Photo by: Alex Bonney

​Pete Saberton Interview

Transcribed by Jon Ormston



MS: OK, this is Martin Speake, 19th August 2010, interviewing Pete Saberton. Can we start at the
beginning Pete? When and where you were born and early musical experiences in the home or
elsewhere.

PS: Well I was born 9th July 1950 in Sheffield, and my early experiences were, well, they’ll have
been... as long as I can remember really. Three or four, five? Got three older brothers and two of
them played. One played a bit of drums and the other was a pianist/ trumpeter, so there was always
music in the house. That’s where I first came across Jazz really – only nothing too modern though,
probably Swing stuff. So I started messing around on the piano, think I learnt a blues sequence when
I was about eight or something.

MS: Were you having lessons? Or was this just...

PS: No I didn’t, wasn’t having lessons no, I was just shown a few things, so I just messed around for
about two or three years and then started lessons when I was eleven.

MS: So in those early years were you hearing recordings or were you just hearing your family
playing?

PS: Recordings, you know there was a lot of Swing stuff... Trying to think... Not ‘a lot of Swing stuff’, I
mean Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, because one of my brothers was really into the Big Bands, you
know.

MS: Right.

PS: So I was listening to that in the fifties, so what are we talking about, 57? 56, 57, 58 , so that it
was quite prevalent, it was still sort of part of what was going on.

MS: Was it almost like a popular music, you think, then?

PS: It was probably a bit later, the big band era was about ’35 to ’46 wasn’t it? Something like that.
But it was incredibly popular - one of the most popular, well, the most popular era in jazz, really, as
far as people listening to the music. Mind you, I suppose a lot of the bands weren’t really quite up to
it! (Laughs) Because there were so many of them weren’t there?

MS: Yeah.

PS: Especially in the States.

MS: Do you think the popularity was a lot to do with dancing as well?

PS: Yeah.

MS: The separation came after that, or seemed to.

PS: It was because of the dancing yeah. People were, if you like, inadvertently listening to it even
though they only wanted to dance.

MS: Right

PS: But there were some great bands, weren’t there? So anyway I was listening to that stuff...

MS: Were your parents into it?

PS: Not particularly. They were more into... My dad played a little bit, sang, you know. My Dad was
a builder so it was all very working class. They were more into the show stuff, you know, the South
Pacific, musicals, you know.

MS: So when you say he sang, would he sing songs from that?

PS: Well yeah maybe, yeah, or old stuff from the twenties and thirties, you know, whatever the
songs were.

MS: He’d sing in the home?

PS: Yeah. Not that much, not very often. My Mum’s Dad, he worked in the steel works, but every
weekend he’d sing and play piano, I remember that. I don’t remember a lot of it because he died
when I was really young, but I remember some of it.

MS: Were you actually going to gigs or was that just in the home?

PS: Just in the home, yeah. And for the neighbours.

MS: I really understand that culture because I grew up with my Grandma doing a very similar thing
but London based, and people would take it in turns singing songs in their house and her playing pub
piano. So that is a culture I kind of relate to.

PS: Yeah. So essentially that was it and then started listening to Classical stuff as well because my
older brother was into that. I remember stuff like Chopin Ballades on record, LPs, and Tchaikovsky
symphonies, but not a lot though, not a great deal, and then just the Piano lessons kicked in and it
was just Classical really, and then went on.

MS: So was that at school then or privately?

PS: I had Piano lessons privately, then the music teacher started giving me Piano lessons up to when
I left.

MS: Secondary school?

PS: Yeah, Comprehensive school. My Dad built the school...

MS: Really? (laughs)

PS: Yeah, it wasn’t private, he was working for the, you know, he was a site agent working for the
council.

MS: And he built the school you went to? That’s a pretty amazing thing to be able to say to anyone
isn’t it? (Laughs) Is it still there?

PS: He got an award for it as well, because it was one of the first Comprehensive Schools. What
was it sixty... Trying to think when it was built. It was probably about 1960 or, well whenever the
Comprehensive Schools started. It was all modern design, flat roofs, so it was all that.

MS: That’s very interesting too. The Classical music you were into at quite a young age then? And
you really liked it?

PS: Yeah, from when I started having piano lessons it sort of kicked in from there.

MS: Was it your choice to have piano lessons? Or were you pushed into it?

PS: I was asked if I wanted them, I said yeah let’s give it a go.

MS: Because you were already playing a bit.

PS: I was playing a little bit. I was shown a few scales, the blues sequence, a bit of sightreading , you
know, trying to work out what the notes were. Yeah, so the Classical thing took over really.

MS: Because through your teens were you solely playing Classical music, or were you listening to
Jazz then?

PS: Not really. Only when one of the brothers, if they were around. But the thing is they were
so much older, such big gaps between us all, that everyone had left by the time I was twelve or
thirteen.

MS: Oh right. So were you the only child at home then?

PS: Adrian, the next one up, he was there for a while. He used to put the jazz records on, but he was
into the pop stuff, so I heard all the Beatles stuff and, well, all the sixties stuff.

MS: Did you like everything you heard?

PS: Yeah I did, yeah. So I grew up with the pop stuff and the classical stuff at the same time. Then
maybe the occasional jazz record, but not very much. There was a bit of West Coast, he’d got a
couple of West Coast albums, I remember that and The Mulligan band, can’t remember who was in
it... It was Chet Baker, yeah, he’d got that one.

MS: Oh right. Quartet without piano?

PS: Yeah, I’m trying to remember the other stuff, but I can’t remember it. Then I started going to
concerts.

MS: Classical?

PS: Yeah, you know the Sheffield town hall. Halle orchestra and the scores.

MS: Yeah? You took the score?

PS: Yeah I used to take the score with me and read through the score while they were playing – if I
could get them out the library.

MS: So was there no improvising going on for you at that time?

PS: Not really, I was kind of writing, so I was improvising in that way.

MS: Composing?

PS: Yeah, I mean, silly little piano pieces that I remember, but that all didn’t seriously start to happen
until I went to college.

MS: So when did you get the idea that you should start composing?

PS: That’s a really good question, I don’t know really. I suppose it’s just listening to music and certain
things catch you, you know like a chord or a way it’s placed and you think ‘what is that?’ so you work
it out and then go ‘oh, that’s nice’ and start adding chords to it, etcetera etcetera, then building
parts and then themes come in, and yeah, I just used to write kind of short stuff really.

