David Panton | David Panton's One Music Ensemble (1978-79) [Pantonmusic Pm1&2-789]

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David Panton's One Music Ensemble (1978-79) [Pantonmusic Pm1&2-789]

by David Panton

A presentation of duet, trio, quartet and quintet recordings made with Ghanaian musician Nii Noi Nortey on drums and percussion during his playing association with alto-saxophonist/pianist David Panton 1978-79 and others in Birmingham UK.
Genre: Jazz: Avant-Garde Jazz
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  Song Share Time Download
clip
1. Warming Up
David Panton, Nick Solomon, Nii Noi Nortey
9:54 $0.99
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2. Elegy for E D
David Panton, Nick Solomon, Nii Noi Nortey
10:47 $0.99
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3. Something for Lauraine (Take 1)
David Panton, Nii Noi Nortey
5:08 $0.99
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4. Blues Time
David Panton, Nii Noi Nortey
5:05 $0.99
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5. Something for Lauraine (Take 2)
David Panton, Nii Noi Nortey
11:44 $0.99
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6. Perchance to Dream
David Panton, Nii Noi Nortey
11:14 $0.99
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7. Something for Lauraine (Take 3)
David Panton, Nii Noi Nortey
17:22 $0.99
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8. Out of Nowhere
David Panton, Graham Lynock, Ashley Brown, Nii Noi Nortey
5:13 $0.99
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9. Something for Lauraine (Take 4)
David Panton, Nii Noi Nortey
16:41 $0.99
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10. Second Time Around
David Panton, Nick Solomon, Graham Lynock, Ashley Brown, Nii Noi Nortey
7:51 $0.99
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11. Enters Venus
David Panton, Ashley Brown, Nii Noi Nortey
10:55 $0.99
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12. Fanfare for Albert
David Panton, Graham Lynock, Nick Solomon, Ashley Brown, Nii Noi Nortey
9:34 $0.99
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13. Hell's Procession
David Panton, Graham Lynock, Nick Solomon, Ashley Brown, Nii Noi Nortey
4:53 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.

ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
Tracks 1-7 are from the first CD which present recordings made with Ghanaian musician Nii Noi Nortey on drums and percussion during our playing association 1978-79. I first met Nii Noi in the early spring of 1978 when he approached me for saxophone tuition as I was hurriedly on way to provide the piano accompaniment for the weekly dance course practical session at Birmingham University. He had been directed towards me by a French pianist with whom I had been trying out some things and who recommended me as his successor for the session, but he had also told about me by Phil savage, the owner of Outlaw Studios, when he did a free jazz session there. Having come to the UK to study economics and finance with a view to returning home to become part of the development of his country - or so his father thought - he was suddenly caught up with the music of John Coltrane and decided music had to be the direction of his life from then on. Why he had come to Birmingham from London to pursue this aim is not entirely clear to me, as there were far more opportunities to play music at the freer end of the jazz spectrum in London than Birmingham, but here he was and just as suddenly I was caught up in his quest.

The tuition went well, he was a keen pupil and worked diligently in what I was showing him of the technical and theoretical side of playing. Then, after several lessons he turned to me and said: ' You've been listening to me and telling me how and what to play, now let's see what you can do.' So I began to play saxophone and Nii Noi soon joined in on the various percussion he had collected, and that set the pattern of our musical interactions even after we brought the formal saxophone tuition to an end. Early in 1979he eventually bought a second hand drum kit from local rock musician and classical percussionist Steve Maddox. Gradually other people became aware/were invited to the sessions which regularly happened in Nii Noi's basement, and some of these were recorded onto audio cassettes, but never intended for release. One of those invited musicians was multi-instrumentalist Nick Solomon who I first came across in 1969, who plays cello on the first two tracks - the remainder being saxophone/drums duets with Nii Noi. The exact dates of recording are unknown, but given that the first two tracks have Nii Noi on assorted percussion rather than the kit, suggests they were recorded in late 1978 and the duo tracks with the drum kit sometime in 1979.

The first track, Warming Up, was literally an instruction to warm up and familiarise ourselves with the room and each others playing, particularly Nick and Nii Noi who had not met let alone played with together before, and although it's essentially a free improvisation with each musician deciding what to play, there was clearly a lot of listening and interaction going on. The other tracks are based on written tunes and themes, some of which have been released in different version on previous releases.

