Gilles Peterson has been particularly supportive of the album, The Garden and the equally superb, ‘The Hope Suite’ 12” (both on Tru-Thoughts). And then there was the Mixtape session a couple of weeks ago…
So, the obvious starter, why Nostalgia 77?
“What’s in a name? Well the 77 is easy, that was the year I was born. The Nostalgia part is harder to pin down. I just remember working on one of the first tracks I ever did and that popped into my head. I wrote it down and the tune went out under that name, I think it means different.”
‘The Hope Suite’ has already been given a ‘Beaureguards Uftonbeat Rewerk’, which Gilles P played on his Big Chill show. Whose idea was it to give it a Latin feel? Who is/are Beaureguards Ufton?
“I’d been on the email recently with Ben Smith from Best Kept Secret. It turns out we have a lot of tastes in common and one day a rework of ‘The Hope Suite’ appeared in my mailbox. I hadn’t given him any parts he’d cut it all from the clear sections of the original 12” All credit for the changes goes to Ben — that’s that Ben, not this Ben!”
Lizzy Parks was the voice of last year’s ‘Rhodesmode’, is that when you first heard her?
“Lizzy is an old friend of Riaan [Vosloo] who plays bass for the Nostalgia band. He suggested it would be a good idea to try something and I had wanted to try a spiritual style piece for a while. Luckily Lizzy was up for trying something and we got it together. I’m not sure how she feels about the finished track. I tried to get a slightly different performance; I think the vocal’s striking but perhaps not to everyone’s taste.”
And talking of female vocalists, when I bought the album The Garden from my favourite Soho vinyl vendor I was told, “they were brilliant at the Big Chill.” He was getting confused with the Alice Russell gig and her appearance on your cover of ‘Seven Nation Army’. She’s coming out of the shadow of Munka Moon as a solo artist, how did the collaboration with her come about?
“Before doing ‘Seven Nation Army’, I’d never recorded vocals. I wanted a medium to experiment in and thought the White Stripes tune would be a good project. I mapped out a backing asked Alice if she felt like trying it out. Literally two hours later, it was done. As far as live performance goes, Alice has a completely different band. I think it fits in with her show a lot better than mine and anyway she’s the voice. They keep it close to my arrangement just without the horns. Hopefully, we’ll share a bill soon and we can double it up horns and all.”
That sounds a good idea, click HERE for the latest we have on Alice Russell’s forthcoming album.
Have you had any feedback from Jack or Meg on your version?
“Not a peek out of Jack or Meg. I hear Jack has a temper on him at times so I hope he likes it.”
Cheney Lane is in Oxford, what’s the connection?
“You’re the first person to spot that actually. Cheney Lane was the lane that ran behind my last school in Oxford. I know some people hated school and I had my moments, but my memories of my time there and of the people I knew at that time are happy, fun memories. For me the tune has a spring in its step and I guess that’s my memory of walking down Cheney Lane.”
Gilles Peterson’s show had a mix that you had done, were they particularly favourite tracks you picked?
“I’ve always enjoyed Gilles’ show for the hidden jazz gems he plays. I chose some tracks that I’m enjoying at the moment and which I think fitted in with what he does. Worth particular mention is the James Tatum track. It’s a beautiful spiritual piece recorded in 82 or 84 or something… just worth a mention for the sceptics who think jazz fell off in the 80s and for me more evidence that if it’s got the spirit, it doesn’t matter what year you’re playing in.”
Gilles tells us Nostalgia77 have been booked to do a session for his show, but I thought The Garden isn’t dominated by jazz-rock influences, but you can hear the sound of Nucleus influence, I’m told you are a big fan?
“My flat mate first played me Nucleus a few years ago. The first track he played me was ‘Song For The Bearded Lady’. I was blown away. For me Nucleus is every bit as pioneering in the sound of their records as, say, Bitches Brew [Miles Davis]. To this day I think ‘Song For The Bearded Lady’ is still my favourite. It’s a Karl Jenkins number, I think, as were a lot of Nucleus numbers, but for me it’s got everything, great hook, killin’ playing and a real searching triumphant sound. I’ve never met Ian but a lot of people I’ve worked with have studied under him at the London schools. Like Graham Collier he seems to have been totally dedicated to learning, teaching and creating the music they were feeling — the results I think speak for themselves.”
There’s going to be a Hectic report on the Nucleus gig when he got to meet Ian Carr himself but in the meantime, see the links below to the Milkaudio mixtape.
You strike me as a likely vinyl collector, when did you start and what was the first record?
“Yes I am, I started buying records when Mo’Wax started up. From those I got into the sampling scene and old records. That’s really where the trouble started. I can’t remember what the first one was and I don’t believe I can have a favourite but some things seem to work time and time again, stuff like Leon Thomas, John and Alice Coltrane, Sun Ra just keeps on inspiring.”