MS: Have you got any of those?

PS: No, I’ve only got stuff from when I was about eighteen or nineteen... the old rippage

MS: Really?

PS: Yeah yeah, I ripped a lot of stuff up and threw it away yeah...

MS: You didn’t like it?

PS: Nah.

MS: OK.

(laughs)

MS: So through this school you were having regular classical piano lessons and playing classical
repertoire

PS: Yeah, and then exams and all that

MS: And then, what happened after school then? When did you leave school – Sixteen, Eighteen?..
Just wondering do you want to check to see if it’s?

PS: It’s gonna be fine. What when did I leave school?

MS: Yeah

PS: I was eighteen. I went to Music College.

MS: To do Classical Piano?

PS: Yeah Classical Piano and Clarinet.

MS: And this is where you met Pete Hurt?

PS: I met Pete Hurt at College yeah, same College in Manchester 1968. September 1968. And he was
the one who got me into music really, because we were quite pally, and he was a really fantastic
clarinettist he was. He got a prize. I think he won a prize, the clarinet prize one year.

MS: I think he might have told me that, because I interviewed him recently.

PS: Yeah he got quite a prize one year. It was about second year, we might have been sharing
somewhere... No, I don’t know if we were... No. But I started going along to his gigs. He had a Trio –
Alto, Bass and Drums, in fact I saw the Bass player recently.

MS: Who was that?

PS: This guy called Roy... Oh what’s his second name?.. Roy Chilton. He’s a Bass player, lives in
London now, he was a year younger and he was in that Trio, it was great, a really nice Trio, but I saw
him recently and I hadn’t seen him since 1971. I didn’t recognize him. I was doing a gig in Sydenham,
and there he was. He started talking to me so I started talking to him, and then he told me and I
thought ‘fuck’... (laughs) , it’s crazy, thirty nine years ago.

MS: It’s amazing when that happens.

PS: It is yeah. Anyway yeah, so I started making a fool of myself, going to rehearsals and sitting in
on rehearsals and gigs and kind of thinking ‘Oh, this is easy’, and making a fool of myself, and then
realising that I have to learn blues sequences and ‘rhythm changes’ and a few standards and what
have you. Yeah.

MS: So did you... Well that was a change for you then because you’d done lots of Classical music. Did
you start practising Jazz? How would you describe what changed for you then?

PS: That’s a good question. I’d have been in my second year of college when things started to
change, as the two things were going on at the same time. I had reasonable chops and I knew the
scales that related to the standard type material, or even the modal stuff, and so I managed to pick it
up really quickly.

MS: Were you checking recordings out?

PS: Oh yeah, I started listening to a lot, with Pete mainly. Buying a record player, buying LPs. I mean,
I remember buying all kinds of stuff – Love Supreme, some Parker, Albert Ayler, all kinds of stuff.

MS: Did you work things out from these recordings?

PS: Not really, I’d occasionally play along but not very much. I was a never a big transcriber really,
I just kind of intently listened and picked up the vibe from it, and maybe some sections I would
notate, take down half a chorus or something, and I just picked it up that way

MS: Can you remember anything that you did take down? Anything that was really important for
you at that time?

PS: To be quite honest with you I think that most the stuff that I listened to I never really notated
anything, I would say, the majority of the time.

MS: OK, but did you copy anything? You didn’t have to notate it...

PS: Oh yeah, I used to copy certain rhythmic things and certain licks, some of the Herbie stuff
maybe. It’s such a long time ago so it’s hard to remember, not having kept a diary or written a book
(laughs). You know, I’ve never written an autobiography, not yet!

MS: So you didn’t have any method in terms of developing a jazz process, an improvisational
process?

PS: No I didn’t approach it in an academic way at all or a lesson type thing. I never used to say ‘I’ll
practise this, this and this, I never did that

MS: So it was different every day?

PS: Yeah, well because of the Jazz and the Classical things going on at the same time, I was still
practising how to play the Classical pieces, so that took quite a lot of practise, so I was still tied up
with that, really. So that took care of the practise, but I mean I wasn’t practising Jazz as much, until I
got to nineteen or twenty maybe. Then I started taking it a bit more seriously.

MS: OK, So in terms of playing with people, you kind of mentioned that you hung out with Pete
Hurt?

PS: Yeah, I did some gigs with Pete but I wasn’t quite ready you know, but by the time I was
nineteen/ twenty I was about ready I think. So I started playing with this band run by a trumpet
player, it was trumpet, alto, bass and kit, I mean, they were OK you know, I mean on reflection,
after I’d finished playing with them. So then I left college and stayed in Manchester and played for a
year, then came down to London in ’72. But they were OK you know, that was when I started writing
stuff for them.

MS: What kind of music were they playing?

PS: It was very modally orientated, but it was all originals. The trumpet player used to write a few,
the alto player one or two, and then I used to write some. It’s really funny, thinking back on it.

MS: Do any recordings exist of that?

PS: No, none at all. Not that I know of. The only stuff that I can remember though that I’m on, what
is it, ’73? Something like that, so I was down in London by that time

MS: So what moved you to London, was it because there was more music there you think?

PS: Well, I mean, Pete was there, and I knew some people that lived in London so I decided to go
there because the standard would be higher and it’s where all the best players are.

MS: So did you have any intention with the classical, because you were doing a classical course, did
you have intention to become a classical piano player?

PS: No, the course that I was on was more of a teaching one. It’s interesting that, because I’ve never
ever bothered to find out if... I did some supply teaching.

MS: Right

PS: So I must have been qualified at that time to do supply teaching.

MS: What you did class teaching?

PS: Yeah

MS: Music class teaching?

PS: Yeah

MS: In Manchester?

PS: No, in Tooting

MS: Oh, OK

PS: Just supply teaching. I just wanted to play in bands, you know. It’s interesting really because I
need to check out what that qualification does for me now, because the college no longer exists

MS: Was it close to the Royal Northern?

PS: It was yeah, there were two schools – the Royal College of Music in Manchester and the
Northern School of Music, that’s the one I went to with Pete. So they joined together to form the,
what is it? The Royal College of Northern Music?

(laughs)

PS: That’s from Henry I think.

MS: Yeah, that’s from Henry. So was that not a degree then?

