The Daryl Runswick Quartet 1978

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Alan Skidmore, tenor sax
Mick Pyne, piano
Daryl Runswick, double bass
Harold Fisher, drums

by Daryl Runswick      

by Daryl Runswick      

Lainey My Dear
by Daryl Runswick       

by Daryl Runswick      

Apart from the blues Wyntones (see my 1973 Quartet broadcast) all the material here is new. But I was providing stuff the players would not find too taxing: the six-eight belter Hamrun (the title is the name of a town in Malta we drove through when my family holidayed there) has the chords of Coltrane's Afro Blue. The up-tempo Tomorrow's is a literal inversion of the melody of the jazz standard Yesterdays. Only the slow ballad Lainey My Dear, which nods to Thelonious Monk in more than just its title, has any strangeness or complexity to tax the brains of players who turned up on the day, rehearsed for an hour and then put themselves before a live audience. As a bandleader some of my groups lasted a fair period of time and did numerous gigs: this one assembled and dispersed on one day in November 1978.

My earliest groups were quintets, but from late 1973 they settled as quartets with a saxophone (tenor or alto) right through to my final jazz gig in 1983 before I 'retired' and joined Electric Phoenix. Why quartets? Perhaps there was a financial consideration, perhaps I thought that as a bassplayer/leader I would get more solo exposure if there were only one front-line horn. To tell the truth I can't remember.

The three drummers I used over the years were John Marshall (of whom no recording in my jazz group survives) Spike Wells and Harold Fisher (I used John and Harold for my pop songs as well). Harold is by far the least well-known in the jazz world, but his credits include The Dankworth Big Band and various other big names, and I think these recordings testify that he's right up there with the other two (and I love the other two). Can I get a picture of him, though? – nowhere I look.

Pianists: from 1970 I was working regularly in Cleo Laine and John Dankworth's various setups with John Taylor, and he was the first pianist I chose for my own groups (sadly no recordings survive). In about 1972 he left John and Cleo and was replaced by Tony Hymas, of whom at first I had strong suspicions – who could follow John Taylor? – and I remember giving him quite a hard time on the first session he did for John and Cleo. But I was equally quickly won over by everything about him: he's world class, and of course his classical background gave me a deep affinity with him (I remember one time at his house in Ealing, saying 'Do you know Gaspard?' 'Wherr, I'm a bit rusty,' he said, but got it off a shelf and slammed through what Ravel in 1908 had intended as the most difficult piano piece so far written. By this time he and I were close friends, with our wives. From 1973 on he was my first choice keyboard player in any situation, but in the mid-70s he moved away from London, left John and Cleo and joined Jeff Beck and was a rock star. After that I chose the poise and imagination of Mick Pyne on piano: another intellectual, you'll note.

I didn't stick with any sax player for long. Mike Osborne played my first Quintet gigs, starting at Wavendon in '72 and continuing through two broadcasts (one surviving), then there was the single broadcast with Don Rendell (who reappears in the big band), then Stan Sulzman held the chair for probably the longest of anyone. Later I used Alan Skidmore for this one time, and at the end it was Ray Warleigh (unrecorded except with the big band, where he turns in a blazing solo). Each of these was a tiptop player, and why I kept changing I don't know. But the result in retrospect is a crop of varied and excellent recordings.

Recorded at BBC Maida Vale Studios, November 1978.

These compositions and recordings are covered by copyright.