The Daryl Runswick Quartet 1973

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Don Rendell, flute, soprano sax, tenor sax
Alan Branscombe, piano, Rhodes electric piano
Daryl Runswick, double bass
Spike Wells, drums

by Daryl Runswick      

by Daryl Runswick      

Lainey's Tune
by Daryl Runswick       

by Daryl Runswick      

There Is No Greater Love
by Marty Symes and Isham Jones      

My BBC Radio Jazz Club broadcast of 20th November 1973 (I was 27 at the time) remains one of the best performances I have ever given: all the more surprising considering this was two days after I returned from the historic Carnegie Hall tour with Cleo Laine and John Dankworth – I remember playing in a daze of jet lag. My memories of the broadcast are as follows. It took place at Maida Vale Studio 3, during a period when renovation works meant that the public couldn’t enter the building and BBC Radio Jazz Club was pre-recorded without an audience. There was an unofficial agreement between bandleaders and recording engineers that an extra copy of the tape would be made and quietly handed over after the recording. This is how so many BBC jazz broadcasts from this period are turning up these days, and how I possess recordings of most of mine.

My choice of sidemen has always in retrospect surprised me a little. Spike Wells was the obvious choice for drummer, but Don Rendell on sax was of an older generation where I might have been expected to invite a contemporary (on previous dates I’d used Mike Osborne, future broadcasts boasted Stan Sulzman and Alan Skidmore). But as it turned out Don was an inspired choice, Coltrane-influenced but with his own voice, blessed with enormous maturity and experience. On piano Alan Branscombe, also older, seems less odd since I’d been doing sessions with him regularly (especially Dankworth’s music for the Anglia TV wildlife series Survival, but we also played together on the King’s Singers’ Chessmen album) and I saw him as a friend and mentor. By this time Alan, a recovered junkie, was seriously alcoholic, and when Spike and I came back to the studio from the break between the sound check and the recording we found him fast asleep on the floor wrapped in the piano cover. He woke blearily, stumbled to the piano stool and proceeded to put in a completely stunning performance (though he audibly forgets the routine a couple of times).

Years after the broadcast Spike Wells told me of his pleasure in these performances, saying that as far as he was concerned they were some of the best things he had ever been involved in. His drum solo on Starkers pleased him mightily, keeping the pulse as it does through to the very end (so he claims – it’s too complex rhythmically for me to be sure). Spike also said that he deliberately slowed the tempo of There is No Greater Love at the start of the solo choruses, into ‘that perfect groove’. This I had indeed noticed, with annoyance, at the time. But I forgive him.

As to the music, Wyntones is dedicated to the pianist Wynton Kelly and uses a lick that he might have played. The name Calouste is taken from the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon where I played with The King's Singers, Eartha Kitt and The Nash Ensemble (see my King's Singers Stories). It's also a punning title because the piece is a calypso, a style Spike Wells turned me on to (the stress is on beats 1 & 3, not 2 & 4 as in a jazz feel). Lainey's Tune is dedicated to my then wife Elaine. The first part of the melody was already two years old by 1973, but the night before the session, on a whim I added the second, 'tag' part, of which I'm still inordinately proud. Starkers (also heard on my Quintet recording from earlier that year) had been a blues there but isn't here: the excellent suggestion to free it from the constraints of a chord sequence came from Spike at the sound check for this session. And There is No Greater Love, the only standard tune here, was a favourite of a group of us (Miles afficionados in the '60s when that wasn't such received wisdom) including Mick Pyne, Lionel Grigson, Dave Gelly and Spike Wells, who played on Sunday afternoons at The Troubadour, a coffee house (when they weren't such received wisdom) on the Old Brompton Road in London.

Recorded at BBC Maida Vale Studios, 20th November 1973.

These compositions and recordings are covered by copyright.