PS: It was yeah, I’ve got letters after my name – GNSM, Graduate of the Northern School of Music. I
wouldn’t have thought that it would be recognised as a teaching qualification now but I should check
it out

MS: Yeah it’d be worth knowing wouldn’t it.

PS: Still trying to get that thing with Claire together, Claire Nelson. Yeah, I’m gonna do it before all
the teaching starts.

MS: She’s the director of music now.

PS: Yeah

MS: Anyway, so back to your life. So you’re in your early twenties now, we’re talking in that period,
and you’ve moved to London.

PS: Yeah I was twenty two. I stayed in Manchester for a year and played with this band and then
moved to London

MS: So what happened when you moved to London? Can you remember any of your early
experiences?

PS: Yeah I crashed out on Pete’s floor for about a couple of weeks and then I got a flat in Brixton. A
weird flat. But anyway, a couple of flats in Brixton. A couple of things that I remember – I got this
trio together with Martin Ditcham?

MS: Oh I remember him.

PS: Martin went into the pop thing playing as a percussionist but erm... and a bass player called
Terry Davis. It was at ‘Pied Bull’ in Islington, you know the...

MS: Yeah!

PS: It was ’72, ’73 when I played there, and it was a really good way of doing things, ‘cus we just
advertised it

MS: Was it a regular gig?

PS: Yeah we just got all the players in, like Stan, Kenny did one, Ian Carr...

MS: Oh so you did like a guest soloist thing?

PS: Yeah

MS: And would they bring their own music then?

PS: I’m trying to remember what we played. I think it was a mixture of some originals and some
standards. There was no piano there so I used to borrow a... well eventually I got a Rhodes, but I
borrowed Pete Jacobson’s Hohner Pianet. Like an upright piano, but electric, which is interesting. He
used to come down and phone me up and I’d meet him at the... Actually, a weird thing happened
at Angel tube station, I don’t know what it’s like, it’s such a long time since I’ve been there, but the
platform is in the middle and the trains go either side

MS: I think It’s been transformed now

PS: I said to Pete ‘I’ll meet you where the lift is and we can go up on the lift, I’ll meet you there.’
Blah, blah, blah, and I totally forgot. I was at the bar drinking and having a chat and I suddenly
realised ‘Oh shit!’. So I ran round there and I couldn’t see him at all. Got to the station and I
mentioned to the guy who said... Oh no that’s it, I got there and the lifts came up, and I must have
been twenty minutes or quarter of an hour late.

MS: We’re talking about Pete Jacobson who we should mention was blind.

PS: Yeah he’s blind yeah. So he came up and one of the platform... you know, the tube guys, had
got him, and Pete was all covered in dust and his stick was broken, he’d fallen off the platform and
they’d managed to pull him back up.

MS: Ooh

PS: Yeah I know, he wouldn’t talk about it. So I said ‘I’m sorry man, I’m late.’ He said ‘Don’t worry
about it, just buy me a double brandy when we get there.’ So yeah. His stick wasn’t broken actually it
was one of those ones that pulls.

MS: Oh, collapsible.

PS: Collapsible one, so it wasn’t broke. So anyway, that was one of the hairy things that happened.
There was that.

MS: How long did that gig go on for?

PS: Oh I don’t know, not that long I think. Less than a couple of years, probably. It was probably
about a couple of years and then I got a call from Bill Ashton, who’d heard me playing and said ‘I
want you to come play with me at NYJO’ – National Youth Jazz Orchestra. I wasn’t very happy about
it because you didn’t get paid for it in those days

MS: No?

PS: No, you didn’t get paid at all. So he said that he’d got a tour of, then, East Germany, and Poland,
two Iron Curtain countries, two of three weeks, and then we’d be doing an album afterwards.

MS: No money?

PS: No money. He’d pay for everything like food and some booze, so we did that, came back and did
the album, and left. So I was in the band for three weeks, yeah

MS: So you’re on the album?

PS: Oh yeah

MS: What’s the album called?

PS: Oh I can’t remember what it’s called. 1973

MS: And they’d done stuff before that

PS: Oh yeah Stan Sulzmann was in, Frank Ricotti was in it.

MS: When you were doing it?

MS: No they were in it before me, about a year or two before me. And Paul, what’s his name? He
went on to write jingles. Paul Hart

MS: Oh yeah?

PS: Yeah he went into writing jingles for film music, he played bass guitar in it. Yeah and we caused
havoc in Poland. One train carriage was... I mean, I wasn’t in it, but it was completely trashed,
destroyed. Yeah, we nearly got chucked out of the country, but...

MS: How old were you then, twenty three?

PS: Twenty three when I was in NYJO yeah.

MS: So, because now the band is pretty young isn’t it? Was it kind of a bit older then?

PS: Maybe it was a bit, Dick was in it – Dick Pearce, Chris Biscoe.

MS: Were they the same age as you?

PS: A bit older, Chris is a bit older than me, Dick is a bit younger.

MS: So did you meet them then, in that band?

PS: I think I met... It’s a difficult question. I probably I met Dick on that gig, that residency that I set
up. I think he must have done one of those.

MS: It’s a really good way of meeting players

PS: I’m sure that Chris must have done that gig as well

MS: So you wanted to leave NYJO, you just didn’t want to do it?

PS: Well the music, it was all so Sammy Nestico (sings excerpt)

MS: So you weren’t into it?

PS: Well I was into what was happening at that time, 1973, I mean the crossover thing had just
happened. I was into the 60’s Miles stuff, Coltrane and Miles, the 60’s band, very much into that,
Weather Report, the free thing as well.

MS: Really?

PS: Yeah, I used to like listening to Albert Ayler, Pharoah Sanders, all those guys. Cecil Taylor.

MS: Well Cecil’s still around obviously, but that’s just before 70’s, that’s kind of more 60’s isn’t it?
When it surfaced. I’m just thinking ’73, you’ve already mentioned Weather Report yeah?

PS: Yeah

MS: So there was Mahavishnu Orchestra too and Chick Corea, the more electric bands.

PS: Yeah, well Chick Corea… It’s funny how all those guys – Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock -
decided to go for the bucks, which is actually the reason for them doing it I think. Chick before that
was still with Anthony Braxton, freeish, Barry Altschul.

MS: That’s right, yeah.

PS: And Herbie was doing ‘Crossings’. I talked to Billy Hart about it as well, and he said he could have
gone either way – he could have become a free player or gone commercial, but I mean…

MS: Herbie?

