Living legends; living legacies – Part 1

Nathaniel_facey-1

On 6 August, the trio of bass players, Coleridge Goode, Peter Ind and Gary Crosby – affectionately known as the Lords Of The Lower Frequencies – came together with their partners at the home of Mr Goode to toast 50 years of Jamaican Independence.

Those who know Gary well will know how much he loves and respects these two gentlemen and how keen he is to ensure the young musicians he mentors through his Tomorrow’s Warriors Young Artist Development Programme access the heroes and heroines who have inspired him throughout his career as a bassist and band leader.

With the forthcoming premiere of the Nu Civilisation Orchestra’s Lively Up! Festival commission, Parallel: A Tribute To Joe Harriott, in which Tomorrow’s Warriors alumnus and Empirical alto sax star, Nathaniel Facey features, Gary thought it an apt moment to invite his mentee to join the party so he could hear first hand from Coleridge – the last surviving member of the Joe Harriott Quintet – about Harriott, the man and his music.  

Here’s how Nathaniel described his Visit To The Goode Residence. Also check out the video of Gary and Nathaniel in an impromptu jam session at Coleridge’s house!

 

Something Special

I have actually met Mr Goode before, briefly after a short performance I did for BBC Jazz Line-up. It is always humbling and a privilege to meet an elder statesman but in this particular case there is an extra something special for me as Coleridge George Emerson Goode was born on the 29th of November 1914 in Kingston, Jamaica from whence came my family.

My Granddad came to England in 1955 from my immediate ancestral home, Jamaica and over the course of the next decade brought the rest of my family, including my pops over too. I have always been massively interested in hearing about those early days from my parents and grandparents. There were of course big challenges and many struggles they had to face and I’ve always wanted to know as much as I can about our history, so when Gary Crosby initially told me ‘We need to go see Mr Goode…’ needless to say, I was very excited. Here is a genuine Jamaican legend with so much rich and incredible life experience volumes can and have now been written about him.

Getting emotional

Every opportunity to draw from the well of great wisdom drawn from deep years of experience is a blessing, so when I stepped foot inside Mr Goode’s house for the first time (saw him sat like a wise old sage in his chair from behind, which I confess had me a bit emotional), greeted him and reintroduced myself I really wasn’t even sure where to start. Of course we had to toast to 50 years of Jamaican Independence (and ruling, owning and dominating the athletics world too – Bolt, Blake, Weir, Frasier Pryce… nuff Respect!).

Itchy fingers

My visit was made even more special by the presence of Mr Peter Ind, another great bassist with many amazing tales to tell from his own very richly blessed history.  Not two minutes in and we’re talking about Bird (Charlie Parker), which always excites me, so to hear Pete talking about jamming with the great man and describe his incredible sound had my imagination going and my fingers itching to play my saxophone.

Bootlegs and Big Smiles

I couldn’t help but ask Mr Goode if he had any bootleg recordings of our fellow Jamaican the great Joe Harriot, and he was pleased to oblige me. We sat in Mr Goode’s own personal space and got stuck into listening to some recordings of Coleridge playing with Joe in Michael Garrick’s band, all of which were new to me. It saddens me that this body of work has not received the exposure it warrants because there are some really beautiful ideas documented on albums that deserve a proper re-release. My ears instantly picked up as Joe Harriot enters on Alto. His sound is cutting but pure and full of warmth that few alto players ever get near. Mr Goode sounds almost Percy Heath-like to my ears at times. He plays with a real sophisticated and swinging feel that has me bobbing my head in approval the whole way through. This music felt good to listen to and Coleridge and myself acknowledged it with big smiles.

Seeing snow for the first time

In between listening to songs I asked Mr Goode about his initial experiences coming over to the UK. He spoke warmly of coming over to Glasgow, Scotland and immediately climbing the biggest hill he could find in order to see snow for the first time! Then there are some of his greatest recording moments including playing with Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli, but his favourite musical experiences are playing with Joe and we returned to some deep listening to those recordings. 

Music speaks louder than words

Charlie Parker said that: ‘Music speaks louder than words’ and I feel we shared a great many moments of depth and clarity purely through listening. Coleridge certainly feels everything he hears and the prevailing spirit of joy and warmth in those recordings of him with Joe Harriot certainly left me feeling really positive whilst also giving me many ideas for the future.

It was a blessed day where the deepest lessons on focus, conviction and strength of spirit were there without a need to exchange too many words. How beautiful music truly is, and how lovely it was, and is, to continue to grow with the knowledge of the legacy of Joe Harriott and my mate Mr Coleridge Goode.

I look forward to the next visit and some deeper listening!     

Nathaniel Facey

August 2012

Watch a short video of Nathaniel and Gary Crosby jamming ‘There Is No Greater Love’ for Coleridge and Peter Ind at The Goodes’ house.

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