Tuesday, August 28, 2012

David Glyde and Ricky May

As long as I play music in New York city my years of performing and absorbing music in Australia continue to haunt me. I still love listening to Australian music of all genres. Living in Sydney I spent a lot of time listening to jazz music recorded in New York. Being on the other side of the world the reverse is the norm. It makes sense. Why would I put on a Fabian Almazan Cd when I can see him perform down the road? 

Looking back from afar I am most impressed by music of the great cultural awakening in Australia from 1975-1985. This is the period that spawned jazz musicians like Dale Barlow, Andrew Gander, Paul Grabowsky etc . " The Bar Raisers" in the estimation of James Muller . As he says " The generation of Australian jazz musicians that elevated the virtuosity and serious pursuit of the art form to a new level which compared favorably with the international standard " . " The Wizards of Oz " is my favorite of that era of Australian jazz. 

Here is Dale Barlow , Carl Orr, Andrew Gander and Adam Armstrong performing my favorite piece from it "Visby" 
 Fueled I expect by Countdown and the Irish tradition of pub music the period also produced a plethora of great popular songs which I suspect one day will be an integral part of Australian culture and identity. The gentrification of the inner city and MTV was the beginning of a slow process which made it a lot harder for Australia pop musicians to perform and find an audience but this era was certainly a "golden-age". 

. Purely by chance or destiny my father was the accountant for a 1981 video that was produced entitled "Southern Crossing". The video was footage of various Australian and international artists performing at the "Peter Stuyvesent international Jazz Festival" in Sydney. My father used to have a poster on the wall of his office which was a Smirnoff Vodka advertisement "Accountancy was my life ... until I discovered Smirnoff ". My father grew up in the era of prior to the fringe benefit's tax when a free lunch and a glass of wine was one of the "perks" of doing business. He also thoroughly enjoyed working as an accountant for various movie makers , artists etc, when the opportunity arose to say do tax returns of my jazz musician friends he was happy to oblige for a reasonable rate. He wasn't great at mathematics according to himself but his great interpersonal skills (which sometimes I wish I had inherited !) and love of talking to different people I think made it fairly easy for him to find work helping people with their business. His motto was " 9 out of ten businesses go broke " . He enjoyed helping others taking risks but was generally reluctant to take them himself. The typical accountant I guess. He was very fond of being involved in the risky business of showbiz during the making of Southern Crossing. He also had fond memories of doing bookkeeping/accounting for the film about Hang-Gliding " The Birdmen of Kilimanjaro "

Mt. Kilimanjaro - it's here that World Hang Gliding Champions Bill Moyes and his son Steve defy freezing temperatures and lack of oxygen to break the World Descent Record by flying their hang gliders from the 3 mile-high peak." 

I remember him recounting stories of watching that jazz movie being filmed behind the scenes at the Peter Stuyvesent jazz festival. This was perhaps towards the end of the first "wave" of American jazz musicians touring down under before a promoter lost his shirt and a bunch of guys didn't get paid. Now with Australia's booming economy and currency and the fact that most of those old jazzers are dead or don't remember the first wave we are seeing a second wave of inundation of Australia by traveling New York jazz musicians, particularly to the Melbourne International Festival. The Southern Corssing film features many wonderful Australian musicians like the Roger Frampton, Phil Trelour and Howie Smith in what must be one of the few surviving pieces of video footage of " the co-op " a band that many musicians who heard it in the 70's where "blown away by" . Also featured are Judy Bailey ( with Ron Philpott , John Sangster , Col Laughnan etc ), Galapagos Duck with Col Nolan and the young Northside Big band with Dale Barlow , Andrew Gander , Tim Rollins etc . Unfortunately the video's producer managed to stick an interview with the American's over what looks like a very early Dale Barlow solo but at least Andrew Gander manages to show his prodigious talent at the end of the clip. I remember rewinding that last drum fill a few times as a teenager.  I loved Judy Bailey's " The colors of my dreams " 

I loved this footage so much that I hunted Judy down and convinced her to perform at my 21st birthday party. At the time I was studying Electrical Engineering but the lure of the jazz music was threatening to derail my studies. ( Well actually I probably did more surfing and playing piano than studying ! ) . With my parents in earshot I told Judy that I was considering quitting my bachelor degree in pursuit of jazz excellence ! To her credit Judy looked at my parents and said " Whatever you do don't let him do it ... being a musician gets worse and worse year after year ! ". That's some Australian honesty right there.

I also loved hearing Ricky May perform with a big band which featured David Glyde as a soloist and arranger. I remember looking for the original sheet music for the piece but didn't get much a kick out of playing the tune at the time. In retrospect I can see what I enjoyed about it was the magnificent reharmonisation of the tune by David Glyde. My dad remembers seeing him perform at the festival remarking to me " He was a short guy and he used to wear high heels and gel his hair up really high and play a lot of notes to compensate" ( sorry Dad and Dave if mentioning this offends ! ). I played with Dave once at an RSL club on a weekend. That's another era of music history in Sydney that is passed. Many of those older guys where probably pretty burnt out from playing music in clubs to disinterested folks falling asleep into their schooner but for me it was actually a wonderful opportunity to perform with older guys like Dave, Alan Turnbull, Darcy Wright, Col Laughnan etc. I particularly enjoyed hearing their anecdotes. David Glyde probably had the best stories considering he had toured around Australia with the Beatles in 1964. If my memory serves me correctly he had photographs ( at least in his mind ) of himself and George Harrison in the shower with a bunch of young naked Beatles groupies. Honestly I used to feel like a groupie myself perform with musicians that I had seen on the Southern Crossing video. 

Short in stature he may be but Dave is clearly an excellent musician and arranger. 20 years later I was so devastated rehearing this arrangement of "Surry with a fringe" and Ricky May's incredible sense of pitch that I had to transcribe the arrangement. My rough chord chart is below. It's worth a look I reckon. Fair Dinkum. I also contacted the pianist Jamie Rigg (Ricky's MD for many years). If he can find the chart I will post that as well. 

intro : Emaj7  | Emaj7 |  D7sus | Dsus | 

vocal : 
( A)        | G         | G      | G/F       | G/F       | E-        | E-      | Ebmaj7    | Ebmaj7    |

              | G         | G       | G/F      | G/F       | E-        | E-      | Ebmaj7    | Ebmaj7    |

(B)   | G-        | G-     | F7       | F7          | G-       | G-       | F7            | F7              | 

        |   E 1/2dim | E 1/2dim | F7    | F7   | E7sus      | E7 sus     |  E7sus      | E7 sus    
       ( ? E D E | Bb Ab)  |

(C)    | G         | G      | G/F       | G/F       | Emaj7  | Emaj7 |  D7sus | Dsus | ( coda )

         | G         | G      | G/F       | G/F       | E-        | E-      | Ebmaj7    | Ebmaj7    |

D7sus ( passing chords followed by D7 vamp for David Glyde solo ) back to intro then C section 

coda :
| G         | G      | G/F       | G/F               | E-        | E-      | Ebmaj7    | Ebmaj7    |  

| G         | G      | G/F       | G/F       | E7sus       | E7      |   |  (? E D E | Bb Ab)  |

| G         | G      | G/F       | G/F       | E7sus       | E7      |   |  (? E D E | Bb Ab)  |

| G         | G      | G/F       | G/F               | E-        | E-      | Ebmaj7    | Ebmaj7    |

Ebmaj7    | Ebmaj7    |  Ebmaj7    | Ebmaj7    |  3/4   | D     | Bb  | B  | C  | F