PS: Yeah, that’s what he said to me, but you know, he just got a taste of the… I mean, he wanted to
do it but he is admirably suited to playing 8 feel music, really. And once you start getting royalties
from a tune called, whatever ‘Watermelon Man’ and you start thinking ‘Hmm, I quite like this royalty
cheque, I think I’ll go commercial’. Or semi-commercial, you know, whatever you want to call it.
Chick Corea’s stuff I found some of it, well not lightweight, that’s not the right thing to say, but he
didn’t interest me as much, even though I loved his playing. I still really like the way he played.

MS: You like the acoustic playing?

PS: Well I liked him on electric piano, I liked him on Rhodes as well.

MS: Was anything like ‘Now He Sings, Now He Sobs’ influential to you?

PS: Yeah, I would say so yeah.

MS: OK, so then when you were in London in the 70’s, did you then play regular bands with any of
these people? Or with any guest soloists? Or was it all kind of pick up?

PS: It was mainly pick up until I started doing stuff with Pete. It’s such a long time ago I’m trying to
think. I was in a band – you wouldn’t know them I don’t think, with a really good guitarist called Paul
Hirsh.

MS: Yeah I do know Paul.

PS: He lives abroad now. Incredibly intelligent, brainy kinda guy. Not just in music but science,
electronics, and he wrote this really interesting music.

MS: And there was a bass player called Andy Evans. Martin Ditcham you mean?

PS: And I’ve got a tape, a 10 minute tape from ’74. It never went anywhere but it was just incredibly
original music, odd time stuff. I played acoustic piano, and it was acoustic bass. But nothing ever
happened with that, was just a few gigs. Then going into the mid 70s I started playing with Dick.

MS: Dick Pearce?

PS: Yeah. Then I started playing occasionally at Ronnie Scott’s, and then that escalated.

MS: What, with the Ronnies band or other bands?

PS: Tim… Actually I played with Tim Whitehead later. Trying to think who I played with… I think they
were just pick up bands really

MS: You played with some Americans?

PS: I played with a few Americans at Ronnies yeah, loads of support bands, and then some main acts.

MS: And that’s the 70s you’re talking about?

PS: Started in the 70s up to early 90s? And it started dropping off a bit then, so I didn’t play there as
much for whatever reason.

MS: You feel that you could fit in musically with all these different…musicians.

PS: Yeah, I got this great cassette that was recorded off the desk in about ’81, ’82 at Ronnies. It was
Dave Barry, Paul Morgan, Simon Morton a percussionist. Murphy just sounds amazing on it, it’s just
stratospheric, right out there, sounded great.

MS: He’s quite an improviser isn’t he?

PS: Oh yeah, brilliant.

MS: He’s one of the few singers that’s really interested in improvising – different every night – that
was my feeling when I saw him.

PS: Yeah, we were playing the same repertoire every night. I got an email address from Pete
Churchill and I said ‘Mark, it’s Pete Saberton, I got a tape, put in on CD, and it sounds great, maybe
we should mix it. Do you want to hear it? I’ll send a copy to you.’ Few days and he said ‘Pete, Wow!
Mark.’ So he probably means yeah, do what you want, and I would have, it’s just getting the money
to mix it. I mean, the piano, it’s not a great recording, it’s just the two channels onto the cassette

MS: But the music is good though, it’s kinda worth it I think.

PS: It’s just that the piano doesn’t sound great, but there’s some things on Rhodes though so… we’ll
see

MS: So he was a good experience. Can you remember any other musicians that really stand out for
you at that time?

PS: George Coleman.

MS: You enjoyed that?

PS: Yeah it was OK. Geoff Castle did it once and one hilarious thing happened one night. For the
first time when Geoff was doing it I was playing support, I’ll try and remember who was playing…
Might have been Mark Murphy. Anyway, this is the first night and we finish the first set, we’re in
the band room, and they are ready to go on, and of course he rolls a joint. So we’re all partaking
and then George is partaking, and then he goes on to do the first number, takes a great long solo,
goes offstage after his solo, comes back and starts smoking a joint again and talking. So he’s chatting
and then all of a sudden there’s silence in the chat and I’m just listening to the band, and it sounds
like they’re comping. So we’ve been through the piano solo and the bass solo and the comping, I
said ‘George, listen’, and he said ‘Oh, Shit!’ and raced onstage. So funny.

MS: I wonder how many times that’s happened at Ronnies? So he was OK to work with?

PS: Yeah it was fine yeah.

MS: You did a week?

PS: Yeah later on yeah

MS: Who was on Bass?

PS: I think it was Ron… Yeah it was Ronnies rhythm section Ron and Martin

MS: Ron Mathewson and Martin Drew?

PS: Yeah, it was OK

MS: You also played with Ronnie Scott didn’t you?

PS: Yeah for about a year because John Critchinson was ill. He had some medical problems for a
year. So I did that and it was hilarious, so funny.

MS: In what way?

PS: Well, it was just a bunch of oddballs, all of them. Really, honestly. It was before Mornington
Lockett so, it was quintet – Dick Pearce, Ron Mathewson and Martin Drew. Martin’s just gone hasn’t
he?

MS: Yeah

PS: Yeah…

MS: Did you enjoy it?

PS: I did yeah, I mean Ron Mathewson, it was just about the time when to booze was taking over
you know, his playing started to suffer, and Martin moaning about it more often… Ronnie Scott
told me that they were coming back from an out of town gig in Martin Drew’s car, Dick Pearce and
Ronnie Scott in the back seat, Ron Mathewson and Martin driving, and it’s not been a very good
night because Ron Mathewson was drunk on the gig. Martin Drew is laying into him relentlessly on
the way back, moaning about his drinking and how his time is all over the place, sound was terrible
etcetera, going on and on and on. Ronnie Scott said that he had finally exhausted himself, there was
a silence, and then Ron Mathewson said ‘I don’t agree’. (Laughs).

MS: Fantastic!

PS: So yeah, I did Ronnie Scott’s band.

MS: I would have thought that in terms of profile and in terms of quality of work it was probably
quite a good band to do at that time? I mean they could work all the time couldn’t they?

PS: Yeah, they were either working at the club or… there were quite a few out of town gigs, quite
well paid. I mean, say 1980, getting 150 quid I think.

MS: You didn’t record with that band?

PS: No I didn’t, no.

