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Michael Garrick, Shake Keane.

Wow. 1964 was a pretty special year, especially for groovy jazz in Britain. Not only did it see the release of Moonscape by the Michael Garrick Trio (JBH022) but also the birth of these fine recordings.

There are eight in all here, coming from two different but equally important sources. The first four cues come from an unusual four track acetate. Pulled from Michael Garrick’s private collection, this small slab of vinyl has a label, but the sleeve art is nothing more than a stamped title in red ink and some quinky scribbles for a tracklist. The record features Shake Keane and The Hasting (sic) Girls Choir on one side, performing “Rising Star” and “A Song Of Romance”, both cues conducted by Edmund Niblett. I believe Niblett was the man who put the Hastings choral activities well and truly on the map throughout the 1950s, and these two cues may well have been his idea, but I’m only speculating. On the B Side of this mysterious little record are two further cues, not involving the choir but recorded with Shake and The Gordon Langford Orchestra. Langford was a fine band leader and arranger, well known on the jazz and brass scene at the time. These two cues, “Bossa Nova Trieste” and “Troubles” both later appeared on an unsuccessful two track 7” issued by the independent Airborne label in 1964, but little else is known. Why this actual four track ep never was issued may well remain a mystery, unless of course you know more than we do, in which case please get in touch. A little detective work has led me to a budget label release of Shake and the choir some six years later, but as I don’t have a copy (or have ever seen one) I am unable to comment further.

But what we do know is that “Bossa Nova Trieste” is one of the finest Brazilian tinged tunes ever to emerge from the British jazz scene, and that both tracks with the choir and Shake’s gloriously sad flugel horn are fine and rare examples of exotic musical experiment hailing from these Isles.

The second half of the album (by this I mean the last four cues) is a collaboration between Michael Garrick and Shake Keane, and was a session originally recorded for an EP released in tiny quantities again in 1964. Even these days, with a giant connected record market it’s still a very rare record, with possibly only 99 copies pressed at the time. Called “A Case Of Jazz” it featured sleeve art of our two heroes wearing Barrister’s wigs. According to Garrick, they wanted to dress in swimming trunks and holding fishing rods to highlight the track “Fish Babies”, with Shake looking huge, impressive and black, Garrick looking small, puny and very white. However this vision was overruled. Personnel on the recording is as follows: Shake Keane (Flugel Horn), Michael Garrick (Piano), Coleridge Goode (Bass) Bobby Orr (Drums).

I went to talk with Michael Garrick about the recording and he explained that the track Sun Maiden had its origins in a Malaysian folk tune, or rather a court dance known as “Mak Inang”. This would explain the slightly regal feel to the composition. Penned by Garrick in about 1960 it was only recorded for this session, but was later played live in 1995 to the King Of Malaysia in a brand new big band setting, complete with gong finale. This live version was recorded but as yet, remains unreleased.

Having heard the recordings several times over the last year, I can safely say I find the whole thing quite intriguing. For a start it’s not often you find a good, period British bossa nova, far scarcer to find such delightful exotic stylings with a young girl’s choir too. And of course we are also treated to a lively, rarely heard session by a wonderful quartet, caught right in the midst of developing very modern jazz sounds, but still keeping their funky feet firmly rooted in the classical, traditional and joyous.

Thanks for listening.

Jonny Trunk

1) Rising Star (Peter Martin)
2) Song OF Romance (Manuel Moreno)
3) Bossa Nova Trieste (Gordon Langford)
4) Troubles (Shake Keane)
5) Fish Babies (Keane)
6) Watershute (Garrick)
7) Sun Maiden (Garrick)
8) Regrets (Smythe)

Available now in Ye Olde Trunk Shoppe. How exciting for all of us.

CD Cover