Preview: Laurence Cottle Big Band – A Portrait of Jaco , Ronnie Scott’s, Saturday 25th August
The Laurence Cottle Big Band makes a return appearance at Ronnie Scott’s celebrating Jaco Pastorius on Saturday August 25th.
The first time this music was heard was in the 2011 London Jazz Festival, and marked the 60th anniversary of Jaco’s birth. The gig later this month marks a quarter century since his death.
“I’ve been living with this music and transcribing it during most of my professional life. It’s familiar you could say” says Cottle. Cottle’s first awareness of Pastorius was via the American bassist’s eponymous 1976 album on CBS. “I’d started in music playing trad jazz tronbone, switched to bass , and had mostly listened to rock bass players. Hearing that first album completely changed the way I approached the instrument.”
And you met him? “I went to US 1979 and met him for the first time in Boston. It was his last gig with Weather Report. I hung out a little bit with him then, and later in New York.” What did he talk about? “Jaco talked about his children often: Felix and Julius. Both of whom are now musicians. I just used to listen and be in awe.”
The opening track from the album Donna Lee is a bass-guitar and percussion duet with Don Alias. In the big band, Cottle gives the tricksy fast-moving opening line to the saxophone section. The more atmospheric Continuum, also from the 1976 album and Portrait of Tracy originally a solo piece for bass guitar, are both arranged. Used To Be A Cha Cha originallly featured Hubert Laws on piccolo, and in the big band has Gareth Lockrane as soloist. There’s also Mysterious Mountain inspired by Holiday for pans by American classical composer Alan Hohvaness, and ‘Reza’ a tune of Jaco’s.
THE BAND includes:
Nigel Hitchcock on lead alto
Sammy Mayne: Alto sax
Alex Garnett: Tenor sax
Mark Nightingale: Trombone
Andy Greenwood: Trumpet
Miles Bould: Percussion
In the Laurence Cottle Big Bad there is no other harmony instrument than the bassist/bandleader: ” I like that space”, he says.
THE INSTRUMENT: Laurence Cottle plays the same 5-string electric bass guitar that he has played for 26 years. It was custom built from WAL in 1986. The company is still active, now based in Surrey under Paul Herman.