MS: Ronnie didn’t like recording actually did he. I don’t think he recorded much.

PS: I suppose it was Critch’s gig, probably he felt a bit weird about it, I don’t know

MS: So Critch became well and came back?

PS: Yeah, you know and after a while, because I was into writing and playing with different bands,
playing original music it got a bit… whats the word? Predictable

MS: Yeah, OK

PS: It was very good training for stamina as well

MS: They played fast didn’t they?

PS: Yeah, ridiculously fast tempos, you know, for 20 minutes. It was OK for them – play a tune, play
a solo, then go off to the bar. You’ve got a white flag that comes out after 20 minutes, I thought
of getting one together – some sort of mechanical flag at the back. Set it up so a white flag starts
waving.

MS: The fast tempo thing, I mean Ronnie led that band?

PS: Yeah

MS: And he counted things in and chose the material?

PS: Yeah, absolutely

MS: So at the same time as doing that you were writing and were you leading your own band?

PS: I’m trying to think. I think the early stuff like broadcasty gigs, you see the problem is that I never
really gigged with bands much at all, hardly ever.

MS: Your own bands?

PS: Yeah, not very much at all

MS: What’s the reason for that?

PS: That’s a good question, if I had an answer I would… Maybe I was just put off by the hassle
of getting them maybe. But, not being self-centered of self possessed about it , I’d just go for it,
probably because I had other interests as well – I was very much into sport, so I wasn’t absoloutely
determined to make it work, the situation.

MS: In terms of gigs

PS: Yeah

MS: You want to play?

PS: Oh yeah, I mean I was playing, but I was just, I dunno, I haven’t got a proper answer for that
really. Mainly because I was just enjoying myself playing music and I just didn’t feel like hustling you
know, it just never occurred to me that way.

MS: Would you say that, I don’t know how to put this, because there’s different kinds of people in
music, some that we know are born hustlers?

PS: Yeah absolutely

MS: They can get music together and hustle and they don’t get put off. Personally I’m sort of in the
middle, I can do it for a while and then get put off.

PS: I’m way off the left really.

MS: Yeah but I’m interested - do you think that’s common for your generation? I would say that Pete
Hurt is similar.

PS: Yeah I think you’re probably right. Chris Biscoe and Dick… yeah.

MS: What I’m getting at is - was it because there was actually more work then for people?

PS: Yeah.

MS: And if you could play your thing in other people’s bands, your expression…

PS: Yeah, I mean that was one of the things that was happening a lot.

MS: And now it seems, well there definitely is less work, but there’s more players.

PS: Yeah

MS: And it seems that a lot of the younger players have their own bands and they hustle with them
as well at the same time.

PS: Some people used to hustle for me.

MS: Hustle for you?

PS: Yeah, there’s an album called the Year of the Buffalo, which was a bit later about 1983-4

MS: That was the first album that I was on

PS: Oh you were on that?

MS: Yeah the first album that I was on, it was your music with John Williams Octet

PS: Oh yeah, I’d forgotten who was in the band.

MS: I was petrified!

PS: Yeah, I saw Tony Williams at Harry Beckett’s funeral. He’s gone really mutton, really deaf, so
skinny as well. He’s OK, he’s eating properly. He said oh yeah, I still want to put your Pete Saberton
album on CD, he’s been going on about it for 15 years you know, he says ‘Oh yeah gimme a call and
we’ll sort it out’.

MS: I’ll call him as well.

PS: So there was that, and John hustled for all of the money involved, the Arts Council, and we did a
gig, about 4 or 5 gigs I think it was.

MS: I remember being in awe of you all at that time.

PS: Because you’re 10 years younger aren’t you?

MS: Yeah.

PS: What are you 50?

MS: I’m 52.

PS: Oh you’re 52 are you? 8 years then. I’m 8 years older than you and JT was 8 or 9 years older than
me, that’s interesting.

MS: Yeah he’s not quite 70 yet, he was born in ’42 or something like that

PS: Yeah I think so.

MS: There are all these different generations, and I suppose you would consider John the generation
before you?

PS: Yeah definitely. Henry and John.

MS: But Stan was young wasn’t he in their generation?

PS: He was yeah. Stan I don’t know – he’s 62, is he 62?

MS: He hasn’t had his 65th has he Stan?

PS: No, no. Jim Mullen is, he’s coming up. Henry’s got a band with Jim, Henry Lowther and Jim
Mullen, Stu Butterfield and Dave Green. It’s really nice, a really nice band. They’ve got a CD out
called ‘The Sound of Music’. (Laughs).

MS: Yes!

PS: And they play it as well

MS: Great.

PS: Anyway yeah, so.

MS: Yeah just thinking about the generations. so ‘The Year of the Buffalo’ which is John Williams
Octet, at the time, was your music.

PS: Yeah

MS: And from what I remember he got commission for you didn’t he?

PS: Yeah he did

MS: So you got commission to write the music for us to play, and we did those gigs.

PS: Yeah, but it didn’t generate any more effort from me to do anything else.

MS: Yeah, the other thing, although it was your music, it wasn’t your band. Just putting it to you,
that wouldn’t necessarily be the group of musicians that you would choose for your own band?

PS: That’s correct yeah. Chucho Merchan was on it, the Columbian bass player. Nobody now would
know who he is, well not the younger guys. I would have probably chosen Chuch or maybe NIc
France, or…

MS: Who played Drums on that?

PS: Trevor Tomkins yeah, TT

MS: Yeah, OK

PS: Someone who never laughs at anyone else’s jokes, only his own. Just as a bit of a side, there was
a program about Bob Monkhouse on ITV4 or something. I think there was a series. And his big thing
was game shows, but he was a very clever guy.

MS: Very clever guy yeah.

PS: And he had 2 hefty books of jokes that he had written from the age of 14, incredibly neat, and
they were stolen, but he got them back eventually. Just to cut this short. But the very last thing
he said, he said ‘When I was younger I told my friends that I wanted to be a comedian, and they
laughed at me. They’re not laughing now.’ (Laughs) That’s brilliant isn’t it.

MS: fantastic.

PS: Anyway, so yeah…

MS: ..he was very bright

PS: He was yeah, he was.

MS: OK so musically, what was going on in your own playing? Can you remember what you were
working on? What you were influenced by?

PS: I think that from the late 90s onwards I tended just to get involved with people playing original
music, as much as possible

MS: You didn’t want to play standard music?

