Andrew Cartmel interviewed Terry Edwards, the musical mastermind behind Blow the Bloody Doors Off! at the Barbican on February 6th 2014
One of the most intriguing musical projects of the coming year is Blow the Bloody Doors Off!: a celebration of music from the films of Michael Caine: “All the grit and glamour of the sixties as captured in swinging cinematic grooves,” as it’s put by the Barbican, where the concert takes place on February 6th. Those grooves will be drawn from the films Alfie, Get Carter, The Ipcress File and The Italian Job — whose much quoted dialogue by Troy Kennedy Martin is the source of the concert’s title.
They represent an interesting collection of films, both popular and cult successes, and from a jazz point of view they’d be hard to improve on. The composers are Sonny Rollins (Alfie), Quincy Jones (The Italian Job), Roy Budd (Get Carter) and John Barry (The Ipcress File). Barry’s involvement in jazz wasn’t full-on, although he learned the fundamentals of arrangement and composition from studying Stan Kenton’s big bands, but Roy Budd was a major figure on the British jazz scene who died far too young. As for Quincy Jones and Sonny Rollins, say no more.
The concert is the creation of multi-instrumentalist Terry Edwards, who has frequently been on stage at the Barbican before, as a “foot soldier” as he puts it. “I’ve often played there, everything from John Cage pieces to Spiritualized and Tindersticks.” This time he will be the musical director as well as a player — both commanding officer and foot soldier.
Primarily a sax player, Terry’s two great inspirations were Davey Payne from the Blockheads (“He introduced me to Roland Kirk, with his playing of two saxes on Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick.”) And Earl Bostic whom he loves and reveres. “So my playing combines those two jazz strands, free and R&B.”
It was very much Terry’s own idea to do an evening of music from Michael Caine films. “Or make a rod for my own back, as I like to put it. I’m a fan of the movies and it happened to be Caine’s 80th anniversary year.”
The event won’t involve showing a film while musicians play the score, as is often the case. “I really wanted to make it a concert. There will be some images, just for context, but we won’t playing along with the films. That’s a different concept altogether, and one that wouldn’t necessarily work here. In Get Carter for example, Roy Budd’s music is great but there’s only little snippets of it at any one time in the film.”
The group performing the music will include Seb Rochford on drums and Terry’s fellow multi-instrumentalists Finn Peters and Jack Pinter. “I like working with multi-instrumentalists. It allows us to have a smaller combo but with a large range of colours and musical possibilities.”
And the music on the night will provide plenty of opportunity to explore those possibilities, from the groundbreaking use of tablas in Get Carter to the imaginative variations on the Ipcress theme — “There are lots of interesting double flute things in that score.” The Ipcress File of course is also famous for its ghostly cimbalom and I asked Terry if the audience at the Barbican would be treated to the sound of a hammered dulcimer on stage. “It will indeed.”
The harpsichord themes which accompanied Noël Coward in The Italian Job will also be replicated by keyboards at the gig. “They’ll be mellifluously sinking into the other pieces, a bit of a Jacques Loussier sort of thing.” The main title song from the film, On Days Like These, originally sung by Matt Monro, will receive a vocal performance. And what about the other song from that picture, The Self Preservation Society, which has now become a sort of alternative national anthem. Will it be sung on the night? “Oh yes.”
Even one of the ‘source’ songs from Get Carter (played in the background on a jukebox) may get an airing at the gig. The only well known song which will be left out is the Burt Bacharach, Hal David number for Alfie. It was never part of Sonny Rollins’ score and, as Terry Edwards says, “It was tacked on to the soundtrack as an afterthought.”
He smiles and adds, “If you want to hear that, you can get Cilla Black’s greatest hits.”
Terry Edwards: MD/trumpet/reeds
Seb Rochford: drums/tabla
Mark Bedford: electric & acoustic bass
Finn Peters: flute/tenor sax
Jack Pinter: flute/saxes
Rose Moore: hammer dulcimer/keyboards
Seamus Beaghen: Hammond organ
Steve Gibson: orchestral percussion
James Johnston: guitar/harmonica
Jenny Adejayan String Quartet (members TBC)