If you’re just getting into this, Hectic recommends the New Thing! compilation on Soul Jazz Records (SJR LP110) but getting back to Ben, The Garden sounds very ‘authentic’ and the sleeve notes allude to this being the first time you’ve worked with a ‘live’ band.
“Actually none of it was recorded live. I did a series of sessions with the individual musicians and then put everything together in my home studio. It took a lot of experimenting to get roughly the sound I wanted, hopefully, it’s just the right balance between the control of a studio produced record and the bursts of freedom from live playing.”
I was surprised that the musicians you used haven’t had a larger recording presence.
“To be honest so was I. Their ages range a lot but I think it really boils down to a difference in outlooks. Amongst the jazzers the emphasis seems to be all about performance. They study their instruments and haven’t necessarily thought about making records or how it can be done in different ways. I come from a DIY record making background so I’m always thinking about a new one. The exciting thing now is the possibilities really open up when there’s a good combination of producers, writers and musicians. I think there’s a lot more to come: both projects produced under controlled conditions and some fully live, freer recordings.”
I went to Jelly Jazz in Newquay a few weeks ago and noticed you had also been there with Natural Self. How did the Jelly Jazz gig go and what sort of tunes would we expect to hear you play?
“As far as djing goes I really dig into the funk and Latin collection. Whilst I tend to lean towards jazz in the studio, in the club I think you need to keep it hyped and uptight. Pete’s clubs are great. For anyone who hasn’t been, I think Jelly Jazz is one of the best sessions in the country.
You were on The Baker Brothers Japanese tour last month, how did that go?
“Japan was amazing. The reception was great and the gigs really good fun. The Baker Brothers went over really well and it was a pleasure travelling with them.”
So apart form Gilles’ session, any other live appearances?
“There’s lots of live dates coming up including Cargo, Brighton’s Concord2 and a Festival appearance in Milan amongst others.” (See details below and link to Nostalgia 77 web site).
I had hoped to meet up with Ben at the Nucleus gig but it was so busy. Dom Servini was there and he told me there’s a Nostalgia 77 Remix of ‘Grasshopper’ on WAH7009 (time for a Dom update I think). No surprise that talent spotter Dom is a Nostalgia 77 fan and he’s not the only one. We’ll be keeping track of Ben and his projects and will hopefully catch one of the gigs.
30th July - Jazz Café - London
11th August — Concorde 2, Brighton (with Fat Freddy’s Drop)
23rd September — Concorde 2, Brighton (with Alice Russell + T.M. Juke)
14th October — Cargo, London
Gilles Peterson: Tracklisting 14/08/05 : Worldwide Family Mix Tape: Nostalgia 77
18) Chris MacGregor’s Brotherhood of Breath - ‘MRA’ (Neon)
19) Max Roach - ‘Absolutions’ (Atlantic)
20) Al Feeney - ‘The Other Place’ (Berklee Jazz)
21) The Paris Smith Quartet - ‘Thought Seeds’ (Oracle Records)
22) Natural Self - ‘Meditation’ (a tribute) (White)
23) Cal Tjader - ‘Buhutu’ (Vocalion)
24) Rashaan Roland Kirk & Al Hibbler - ‘Carney And Begard Place’ (Atlantic)
25) James Tatum - Zooba la (JTTP)
Gilles Peterson: Tracklisting 07/08/05 : Live From The Big Chill 2005
8) Nostalgia 77 — ‘The Hope Suite’ (Beaureguards Uftonbeat Rewerk) (White)
Hope Suite video www.nothing-to-see-here.com/hope_suite.html
Denise Benson’s Review of ‘The Garden’ - 5 stars
Gilles Peterson : Tracklisting 12/06/05 : Nostalgia 77 –‘The Hope Suite’ (Tru Thoughts)
Gilles Peterson : Tracklisting 09/01/05 : Nostalgia 77 - ‘Cheney Lane’ (Tru Thoughts)
Gilles Peterson : Tracklisting 12/12/04 : Nostalgia 77- ‘Seven Nation Army’ (Tru Thoughts)
Nostalgia 77 (Tru-Thoughts) March 2004
01. Nucleus — ‘Song For The Bearded Lady’ (Vertigo)
02. Mingus — ‘Freedom’ (Columbia)
03. Eddie Gale — ‘The Rain — (Blue Note)
04. MRA — ‘Brotherhood Of Breath’ (Neon)
05. John Mclaughlin — ‘Argens Bag’ (Polydor)
06. Graham Bond — ‘Springtime In The City’ (Warner Bros.)
07. Graham Collier — ‘Lullaby For A Lonely Child’
08. Lol Coxhill — ‘Duet’ (Ogun)
09. Nostalgia 77 — ‘The Mirror’ (Tru-Thoughts)
10. Duke Ellington — ‘Fleurette Africaine’ (Blue Note)