|1. Säd Afrika|
|2. Exeter, King of Cities|
|4. Mo Mhúirnín Bán|
|5. Delightful Precipice|
|6. Sosbun Brakk|
|7. Sweet Williams|
One of the most intriguing ensembles to arrive on the British jazz scene in the 80s, Loose Tubes created music whose cultural centre freewheeled with the imagination of its cohorts. The unremitting carnival ambiance that pervades this recording could thus have as much European gypsy as Afro-Brazilian samba resonances.
They were a formidable live group whose affiliates included a London-based Canadian (bass trombonist and M.C Ashley Slater), a son of Lesotho (percussionist Thebi Lipere), a Welsh Buddhist (clarinettist Dai Pritchard), plus a gaggle of Englishmen with ideas as colourful as their mix and un-match outfits, who all went on to become the Who's Who of the British Jazz scene, including Django Bates, Iain Ballamy and John Parricell.
Personnel: Eddie Parker (flutes), Dai Pritchard (clarinets), Steve Buckley, Iain Ballamy, Mark Lockheart, Julian Nicholas, Ken Stubbs (saxophones), Lance Kelly, Chris Batchelor, Ted Emmett, Paul Edmonds, Noel Langley (trumpets), John Harborne, Steve Day, Paul Taylor, Richard Pywell, Ashley Slater (trombones), Dave Powell (tuba), Django Bates (keyboards), John Parricelli (guitar), Steve Watts (bass), Martin France (drums), Thebi Lipere (percussion)
The album title translates as “South Africa”, and there is nothing remotely sad about the album, quite the opposite. It is dedicated to Nelson Mandela (in 1990, recently freed) and gives thanks to the many South African musical exiles who lived in London from the 60s onwards, enlivening its music scene and inspiring British musicians. The 23-piece Loose Tubes certainly owed a great debt to Brotherhood of Breath, the free-blowing London-based big band with a nucleus of South African exiles.
As ever, all of the compositions here were by band members. Five of the seven tracks are from the band’s studio albums, now sadly unavailable; often, these versions manage to trump the originals, the live context adding extra solos and excitement. The dry wit of the introductions by bass trombonist Ashley Slater also enhances the album.
Two compositions by keyboardist Django Bates, the title track and Delightful Precipice, particularly stand out. Each combines the band’s customary instrumental exuberance with vocal interludes in which all members harmonise as a chorus, to stunning effect.
Another two pieces make their recorded debut here: Exeter, King of Cities by flautist Eddie Parker and Mo Mhuirnin Ban by trumpeter Chris Batchelor. Despite the album’s South African flavour, these pieces demonstrate that the band – as players and composers – also drew inspiration from a rich variety of global influences, including Latin American rhythms, Irish jigs, big-band and other jazz, brass bands and far more, all distilled into a compellingly danceable amalgam.
The infectious atmosphere on Säd Afrika, generated by musicians and audience alike, indicates that all concerned had great fun. Luckily, it is rumoured that this may not be the last Loose Tubes release.
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