April 12, 1969
GIGS: April 12 1969 – Melody Maker Pollwinners Concert, Royal Festival Hall, London – Mike Westbrook Band, Ronnie Scott Band, Georgie Fame, Chris Pyne, Sandy Brown, Joe Harriott, John Surman, Harold McNair, Stan Tracey, Rendell-Carr, Ron Matthewson, Tony Oxley, Cleo Laine, John Dankworth Band, Tubby Hayes.
Barry McRae (Jazz Journal 22/5 May 1969) wrote: “The programme closed with the Mike Westbrook Concert Band. Their section started like the more disastrous Duke Ellington performances, with musicians returning from the bar throughout the first five minutes. Musically they settled quickly and there were excellent solos from Paul Rutherford, Malcolm Griffiths and John Surman (on soprano). Westbrook himself sang I’m Old Fashioned in a hilarious parody of 1940s pop and shocked one of the most unresponsive audiences I have ever seen, even at the RFH. Many walked out and almost all who remained sat in stoney-faced amazement. The band’s continuous performance made its usual use of a sterling march theme, which was gradually broken down into the flowing rhythms of the new jazz and so became the cushion on which Surman’s fiery soprano rested. It represented the high-spot of the evening but there had been disappointingly few others with which to compare it.”
January 10, 1969
Ronnie Scott & The Band – 10 January 1969, Jazz Centre Society, Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, reviewed by Fred Bouchard in Jazz Journal 22/2 (February 1969): “Ronnie Scott’s octet paced briskly through a programme of originals: two rich ones by flugelhornist Kenny Wheeler (There’s Always Someone Watching, Sweet Dulcinea Blue), two light ones by keyboardsman Gordon Beck (Music from the Film of the Same Name, Macumba), two penned by tenor-of-fortune Joe Henderson on his recent visit (Ricorda Me, The Kicker), two features dedicated to John Surman (Mike Westbrook’s Too Late, Too Late and Laurie Holloway’s King Pete, and ‘Hymie’ Donovan’s Lord Of The Reedy River. Wheeler’s writing, like his blowing, is lucid, gentle and brilliant. Dulcinea is a pretty waltz with airy, holdback resolutions, though it slumps at the end. The thorny, shifting chorus of Watching is too long for effective repetition. The composer plays with cool distinction on both – beautiful. Though alternatively foggyand screeching on Too Late (a loping, pyramidal riff) and bullish on Sweet, Surman cut a snaky groove on Music, and was up and away on his strident soprano on Pete. Henderson’s expert compositions provided fine showcases for Chris Pyne (trombone) and Ronnie, who weaved good lines through the breaks in Kicker. Gordon Beck’s Music has lodged in my ear and won’t come out – a polished rock; on his blow-torch Macumba and Sweet his bits were facile. But for his annoying habit of slow-down cross-rhythms behind soloists, Tony Oxley stirred the soup adequately. Pete King, looking for all the world like a Velasque courtier, made some genial comments on Watching, Kicker, and was really persuasive on Macumba, the uproarious closer which had everybody in the band shouting, then everyone in the audience.”
Bouchard reviewed an undated Jon Hendricks gig in the same issue of Jazz Journal: “The most alert house group I have heard in months at Ronnie Scott’s was the octet supporting Jon Hendricks the last night of his engagement. The band got to unwind things with half a set’s worth of engaging arrangements framing generally good solos by Ronnie himself, John Surman (soprano sax) and Chris Pyne (trombone), the later two having speedily trotted over with their axes from 100 Oxford Street where, not an hour before, they had been sitting in exhilaratingly with Humphrey Lyttelton’s Homey Jazz Band and titillating the jitterbuggers. Kenny Wheeler had a delicious flugelhorn spurt on a medium Latin piece.
Hendricks came on beaming in red corduroy and rasped out some genial but preponderantly show-type stuff, featuring one or two of his juch-copied verbalized ‘horn’ solos. All numbers were delivered with consummate grace and charm. J. J. Johnson’s Lament, as a classically arranged by Gil Evans, became an intriguing and moving ballad with Hendricks following Miles Davis’ bittersweet line. A heartfelt, breathy verse on Motherless Child introduced startlingly a funky, stop-time Comin’ Home, with a heated solo for clubowner. Hendricks’ sly working into his act of three of his kids was an unexpected kick rather than a corny trick. There’s no flies on anybody in that family: Michele handled a bop solo on Shiny Stockings with hip aplomb, and was eventually joined by Charlene and Eric in an ingenious Jack Spratt (you know, the Mother Goose rhyme) while Tony Oxley (drums) and Jon (cowbell) bided good time. The set closed with a door-slamming Roll ‘Em Pete with Pete King rolling a furious cannonade on alto and an euphoric chunk of Hendrickian ‘tenor’ wailing, sublime scatting from syllabic and melodic standpoint.”
