|2||Bedtime For Cars||14:45|
|3||I Love You/I Hate You||8:28|
|5||Why Did You Avoid Me?||3:16|
|6||Observation/Bus Ride/The Loser||6:52|
|7||Sad Eyed Lover||5:39|
NotesMaggie Nicols - voice, Harry Beckett - trumpet/flugel horn, David Panton - alto saxophone, Fred Thelonious Baker - electric bass, Tony Richards - drums
1 - Cool Minor (12:02), 2 - Bedtime for Cats (14:45), 'Party Games': 3 - I Love You/I Hate You (8:28), 4 - The Interloper (3:48), 5 - Why Did You Avoid Me? (3:16), 6 - Observations/Bus Ride/The Loser (6:52), 7 - Sad Eyed Lover (5:39), 8 - Goodbye Song (17:23)
Recorded at Nottingham Jazz in November 1984
All works by Panton published by D & ED Panton Music
Released 1 August 2013
The Nottingham Jazz Society gig, in November of 1984, took place in a pub venue, as I recall, off Maid Marion Way. The first half comprised a typical jazz club set of tunes followed by extended improvisations. Of the four tunes we played only two are featured here. Cool Minor, dedicated to Jef Daw an old friend and musician with whom I had worked in a variety of bands and who died suddenly aged forty, is a slow and laid back piece allowing the soloists plenty of room to manoeuvre. Bedtime for Cats is more up tempo and with a tongue-in-cheek title that allows for some playfulness in the solos. Both titles originally appeared on a recording by the London trio (NONDO FMC5) in 1982. The other tunes played were All Blues by Miles Davis and Maggie’s Look Beneath The Surface which, at more or less the same duration as the above tunes, could not be fitted on the disc, which has anyway been subject to some ruthless editing of the original audio cassette master.
The second half consisted of the quasi operatic Party Games. It would not be quite correct to call it an extended composition nor even a suite, though it does run continuously with the barest of pauses and there are separate tunes and songs within it. It started life as a play for three (spoken) voices, with incidental music, which I wrote in 1969. Pete Starke at Birmingham Arts Lab was interested in rehearsing it towards a performance, but there were problems with finding suitable and/or interested actors and it was abandoned after a few rehearsals.
This gig seemed like a good opportunity to attempt a single voice version as a vehicle for Maggies‘s acting and musical skills, giving her the freedom to interpret it in her own inimitable way. The basic theme is the way we play games with one another within relationships and the consequential emotional fallout. The opening I Love You/I Hate You captures something of the ambivalent feelings we have towards partners and sets the scene, finding a new lover at a party; we hear some of the vocal before solos from trumpet and then saxophone, which appear to follow the standard jazz format before coming to an abrupt end. Then we are into The Interloper, Maggie competing with both trumpet and saxophone in an intense dialogue with a resented intruder who might threaten a burgeoning relationship. Why Did You Avoid Me picks up on real or imagined slights, and is sung and played without undue embellishment, straight to the point. The tension returns in Observations//Bus Ride/The Loser with Maggie accompanied first by snare drum alone, then joined by bass and finally the horns, expressing hurt, jealously and confusion at the other’s behaviour. Sad Eyed Lover makes a plea to avoid the inevitable parting and has Maggie and Fred in a moving duet. Goodbye Song seems to accept the inevitable while at the same time questioning the how and why. It begins with a bass solo before the band states the theme and the saxophone begins soloing; we appear to be back in standard jazz format until Maggie continues her monologue, intertwining with the saxophone line. The music once again ends, leaving Maggie with just Harry’s freely improvised trumpet commentary until the final “goodbye”. Tony’s drum solo leads to a bar swapping sequence with trumpet, saxophone and bass before a brief trumpet solo leads back into the theme with Maggie echoing the I Love You/I Hate You theme as the piece comes to its calm resolution.
There seems to be a convention amongst jazz club audiences the world over of talking throughout the music with occasional applause after (most) solos. In the first set of this gig it’s quite audibly maintained, giving the performance an authentic jazz club feel. In the second set it continues during I Love You/I Hate You, but from The Interloper on the audience is more or less quietly attentive to the performance. It would have been easier to have just played tunes all night accompanied by that warm murmuring atmosphere, but the decision to try something different, even challenging for musicians and audience alike, suggests that interesting unconventionality can sometimes create an equally warm response from an audience.