The Amazing Band - Roar

The Amazing Band - Roar


1. Roar - Part One

2. Roar - Part Two


It's a bright afternoon, Spring 1970, north London; the musicians who happen to be the Amazing Band today are letting the music between them just happen. This is how the Amazing Band always was. Although Mal Dean, Veleroy Spall and Mick Brannon were the nucleus, over a period of years many musicians joined them for hours, weeks or months.

The concept was Mal Dean's. He was a cartoonist, painter and illustrator with a deep love and understanding of jazz, who saw how open the music had become, how like drawing painting. There was a particular sense of discovery and surprise in music, poetry and visual art at the time, each form influencing the others and bringing a great sense of closeness to the various disciplines.

Mal and Veleroy developed the idea in occasional experimental projects. Then in 1969 Mal organised weekly sessions at the basement theatre and poetry club Pentameters in Hampstead. Mick Brannon and many other musicians came to join in the atmosphere of freedom and experimentation. There were older jazz musicians, classical players, rock and country musicians, established and younger players together. There were only occasional conflicts, when players did not grasp the fundamental idea of collective creation.

Over a period the Amazing Band (its personnel always centered around Mal, Veleroy and Mick) developed a niche for itself, playing at the innumerable "underground" venues where "free" music had a receptive audience. They appeared at the Art Labs, colleges, early rock fests and soon after this recording, for John Peel's Saturday afternoon Top Gear session on BBC Radio 1. Indeed they also did a a session for the Friends of the Tate Gallery! and in 1979 Veleroy and Mal regrouped with Jon Corbett, Marcio Mattos, Eddie Prevost to record a successful Jazz in Britain BBC Session.

From the first, long before "exotic" and little instruments became the norm, the Amazing Band was always open to unusual sounds. There was some of the earliest use of the violin in this sort of music and very free accordion too; Mal used pipes, chanter and whistles, Mick frequently deconstructed saxophone or clarinet. It does not sound strange now but it was revolutionary at the time.

There is something in the actual music akin to the famous Sergeant Pepper record cover, in the sense of including an enormous range of references, side by side: Ellington dramatics, french musette, bebop, old blues, hoedown, Paganini pyrotechnics, sirens, aching melodies and more... None of it for the sake of effect but all part of the lovely intimate conversation the players had that day - all captured for you on this record - Enjoy !

Veleroy Spall, October 1996.


The Musicians:

Robert Wyatt - percussionist extraordinaire, then of Soft Machine, who played with the Amazing Band on many occasions, seemed to produce inspirational rhythms, sounds and vocal interjections at the exact and only possible moment. Both as an ordinary bloke and philosopher of the avant garde, Robert made a great deal of difference to the weight of this music.

Jim Mullen - the wonderfully soulful jazz guitarists of then and forever, let his copious hair down on this recording, playing deep, open string bass, underpinning and warming the disparate music around him.

Mick Brennan - always slightly distracted, favoured playing very near, shoulder to shoulder, with a very vocal tone, always bringing out the emotional aspect of any musical context.

Veleroy Spall - developed his own vocabulary for violin, and weaved sounds dramatically and  unexpectedly into the couldron of musical possibility.

Maia Spell - often worked with the band in the early years at Pentameters, using her voice instrumentally. Mal called it "snake charming" but there are seagulls, swoops and swing enlivening and touching the music.

Chris Francis - G.L.C. Young Musician of the Year, stepped by for a while to add some accomplished bebop sounds on the second selection.

Mal Dean - was a creator and innovator more than a trumpeter but he knew how it went and always lead the band in the direction of honestly, cutting through the remotest sign of bullshit. the music here was specially his creation.



Recorded at Pathway Studios
London, Spring 1970


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