Tag Archives: Joe Harriott

PREVIEW: Nu Civilisation Orchestra – Southbank Centre, London – 17 November

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So today we heard that the review of our Catch A Fire show was the ‘MOST READ’ on the London Jazz Blog! Nice one people!

And now we have an excellent preview by Jon Turney of the forthcoming performance on 17 November of the Nu Civilisation Orchestra‘s outstanding concert, Parallel: A Tribute To Joe Harriott – Where Music Meets Art at the Purcell Room, SouthbankCentre, London – home of Tomorrow’s Warriors and the Nu Civilisation Orchestra. We’ll also be displaying the art of the wonderful artist, Emma Godebska as part of the show.

Turney describes this concert as ‘well worth the effort’ and ‘exactly the kind of thing jazz festivals are about’. See excerpts from the concert in Bristol here.

 

Zeitgeist moves in mysterious ways. Science sees more simultaneous discoveries than can be easily explained. Music, too, finds players striving for similar goals even though they haven’t discussed them.

The titles of the coruscating Jamaican alto saxophonist Joe Harriott’s key recordings, Free Form (1960) and Abstract (1962) declared his determination to get beyond be-bop to something freer from ready-made structure. Read on…

 

VIDEO: Nu Civilisation Orchestra – Joe Harriott Tribute at St George’s, Bristol

Some footage of the Nu Civilisation Orchestra’s gig at St George’s, Bristol on 10 October as part of the Lively Up! Festival. If ever you thought you were scared of ‘free form’ jazz, this set should allay your fears as it provides an completely accessible entry point to this area of jazz. As MD Peter Edwards mentioned at the Nottingham show a couple of weeks earlier, Joe Harriott created some truly beautiful and sublime music that merits investigation. And he’s right. It’s not scary!

About the show, Peter says:

“My newly commissioned arrangements feature music from Joe Harriott’s groundbreaking albumsFree Form (1961) and Abstract (1963). The performance also includes the work of visual artist Emma Godebska who has produced a wonderful series of paintings based on the band’s interpretation of Harriott’s music. Projected on a screen are Emma’s works in various stages of development whilst the band creates its own sonic improvised art pieces, making the show a truly multi-dimensional experience.”

Go see it! It’s on tomorrow (20 Oct) at RNCM Theatre in Manchester, and at the Purcell Room at Queen Elizabeth Hall, London on 17 November.

 

 

 

 

REVIEW: Mainly Jazz-Bristol – Nu Civilisation Orchestra – Joe Harriott Tribute

Lovely review by Jon Turney on the Mainly Jazz in Bristol blog of our Nu Civilisation Orchestra concert on 10 October at St George’s Hall, Bristol (what a beautiful venue).

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Joe Harriott died (way too young) just under 40 years ago, and since then has mainly existed in that jazz limbo of semi-legendary figures who did remarkable things but were not truly appreciated in their lifetime, nor much listened to afterwards. This Nu Civilisation Orchestra (NCO) project ought to change that.

Harriott is best remembered for a more or less simultaneous discovery of the possibilities of breaking out of set harmonic frameworks often described as akin to what Ornette Coleman’s early quartets were opening ears to around the same time. His two recordings in this vein – Free Form and Abstract – are the inspiration for a suite of pieces from the orchestra. NCO is one of the many projects inspired by the admirable Gary Crosby, and is led by pianist, arranger and composer Peter Edwards. He’s studied Harriott’s stuff, and scaled it up from the original quintet presentation (sax, trumpet and rhythm section) to an 11-piece orchestra.

It works brilliantly, I think, partly because Harriott’s originals – despite the forbidding titles – are accessible, full of melody, but also come with intriguing twists and turns which lend themselves well to orchestral elaboration. As Brian Morton and Richard Cooke say in the Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD, “by later standards, Harriott’s experiments seem cautious”. He was never really an outside player, in the sense current in the mid-60s avant-garde. From this distance, his pieces sound like someone extremely talented taking trouble to avoid hard bop cliches while still incorporating plenty of blues, along with elements from his native Jamaica.

