Loose Tubes: Tomorrow Night is Your Last Chance Ever
Bates got no further with those rough mixes. "I didn't really think about them much. It was hard to record a live gig, and I didn't really have any great expectations. Then I got a call telling me these tapes were knocking around: they were in a cupboard in (bass trombonist) Ashley Slater's old apartment. The girl who was living there hunted round until she found these reels of tape. I took them to Konk (the studio owned by The Kinks' Ray Davies), put them on the machine, and all the oxide coating started to fall off. Someone explained that we had to bake the tapes to stop this, because those old tapes used a water-based glue. We managed to do that, then went back. And as soon as the first track came crashing out of the speaker it was a real jaw-dropping moment, and from that moment on it was clear that this music had to come out."
The production process took some time, even after the tapes had been saved, as Bates explains. "It took another two years of working out how to deal with the technological change, the logistics. Then it took some excellent mastering and lots of other work to get it ready for release. ... I was aware of the 20th anniversary and also of my 50th birthday looming, and I started to think, 'Oh, wowfor once in my life things are actually going to coincide as planned.'"
Life After Loose Tubes
In 2010, Bates released Belovèd Bird, his idiosyncratic tribute to Charlie Parker. The album, featuring Bates with bassist Petter Eldh and drummer Peter Bruun, is a real contrast to Dancing On Frith Street and features one of the smallest lineups Bates has worked with. "I agree. It is an extreme contrast with Loose Tubes. To put two such different things out in the same year raises interesting questions, and they feed off each otherthey create interest by being so different. But I do want to say that I don't consider Dancing On Frith Street to be my album."
Bates' album strips down Parker's arrangements and, of course, dispenses totally with the saxophone. Although the melody lines might remain, Bates' arrangements are at times quite radical re-workings of the tunes: "I was born at home and I suspect that Parker was played on the day of my birth. ... The tunes on the album are the ones that had the strongest effect on me."
Belovèd Bird took around five years between Bates' original idea for the project and the album's releasenot quite on a par with Dancing On Frith Street, but still a pretty long time. For Bates, this has its advantages: "I agree with you that it's a very long time between the album's origins and its actual recording. But the longer you leave it, the more of a surprise it becomes. In fact, it's an ongoing project, not just a single recording." Interestingly, Bates reveals that the project is not limited to Parker's work: "The band is actually called Belovèd, and the album is called Belovèd Bird. Everyone thinks that the band is called Belovèd Bird and that it only plays Parker. ... 'Belovèd' actually refers to the idea of the piano trio, which I think is a constellation which is beloved. Of course, Bird is also beloved."
Since 2005, Bates has been the Professor of Rhythmic Music at Denmark's Rhythmic Music Conservatory in Copenhagen. It's a position he clearly enjoys and which gives him freedom to pursue other musical projects: it also enabled him to form Beloved Bird. "I met Peter Bruun and Petter Eldh through the Conservatory. Petter Eldh was a student of mine. He was in the big band, StoRMChaser, on electric bass."
Lockheart is also a major jazz musician 20 years after the demise of Loose Tubes. It's also noticeable that he has continued to play with some of his old bandmates, including drummers Nic France (pictured right) and Martin France as well as Buckley and Parricelli. "Yes, that's true. We're friends as well as fellow musicians, and Martin and John were certainly pivotal to a lot of the work I did after Loose Tubes. In the last few years I have moved away from that a bit, to work with younger people who weren't associated with that, like Jasper Høiby, Liam Noble, Dave Smith."
Of Lockheart's current projects, the most intriguing is an opera by composer Mark Anthony Turnage about the life of Anna Nicole Smith, which is due to debut at the Royal Opera House in London's Covent Garden in March 2011. It's an intriguing prospect and also an unusual one. Sadly, Lockheart isn't yet in a position to offer more details: "We haven't started rehearsals yet, so I don't know what it's going to be like. But it's very excitingJohn Parricelli's doing it, Peter Erskine's doing it and so, too, I think is John Paul Jones from Led Zeppelin."