Wednesday, March 26, 2003


Very good programme on, of all places, BBC Radio 2, last night at 21:30. The high altar of mainstream pop and rock made way for an interview between Branford Marsalis and Stan Tracey, celebrating the classic 1965 jazz album, 'Under Milk Wood'. Pianist Tracey was inspired by Dylan Thomas and accompanied by the immensely classy Jeff Clyne on bass, Jack Dougan on drums and breath-less Bobby Wellins on sax. This is the recording that really showed what European (specifically British) jazz could come up with. I'm delighted to own a copy of the original pressing, in more-or-less mint condition, with Tracey's moniker on the front. But you might also want to check out the re-mastered CD on Jazzizit JITCD9815 (1999). Here, for Crimsoids short of jazz memory, is to be found the original musical version of 'Starless and Bible Black'. The sleeve notes from the original album and the live re-recording in London at the Wigmore Hall May 22, 1976, with Donald Houston (narrator), Art Themen (tenor sax), Dave Green (double bass) and Bryan Spring (drums), can be read here. There are also soundclips.

Finding himself accompanied by Stan Tracey during a season at Ronnie Scott's, Sonny Rollins asked the British music press: "Does anybody here know how good he really is?" Some of them still don't. Good on you, Branford.

Also check out Franc O'Shea, another Wellins collaborator...

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