Nostalgia 77 feat. Keith & Julie Tippett - Sessions
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Now don’t go expecting any material influenced by early Tippett family works, Keith first came to fame with King Crimson and Julie (nee) Driscoll with ‘Wheels On Fire’, as over the past 40 years the pair of them have become legends of contemporary jazz and experimental music.
In the sleeve notes, Benedic Lamdin (he of Nostalgia 77 Octet, half of Broken Keys and variously known as Nostalgia 77 and The Hermit) says he first heard of Keith and Julie ws when a friend played him Septober Energy, the 1971 album by Keith Tippett’s Centipede; a remarkable 50 piece jazz-rock project.
Apparently the friend found it in a second-hand shop in Oxford (it’s rather rare so lucky him) but, as Ben says, it’s easy to look back at the early-pre punk 70s as some untouchable golden era in jazz. Whilst Jazz Britannia and Ben’s own triumphing of another jazz great Graham Collier (also see ‘Word & Music’ and the one-off Hoarded Dreams), it’s worth noting that some of these guys are still producing great music. Like Unsafe 3 - Safehouse Festival of Improvised and Experimental Music where the Tippetts played ‘Together’ from Couple In Spirit II for the best part of an hour, non-stop!
So, when Ben and co-producer with Riaan Vosloo (who has been on our pages nearly as many times as Mr. Lamdin; see Twelves Trio, Lizzy Parks, Examples of Twelve to name just three) invited the Tippetts to record this Sessions project, the results were always going to be special as they explore original material that covers blues, jazz, soul and beyond.
Originally that album was due for release in February, you’ll remember Gilles Peterson played ‘Film Blues’ before Christmas but due to unforeseen reasons, it’s had to wait until now. ‘Film Blues’ is a Mr. & Mrs T composition that perfectly suits the Nostalgia 77 Sessions crew with incredible performances by all; pure class.
For the experimentalists, ‘Soothing The Rattlesnake’ has the Tippetts in that Couple In Spirit II mode but she’s such a singer, that ‘Rainclouds’ starts all bluesy Alice Russell-esque and get deep into modal chants at the end.
Most of the album has a strong blues vein running thorough it, just check Keith’s and Fulvio’s performance and the guitar on ‘Vienna’ and there’s the track ‘Lapis Blue’. The “experimental flourishes” will be familiar to Tippett fans but even on the ‘typical’ N77 opening track, the pair seem to be at one with the jazz nu-skool; even showing the new boys how to do it you might say. Whist, the other Lamdin/Vosloo track on the album, ‘Visions’ is played very straight.
That said, this album is very much collaboration where all get a chance to shine which is not that surprising as Keith and Julie have been the teachers for years. They’ve shared their musical knowledge over the years with all sorts of musicians, whether its meeting Mike Evans in Beckenham and their small part in the formation of Brand X (a band Phil Collins claimed were only second to Weather Report circa ‘76/77) or more formal educational projects of today. It was at one of these that Keith first met Riaan and thus the seed of the ‘Nostalgia 77 Sessions’ was planted.
In fact most of the tracks have a Tippett writing credit and it’s quite a lot to take in, even for hardened fans as each track is different. But don’t give up as it’s definitely one of those albums that just gets better on every listen, if you don’t love ‘Okinawa’, ‘Visions’ or the most modern jazzy, ‘Sketch For Gary / Billy Goes To Town’ I’d be most surprised. And the duo of Keith’s stone playing piano with Hanslip so perfectly represents its title, ‘Mice’ it’s absolutely fabulous (Ed, sorry about that).
The whole album is beautifully recorded and engineered by Lamdin and Martin Levan (whose own lengthy credits include another landmark in British jazz, Kaleidoscope Of Rainbows) and Sessions is definitely in the top 10 album of year.
Not only that, we’re promised that this is but the first in a series of ‘Nostalgia 77 Sessions featuring…’ inspirational and experienced artists. So, who is going to be next?
Reviewed: Nostalgia 77 featuring Keith & Julie Tippett - Sessions (Tru Thoughts) Cat. No: TRUCD183 Release date: 6th April 2009
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