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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, Marc Bridle, John Eyles, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby



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BOOK REVIEW

BLOWING THE BLUES

Fifty Years Playing the British Blues

Dick Heckstall-Smith

&

Pete Grant

 

 

 

This book is a fascinating read and well worth the cover price of £16.95, because it includes a CD of 7 previously unreleased examples of Dickís playing, with bands that cover a large spectrum of jazz and blues. The book shows Dick to be a well educated and highly intelligent individual, equally at home in Blues, Jazz and Contemporary Music bands.

In the semi-pro world where I played during the same period, it was the guys who could not hack the Jazz or Dance Band scene that formed the blues bands. The London scene must have been very different however, Dick and his contemporaries would have been capable of holding their own in any scene.

The life and times of musicians in any touring band are always interesting and Dickís tales of his adventures, musical and otherwise, with The Graham Bond Organisation, Alexis Kornerís Blues Incorporated, John Mayallís Bluesbrakers and Jon Hisemanís Colosseum make for a most interesting read.

Dickís commentaries on his life and times are frank and detailed, but interestingly although he opens up to his readers on some matters, there is a reserve that somehow prevents the reader from getting a real measure of Dick until the whole of the book has been read. Whether this is intentional or it just happened that way I donít know.

I have known other very highly talented musicians who have difficulty in coping with those things that us mere mortals find easy, one who springs directly to mind and may have been known to Dick was Brian Gray Brian was an enormously talented saxophone player but he struggled to make a living and eventually gave the business up. Dick on the other hand has ploughed on but always had to live from hand to mouth.

Pete Grantís part of the book attempts to analyse why this should have happened to someone as talented as Dick. His conclusion that the public are never sure whether he is in the blues world or the contemporary music world is probably correct. Before the UK public hand over their money, they want to be more certain of what they are going to get. The fact that a very large sector of the public prefer the Tenor playing of Stan Getz and Zoot Sims to that of John Coltrane, may also be a contributing factor.

The clearest insight into Dick that we get is where he writes about racism and proves quite rightly in my opinion that there can be no alternative but to classify people as those we like and those we donít, colour race and creed have nothing to do with it. Having said that however people like people like themselves!

The CD contains the following;

  1. Heatwave - The Deluxe Blues Band
  2. Aquamarine - DHS$
  3. Try - Jon T-Bone Taylorís Bop Brothers
  4. Il Collingdale - DHS$
  5. Woza Nasu - The Hamburg Blues Band
  6. Looking Back - The Wentus Blues Band
  7. Only Sixteen- The Graham Bond ORGANisation

 

Don Mather

 



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