Stan Tracey interviewed (below). the Alberni String Quartet and
Public Image Ltd. Oh. and Lulu.
LISTINGS: ROCK & BLUES 31 JAZZ 40 LIGHT 4U FOLK & WORLD 42 CLASSICAL 43
Kenny Mathieson talks to pianist, composer and bandleader Stan
Pianist Stan Tracey has long seemed one of the most distinctive and original voices on the British jazz scene. both as a player and as a composer. Always a gifted improviser. Tracey writes with equal distinction for forces ranging from his well-established Quartet through to the Stan Tracey Orchestra. Many of his most distinguished compositions have been created. though, for the medium-sized bands he has nurtured over the years. and his Hexad (it means group ofsix) has been one of the most consistently successful of those units.
‘My interest in composition goes back a long way. to the late 203, I suppose — that‘s my late 20s. not the 19205! I don‘t see any problem with composition in jazz— there is no difference between improvising on the chord changes of ‘How High The Moon‘ and on something which a jazzman has written. At the same time. I don‘t see my compositions as just a vehicle for improvisation — I would hope they would stand
up as compositions.
‘With the Hexad. and unlike the Quartet. we only play my own compositions, and the two extra horns give me more scope as an arranger. It’s difficult to quantify how much we use arrangements. but it gives me the opportunity to write bridge passages and backings and so on. which I couldn‘t do even with a quintet. because there aren’t enough voices. We have a different pad again for the Octet. so the material is specific
to each band.
‘It’s basically the same approach for a small or
big band — there is just more writing to do for the
big band. I have been fairly lucky with the Orchestra. in that I usually get the guys I want. and if not. I have a back-up list of people I can call on. I can make financial sense of it. but the penalty is that I don‘t get many gigs. I‘m not prepared to go and take silly money just for the sake ofworking. and I don‘t want to offer guys embarrassing money. I want them to know that when I offer them work. they will get a reasonable fee and not a silly story.‘
The particular version of the Hexad which appears in the Queen‘s Ilall is actually the second line unit. with saxophonist Nigel Hitchcock and trumpeter Gerard Presencer (‘they are both good players and good rcaders‘). standing in for Jamie Talbot and Guy Barker. and a young bass player who is new to me. Malcolm Creese. in for Dave
Green. Tracey himself. saxophonist Art Themen. and drummer Clark Tracey complete the line-up.
While these names indicate that the ()4 year-old Tracey is more than willing to work with the younger names emerging on the British jazz scene. he is understandably less than delighted with the situation which has arisen in the last four or five years.
Despite having been a major figure in the music at least since the late 50s (he was awarded an ()BE for his services to British jazz in 1986). Tracey currently has no recording contract. having folded his own Steam record label — which was the only way he could get regular recordings issued in the first place — for financial reasons. but has to watch as a succession of young and often immature names sign up lucrative deals.
‘I have some new material which we are playing with the Hexad that I would love to record. but nobody is interested. I think that is down to the short-sightedness ofpeople who make records. I suppose if I was a young player. and not experienced. and not fully developed as a musician. I could get a record contract.
‘That‘s not a put-down of the young players. it's a fact oflife. It’s all to do with fashion. It's fashionable right now to record and promote young players. and that is something I have only
9 seen in the last four or five years. I think it is a shame. and I think it will also be a shame for
many ofthose guys in the long run. because they won‘t stay young for ever.‘
Tracey is not alone among his generation of players in feeling that the current vogue for jazz is a surface phenomenon which effectively ignores the vast bqu of the music. Having survived the lean years by a-combination oftalent and tenacity. it must be galling to see the rewards going elsewhere. If the major record companies now investing resources in jazz really wanted to show some commitment to the music. rather than simply treating it as short-term marketing exercise. they would find space on their roster for the Stan Tracey‘s ofthis world alongside the new young lions. Don‘t hold your breath.
Start Tracey".s* Hexad. Queen's Hall. Edinburgh. 26 ()ct, 8.30pm.
I WE THOUGHT THAT there might be a story in the last that Chrysalis were sending out heavily censored photocopies ot World Party interviews from ‘Melody Maker’ and ‘NME’, with all Karl Wallinger's deeply-tell thoughts about the environment scrubbed out
ot existence. but comments about Cecil Parkinson ‘incessantly tongutng your anus and making it tingle’ Ieit tor the'world to see. As it happened. the great swathes ol black across the quotes were the untoreseen result ot a highlighter pen on the originals. We dldiind
outthatThe Proclaimers will break their lengthy silence on 12 November, with the release ola tour-track EP which leads all with a cover version at what you might call 'a very iamous country song indeed'. It was recorded tor a movie directed by George (“Mad Max’) Ogilvie. and will be the only Proclaimers product this year. since they don’t plan to start recording their next LP until January althe earliest. None otthe iourtracks will be on the
album. whatever it's called and whenever it eventually appears.
I ONE DATE THAT came too late for inclusion in the listings (so be warned) is a show by Spirea X on Sun 28 at Fury Murry's. and we mention it here partlyto note that representatives oi no less than litteen record companies are due to be attending and competing tor the Spireal signature. They (the band. that is) are led by ex-Primal Scream man Jim Beattie. allegedly the
person who was really the Iatterioin Hue and Cry. responsibletor‘Loaded'. ' Paul Haig. Billy Mackenzie Another late entry. The i and Nick Robertson on Light. at The Sludioin Circa?
Paisley on Tue 6. are also ; IBEFORE WE GO. aiinal growing steadily in plea lor inlormationlrom popularity. though not to the j anyone providing services extent thatthey can tor musicians in the area. command the column torinclusion in ourannual inches in the London music 32-page ‘Rock Report' press the way SpireaX supplement. which comes
out with the next issue. Any businesses irom studios. practice rooms and shops to
somehow managed. And i while we're at it. record company bidding tor I
Edinburgh's Yo Yo Honey van hirers and video and The Lost Soul Band is matters. please!“ I" I006" reaching lever pitch. wm as soon as possmle.
'l'licI.ls13(i()elolicl' — b' November 199031