Getting news of the line-up for the Cheltenham Jazz Festival is always an occasion for a-whooping and a-hollering in my house, but this year (April 30 to May 5) it has the added attraction of being, for me, a dream come true.
I arrived in Britain in the mid-1980s and very soon became aware of the multi-headed jazz monster that was Loose Tubes. They played all around the land, crucially in Birmingham at the Triangle, the Alex and at the Solihull Festival.
This 21-piece band, eclectic of taste and anarchic of spirit, included a whole bunch of rising jazz stars, players that, after Loose Tubes broke up in 1990, would go on to lead their own bands and, to a large extent, create and develop a particularly rich and distinctive period in British jazz.
It’s a period that continues today, both in the ongoing work of these players – Django Bates, Mark Lockheart, Iain Ballamy, Julian Arguelles, Chris Batchelor, Ashley Slater among them – and in their influence on a whole new generation of jazz musicians.
Loose Tubes combines the excitement of big band jazz with influences from Africa, from circus music and from Frank Zappa.
Although there have been two fine live CDs of their final outing at Ronnie Scott’s released in the last few years, you can’t buy the three studio albums they recorded in the 1980s – the last of them produced by Teo Macero who had also produced crucial Miles Davis and Dave Brubeck albums of the 1960s/70s – other than in second-hand vinyl shops.
Here’s a track from one of them, Delightful Precipice:
But – and this is where my dream comes in – you can hear them live, for the first time in 24 years, in the Big Top at Cheltenham Jazz Festival on the afternoon of Saturday, May 3.
If you happen to hear some whooping and hollering when, older but hopefully not a lot wiser, they take the stage, don’t be alarmed. That’ll be me.
The line-up for this 30th Anniversary reunion is: EDDIE PARKER, Clarinets: DAI PRITCHARD Alto / Soprano saxophones: STEVE BUCKLEY & IAIN BALLAMY. Tenor Saxophone: MARK LOCKHEART & JULIAN NICHOLAS Baritone: JULIAN ARGUELLES, Trumpets: LANCE KELLY, NOEL LANGLEY, CHRIS BATCHELOR, JOHN EACOTT, Trombones: JOHN HARBORNE, ASHLEY SLATER, RICHARD PYWELL, Bass Trombone: RICHARD HENRY Tuba: DAVE POWELL, Keyboards: DJANGO BATES Guitar: JOHN PARRICELLI, Bass: STEVE WATTS, Drums: MARTIN FRANCE, Percussion: LOUISE PETERSEN MATJEKA
- Find out more and book for Loose Tubes at Cheltenham Jazz Festival here.
- They will also be at Ronnie Scott’s for the whole of the following week, 5-10 May, though two nights have already sold out. More here.