This is a really special album and contains, one of the very best Blues tracks of the year. Big Chief is a North London Band an institution that has run for over 30 years, led by saxophonist John Fry and featuring Tony Reeves on bass the eight piece unit has had some of the major names in British R&B and Jazz through its ranks – including Dick Heckstall-Smith no less, – all part of a CV that takes ones breath away.
Thirty odd years and a few decent albums- but this is the best – it crackles with life as the band plays a storming set – the music is a mixture of R&B with brass, Township / Afro, Ska and some funky jazz edged tunes, some blues tinged classics by such as Eugene McDaniels, Tom Waites and Randy Newman – it moves, it swings, it excites, it grooves and it lifts the spirits as you will hear it raised the spirits of the audience on that night.
Molebatsi, Compared to what?, Last night I had a dream, Way down in the hole, Occupation, You gotta move, Little criminals, Tune 88, Drowning on dry land, Africa rag, Yellow moon
Recorded by Big Chief at The Ealing Blues and Roots Festival, 24th July 2010. Engineered and Produced by Tony Reeves. Cover layout: John Fry. Photos: Simone Craddock. Special thanks to Andy Banks and Linda Moore.
A number of Big Chief tunes taken from a couple of recent gigs at The Dignity in Finchley Central.
"This is Big Chief's fourth CD release in ten years. This North London based band of stunning jazz orientated musicians recorded this live in the Dignity, Finchley Central over two gigs in 2009 A.D. The title of the album in no way denotes that the band is a jazz dinosaur, far from it. (I fell into the trap of asking why 2009 BC – B.C. Big Chief... doh!)
Now here are a group of musicians who love doing what they do, done it for a long time, make it sound fresh and make sure that the audience joins in too. Big Chief's take on tracks from Paul Simon to Tom Waits, and Percy Mayfield to Duke Ellington allow for a bit of modernism and jazz eclecticism". - Sian Phillips, November 2009.
Way down in the Hole, Flute Song, River's Invitation, Little Sunflower, 50 Ways to Leave your Lover, Just a Lucky So and So, Occupation, Tune 88, I Love the Life I Live, Africa Rag, I Wish I Knew..., Bye Bye Blackbird, Little Sunflower (trumpet solo)
Recorded by Big Chief at The Dignity, Finchley Central 12th July, 9th August and 9th May 2009. Engineered and Produced by Tony Reeves. Cover illustration: Ed Benstead. Cover layout: John Fry. Photos: Linda & Tony Edwards and John Fry. Special thanks to Andy Banks and Linda Moore.
"A Big Chief gig at The Bull in Barnet: what more could any ageing child of the late sixties' jazz/blues revival wish for?
Actually that's a little unfair on the audience, peppered with young people as it was. But as the great Humphrey Lyttleton once observed, there are three good things about Barnet - the White Lion Pub, the football team and the band, Big Chief." - Chris Hall
Anthem for the New Nation, Compared to what, Yellow Moon, Blow Wind Blow, Song for My Father, I'm Going Down to the River, Soweto, Aberaeron Skies, Freedom Sounds, Let the Four Winds Blow, She Caught the Katy, Breakin' Up Somebody's Home
Recorded by Pete Freshney at the Bull Theatre, Barnet 29th November 2003 Produced by Tony Reeves and remixed and engineered by Gavin Beckwith at G.B.Studio, Alston Works, Alston Road, Barnet. Art Direction: Louis Edwards Cover illustration: Ed Benstead Photos: Tony Reeves and Tony Edwards.
It is unlikely that the music of Big Chief will ever appeal to the purist. The band's tendency to gleefully hop and skip between styles and continents can leave some feeling dizzy. To these we would say, we come in friendship and mean no harm.
Here then, is and offering of township, reggae, jazz and blues. And we hope you like it.
Fiyela, Come Sunday, Stranger In My Own Home Town, Steppin' Up In Class
Recorded & mixed by Wan Hewitt at Scarlet Studio, London, N17 9QU.
Give or take, jazz is a hundred years old and has been recorded for around eighty. It has taken Big Chief nearly a quarter of a century to get its music recorded, but at last here it is - loud, lovely, and as unfashionable as ever.
Breakin' Up Somebody's Home, Hots It, Rock Awhile, It Keeps Rainin', Mood Indigo, After Midnight, Work Work Work, Song for My Father, Big Chief, Flacka, It Don't Make Sense, Yellow Moon
Recorded & mixed at the BBC Television Music Studio, Shepherds Bush, London.
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Big Chief , 35 Hillside Gardens, Barnet, Hertfordshire, EN5 2NQ
Telephone +44 (0) 20 8449 4096