CMU at the Dog and Pheasant
This is a live recording made on Tuesday May 26, 1970 at the Dog and Pheasant, Cambridge.
The first half of the evening had been taken up by the CamTech Big Band, a student band run by me. This is being released on this site simultaneously with this set of tracks.
In the second half, CMU played a set showing their changing repertoire. The line-up was Larraine Odell and James Gordon(vocals), Terry Mortimer (guitar and vocals), Ian Hamlett (guitar- the “new boy” who had replaced me), Roger Odell (drums) and myself on bass guitar (replacing Adrian Kendon on string bass).
Following the encouragement of James Gordon, Terry had returned to the role which he had when I first played with him – singer and guitarist. This is something which he has done at various times in his career, often to very good effect. Interestingly, I too was now playing the instrument I played in that same band - the bass guitar.
My more general comments on these tracks are given in the accompanying note: My Time with CMU. Here I will confine myself to more precise comments.
Track 1: Electrical Phenomena
Roger created this as a more “free jazz” vehicle for improvisation. The theme is played twice and moves into a guitar solo (Ian) over the theme, which is also articulated by the drums. The second guitar moves dissonant chords around behind the solo when the rhythm goes into a fast tempo. A short solo by the drums leads into a repeat of the theme. This is followed by a second guitar solo (Terry), using very strong reverberation. The linear approach of the first solo gives way to one which is viewed as more pure sound. In some ways the approach is reminiscent of the latter part of Slow and Lonesome Blues (see CMU at Leeds) and could be seen as taking forward that strand of the band’s music. A short drum solo leads into the final repetitions of the theme.
Track 2: Clown
James and I created this as a comic piece with a serious undertone. It introduces Terry in a smaller but very significant role. After a short setting of a light rock and roll rhythm, Larraine begins the story. The chorus follows, then James takes up the story, which ends with guitar effects. It’s then Terry’s turn to take up the story, which James follows. Another chorus, and then Terry returns. The chorus returns a cappella (except for some bass notes). James comes back to finish the tale. It’s interesting that, despite its very accessible and even pop nature, the song is well received by the strongly jazz-oriented audience. It is interesting to compare this version to that on the Open Spaces CD
Track 3: Mystical Sounds
The Odells were getting into composition, and they produced this as a vehicle for Larraine, to give her a chance to leave behind her previous role as a singer of jazz standards. The folk rock rhythm is set up, before Larraine begins the song. The backing is simple, effective and disciplined. There is a short guitar solo by Terry, in which there are a couple of sorties out into space reminiscent of the technique which he deployed widely in the Leeds tracks. Larraine returns to take the song to its end. It is a pleasing, lighter moment, a long ways from the intensity of Electrical Phenomena of the one which comes next.
Track 4: Patterns of Time
Another Odell piece, again reflecting Roger’s interest in rhythm. It also starts to try to link singers and instrumentalists, which resulted in the title piece of the CD Open Spaces. For the technically mind the first section is a 12 bar blues in the minor key; the chords area given intensity by added dissonances. There is a guitar solo
A bridge passage with a change of rhythm spearheaded by a dissonant riff brings in the singers chanting syllables. There is a second guitar solo .
The tempo and rhythm change again, with a strong input of shaker. Over this Larraine sings the main theme. As she finishes the rhythm changes to a rock 12/8 with long bass riff. As James takes up the song, the riff is thickened by a dissonant guitar chords. The tension builds and then bursts into a jazz 12/8 as the backing for a guitar solo (Terry). Towards the end he breaks into more funky phrases.
The rhythm stops and gives way to feedback. Out of this the bass solo emerges. It makes use of high volumes to create feedback drones and high distortion. In contrast to the previous solos it is dramatically structured, and makes frequent use of silence.
There is a huge dynamic range, from loud to virtually inaudible. The solo ends with a very quiet statement of the opening riff, which brings back the band for the last statement of the theme.
Track 5: Think Again
A song by James, which is very typical of his more serious side. The song begins with a light rhythm. The words are clear – you can read comment on them and some of the background to the piece in James’ book (page ). A Terry solo follows. In this he demonstrates his mastery of standard jazz, and sings a scat solo along with the guitar line. A second guitar solo follows (Ian). James returns and the song builds up to a climax. The volume drops again and the dissonant guitar phrases mirror the words, before a final full volume ending. Again the audience responds enthusiastically.
Track 6: Little Miss Julie
The set ends with the only remaining instrumental by me. It is interesting to compare the Leeds version.
The pushing riff builds up and leads to the theme. The whole section is repeated. The first guitar solo (by Ian) is taken over the riff pattern. James can be heard enthusing in the background ! The rhythm changes into a boogaloo pattern, as the guitar solo continues, the rhythm breaks off into a frenzy, leaving the way forward for an unaccompanied solo by Terry. At first this is loud, using a picked tremolo. The mood becomes more lyrical. He then takes up the theme as the basis for his improvisation. There is a passage which is virtually like a work song. He builds through a more dissonant passage before turning on the echo unit. He explores the theme, using the reverberation options with immense imagination. You can hear the audience responding in true jazz club style. Taken just as notes this could be a classical composition. We hear one member of the audience (the late Trevor Kaye, saxist) say “You can’t” in disbelief, as Terry moves to pick up his viola bow (he was using the instrument in other areas of the band’s work) and uses it to draw out a sound which reminds use of the medieval rebec (a bowed precursor of the violin). He then transforms the sounds into drum-like effects, and is joined by Roger, before the band goes back into the repeat of the first riff.