Sunday’s at Campus West, Welwyn, Herts. U.K.
Alto saxophonist; NIGEL HITCHCOCK. 24th November
Nigel was featured here on standards from Charlie parker onwards. He is playing a custom yamaha sax which I thought did nt cut to well until I listened to it through a Mosfet 4/80 amp when he was using a microphone. There was quite a difference, I can tell you. There was a late change of personnel before the gig and the quartet was made up by Lawrence Cottle Fretless Bass, Clark Tracy Drums, and Robin Asplan Piano.
!st Set.
       First off was “Moose the Mooche”, which Parker once played. The Bass and Sax were particularly tight on this Lawrence sliding up groups of notes in unison as Nigel played them which added to the accented intervals between the two instruments. Two Kurt Wiel ballads followed. The second “My Ship” had a long 2 and a half minute saxophone cadenza to close, and it rolled out like a rough sea in northern Scotland which incidentally is where Nigel‘s been for the last 7 years. Nigel explained “there was only so much fishing and walking the dog one can do before you finally come back to sharp 11’s“. The next tune was Cherokee with drumin’ Clark Tracy phrasing various bebop heads ending in salt peadnuts then fast[265bpm] sax and drums into the tune and solos. 
       In answer to questions of chord study during the break Nigel said he preferred listening to great sax solo’s and writing more than analysis. Although he told me there is a book of Hitchcock’s solo’s transcribed with chords and notation soon to be published. Once again there was little interest in George Russell’s Lydian concept which always surprises me. Here is a taster of lydians for any interested; the scales in 5ths with the Lydian root moving chromatically.
C G D A E B Gb, Db Ab Eb Bb F C G, D A E B Gb Db Ab, etc.
2nd set
The set started at a better lick, the only other English alto sax I heard like this was Andy Mckintosh, very Canonball Adderly. Also an upbeat rendition of Pat Metheny’s “song for Bilbao” Nigel’s playing here matched his reputation as a leading saxophonist. A reputation can however, cramp your style a little when your having to consider others opinions and I felt because of this we only saw a glimpse of the boundless musical energy Nigel is known for, likewise the muscle[memory] that makes Nigel so exceptional. This and a set made up mostly of ballards “Emilly” by Johny Mandell for instance did make the performance loose and reflective but led to a freedom of interpretation which particularly highlighted really excellent playing by Robin Asplan at the piano. 
       The new Nigel seemed to verge on perfectionism which, on a complex set of changes as the majority of these were, means these musicians living in each others pocket day in day out. Which pretty much explains the London jazz scene and was after all, jazz as far as Charlie Parker Knew it. Most importantly of all though Nigel is down south of Watford gap again, back with the hard hitting professionals of his genre. 


Hello Nigel. I heard some clips of you with the Ray Charles Orchestra the band sounded awesome how do you connect to lead that kind of section. 
 I have played in big bands since I was 8 years old. I learnt all the playing styles from the 20's onward, so fitting in with any band is not a problem. Ray's gig was fun, and he appreciated me as he was once an alto player himself. 
I noticed you' ve got credits with the sugar cubes is that Bjorks band from Iceland. What were the different studio set-up/sounds on different sessions. Which of the producers you've met have impressed you
I did a couple of tracks for them. I was playing baritone in a 5 piece horn section. Paul O'Duffy and Iain Green are 2 producers that are really happening.
Japanese date's can end up in collections [brecker's smoking in the pit live in tokyo] does Japan still have the same interest in jazz as it did in the 80's. Have your experiences playing classical music in [no, can't remember]confirmed the notion of excellence we get from the Japanese
I'm not sure, I'd like to think so. There's certainly more 'Blue Note' clubs there than anywhere else in the world I think, and they are an intelligent listening audience that certainly appreciate more challenging music. 
The japanese classical players have an amazing precision, but for my money lack the heart, soul and character that European players have.
now that studios are recording on the web could you say something about the effect it 'll have on the product we buy from retailers. Will they be more expensive
It will have no effect. The quality of recording can be as great at home as in any studio now, at least the source of it. With a mac and a great mike I can produce audio of equal (if not better) quality than any studio. It's still up to the talents of the producer and engineer to make it sound great in the final mix. Also, even when I lived in London 95% of what I did was an overdub. Very few bands record live now, you're lucky if the drummer and bass player are recorded at the same time, so I may as well send it by email! It's the big companies need for profit that makes CD's so expensive, so they should become cheaper.
