December 24, 2013

Bad news for Christmas: Mel Davis, original founder of the People Band, died last November...

Mel Davis, the original founder of the People Band, friend of Glen Sweeney, Clive Kingsley and Lyn Dobson, died at the beginning of last November. His old musicians and friends played a moving funeral lament on November 6th at Woodlands Crematorium in Scunthorpe documented on YouTube at the page

                                    The funeral lament for Mel Davis.

Excellent jazz & avantgarde pianist/multi-instrumentalist, Mel Davis played the cello in TEB's "Alchemy" (1969) being a real key figure in the British jazz, most of all for playing with The People Band.

The People Band in the Sixties
At the beginning of 2012 The People Band was reformed for some concerts. Reviewing a gig in London played in March of this year, Sammy Stein of "All About Jazz" wrote that "another wonderful moment was provided by Davis' piano solo, demonstrating why he is still one of the most respected players in the business".

And in an other occasion, analyzing The People Band's music: "Free jazz is what the People Band play and perhaps this is an odd term for music which is actually highly controlled by individual players and the right notes are played around a root chord – just not necessarily in the right order to form what we know as a ‘tune’. (...) Words used to describe The People Band’s playing include visceral, free wheeling, forceful and anarchic and all of these are true but what 

The People Band on stage in 2012.
makes a People Band performance special is that the musicians do not stick to the tune but rather, the music takes on a life of its own, invading the spirit and souls of performers and listeners alike. With the People Band, the audience are encouraged to take part should the muse take them. Instruments are swapped, players mingle with the crowd and the music takes the lead.

"With root chords to guide, the players come in or fall silent as the muse takes them. One moment blowing a complicated sax riff, the next tapping out a simple rhythm on a tambourine. Yet, all have an innate understanding of where the piece is going. Unfettered by convention of traditional rhythms, tempos or dynamics, the players are led by the spirit of jazz who joins them on stage, tempting, cajoling, pushing, getting them to overblow to get more notes, creating music of teeth crunching discords working alongside sublime and divine sweetness, yet all working together to explore every avenue of jazz – this is free form".

Music losts another great musician, a pure innovator, an experimental mind... a fundamental protagonist of the TEB's glorious story!

A Mel Davis Discography
Third Ear Band - "Alchemy" (LP/CD - Harvest 1969) Davis played the cello
The People Band - "The People Band" (LP/CD - Transatlantic, 1970)
Loverly - "Play World Wild Music" (CD - ITM REecords, 1988) Davis composed some tracks and played the piano
Various Artists - "Resonance Volume 8 Number 2 / Volume 9 Number 1: LMC…The First 25 Years" (CD - London Musicians' Collective 2000) compilation with a track played by Mummy
Various Artists  - "Not necesserily 'English Music'" (2CD - EMF, 2001) compilation with a track by The People Band
The People Band - "People Band 69/70" (CD - Emanen 2009) an anthology with unrealised tracks

Web sites 

 no©2013 Luca Ferrari (unless you intend to make a profit. In which case, ask first)   

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