Pictures and history

PAUL HARES, guitar and mandolins          NIGEL THOMPSON,  bass               TONY WRIGHT, guitar

February 1994, The Black Swan, Whitby.
Girls and boys came out to play, every Monday night, listening to French-style jazz as a prelude to French kissing...It added a certain
je ne sais quoi to amorous expectations - the band, though, usually wound up the evening playing chess with mine host, Dick Bunting, who fooled us all with his giuoco most un-piano.
Dick, and his fearsome penchant for hang-gliding without the hang, for micro-lites without the lite and for large motorcycles upon which he roared perilously along the moors roads, had come to the Lost Valley (or, "The Valley of the Lost") by way of Barcelona and Morocco...and, of course, Mexborough Grammar School  where he had been its most legendary recipient of corporal punishment. Dick the Stick had asked Busker Jim Mayer, a one-man-band of  great repute, to fix up a Monday Jazz Night, but "something a bit different"...The rest, as they say, is history…

Tony and Paul  at "The Hot Club of Whitby"
"Jazz in Django's Footsteps"

And on Saturday nights and Bank Holiday Mondays when the Middlesbrough Maulers and the Laddish from Leeds came into town for some good honest fun and pub-wrecking, well...the memory lingered on, as none other than Crazy Rhythm and Mantovani joined forces to help Dick rid himself of the most recalcitrant rioters - "I only play your stuff in extreme circumstances, very loud and with plenty of presence...and if that fails...well, Pavarotti is the last resort. But Jazz in Django's Footsteps usually works a treat…"  Thank you Dick and...RIP... the memories still linger on.

The ability to attract large audiences guaranteed a full date-sheet!
In August  '94 this young boy witnessed a strange collaboration when American Cellist Stanley Adler sat down with Crazy Rhythm - and the trio's subsequent tradition of iconoclasm began to establish itself with a total disregard for any notions of class or genre.
Before the year was out, audiences up and down the land had their first taste of "the sound of surprise" as preconceived concepts of musical category and taste endured a severe mauling.
We would have asked J.S.Bach but, as usual, his mobile was switched off…
So, as usual, we were left to our own devices…
And thus we joined the ranks of the revisionists.

Stanley Adler, Tony Wright, Paul Hares, Nigel Thompson - Bude Castle Grounds

We found Victor hidden away in a sleepy village in the middle of the North York Moors. After his touring with Charlie Barnet, and after leading the Ambrose Orchestra,  he'd retired to a life of teaching and orchestral work, but couldn't resist the call when it came...
"Do we really need the banjo?" he asked, unfurling  the white flag of surrender, and then began to conduct while Paul rendered "Eskimo Nell" and Tony attempted to swat, guitaristically,  the famed Upton White Butterfly…

The Windsor tenor banjo looked on impassively...until the opening bars of Elgar's Salut D'Amour
The subsequent improvisations left us in no doubt that Sir Edward, as his troubled spirit wandered his beloved  Malverns, would not have been amused...

Tony, Unnamed Banjo, Nigel, Paul  with Victor Hickman,  Upton,  1995

Before our terminal rift with Big Bear Music and our subsequent wanderings in the wilderness, before we knew much about nepotism and the money-wrangles of the grown-up world, French Waltzes drifted above the gathered throng, (most of whom had trouble with English if not the poseurs' Franglais), borne up by Dom Perignon bubbles and the self-congratulatory chatter of the chosen few…not to mention Digby's Beeb-speech and a lot of laughter that didn't sound real...

Barcelona beckoned courtesy of the mighty Mr.Simpson….and who were we to object?  Another fine mess...But we
did get paid.

Just for the moment, then, things seemed on the up…

The 747, when it finally took of
certainly was, and nearly left without us.

And we even got smoking seats...Although baggage reclaim was a nightmare later that year when we shared flights with the Prague Chamber Orchestra...and...
strings ain't what they used to be.

It sounded like Schoenberg on a bad day...

The guitars held up well...And the Guaudis and the Girls on the Ramblas made it all worthwhile…

Back in the real world, we managed 33 performances in July '96 and decided that the white van days were upon us…

Four years and 200,000 miles later we knew the exact location of every greasy spoon in the U.K…And most of the petrol stations
.