You've recorded by web link on a Marti Pellow(Wet Wet Wet) album how did that go?
Yea, great. I put the saxes on at home and then the great Derek Watkins played trumpet on it in London. It was produced by Grant Mitchell and mixed by Bob Clearmountain in LA.
I Spoke to Chris Hunter in New York recently. The Album Hubbards Cubbard turned alot of people on to Jazz in the UK. Will recording American sessions change anything about your playing.
Chris is a friend of mine, and was my first inspiration as a player. I heard Hubbards Cubbard (recorded in UK) and Chris just knocked me out. I used to play even more like him. My only goal now is to play like me. I absolutely would NOT change my playing to fit the US market- no need. I've worked on many US albums and Disney films over the years.

Which album would you say is the definitive UK jazz album
I don't like this question. No such thing as a definitive album. All albums have merit and are records of people's playing at that time. I think that Laurence Cottle, Mark Nightingale, Gerard Presencer & Jason Rebello are all incredible players in the UK that should be given the chance to record 4 albums a year. If any one of them makes an album it becomes the definitive until the next album comes out.


Herts jazz. Clark Tracy’s Campus West club presents Peter King.. Welwyn Garden. 1st May.
A quiet town in Herts was home to hard blowing legend Peter King. The best loved English altoist delighted a Hert’s jazz audience already impressed by the new venue and excellent groups listed for Sundays at the new Campus West club. A lot has been written about Peter King some of Lalo Schifrin’s [Composer of the soundtrack for the Bruce Lee epic. “enter the dragon”] thoughts will give you an idea of the high esteem with which he is held “I was very impressed by kings advant gard writing techniques and sense of drama also that he was able to interpret jazz and classical music to the same degree. I feel lucky to have met and worked with king.      
                                                                                                           King currently performs with Carlie Watts [of the rolling stones]  presently the tentet; previously having worked with Watt’s quintet with David Green on bass recording the album, “long ago and far away” with the metropolitan orchestra on virgin bpdcd 36. Next project with Charlie is M.D on a collaboration with Jeff Beck [An interesting aside is Pete and Charlie Watts grew up in the same street and the two future music stars  went through grade school together]. At 19 Peter King had already won the melody maker new star award.    
         From 1961 King spent time with Maynard Fergusson [check out the recent Columbia “mf horn” Album arranged by Drover, Mansfield, Wheeler, featuring the Pete king orchestra] he was also a full time side man with Tubby Hayes and you can hear the particular fluency Pete has from this experience. He also worked with Ray Charles big band, and small bands like Nat Adderly, Philly Joe Jones and many, many others. Recent projects include classical Bartok type compositions like the album “Zyklon”. Peter won BBC musician of the year in 2005, and extends his artistry to acting in films such as “Blue Ice“, staring Micheal Caine, and “The talented Mr Ripply” staring Matt Daemon. The full story is in his autobiography; “flying high, jazz and beyond“. Northway publications. 
         I love the man’s attitude he has the same status in jazz as his namesake bb King has in blues and nurtures his public in the same way. You would expect a higher profile but its all “old money in the uk and we miss the middle men like the promoters/managers you find in the U.S.A. Notable, it’s Clark tracy that runs the club at Herts jazz: while being the most in demand jazz drummer in the Uk. 
    On leading a band Pete says He “grasped the nettle” around 1980. Before that it had been  “a lack of pushing…a reluctance to make decisions… the concept of being a leader was completely alien to my way of thinking” Now, with Steve Mellin; piano, Geoff Gascoyne; double bass, Mark Fletcher; drums, for this date and with other musicians on recent dates that could add up to more than 150 various dates with leading musicians a year, like at the recent poetry fest with new London award winning poet carrie tetter at pizza express, we have plenty of opportunity to see Pete King 1st hand with the best the Uk has to offer.
1st set.