PS: No, not at all

MS: Alright, why is that?

PS: I just didn’t want to get into that… It’s just something I never got into really I must say – 100%. All
of the kind of local gigs going on, as you said there were a lot more gigs then going on at that time,
it’s like they were pub gigs, pickup bands, that played standards. I just didn’t enjoy them, it felt like I
was in a straitjacket.

MS: What because of the form?

PS: No, no, because of the people playing with me.

MS: Right, that’s what I was interested in, because I’m really interested in playing standards, I play
that kind of music as well – free music, and that’s why someone like you who has always written
a lot of original music, been involved in bands that play a lot of original music, you know, I’m
interested in putting that question to you – whether it’s intrinsic in standards, the form, or the way
people play them that’s the problem?

PS: It’s just me really, I’ve just never been really that sort of player who is a… Utility is the wrong
word, but someone who knows loads of standards and will just play them, just count them in – it
doesn’t matter who the players are – and you’ll just try and make the best of it, you know.

MS: Yeah

PS: I’ve never really wanted to be like that, that sort of player, because the times I did it, it just felt
like a straitjacket, you know, unless I was playing with people who were looser, who would loosen it
up a bit.

MS: The approach?

PS: Yeah the approach, the time feel. Occasionally it would be great. I believe Steve Arguelles used
to dep on the Ronnies band when he was about 19 or 20, played like Jack DeJohnette you know, or
similar, and it was a great, much better for me at that time.

MS: You were doing it and he depped?

PS: Yeah. Brian Abrahams used to do it as well… 10 minute drum solos and Ronnie’s there like ‘sigh,
where the fuck’s 1?’. So yeah I never really got into the pub gig circuit. Played at the Plough at
Stockwell of course, which was great. Had lots of great plays there, even though the piano was a pile
of erm… molecules, murdered by Stan Tracey… Sorry Stan I didn’t mean it! Spoke to him the other
day, he’s in great nick, very alert and on it. He was very sad at Harry’s funeral.

MS: Oh right

PS: You were there?

MS: No, didn’t go

PS: Cos he always used to lie about his age, Harry

MS: Yeah, does anyone know?

PS: Yeah. Apparently there was some sort of interview a couple of months before he died. He said
he was 75… No one believed it. And on the service they gave a photograph of him, it was a musical
photograph, on a gig, ‘Born in 1924’. So he was 86. Yeah!

MS: So that was the real age?

PS: Yeah, his real age when he died was 86. And he was playing up to a month or so before.

MS: He was a great force here wasn’t he?

PS: Yeah.

MS: You played with him for a while?

PS: Yeah that was sort of about, can’t remember. Must have been in the 70s. I played with all kinds
of things… I think I played with Kenny once at the Plough in the 70s.

MS: Kenny Wheeler?

PS: Yeah Kenny Wheeler. I heard Kenny playing the first time I went there. I was going out with
a Canadian woman, we’d just started going out. She lived in Brixton so we went to hear the the
gig and it was Stan Tracey, Kenny Wheeler, John Stevens and Danny Thompson. I was completely
transfixed. We were supposed to be going to a party so she went to the party and I joined her later.
And I was just like ‘oh wow!’

MS: They are great, those moments.

PS: I was looking at Stan going ‘How the hell does he play like that? I can’t bear to watch him’,
you know, the vertical liftoff style of playing. The vertical fingers, you know, and the two or three
telephone directories on the stool. I’ll never forget that. Then I started playing in Don Rendell’s band
from about ’78.

MS: Well that would have been quite traditional I would have thought?

PS: Well it was all mainly original stuff.

MS: OK

PS: Yeah, Don’s stuff. And I started writing, not that many, maybe 3 or 4 for it. Trevor Tomkins, Paul
Bridge on bass did it for a while, and then somebody else took over, who was it… It was a long time
ago, you know.

MS: So you kind of played with the who’s who of British jazz for that time really.

PS: Yeah. John Surman, I never played with John Surman which is a bit of a drag.

MS: You like his music?

PS: Yes, yes and no, I mean I know where he’s coming from. I would probably prefer the way Stan
plays, from somebody who’s a similar sort of age

MS: Stan Sulzmann?

PS: Yeah, and that sort of writing.

MS: It’s more sort of harmony in Stan’s thing

PS: Yeah, maybe.

MS: Is that the interest for you?

PS: Well John is very folk orientated, which is…

MS: Well it’s simpler.

PS: Yeah it is. So yeah Don Rendell is still going strong apparently, and he’s 84 or 85.

MS: Yeah he is isn’t he.

PS: I must call him, I haven’t seen him in such a long time.

PS: Shall we have a break?

MS: No.

PS: OK. (Laughs)

MS: Well we can finish soon, if you want? Well let’s go on, and if there’s anything you want to say,
you know, I mean, I’m sort of interested in your development to do with this whole time. I mean, it
will have happened by playing with all of these people, all these different experiences?

PS: Yeah. Hanging out with JT.

MS: You talk about music with JT, John Taylor? Or watch him play?

PS: We never really talked about music that much really.

MS: You played duo didn’t you? Or Trio with Frank Ricotti?

PS: That was a tour, we did a tour

MS: I seem to remember that

PS: But that was later on, that was 87. It was supposed to be Dave Samuels from Spyro Gyra.

MS: Who’s idea was it, Johns?

PS: Yeah, but then he copped out, so Frank Ricotti did it, Steve Arguelles, no bass. I had to use synth
on it, which was good. I’m glad because I was well into synthesis, still am actually. Yeah no bass, and
the vocal summit that was Norma Winstone and Ursula Dudziak, who I fell madly in love with but
couldn’t do anything about – she scared the life out of me. (Laughs). And Jay Clayton.

MS: What with John in the same band?

PS: Yeah all of us together but they would do the first set.

MS: Oh I see

PS: Unaccompanied, three of them. And then we played the second set – some of my stuff and some
of John’s. Pure and Simple, we used to play Pure and Simple, stuff from that time. Then they joined
us. I wrote something for the whole lot, John wrote something for the whole ensemble. I got loads
of cassettes as well.

MS: That was recorded then?

PS: That was recorded just on… I got cassettes off the mixing desk from Paul Sparrow was it?

MS: Yeah he’s still going.