"What...no trombone? What...no trumpet? What...no piano?"
Well, not exactly...But by Keswick '97 we did sometimes have Messrs. Barnes and Bogart…

And, of course, it was the year that
Journeys By Guitar began offering cut-price deals to distant places on the planet…
And
TW  had reverted to his political insolence...despite the fact that we had a living to make...of sorts.
So how many times did we need to tell these people that we played guitars and mandolins???

What...no piano?

Oh well…

Over to you Al.

Alan Barnes, Tony Wright, Paul Hares and Humphrey Bogart - Keswick Jazz Festival.

Hexham, Jazz Festival '98 saw us immortalised in sand...at least until the local disco turned out; and then summarily decapitated as Dougie Law's masterpiece became a headless tribute to the sensitivity of modern youth.

By then, though, we were heading for Scotland with the  negatives and the front cover of our first CD. Escaping northwards...

Pastiche it was (and is) called and it was exactly that...

1999...People were gearing up for the big millennium heist…Our old friend Mammon was back in the driving seat with so many willing passengers...But first there were the small matters of
Beyond The Sea and Live at the Broomhill Arts Hotel (To hear more about those now-deleted albums you can e mail us…) - and, well, the only thing that really comes to he who waits is the rather brusque order from table 9…"Crisply fried Medallions of Cholesterol served on a lightly-tossed bed of E substitutes" ...So, life on the road went on (and off). Then, of course, there were the impending court battles which, thanks to the unstinting efforts of the Musicians Union, we had lost before they had even begun. What do you expect for £6 a month...HELP?
Shows and gigs come and go...Nigh on 300 a  year -  we were determined to half that…
And, of course, there were still those who asked "What is your proper job?"
Or the indignantly scandalised response from certain promoters if we asked for more than a milkman's daily rate - but, back to the good old union: they did get us a pound a day rise sometime back in the seventeenth century...unfortunately they forgot to tell the wage-payers who simply said "Union? What union?" Yes, indeed.
WHICH  union…
So after the Gershwin and Ellington shows (well,
they wrote jazz didn't they?), it was time for the gypsies to come to terms with the fact that the pen is mightier than the pick, no matter how many tortoise shells you melted down for it...The Django clones were crawling out of the woodwork by now, joining all the other clones that already peopled "The British Jazz Scene"...Clonic or colonic?
There was
this trust and that trust (without too much music to trust) and Homage to Him and Homage to Her...while the front-line beer-bellies became bigger as the solos got smaller…Newton's Law?

Paul and Tinkerbell...

Meanwhile, in Stafford, people had already decided that Brahms, Django and the Duke weren't really that far apart (And our thanks for that..) and, really, it was just the elitism of the precious that kept up walls in an age when most people were busy hammering away to knock 'em down...So, while gents like John Williams were playing everything on the planet without fear or favour, while dear old Kennedy was busy recording the Doors Suite and Bela Fleck was breaking new ground in matters Country, we were still coming up regularly against the knee-benders, the purists and the peurile...If it didn't originate from the cracked lip of some old fart down in New Orleans, it can't be jazz...can it? Some may have differed...and we, for three, didn't find it hard to follow in the footsteps of Jacques Loussier et al. But here we go again, forgetting that Bourbon Street Parade is such a mighty piece of work and that Minor Swing is actually a ground-breaking piece of musical innovativeness…(And did you know, by the way, that the natural 'cooing' rhythm of the woodpigeon is in alternating bars of 5/4 and 6/4? No? Well, we'll be working on it…)

July 2002.. We finish this brief history of 'out of time' as we began, with another succinctly emotive comment from Darren Yeadon…
A picture, as they say (or, in this case, a sculpture) is worth a thousand words...

The end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time…
                                           
(t.s.eliot)

Crazy Rhythm are alive and well,
much to the chagrin of many...

Paul Hares

Tony Wright

Nigel Thompson

WATCH THIS SPACE….

To learn more about life on the road with Crazy Rhythm:
   Travels with Bernard

To see more of Darren's work go to
www.chipchip.net

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