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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, James Poore, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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Lost Marble LM008



  1. Armchair March

  2. Children's Game

  3. The Wolf's Dream And The Wild Eye

  4. A

  5. Nights At The Circus

  6. Eden Express

  7. Arriving

  8. Fast Forward

  9. As I Was Saying …

  10. Bright Smoke, Cold Fire

  11. Creeper

Eddie Parker - Flute, keyboards

Dai Pritchard - Clarinet

Steve Buckley, Iain Ballamy, Mark Lockheart, Julian Nicholas - Saxophones

Ken Stubbs - Saxophone (tracks 1-8)

Julian Argüelles - Saxophone (tracks 9-11)

Lance Kelly, Chris Batchelor, Noel Langley - Trumpet

Ted Emmett, Paul Edmonds - Trumpet (tracks 1-8)

John Eacott - Trumpet (tracks 9-11)

John Harborne, Paul Taylor, Richard Pywell - Trombone

Steve Day - Trombone (tracks 1-8)

Richard Henry - Trombone (tracks 9-11)

Ashley Slater - Bass trombone, also MC (tracks 1-8 only)

Dave Powell - Tuba

Django Bates - Keyboards, Eb horn

John Parricelli - Guitar

Steve Watts - Bass

Martin France - Drums

Thebi Lipere - Percussion (tracks 1-8)

Louise Peterson Matjeka - Percussion (tracks 9-11)

Loose Tubes first saw the light of day back in 1984 in London, when this 21 piece ensemble was formed. Over the six year period that the first incarnation of the band was in existence, their cheerfully anarchic style and consummate musicianship won many admirers. Operating as a kind of collective, the group had a wide range of musical influences. It was notable, too, for the quality of compositions contributed by band members such as Chris Batchelor, Django Bates and Eddie Parker. It seemed, when the band broke up, that all that would be left would be fond memories of live performances and a few, therefore precious, recordings. Individual members continued their careers and found new projects, burnishing their reputations as among Britain's finest jazz musicians in the process. It was both a surprise and a pleasure when, in 2014, the band reformed to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their founding, receiving the accolade of 'Live Experience Of The Year' from Jazz FM for their reunion performance at Cheltenham Jazz Festival and a commission for new works from BBC Radio 3. Since then, they have made further Festival appearances in different parts of the UK, as well as two short periods of residency at Ronnie Scott's, last year and this (2015).

This new album links the past and present of Loose Tubes. The first part of the disc consists of material recorded during the farewell residency of the original group at Ronnie Scott's in September 1990, the final batch of material to be issued from that earlier period. In addition, there are three new pieces by Bates, Parker and Batchelor respectively, recorded at the same venue as part of the 30th Anniversary concert in 2014. The live nature of the recordings, complete with enthusiastic audience response and the droll commentary of Ashley Slater, enliven the proceedings. Among an embarrassment of riches, I thoroughly enjoyed John Harborne's A with a beautifully handled noirish trumpet solo from Chris Batchelor and some nifty keyboard work from Django Bates. Nights At The Circus is a further highlight, both quirky and evocative. Saxophonists Julian Nicholas and Mark Lockheart help to paint the picture on this one. The other standout from the 1990 tracks is Arriving which features Bates on Eb horn and Parker on keyboards plus an absolutely rocking ensemble that bring the piece to a triumphant conclusion. Unless I'm greatly mistaken, the title of As I Was Saying is a humorous reference to the twenty four year absence of the group as in 'As I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted'! Despite the real merits of the piece, saxes and keyboards building to a slow crescendo over an insistent beat, my preference is for Bright Smoke, Cold Fire which has Eddie Parker playing the flute with élan and Steve Buckley's extravagant tenor sax. The other new composition is Creeper where Julian Argüelles is typically lucid on baritone sax and Django Bates once more makes a strong showing on keyboards. A worthy finale.

The group, then, have lost none of their verve and vivacity. Soloists and band play off one another to sometimes startling effect. It may be the case that if Loose Tubes didn't exist it would be necessary to invent them but it would take a superhuman effort of imagination! It's good that they are back – the British jazz scene is the richer for it.

James Poore

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