PS: Yeah I hadn’t seen him for years, and I saw him recently, and so I got tapes of every gig. One with
Django as well – Django depped for Frank Ricotti. He used a vibes sound.

MS: Oh right.

PS: When was that 87? So I was 37 and he’d be… How old’s Django? Is he 10 years younger than me?

MS: Django was born in 1960 I think.

PS: Not Django? He’s about 50 isn’t he?

MS: Yeah, he was born in 1960.

PS: Oh yeah, sorry. So he’d have been in his late 20s or something. Tubes would have been going by
that time. He was in Manchester, so we just drove up and we got about 5 or 6 gigs with him. I think
they’d be OK but I’ve not listened to them that much. I listened to them after the event. I must put
them on CD because they sound really good, you can hear everything really clearly on it.

MS: That’s great.

PS: So I’ll have a listen to them and I’ll see what John thinks of them, put them on CD and send them.

MS: Yeah

PS: Yeah but we never really talked about music. That’s one of the things - I was not a big talker
about music

MS: You not?

PS: Well not really at that time, more now, now that I’ve got into education. Because I never really
started teaching until I was about 40 – apart from piano players coming round and hanging out,
saying “how do you do this?”, “What’s that?”. It was in ’92 – Andrea Vicari phoned me up and said
“I’m leaving this school in Wimbledon, do you want 2 days teaching?” and I went “Ah, I don’t know”.
Then I started thinking about regular income, so I started doing that, and that was the first teaching I
did.

MS: So up to then you’d survived as a musician?

PS: Yeah. Doing loads of gigs and sessions every now and again. Yeah I had, yeah… Especially people
when you’re doing gigs and you’ve just finished, so I never really used to like to talk about music
before we went on. At least 10 minutes before. And then I used to hate it when people would come
up and start talking about music as soon as you’d finished playing you know. I’d say I can’t talk about
music now.

MS: What the band or the audience you mean?

PS: The audience, musicians that were in the audience that would come and say “oh well what’s that
you played in bar bla bla” and I’d say “I can’t talk about that now, I need to wind down. Just come
and see me later on”. I’m just not prepared to do it. I used to love just going, if we didn’t have to

rehearse, if there wasn’t a soundcheck or anything, just come in and walk straight on stage, knowing
exactly what time we were on, and play. And then walk out, get up immediately, out of Ronnie
Scotts and go, just to get away from it. Used to go and walk down to the pub and have a pint and a
chat for an hour or something. Then go back.

MS: It was a separation thing?

PS: Not all the time. I just couldn’t get into that scene of talking…

MS: ….about the technicalities of the music.

PS: Yeah. So I never really used to talk about it, hardly ever. Never really spent a lot of time talking
about how we should play this material, we just used to play it, and it used to work itself out, no
discussions. I mean, we did talk about ‘we need to look at this bit’, or sometimes if somethingmight
not work ‘can we change this, OK’ you know. We never used to talk about the aesthetics of it all,
never used to discuss it philosophically or discuss other music really, hardly ever. Just used to talk
about other things – films and sport, tell jokes, mess around.

MS: Was that an environment you grew up with? I don’t mean at home necessarily but I mean when
you first came to London? Did you think that everyone was like that then? Or was it just something
that you personally felt? Or is it something that you felt people weren’t really talking about anyway?

PS: Yeah that’s what I found that people really didn’t used to. I just used to think that everybody
was having a really good time you know, because the prevalence of drinking, heavy drinking, use of
drugs.

MS: That was more then than now you think?

PS: I think so yeah. But it’s funny, it’s interesting that, because… well the house drummer of Ronnie
Scott’s at the moment is now no longer with us.

PS: Yeah, not very much at all

MS: What’s the reason for that?

PS: That’s a good question, if I had an answer I would… Maybe I was just put off by the hassle of getting them maybe. But, not being self-centered of self possessed about it , I’d just go for it, probably because I had other interests as well – I was very much into sport, so I wasn’t absolutely determined to make it work, the situation.

MS: In terms of gigs

PS: Yeah

MS: You want to play?

PS: Oh yeah, I mean I was playing, but I was just, I dunno, I haven’t got a proper answer for that really. Mainly because I was just enjoying myself playing music and I just didn’t feel like hustling you know, it just never occurred to me that way.

MS: Would you say that, I don’t know how to put this, because there’s different kinds of people in music, some that we know are born hustlers?

PS: Yeah absolutely

MS: They can get music together and hustle and they don’t get put off. Personally I’m sort of in the middle, I can do it for a while and then get put off.

PS: I’m way off the left really.

MS: Yeah but I’m interested - do you think that’s common for your generation? I would say that Pete Hurt is similar.

PS: Yeah I think you’re probably right. Chris Biscoe and Dick… yeah.

MS: What I’m getting at is - was it because there was actually more work then for people?

PS: Yeah.

MS: And if you could play your thing in other people’s bands, your expression…

PS: Yeah, I mean that was one of the things that was happening a lot.

MS: And now it seems, well there definitely is less work, but there’s more players.

PS: Yeah

MS: And it seems that a lot of the younger players have their own bands and they hustle with them as well at the same time.

PS: Some people used to hustle for me.

MS: Hustle for you?

PS: Yeah, there’s an album called the Year of the Buffalo, which was a bit later about 1983-4

MS: That was the first album that I was on

PS: Oh you were on that?

MS: Yeah the first album that I was on, it was your music with John Williams Octet

PS: Oh yeah, I’d forgotten who was in the band.

MS: I was petrified!

PS: Yeah, I saw Tony Williams at Harry Beckett’s funeral. He’s gone really mutton, really deaf, so skinny as well. He’s OK, he’s eating properly. He said oh yeah, I still want to put your Pete Saberton album on CD, he’s been going on about it for 15 years you know, he says ‘Oh yeah gimme a call and we’ll sort it out’.

MS: I’ll call him as well.

PS: So there was that, and John hustled for all of the money involved, the Arts Council, and we did a gig, about 4 or 5 gigs I think it was.

MS: I remember being in awe of you all at that time.

PS: Because you’re 10 years younger aren’t you?

MS: Yeah.

PS: What are you 50?

MS: I’m 52.

PS: Oh you’re 52 are you? 8 years then. I’m 8 years older than you and JT was 8 or 9 years older than me, that’s interesting.

MS: Yeah he’s not quite 70 yet, he was born in ’42 or something like that

PS: Yeah I think so.

