Jazz journal vol 63 no

In 1993, when he was just 16, the extrava- gantly talented Paul Booth was selected as the “Most Promising Jazz Player Of The Year” on Paul Booth the television show of the same name. A year later he was voted “The Best Modern Jazz Player” in the show, prompting Ronnie Scott, reminded of a young Tubby Hayes. Paul makes a habit of winning awards because in 1996 he Tenor of the times also became the first non-American to win the prestigious “Clifford Brown-Stan Getz Fellow- Emerging from the right kind of TV talent show, Paul Booth has gone on to I first became aware of Paul’s abilities when I saw him sitting in with that master of bebop live the varied life of the all-round reedman, including stints with the New Pete King at the Harbour Jazz Club in Rams- gate, Kent. During a recent lull in his busy Jazz Couriers, Michael Garrick, Ray McVay, Matt Bianco and Steve Winwood. schedule we met to discuss his career.
“I started playing the piano when I was about He talks to Gordon Jack about his work and the music that inspires it, from four and my parents were very encouraging.
There was always music in the house because Webster and Getz to Warne Marsh, Ronnie Cuber, Chris Pot er and Steely Dan.
brought up listening to the great American songbook, which has helped me. He bought me a tenor when I was 10 which is when I got really keen on practising. Friends had given me tapes of Stan Getz and Ben Webster who were definitely influential. I love those guys and although it might not be so apparent in my playing now, they are still an influence. “I was doing gigs with my father when I was about 12 playing pop songs of the 50s and 60s and it’s thanks to him that I’ve always known a lot of tunes. By the time I was 13 I started learning about chord sequences and I also had a few lessons from Tommy Smith. He was in Edinburgh and we were living in Durham at the time. Initially a lot of what he told me went teacher and answered all my questions which made me study even harder. I bought a lot of books and started doing transcriptions and lis- tening more, which is when I really got into Bob Berg. That’s weird of course because I knew Getz and Webster and now I was aware of Bob Berg with nobody else in between! I was into the early and modern stuff side by side so I had to start filling in the gaps as I went along.
“When I was at Newcastle College my sax teacher recommended me for an audition at London’s Royal Academy Of Music. I had to write an original piece of music and play something on piano and maybe a blues and a couple of standards on tenor. They must have seen some potential because they offered me a place when I was 16 and I was there for four years. While I was at college I got into the salsa scene, working with Roberto Pla and His Latin Jazz Ensemble and it was great learning those rhythms and harmonies. I was with him for about five years and that was the bulk of my work – Latin gigs rather than jazz work.
“In 1996 Graham Collier, who was head of my demo of my playing to the judges of the ‘Clif- ford Brown-Stan Getz Fellowship Award’ in Miami. They liked the tape so I was invited to fly over for the final stage of the competition where I competed with all these great Ameri- can musicians in what was for them an indige- nous art form. I played with Dave Grusin who was the guest that year in a quartet and I even- tually tied for first place. They had sent us the 8 JAZZ JOURNAL PAUL BOOTH
great Ronnie Ross. Back in 1959 he and Joe Stitt’s The Eternal Triangle and Cedar Walton’s Harriott toured Europe with the MJQ, and John Bolivia.” [Eternal Triangle was memorably Lewis was quoted at the time saying that Ron- introduced as a tenor battle between the com- nie was his favourite baritone soloist. – GJ] “Around 2006 I started working with Steve Gillespie album. – GJ] “After the competition Winwood. There’s a lot of work in his group they flew us to Atlanta for the International for a saxophone player although there are no Association For Jazz Education conference written parts – I had to learn it all. It’s a quin- (IAJE) where I opened for Chick Corea which tet with Jose Neto on guitar who was with Flora Purim’s Fourth World, Richard Bailey on “Around 1999 Bill Ashton recommended me to Riverdance after I had depped in the National and Steve on organ. There’s no bass player – Youth Jazz Orchestra. The first tour was six Steve plays the bass with his feet but when he switches to guitar I move to the Hammond and months on Broadway in New York. The money play bass for him. I play tenor, soprano, flute was very good and it helped buy my house but and I also do backing vocals so there are a lot after a while it became time to move on, which of boxes to tick. I’ve been with him for about is when I went with Ray McVay’s Glenn Miller three years and 2008 was a very big year for band. A lot of the famous solos are written out us because Steve’s album – “Nine Lives” – had and you had to stick pretty close to them but “Steve’s very popular in the States so we went mine – people like Ivan Lins, Milton Nasci- branch out a little, which is when you got into to New York and did the David Letterman and mento and of course Tom Jobim and I was mas- trouble. On In The Mood though, the two saxes Good Morning America TV shows to promote sively into Pat Metheny for a long time. On my were expected to stick to the original Tex the CD. We then did a three-month tour over way to meet you, I was listening to Stevie Won- there which included Canada opening for Tom der’s “Talking Book” CD, which is unbelievable.