Track two, Elegy For ED, appears on NondoFMC1+4 in an arrangement for a sextet, though with the solo section performed by just three musicians - alto, bass and drums; indeed, it may have been this earlier recording which influenced the solo section of the latter. It is a slow and thoughtful performance with moments of appropriate emotion. Unlike track one this is not a collective improvisation, here cello and percussion follow the alto lead from the opening theme statement, through the extended alto improvisation which follows, and the returning but slightly altered theme before a suitably quiet and subdued ending.

Tracks three five and seven present three different takes of Something For Lauraine, written for Lauraine Jones in the late 60s and revived here; three takes would seem to something of an obsession in itself, but another (fourth) recorded performance by this duo was made later in the year (which appears on a companion CD) and there is a nonet version on NondoDPLP009+PMA80, in addition to several unrecorded public performances. This is a slightly more complex piece than the usual theme-solos-theme format with various cadenzas themes and bridge passages intermingling with the improvisations. Nii Noi's drumming often influencing the direction of the whole piece rather than merely accompanying it in well balanced duo performances. Each take is progressively developed each time, not only in terms of length of performance but also in the direction of improvisational development, intensity and musical conclusion; the third take ignores the suggested written coda and continues on into a spontaneous rhythmic journey with saxophone eventually giving way to the shennai and an Afro-Asian feel which reflected Lauraine's own experience, memory and love of travelling those countries.

Blues Time is another tune from the 60s which seems hardly to have been performed since then or since this recording, but which oddly pre-echoes the inclusion of a blues in the January Suite which I wrote for Lauraine later that same year. It follows the usual theme-solos-theme, but is more about a feeing of the blues than a recreation of the standard 12-bar form which became so familiar during the UK rock influenced blues boom of the 60s/70s.

Perchance To Dream, apart from being a quote from Hamlet, was inspired by a Janice Rider pastel drawing which illustrates a figure reaching out from a rather dark place towards colour and light, perhaps from death to life, from the negative to the positive, from sadness to joy, from the past to the future, from regret to acceptance. It starts with an improvised cadenza before the theme comes in and quite a long improvisation develops from it before the eventual recapitulation. Nii Noi often commented that my solos seemed to go 'off into outer space'. but whatever their convolutions they always landed back on earth, having moved from initial idea through conflict to resolution, however temporary.

Tracks 8-13 are from the second disc which present recordings featuring Ghanaian musician Nii Noi Nortey on drums and percussion during our playing association 1978-79, which has a total of five musicians in various combinations, namely: a duo, trio, quartet and the full quintet. They were recorded on 29 September 1979 at the Aston University Centre for the Arts in Birmingham, and contain some of the pieces we had performed at an event in Summerfield Park in July of that year - once, incidentally, the venue for a regular jazz festival in the 50s and 60s organised by the late tenor saxophonist and educator Andy Hamilton, who did much to encourage local youngsters to get into playing jazz. Graham Lynock on tenor was a long time associate of Nick Solomon, they both played alongside each other in various local bands including Smoke Stack Lightening, as well as getting into the avant-garde/free-form jazz music of the early 60s at the time when undergraduates Evan Parker and Howard Riley were musically active in the city; both had careers in advertising and were also involved with my early bands in the late 60s. We had recently meet up again when I walked past the restaurant outside of which Nick was having a business lunch with one of his clients, he called me over to join them and over several whiskies back at his office we agreed to get together musically. Ashley Brown was a friend and a neighbour of Nii Noi and been involved in several session in Nii Noi's basement, sometimes playing trumpet, though here he confines himself to bass guitar and some occasional percussion. Nii Noi had not been involved in any music making back home in Ghana, but since his awakening to the Coltrane legacy he had developed an intuitive grasp of what was happening musically as well as clearly drawing on his innate African heritage.

