Rediscovered, rescued and release?


Legends at the Bradford Jazz Festival – 20/03/1983

 Jon Taylor, Simon Barnes, Richard Iles, Andy Watson, Jon Moreman, Dave Tyas, Barry Rickarby, Peter Birkby, Colin Richman

During a recent search for examples of music I discovered some ¼” master tapes, as well as demos on cassette, from the band Legends that I co-led with drummer Dave Tyas. These analogue recordings, made in the early 1980s, have been rescued into a digital format as the tapes were starting to disintegrate. 

Those of you that have been reading the blog over the past year will realise that I have been reflecting on the experiences that have influenced my musical career to try and gain a more complete understanding of my composition methods with the intention of developing new ideas and processes.  Finding and salvaging this material has reminded me of the methods I used 30 years ago and how my actions have changed during the intervening years. 

The music for Legends attempted to balance the formality of precisely scored musical sections with soloist led improvisational sections that could be supported with complimentary material from the other members of the ensemble.  There were musical sections that were optional in some of the works, these gave each performance some uniqueness but the recording method meant they had to be fixed for this medium. 

The Arts Council supported the writing and copying of some of the music on the recordings and the band members gave days of their time and creativity to the project but in the end we could not afford to press the vinyl.  Nearly 30 years on and the promotion and distribution methods have changed to make the release of the album a viable prospect.  Is there an audience for the release of Legends online or a reunion or was the band of a time? 

As well as the recordings I also found some press releases from various arts organisations that promoted concerts of the band and reviews from local and national newspapers.  All positive and complimentary about the “new” sound we had created, the “precision” of the performance and the “impressive” or “strong” improvisations from members of the band. 

At the end the band was a victim of the success of its members, many went on to long-term and full-time employment in various parts of the country and organising gigs around these constraints became too difficult.  Apart from Dave Tyas and myself as co-leaders the regulars were Andy Watson (guitar), Barry Rickarby (bass), Jon Taylor (saxophones/flute), Richard Iles (trumpet/flugel horn), Simon Barnes (trumpet/flugel horn), Jon Moreman (trombone), Nigel Chapman (piano) and there were guest appearances from Andy Peacock (trombone) and Dale Gibson (trumpet).  A mention should also be given to pianists Dave Newton, Colin Richman and Pete Lingwood who all gave their ideas to the band and Al Wood (trombone/saxophone) and Harry Beckett (trumpet) for the music and laughs on the North of England tour. 

One of the duets Dave and I recorded (Woodred) can be found on SoundCloud and other tracks can be made available to download fairly easily although there should be a cost, at least to give some money back to the musicians for their support on the recordings, but as for manufacturing a CD?  Who knows what the future will bring, Legends may be rediscovered, released and reunited. 

© Peter R. Birkby 2014


About derangeddrums

Composer, percussionist, musical director, teacher and educator. My music has been written for audiences in palaces and in the street. Music is my vocation and my passion and I hope you enjoy it too.
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2 Responses to Rediscovered, rescued and release?

  1. Very interesting look back. I was in the same year at Leeds College of Music as Jon Moreman and Nigel Chapman (1979 to 1982) All very talented musicians. Always had great respect for their abilities. Saludos, Richard Mackfall Kbd/Voc If anyone is interested in where I ended up – In Google put “richard mackfall musician” and follow link.

  2. Peter, I could not find the recording.
    Saludos, Rick

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