“Ray’s band did about 90 jobs a year which Petty and the Heartbreakers. I’ve never done Steely Dan is another of my favourites.
gave me plenty of time to do my own thing, anything like that before because the crowds “I’m very excited about my latest CD, ‘Path- including a few gigs with the New Jazz Couri- were massive – sometimes as many as 30,000.
ways’, which has Ingrid Jensen as a special ers. Martin Drew and Mornington Lockett had I get to solo a lot so being with Steve is a guest on a number of tracks. She lives in New started the group with Nigel Hitchcock and dream gig for a jazz player. I’m always doing York and plays with Maria Schneider’s orches- when Nigel couldn’t do it, I went in. Some- something because he is very much into jam- tra and I first heard her on Maria’s album “Sky Blue”. Her flugelhorn solo on The Pretty Road pretty much do my own thing within certain just blew me away – I had to keep listening to parameters. He’s a great guy with a great band it. I invited her over in April 2009 to do some and it’s a wicked gig. I’ll hold onto it for as gigs with me at Ronnie Scott’s and to record the album which has turned out really well.
“I did about 18 months with Ray Gelato off “Things are looking pretty good for 2010 and on. He sings a lot so he had me on tenor because I will be working with my own group and alto and it was fun to work with him. The and the BBC Big Band as well as touring with great thing about Ray is the conviction he has in that music which is not an act at all, it’s with a trio and there is talk that Michael what he hears. He still does the old Louis Prima times there is an element of competition when favourite I’m Just A Gigolo which finished the you are on the stand with another tenor player but it was never an issue with Mornington. It’s a great repertoire although there were no “As far as my own listening is concerned, I like charts left from the original group with Tubby Hayes and Ronnie Scott – Mornington had to Donny McCaslin are doing. I check out Joe SELECTED DISCOGRAPHY
transcribe everything off the records.” [Lockett Lovano and Wayne Shorter a lot and I have has brilliantly recreated the original music. On numerous books of Coltrane solos because so the group’s first album, “Celebrating The Jazz much of his work has been transcribed. Dexter Couriers” he doffed his cap to Tubby by hav- Michael Brecker, Jerry Bergonzi all move me ing the tenors play Tubby’s Foggy Day solo because of their power and energy and I love from the 1957 recording in unison. – GJ] Cannonball Adderley. I have several Zoot Sims “In 2005 I toured Japan and America with Michael Garrick: Down On Your Knees (Jazz more. He was a big influence on Mark Turner, had been with them back in the mid 80s. I had to transcribe a lot of his solos to play on the Michael Garrick: Peter Pan-Jazz Dance Suite “On baritone I like Ronnie Cuber who plays some great stuff on Horace Silver’s “Hardbop melodic and fluent he was, with a great sound and a great technique.” [Ronnie was an inte- Smulyan albums – he plays straightahead, in- gral part of Matt Bianco’s debut album, your-face bop which I love. My own baritone “Whose Side Are You On?”, and he also made has the low A which I need for sessions but the a significant contribution to an earlier pop hit horns that just go down to the low Bb have the by Lou Reed – Walk On The Wild Side – that Ambulance: Accident & Insurgency (Linn AKD best sounds.” [Aesthetically too, the low A reached No. 10 in the 1972 UK charts. Reed’s model, with its elongated bell, looks out of amusing hymn to the transvestites and hook- Ray Gelato: Salutes The Great Entertainers proportion. Alex Stewart in his book Making ers frequenting Andy Warhol’s studio cli- The Scene says the lengthening of the instru- maxes with a stunning baritone solo from Mr.
ment alters the entire overtone series making Michael Janisch: Purpose Built (Whirlwind Ross. He was on the date at the recommenda- it difficult to blend with the other saxophones tion of producer David Bowie (aka Ziggy Star- Steve Winwood: Nine Lives (Columbia 88697 from him. I can’t resist another aside about the “As you know, Brazilian music is a passion of P A U L B O O T H J A Z Z J O U R N A L 9

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