The opening quartet track, Out Of Nowhere, is based on an instruction to 'play to get a recording level' - part of the ritual of live and studio performance to set microphone levels. But here, as with the first track on the companion CD, it was primarily to produce an improvisation in which the players would familiarise themselves with the room and each other by listening and interacting intensely, something which is not always done when working in more familiar formats where the expectations of the genre might produce something more conventional than creative. The result is a suitably eclectic free improvisation, given that this is a One Music performance in which inclusiveness overrules exclusiveness.

A duo track which follows is in effect the fourth take of Something For Lauraine, and is the only track from this pair of discs to have been previously released - it appeared on the NondoFMC2 cassette. It is almost as expansive as the third take at over 16 minutes, and comparison with that same take shows that the material and its development have become embedded in the musical memory of both players, but in such a way as to be openly adaptable to the moment rather than any kind of fixed expectations about its execution. The written coda, however, has become a point at which the piece can now move off into further improvisatory directions quite logically without losing its musical senses, moving towards resolution, conflict or ambiguity as the moment dictates.

Second Time Around brings all five musicians together in a performance which differs markedly from that which was recorded the following January by a different set of musicians and appears on NondoDPLP009+PMA80. In this version the bass guitar is very prominent, giving the piece more a rock feel than anything else, with the soloists taking off into very free territory before returning to the almost classically formal opening statement on piano, followed by the rest of the band picking up on the riff and taking it this second time to its conclusion. As will be obvious the title has nothing to do with a certain well known standard made famously by Frank Sinatra, though here there were two second time meetings around this time: with Lauraine, hence the four takes of her piece, and Nick and Graham almost ten years after we last played together.

A piano trio perform Enters Venus in a performance which begins deceptively quietly with piano playing open fifths in three/four rhythm in the bass before introducing a melodic idea based on fourth intervals, joined by sparse percussion and then what becomes a hypnotic bass riff throughout, a contrasting melodic idea is introduced before a repeat of the first and then the piano improvisation starts to develop in an increasingly intense and free way as do the drums towards the climax, leaving behind the niceties of the opening, except for the bass guitar maintaining its ground throughout; the piece then operates in reverse with the intensity gradually diminishing back to the calmness of the opening and a repeat of the opening thematic ideas leads the piece, together with the gently rocking motion of the bass guitar and sparse tinkling percussion, to rest.

The last two tracks are quintets. Fanfare For Albert is one of only two recorded versions of this tribute to Albert Ayler written in 1977, the other is by the trio with Nick Stephens and John Stevens released on NondoFMC3. A rather muffled drums roll introduces the theme or riff which is based on the notes you might expect to hear from a bugle player, though here sounded by soprano, alto, tenor saxophones and bass guitar. Brief solos follow, punctuated by repeats of the riff, then a collective improvisation follows until theme/riff breaks through again before ending.

Hell's Procession is another piece which differs markedly from the version from the concert in January 1980, mentioned above, in that the bass guitar is again prominent, almost insistently so, which together with the wild bursts of solos from the horns gives the piece a much darker and sinister feel as against a more playful quality, with the theme steadily moving the unstoppable precession along its apparently relentless course.

The original recording ended with solo piano playing Out Of Somewhere (Jimmy Guiffre) as the musicians packed up their instruments and chatted. Nii Noi's girlfriend of the time thought it sounded like a film soundtrack, but whether she was referring to just that piece or the whole sequence is uncertain. The other uncertainty, of course, is if it was the whole sequence, what was the film?

Nii Noi returned home to catch up with family and friends, and although he returned to Birmingham on his return to the UK, he decided to move back to London where he played drums with African Dawn, Dade Krama and later saxophone with reggae band Misty In Roots. I visited him there on occasions in the early 1980s, but we then lost contact. He eventually returned to Ghana in 1989 getting involved in many music groups including Mau Mau Music, African Sound Project and Accra Trane Station and has more recently been featured in a book, film and audio recordings by ethnomusicologist and musician Steven Feld.* DP

*Feld, S. *(2012), Jazz Cosmopolitanism in Accra. Duke University Press, Durham and London.

The Band: David Panton - alto saxophone and piano, Nick Solomon - soprano saxophone and cello, Graham Lynock - tenor saxophone, Ashley Brown - bass guitar and percussion, Nii Noi Nortey - drums and percussion.

All works by Panton published by D & ED Panton Music. (c) (p) 1978, 1979, 2014.

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