     The Band picked a pretty nasty Chick Corea tune inner space to open with, which I thought was pretty smart as it heightened the audience interest in the groups different interpretations of the tune as they manoeuvred in and out of beats and every nook and cranny of the tune. it was wonderful and set the mood for an intensity which was never exaggerated. Then “V’s Groove” a composition by Steve Melling whose ability Pete compared to the best pianists he had worked with. And indeed there was some Al Haig in Steve’s bluesy mid west rendition. But neither the composition nor the rendition gave any clue to Melling’s modern approach. “V’s Grove” was a laid back kind of “warming up a riff” tune, and for Pete loving to open the Eb key, like cannonball Adderly did, and to play bebop, this was a chance to swing like only someone playing in the 50’s could. Steve was modern on the next tune, namely “Wave” and waves of “sheets of sound” flooded from the piano in anticipation of the 2nd set which contained a tribute to Coltrane. The Adderly sax style is still on wave but its straighter and king has worked out some heavier licks; countless tributes to Parker means it’s mainstream or post bop. Not taking it out as far as Brecker, probably Chris Hunter is a marker in that direction on alto. 
          “I want to talk about you” was next. King first heard this played by John Coltrane and when he found out it was by Billy Eckstein who was playing at Ronnie’s opposite where P.K. was working in Soho, went and asked Billy if he had a copy.
He said he didn’t but to give him some time. The next day Eckstein arrived with a hand written signed copy of the tune for Pete. it was a feature for the rhythm section and dealt with, with all the painstaking detail Strayhorn would have put on that lead sheet. Pete came back to close the set with  a Wayne shorter tune “yes and no” featuring Mark Fletcher. King took 5 choruses at breakneck speed. There where 4’s between drums and sax and all of 10 minutes  of Mark Fletcher’s drum solo as you felt the audiences reality suspended by the beats and shots. 
       Everything Peter King plays and the groups he puts together is the definitive London jazz sound, When you hear Pk’s alto sound you know it’s an Otto link and in fact the nearest modern player to Kings very original blend is Tommy smith. Pete says he tries to forget about the influences and concentrate on building an original harmonic approach. The most modern player is the one that’s been out there longest. In ever progressing tastes, progress could have come sooner as King could have done for Coltrane what pianist Bill Evans did for Miles Davis. 
2nd set
   There were tones of the late great Tubby Hayes to open the 2nd set King counted in in 2/4 at 120bpm and mostly you noticed a great sax sound. It was the Kurt Wiel/Ira Gershwin tune, “nobody else but me” During the break the piano was re-tuned and Pete’s mic changed. King stopped using the Selmer 6 in 2001 and Yanigasawa built him a precision horn an easy blowing horn that matched his Otto link. And the sound is unmistakable.  Steve was picking up on phrase after phrase, every drum added something and Mark had a big deep ride cymbal which filled the room, Geoff  sounded notes out with a strong swing walking style that was second nature.  “The world of Trane” was an original by P.K that followed, which had developed into a suite and was dedicated to the music of the late John Coltrane. With Steve Melling taking choruses of giant steps mid composition. King and Melling really have an intuitive response and apart from it being alto the two really were Tyner and Coltrane incarnate on this tune, the drums stayed stiff more in a Billy Higgins thing but you felt Mark not wanting to over power the outfit. The piano interlude within this suite however started delicately as Alice Coltrane might have played before it turned into giant steps. Then the all time J.C. tune featured, with those really fat tones in the melody and I was busting my head trying to remember the name, untill I sung it to a friend Dave Weisser “ its part 2 of a love supreme its called “resolution” what a melody! And “my favourite things” closed the suite with king drawing soprano tones from his Yanigasawa echoing Coltrane’s original recordings. A 5min solo sax performance of Billy Strayhorn’s “Lush Life” followed, if anyone could tansribe King‘s performance of this number it would neatly divide into a chromatic chord compendium including rare patterns of every chord quality, again, if there was a jazz video market, this would be on it. There were moments of fascination like this throughout the evening. And what did the audience think well one was very local to Hertfordshire. And said “Its typical of the Uk where the rich are really tight that these top players don’t get paid oh there’s a lot of moral support, bags here in Hertfordshire it’s a partisan audience for a really top line up put together by Clark Tracy but the monied are only interested in hanging the monkey“. All I can say is I really enjoyed Peter King’s playing and the more I hear quality players the more its obvious the major record companies don’t push major artists like Peter King.       

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