In January 2013, while deep in the production of Sine Qua Non, I had the good fortune to witness John Aram’s quintet in concert at Nottingham’s Djanogly Theatre. An homage to one of Nottingham’s best loved literary sons, Alan Sillitoe, the performance was John’s musical suite based on Sillitoe’s seminal Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, complete with back projections devised by Joss Sessions.
The music and performance were absolutely transfixing, capturing the best qualities of ‘60’s Brit Jazz and soundtrack, with no suggestion of pastiche. The narrative transitions between the musical sections are signposted by perfectly chosen dialogue from the Karel Reisz film starring Albert Finney and Shirley Anne Field. I met with John after the show. This remarkable record is the outcome and I am very proud to be able to present it on Perdu. The recording, from 24-bit/192 kHz, absolutely kills. (The clip above is a compressed taster).
Glenn Armstrong, Nottingham, 18th September 2014
This project began back in 2009. My mother had been ill in hospital in Nottingham and I was beginning to feel the memories of my childhood, watching films with Mum on a Sunday afternoon. Saturday Night and Sunday morning by Alan Sillitoe was a favourite. A working class family and the ambitions of young Arthur who wanted something better for himself. My Mum’s name was Doreen, the same as the heroine in this story. I felt a certain affinity with Arthur as I too wanted to get away. I have been living outside of the UK for over twenty years now and there was a fair amount of nostalgia when writing this suite. As a kid, I was more interested in the places that I recognized in the movie, but as I re-read the book and watched the movie again I was struck by the honesty and brilliance of Alan Sillitoe’s writing.
I contacted Alan to explain what I was doing, and asked if I may use some small parts of his work. I sent him a copy and he sent back a lovely letter explaining that he had not been well and had been in hospital. He said that he liked what I had done and kindly gave his blessing to the project. We spoke of the film and the book and the fact that I had once worked with his brother Mike when we played as part of a band in a Columbia Pictures movie filmed in North Nottinghamshire during the miners strike of 1984.
I had worked with Kenny Wheeler a couple of years before this occasion and had played several concerts together in both a big band and small groups. I thought it would be wonderful to get him to play on my record so invited him to Geneva for the sessions. As you can hear in his improvisations, Kenny remains unique with his characteristic sound and wonderfully inventive harmonic language.
Just before we began recording, Kenny told us that he had played on the original orchestra session for the film soundtrack with the John Dankworth band. John was composer and Kenny had not long been with the band. It was such a pleasure to have him involved, with the accompanying authenticity and connection that brings a little magic to a session like this.
Alan Sillitoe loved this story and it seemed to me that these coincidences were tying up the project. I had planned to perform the music in Nottingham with Alan in the audience, but he passed away on the 25th April 2010 before we were able to finalise this. We finally played the concert in Nottingham with Alan’s son David present. David is working hard to ensure that the world does not forget his father’s contribution to British literature and his unique historical dialogue of working class life in Nottingham.
John Aram, Switzerland, 2013
Kenny Wheeler 14 January 1930 – 18 September 2014
It was with great sadness that I learned of the death of Kenny Wheeler within hours of launching SNSM on this site. As I am sure John will concur, Kenny’s contribution to the record is significant, the sound of his flugelhorn inimitable. His was a unique and steadfast voice that enriched British jazz and touched many hearts. The musical world is diminished by his passing.
GEA 22 09 14