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Album Review

Graham Collier: Down Another Road @ Stockholm Jazz Days ’69


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Graham Collier: Down Another Road @ Stockholm Jazz Days ’69
In 1969, when the composer and bassist Graham Collier took his sextet to Stockholm Jazz Days to give a live performance of their album Down Another Road (Fontana, 1969), the presence of a British band onstage at a European jazz festival was exceptional. The idea that British musicians would one day have their names on the marquee at US festivals, as Sons of Kemet, The Comet Is Coming and Nubya Garcia have in the 2020s, would have been regarded as delusional. Back in 1969, many British jazz fans, let alone overseas festival bookers, thought of the homegrown product as a poor substitute for the real thing, which could only come from America.

And the truth is, for many years British jazz was a pale reflection of its American parent; you have to learn to walk before you can run, after all. There had been some outriders in the early 1960s, but it was not until the end of the decade that a critical mass of British composers and musicians emerged who could stand alongside the Americans and not be found wanting, and it took the world another ten years, if not longer, to catch up with the new reality.

Graham Collier was among the vanguard of the late 1960s Young Brits, with fellow mold breakers such as John Surman, Mike Westbrook, Neil Ardley and Ian Carr and ex-colonials who had settled in London such as Kenny Wheeler, Michael Gibbs and Harry Beckett. Significantly, all these musicians were accomplished composers as well as players.

Trumpeter and flugelhornist Beckett is part of the sextet which recorded the studio album Down Another Road and then gave the previously unreleased performance of it which is heard on Down Another Road @ Stockholm Jazz Days '69. The lineup is competed by alto and tenor saxophonist Stan Sulzmann, trombonist Nick Evans, oboeist and pianist Karl Jenkins and drummer John Marshall.

An influential section of British jazz had in 1969 picked up the baton of Miles Davis' electric experiments on In A Silent Way (Columbia, 1969) and run with it, savvy as they also were to the 1969 New York sessions that would result in Bitches Brew (Columbia, 1970) through the presence in Davis' band of their friend's bassist Dave Holland and guitarist John McLaughlin.

Collier was never a fully paid-up jazz-rocker, as were for a while Karl Jenkins and John Marshall, who with Ian Carr recorded Nucleus' seminal debut, Elastic Rock (Vertigo), in January 1970 and would both join Soft Machine two years later. But he touched on it on Down Another Road (and other acoustic albums) in the 1970s. Tracks such as the funky "Aberdeen Angus" and "Down Another Road," though unplugged, are unmistakably part of the broad church that was jazz-rock while simultaneously existing apart from it.

All the tunes on the album, bar Jenkins' pretty "Lullaby For A Lonely Child," are Collier originals, and include the pastoral "The Barley Mow" and the mini-suite "Bumblings For Bob" (which in Stockholm replaced the studio album's more abstract "Danish Blue"). Stan Sulzmann turns in some striking solos but it is Harry Beckett who sparkles most brightly in the spotlight, his effervescent horns lighting up every opening they are given.

Down Another Road @ Stockholm Jazz Days '69 is a terrific album, well recorded by Sveriges Radio, lovingly curated by My Only Desire Records and with a sparkling remaster by Casper Sutton-Jones from the audiophile Gearbox label. It sounds like it could have been recorded in 2023, which is fitting for such timeless music.

Track Listing

Burblings For Bob; Molewrench Intro; Molewrench; Lullabye For A Lonely Child Intro; Lullabye For A Lonely Child; Down Another Road Intro; Down Another Road; The Barley Mow Intro; The Barley Mow; Aberdeen Angus Intro; Aberdeen Angus.


Graham Collier: composer/conductor; Harry Beckett: flugelhorn; Nick Evans: trombone; Stan Sulzmann: saxophone, tenor; Karl Jenkins: keyboards; John Marshall: trumpet.

Additional Instrumentation

Graham Collier: double bass; Harry Beckett: trumpet, flugelhorn; Nick Evans: trombone; Stan Sulzmann: tenor and alto saxophone; Karl Jenkins: oboe, piano; John Marshall: drums.

Album information

Title: Down Another Road @ Stockholm Jazz Days ’69 | Year Released: 2023 | Record Label: My Only Desire Records

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