That all seems a very natural blend now, but worthwhile cultural production is never natural – it has to be worked at. And the writing, arranging and rehearsing here must have been an immense amount of work. We heard a 90 minute set, after a warm-up featuring the rough-and-ready charm of the Bristol Reggae Orchestra, and it placed some demands on the concentration toward the end as the music was so consistently rich and rewarding. (Video backdrop of some Jackson-Pollock style action painting was a distraction, mainly – too obvious a link with “free-form”, perhaps?)

The musical rewards came partly from the skill in orchestration, and from the new pieces Edwards has written to sit alongside Harriott’s compositions, partly from the fine playing. Byron Wallen and Nathaniel Facey stood out, as you’d expect, along with the leader. Will Gibson on flute and clarinet also shone, but the entire band nailed the (lengthy) book of complex arrangements and made them sing.

All in all, the only worthwhile kind of jazz tribute: not retread, reinvention.

More dates:

The Harriott set is just one of the goodies on offer as part of the Lively Up! Festival celebrating Jamaican independence 50 years ago. It is being presented again at RNCM in Manchester on Oct 20th, and during the London Jazz Festival on Nov 17th.

See this and other articles at the Mainly Jazz in Bristol

 

BBC MUSIC REVIEW: Nu Civilisation Orchestra – Joe Harriott Tribute

Fab review by Neil McKim for BBC Music Magazine of the Nu Civilisation Orchestra concert – Parallel: A Tribute To Joe Harriott at St George’s Bristol on 10 October, and opening support, Bristol Reggae Orchestra.

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Courtesy of Classical-music.com – The Official website of BBC Music Magazine. Originally published 12 October 2012.

A NIGHT OF JAMAICAN JAZZ

 A Radio 3 jazz presenter Geoffrey Smith wrote in the magazine last year that ‘Maybe 2012 will be Joe Harriott’s year’ – following the timely release of a CD box set, celebrating the career of this often overlooked, but extremely gifted, saxophone player from Kingston, Jamaica, who settled in Britain in the 1950s and died in 1973. Harriott’s diverse career took in established jazz forms, writing for the likes of trombonist Chris Barber, [Spotify link] to his own ‘free form’ jazz experiments and the later ‘Indo-Jazz’ crossover LPs with John Mayer. It’s tragic that he died so young, aged just 44.

And the interest is growing. Joe Harriott’s music is currently being showcased in concerts across the country, as part of the Lively UP! Festival, which marks 50 years since Jamaican independence. 

I went along to the Bristol leg of the celebrations, hosted by St George’s earlier this week. The first half, delivered by The Bristol Reggae Orchestra, a (going on) 30-piece band with strings, brass, woodwind and a pulsing rhythm section, definitely set the scene. The band drifted through tunes ranging from Nat King Cole to reggae hits by Freddie MacGregor and Delroy Wilson. And this feel-good community band had people dancing and swaying in the aisles of this converted church. 

By way of contrast, the second half showcased two of Joe Harriott’s ‘free form’ jazz albums from the early 1960s, ‘Free Form’ and ‘Abstract’, which had been expertly re-arranged by pianist Peter Edwards – from the original five-piece to an 11-piece line-up. The band, the Nu Civilisation Orchestra has some excellent UK jazz talent, including trumpeter Byron Wallen and alto saxist Nathaniel Facey in its ranks. And introducing the programme, Edwards explained how Harriott saw the sounds of ‘free form’ jazz as ‘equivalent to brush strokes on a painting’. To illustrate this, a screen behind the band showed film footage of visual artist Emma Godebska, creating paintings, while it played. 

The result was fascinating and genuinely illuminating, as we were treated to the challenging soundscape of Harriott’s ‘free form’ jazz. And this was no safe option for some of the audience. The arrangements moved from tumbling bebop, plunging into shuddering grooves and at times squawking cacophony, interspaced with calypso, blues, swing and myriad influences – with all concerned demonstrating why they are at the top of their field. 

At the start of the concert, Lively UP!’s executive director Janine Irons, announced: ‘We’re going to be celebrating the great Joe Harriott – a great musician that a lot of people don’t really know about.’ I certainly learnt a lot about Harriott’s ‘free form’ jazz and I hope that this project triggers future performances of his wider output and re-releases of some of his great records, such as the incredibly rare Hum Dono (1969). 