December 23, 1968
Mike Westbrook Concert Band – 13 December 1968, London Jazz Centre Society, Conway Hall, Red Lion Square; reviewed by Fred Bouchard in Jazz Journal 22/2 (February 1969): “The third of six projected concerts in Red Lion Square, WC1, presented by the London Jazz Centre Society under the collective title ‘Jazz Is Alive And Well’ (contrary, one suspects, to popular opinion,) was surrendered to the Mike Westbrook Concert Band – a rampaging, frowsy tentette who were very much alive and kicking. The pieces presented (this reviewer caught the second set only) were puzzling pastiches of simple, effective big-band choruses mixed jarringly with vast, fuzzy, multi-improvisational passages. The traditional ensemble work, blown direct and clean, frankly emulated familiar sounds: the saxes in particular sounded like Ellington (John Surman can do a good Harry Carney) or Basie (Mike Osborne makes a tight-lipped Marshall Royal.) Flying Home, superimposed logically and cleverly on Opus One, was pelted out in slap-dash Mingus fashion, with arresting tempo changes. The less derivative group sketchings, however, clung hard and fast to the other extreme: out-of-pitch duets, inchoate free blowing, slow-fuse crescendo roars – sometimes with leg-pulling private joke effect – whatever coherence of which was further mutilated by the spelean acoustics of Conway Hall. Thus the oil-and-water schizophrenia of the band’s music – not a mature finished chart in the lot.
Straddling and unifying the tried-and-true and flimsy-shimsy were the individual solo efforts, a very different matter. All horns (but one) acquitted themselves adequately, in some cases admirably. John Surman conjured up late Tintoretto – dark, writhing, bigger than life. He soloed with passion and no end of ideas, displaying enormous energy and facility on baritone as well as soprano sax. Malcolm Griffiths delivered an adept, gritty trombone chunk on Home/Opus that really got under the skin of the thing. The same piece had Dave Holdsworth, who, as the lone trumpet, had to spread himself thin to provide a roof for his six comperes on horns, take his turn with brittle gusto over some sharp drumming by Alan Jackson.
There was a refreshing variety in the solo styles: Alan Skidmore (tenor) favoured a glancing, cadenze-like approach, while Bernie Living (flute and alto with pitch problems on both) brought down his phrases with a shotgun. A foil to both was the cleanly-sculpted alto-work of Mike Osborne, who treated the folks to some healthy Oliver-Nelson-ish stuff toward the end of the evening. The rhythm played with assurance and drive, sustaining soloists consistently through long ensemble tacets and prodding them through riffs. Westbrook, who has a strong arranger’s keyboard approach, should allow himself some solo space, rather than tasteless, spoofing vocals, like the bitter and dreary treatment of I’m Old Fashioned.
This band fortunately doesn’t inhibit itself with fustian academics and pussy-footing (as plied, for example, by their predecessors in the Conway series, the New Jazz Orchestra,) and so it can collectively foment exciting and infectious moments, particularly riffing behind key soloists. Yet neither does it supply itself with the meaty, original arrangements necessary to fully exploit and direct the obvious creative powers of its members. It’s like a big, happy, irresponsible bloke with no ties and an identity problem. Too much licence makes its own straightjacket.”
Ronnie Scott and The Band – 23 December 1968 three week residency at Ronnie Scott’s Club with John Hendricks
November 12, 1968
GIGS: Ronnie Scott & The Band – 7 November 1968, London School of Economics;
Mike Westbrook Band (Mike Osborne, John Surman, Malcolm Griffiths, Harry Miller, Alan Jackson) – 9 November 1968, Beck Isle Museum and Arts Centre, Memorial Hall, Pickering, Yorkshire; 10 November, Whitley Bay Arts Association, YMCA, Whitely Bay, Yorkshire; 11 November, Mid-Northumberland Arts Group, County Technical College, Ashington, Northumberland; 12 November, Town Hall, Bishop Auckland, County Durham
November 6, 1968
Ronnie Scott & The Band – BBC radio broadcast
Recorded 6 November 1968, Playhouse Theatre London; broadcast on BBC radio 3’s Jazz Club unissued
Kenny Wheeler, trumpet; Chris Pyne, trombone; Ronnie Scott, Ray Warleigh, John Surman, reeds; Gordon Beck, piano; Ron Mathewson, acoustic double bass; Tony Oxley, drums
October 30, 1968
Ronnie Scott & The Band – tv broadcast
recorded 30th October 1968; broadcast as two programmes of ‘Jazz At The Maltings’ 1968 unissued
Kenny Wheeler, trumpet; Chris Pyne, trombone; Ronnie Scott, Ray Warleigh, John Surman, reeds; Gordon Beck, piano; Ron Mathewson, double bass; Tony Crombie, Tony Oxley, drums; Jon Hendricks, vocal; Benny Green, master of ceremonies.
