and explored Britain's newly emerging crossovers of jazz and rock. The albums Down Another Road (1969) and Songs for My Father (1970) saw these ingredients mixed increasingly effectively.

Collier's career took a further leap when he was invited to form an international big band for the 1983 Bracknell Jazz Festival, and wrote the evocative and subtly shaded composition Hoarded Dreams. The big-band experience (and a conviction that the UK's jazz renaissance was producing a rising but underused generation of talented newcomers) led Collier to form a workshop orchestra in 1984. Bates and Ballamy were among the first recruits. Though the subsequent emergence of Loose Tubes as a transforming force in European jazz composition was to happen as much in spite of Collier's guidance as because of it, the mentor of these unruly charges had undoubtedly talent-spotted a group with the originality to change, and keep changing, the way jazz sounded.

In the same period, Collier also conceived a new six-year jazz degree course at the Sibelius Institute in Helsinki, along with his initiatives at the Royal Academy of Music. In 1987 he was appointed OBE and two years later participated in the founding of the International Association of Schools of Jazz, serving on its board for the next nine years. In 1994 Collier produced the report Jazz Education in America for a Winston Churchill fellowship, and the findings led to the launch of the educational journal Jazz Changes, with Collier as co-editor.

His international commissions also burgeoned during these years, and he was to compose for the Danish Radio Jazz Orchestra and Germany's NDR Big Band, and for ensembles from saxophone quartets to symphony orchestras. In the mid-1990s, following a BBC commission for the London Jazz Festival, he developed the ad hoc big band the Jazz Ensemble, with a core lineup augmented by guests. It produced two albums, Charles River Fragments (1995) and The Third Colour (1999). Collier's deepening compositional resources also brought him commissions for the theatre, documentary and fiction films, and radio drama – including the acclaimed BBC adaptation of Josef Škvorecký's novella The Bass Saxophone (1989, the winner of a Sony award).

Collier wrote six books including Interaction, Opening Up the Jazz Ensemble (1995) and The Jazz Composer: Moving Music Off the Paper (2009). On leaving the Royal Academy of Music in 1999, he went to live in Ronda in southern Spain, and in 2008 moved with his partner, John Gill, to an island in the Aegean Sea.

When I interviewed him for the Guardian in 1997, Collier commented on that year's composition The Third Colour, which reflected his long fascination with painting and its conceptual implications for music-making. "In abstract painting," he said, "the notion of the 'the third colour' is supposed to represent the connection between the lines. I've been working all my life between what's improvised and what's written, so maybe it's appropriate. I think the nature of improvisation is often misunderstood, inside and outside jazz. To me there are three kinds of improvising. Solo, which is obvious; textural, which is what a rhythm section often does … and structural improvising, which the bandleader or conductor might organise, deciding during the performance to have the band play the sections of the piece in a different order, or play five choruses instead of four, or whatever. What all this amounts to is that as the leader of this kind of band you can seize the moment." It's a sentiment that energised this major enabler of British jazz throughout his life.

Collier is survived by his partner.

• James Graham Collier, composer, born 21 February 1937; died 9 September 2011

my music collection increased tenfolds when I switched from drug-addicted musicians to crazy ones....

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sean Trane Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Nov 2011 at 8:03am
Another great ones falls in London
 
After Ian Carr (last year), Graham Collier (two months ago), and Michael Garrick, it is now Gordon Beck who died a few days before Garrick did!!
 

Gordon James Beck, pianist, bandleader: born London 16 September 1938; died Ely, Cambridgeshire 6 November 2011.

 

There can be no doubt that Gordon Beck was one of the most talented of European jazz pianists. He played on half a dozen of Tubby Hayes's finest albums and on another ten during his four years in the band led by the American alto-sax player Phil Woods.

No one will have been more surprised than Beck that he got to be 73, for he must have been one of the world's greatest pessimists. On tour with a band he would ask, "Now why is the pilot throttling down just as we approach the Alps? Did you feel that lurch? He had to swerve to avoid that plane over there."

Mainly a self-taught musician, he had studied classical music with his violinist father for four years, beginning when he was 12. He didn't become a professional musician until he was 24.

In 1957 he left for Canada, where his meticulous nature suited him in his work as a draftsman in aero engineering. He sat in with jazz groups and, when he returned to London the next year, played with saxophonist Peter King's quartet at Ronnie Scott's club. King was a gifted aero-modeller and when the two men talked it was of ailerons and airframes rather than music.

Beck became a full-time professional in the summer of 1960 when he played in Monte Carlo with Tony Crombie and the American tenor player Don Byas. During a brief spell with the Vic Ash/Harry Klein quintet he also worked with Tony Kinsey, before joining Tubby Hayes's quintet in 1962.

After another spell with Kinsey, Beck formed his own trio in 1965, beginning a long association with drummer Tony Oxley. The trio became the house rhythm section at Ronnie Scott's, and Beck toured France as a member of Ronnie Scott's Octet in 1968. In 1969 he began another long association, with the American singer Helen Merrill, when the trio first accompanied her in 1969.

That year he joined Phil Woods's European Rhythm Machine, touring throughout Europe and working in the US in 1971. Woods had chosen his musicians for their political as well as musical compatibility. When Woods disbanded, Beck formed his own group, Gyroscope, which lasted until 1975 when Beck let it go to involve himself in studio work.

The next band he was involved with was Ian Carr's Nucleus; he recorded with the band in 1973 and 1974. In 1973 Carr wrote vividly of his pianist. "Gordon seems to be in a constant state of despair about the selfishness and depravity of human nature, the sickness of consumer society, the frailty of the whole economic structure of the West and its apparent imminent collapse. Whatever disaster might befall any man at any moment you can be sure that it will have been imagined by Gordon Beck.

"And yet, as soon as he starts to play the piano, he gives the lie to his own gloom, because his playing is full of joy – is, in fact, a celebration of being alive. The brilliant and unquenchable flow of ideas and the superabundant technique express nothing less than jubilation."

Early in his career Beck immersed himself in the piano work of the American Bill Evans – and Evans remained the major influence on his playing.

In Beck's session work he accompanied Lena Horne, Gary Burton, Clark Terry, George Gruntz and, in the first of many reunions with the altoist, Phil Woods. He began to record prolifically and, at his death, had 26 albums under his own name. One of them, The Complete Concert, was a double CD of a 1996 concert of duets that he and Phil Woods played in London's Wigmore Hall. Another particularly satisfying one from 1968, Experiments with Pops, featured the early work of guitarist John McLaughlin. He made a duet album in 1984 with Merrill, No Tears, No Goodbyes, and worked for Merrill at various times between 1984 and 1994.

Beck toured the US again and then Japan in 1985 with guitarist Allan Holdsworth, and the two played as a duo during 1988. He also toured Europe in 1985 with a quartet of himself, Didier Lockwood, Cecil McBee and Billy Hart. The group recorded two albums before breaking up.

Ill health caused him to abandon his career five or six years ago.

Steve Voce

my music collection increased tenfolds when I switched from drug-addicted musicians to crazy ones....

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