There’s another chance to catch A Tribute to Joe Harriott in Manchester at the RNCM Theatre on Saturday 20 October.

 

 

 

TONIGHT – BRISTOL St Georges Hall – Nu Civilisation Orchestra & Bristol Reggae Orchestra

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TONIGHT   

Wed 10 Oct | 8.00pm 

BRISTOL 

St George’s Hall

 

Box Office 0845 40 24 001

  

Don’t miss…PARALLEL – Where Music Meets Art

 

Come along to see a classy, highly accessible tribute to Jamaican  saxophonist, Joe Harriott by the increasingly popular Nu Civilisation Orchestra conducted by Peter Edwards with extraordinary art by Emma Godebska  + SUPPORT: Bristol Reggae Orchestra

 

Usain Bolt Yourself and go get your ticket!

 

Nu Civilisation Orchestra pay tribute to Joe Harriott at Lakeside

At Lakeside Arts Centre, an 11-piece ensemble from the  Nu Civilisation Orchestra – including original Tomorrow’s Warriors trumpeter Byron Wallen – premiered a set of simply sublime music by Jamaican free form jazz genius, Joe Harriott specially orchestrated by Musical Director, Peter Edwards and including four new pieces created by Peter as part of the Lively Up! Festival commission.

The orchestra was set in the space against a backdrop of fascinating stop-start film footage of visual artist, Emma Godebska creating the extraordinary pictures commissioned as part of the collaboration with Peter and the orchestra. The finished art works were hung in the gallery space where Emma made herself available to discuss her work.

 The short video here is a sneak peak on one of the orchestra’s early rehearsals for this project: Parallel – Where Music Meets Art. 

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It’s wonderful to see Tomorrow’s Warriors alumnus and Musical Director, Peter Edwards growing in stature and confidence as he conducts what must surely be one of the UK’s top jazz orchestras.

Excitement builds as Lively Up! Festival about to start

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Lots of excitement in the Dune office as the kick off for our Lively Up! Festival looms ever closer. Just two days to go to the first clutch of shows. We’re starting in Nottingham, the city where the original Bob Marley and the Wailers Catch A Fire tour started!

A small posse of us are heading up to Nottingham today to launch the festival alongside the New Art Exchange’s fabulous I Is Another exhibition this evening (Thu 27 September), and then the festival starts in earnest on Friday in Nottingham with Catch A Fire  and Mango Spice at Royal Concert Hall, Parallel – A Tribute To Joe Harriott at Lakeside Arts, Steppin’ Over dance party at Nottingham Contemporary 

Meantime, check out the festival dates and hope to see you soon on one of these brilliant shows!

 

 

Living legends; living legacies – Part 2

Following on from Living Legends; Living Legacies – Part 1, here’s a bit of video footage of Gary Crosby and Nat Facey jamming on the jazz standard There Is No Great Love by Isham Jones on 6 August 2012 when they went to celebrate Jamaican Independence with Coleridge Goode and Peter Ind over at Coleridge’s house. 

Massive apologies for the portrait format and the occasional wobble. It was just such a magical experience being in the room with Coleridge, Peter, Gary and Nat, and beautiful to see these two living legends casting an approving eye over the comparative ‘freshers’, that all thoughts as to which way round to hold the iPhone went completely out of the window! Hopefully the lack of cinematography skills won’t detract from the wonderful music and vibe!

 

 

Living legends; living legacies – Part 1

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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.

Artist Peter Doig a fan of Jamaican sax legend Joe Harriott

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Peter Doig, Untitled 2011. Photograph: Courtesy The Artist And Michael Werner Gallery, New York And London 

Nice reference the other day (5 Sep) to Jamaican alto saxophonist, Joe Harriott in Stuart Jeffries piece on Peter Doig in The Guardian. It’s great to know that this wonderful contemporary artist is a Harriott fan who makes the link that Harriott himself made (and as we are exploring in Parallel – A Tribute To Joe Harriott) between music and art.

Check out Stuart Jeffries piece on Peter Doig here

And check out Parallel – A Tribute To Joe Harriott that the Nu Civilisation Orchestra will be presenting under the musical direction of Peter Edwards in collaboration with visual artist, Emma Godebska as part of the Lively Up! Festival