Recorda Me (Henderson)
A Shade Of Jade (Henderson)
Sweet Dulcinea Blue (Wheeler)
Lord Of The Reedy River (Leitch)
The Squirrel (Dameron; arr. Deuchar)
This Could Be The Start Of Something (Allen)
Home (Hendricks, Lewis)
No More (Hendricks)
Every Day I Have The Blues (Chatman)
Very few ‘Jazz At The Maltings’ recordings are known to survive, having fallen victim to the wholsale wiping of tape that destroyed a terrible quantity of the BBC archive in the 1970’s. None at all are listed in the BBC programme catalogue or the by BFI, so it is likely that if these recordings exist at all, they survived in the hands of private collectors, or by chance.
October 26, 1968
Ronnie Scott and The Band – ‘Live At Ronnie Scott’s’
recorded 25 and 26 October 1968, London CBS 52661 (UK) [LP], Columbia 494439 2 (UK) [CD], Sony 88697072392 (UK) [CD]*
Kenny Wheeler, trumpet, fluegelhorn; Chris Pyne, trombone; Ray Warleigh, alto saxophone; Ronnie Scott, tenor saxophone; John Surman, baritone and soprano saxophone; Gordon Beck, piano, organ; Ron Mathewson, bass, electric bass; Tony Oxley, Kenny Clare, drums
Recorda Me (Henderson) 4:33
King Pete (Holloway) 6:46
Second Question (Wheeler) 7:22
Marmasita (Henderson) 6:30
Too Late, Too Late (Westbrook) 6:13
Lord Of The Reedy River (Leitch) 5:00
Macumba (Beck) 10:33
May Day* (Scott) 4:44
Sweet Dulcinea Blue* (Wheeler) 3:54
Quiet Nights* (Jobim) 4:17
Hank’s Tune* (Mobley) 5:40
October 23, 1968
GIGS: Scott Walker – 4 October to 20 October 1968. Scott Walker’s backing on his 17-day UK tour was Ronnie Scott & The Band with additional members including Terry Smith (guitar) and (possibly) Tubby Hayes;
John Surman Trio – 11 October, London Jazz Centre Society, Conway Hall, Red Lion Square;
Ronnie Scott & The Band – 21 October, one week residency at Ronnie Scott’s club (see album entry below);
Mike Westbrook Concert Band, Ronnie Scott & The Band – 23 October, Jazz Expo ’68, Hammersmith Odeon, London. Jazz Expo ’68 reviewed by Barry McRae in Jazz Journal 21/12 (December 1968): “This year’s British contribution was larger than last and gave reason for continued optimism. I missed the Rendell-Carr set and thought that honours were divided between the Ronnie Scott Band and the Mike Westbrook Concert Band. Scott’s, the more confident and the more carefully arranged, offered fine solo work by Kenny Wheeler, John Surman, Ray Warleigh and the leader himself. The style might be described as mid-Atlantic hard bop with modern overtones but the result was stimulating.
Westbrook’s policy is more advanced and slightly more ambitious. At Expo, however, the band was not at its best. There seemed to be an air of nervousness amongst them and only the ubiquitous Surman and trombonist Malcolm Griffiths came near to their normal form. The collective passages by the band were good and a Shepp-like atmosphere created, as the moods were quickly changed – moving away from an r&b type stomp or tasteful balladeering by altoist Mike Osborn, to a raving flying home.”
Steve Voce reviewed Ronnie Scott & The Band in the same issue: “When it was announced I looked forward to Ronnie’s new band (with Kenny Wheeler, John Surman and Ray Warleigh), but suspected the idea of Tony Oxley and Tony Crombie on drums… I first heard the band on BBC 2 when it suffered the disadvantage of having to play a Glenn Miller number (to tie in with the Glenn Miller film which had just been shown). The noise was suitably daunting, primarily because I had been expecting the group to produce merely an up-dated version of earlier Scott band sounds. In the event Scott had given the younger musicians their head, with the result that the sound was undigestible at one brief hearing. However, reports say that, with reservations about the two drummers, the band is exciting and purposeful.”
August 19, 1968
GIGS: Mike Westbrook Band – 16 August 1968, Harrogate Jazz Festival. Ronnie Scott & The Band – 19 August 1968, Ronnie Scott’s Club, for four weeks