MS: There are all these different generations, and I suppose you would consider John the generation before you?

PS: Yeah definitely. Henry and John.

MS: But Stan was young wasn’t he in their generation?

PS: He was yeah. Stan I don’t know – he’s 62, is he 62?

MS: He hasn’t had his 65th has he Stan?

PS: No, no. Jim Mullen is, he’s coming up. Henry’s got a band with Jim, Henry Lowther and Jim Mullen, Stu Butterfield and Dave Green. It’s really nice, a really nice band. They’ve got a CD out called ‘The Sound of Music’. (Laughs).

MS: Yes!

PS: And they play it as well

MS: Great.

PS: Anyway yeah, so.

MS: Yeah just thinking about the generations. so ‘The Year of the Buffalo’ which is John Williams Octet, at the time, was your music.

PS: Yeah

MS: And from what I remember he got commission for you didn’t he?

PS: Yeah he did

MS: So you got commission to write the music for us to play, and we did those gigs.

PS: Yeah, but it didn’t generate any more effort from me to do anything else.

MS: Yeah, the other thing, although it was your music, it wasn’t your band. Just putting it to you, that wouldn’t necessarily be the group of musicians that you would choose for your own band?

PS: That’s correct yeah. Chucho Merchan was on it, the Columbian bass player. Nobody now would know who he is, well not the younger guys. I would have probably chosen Chuch or maybe Nic France, or…

MS: Who played Drums on that?

PS: Trevor Tomkins yeah, TT

MS: Yeah, OK

PS: Someone who never laughs at anyone else’s jokes, only his own. Just as a bit of a side, there was a program about Bob Monkhouse on ITV4 or something. I think there was a series. And his big thing was game shows, but he was a very clever guy.

MS: Very clever guy yeah.

PS: And he had 2 hefty books of jokes that he had written from the age of 14, incredibly neat, and they were stolen, but he got them back eventually. Just to cut this short. But the very last thing he said, he said ‘When I was younger I told my friends that I wanted to be a comedian, and they laughed at me. They’re not laughing now.’ (Laughs) That’s brilliant isn’t it.

MS: fantastic.

PS: Anyway, so yeah…

MS: ..he was very bright

PS: He was yeah, he was.

MS: OK so musically, what was going on in your own playing? Can you remember what you were
working on? What you were influenced by?

PS: I think that from the late 90s onwards I tended just to get involved with people playing original
music, as much as possible

MS: You didn’t want to play standard music?

PS: No, not at all

MS: Alright, why is that?

PS: I just didn’t want to get into that… It’s just something I never got into really I must say – 100%. All
of the kind of local gigs going on, as you said there were a lot more gigs then going on at that time,
it’s like they were pub gigs, pickup bands, that played standards. I just didn’t enjoy them, it felt like I
was in a straitjacket.

MS: What because of the form?

PS: No, no, because of the people playing with me.

MS: Right, that’s what I was interested in, because I’m really interested in playing standards, I play
that kind of music as well – free music, and that’s why someone like you who has always written
a lot of original music, been involved in bands that play a lot of original music, you know, I’m
interested in putting that question to you – whether it’s intrinsic in standards, the form, or the way
people play them that’s the problem?

PS: It’s just me really, I’ve just never been really that sort of player who is a… Utility is the wrong
word, but someone who knows loads of standards and will just play them, just count them in – it
doesn’t matter who the players are – and you’ll just try and make the best of it, you know.

MS: Yeah

PS: I’ve never really wanted to be like that, that sort of player, because the times I did it, it just felt
like a straitjacket, you know, unless I was playing with people who were looser, who would loosen it
up a bit.

MS: The approach?

PS: Yeah the approach, the time feel. Occasionally it would be great. I believe Steve Arguelles used
to dep on the Ronnies band when he was about 19 or 20, played like Jack DeJohnette you know, or
similar, and it was a great, much better for me at that time.

MS: You were doing it and he depped?

PS: Yeah. Brian Abrahams used to do it as well… 10 minute drum solos and Ronnie’s there like ‘sigh,
where the fuck’s 1?’. So yeah I never really got into the pub gig circuit. Played at the Plough at
Stockwell of course, which was great. Had lots of great plays there, even though the piano was a pile
of erm… molecules, murdered by Stan Tracey… Sorry Stan I didn’t mean it! Spoke to him the other
day, he’s in great nick, very alert and on it. He was very sad at Harry’s funeral.

MS: Oh right

PS: You were there?

MS: No, didn’t go

PS: Cos he always used to lie about his age, Harry

MS: Yeah, does anyone know?

PS: Yeah. Apparently there was some sort of interview a couple of months before he died. He said
he was 75… No one believed it. And on the service they gave a photograph of him, it was a musical
photograph, on a gig, ‘Born in 1924’. So he was 86. Yeah!

MS: So that was the real age?

PS: Yeah, his real age when he died was 86. And he was playing up to a month or so before.

MS: He was a great force here wasn’t he?

PS: Yeah.

MS: You played with him for a while?

PS: Yeah that was sort of about, can’t remember. Must have been in the 70s. I played with all kinds
of things… I think I played with Kenny once at the Plough in the 70s.

MS: Kenny Wheeler?

PS: Yeah Kenny Wheeler. I heard Kenny playing the first time I went there. I was going out with
a Canadian woman, we’d just started going out. She lived in Brixton so we went to hear the the
gig and it was Stan Tracey, Kenny Wheeler, John Stevens and Danny Thompson. I was completely
transfixed. We were supposed to be going to a party so she went to the party and I joined her later.
And I was just like ‘oh wow!’

MS: They are great, those moments.

PS: I was looking at Stan going ‘How the hell does he play like that? I can’t bear to watch him’,
you know, the vertical liftoff style of playing. The vertical fingers, you know, and the two or three
telephone directories on the stool. I’ll never forget that. Then I started playing in Don Rendell’s band
from about ’78.

MS: Well that would have been quite traditional I would have thought?

PS: Well it was all mainly original stuff.

MS: OK

PS: Yeah, Don’s stuff. And I started writing, not that many, maybe 3 or 4 for it. Trevor Tomkins, Paul
Bridge on bass did it for a while, and then somebody else took over, who was it… It was a long time
ago, you know.

MS: So you kind of played with the who’s who of British jazz for that time really.

PS: Yeah. John Surman, I never played with John Surman which is a bit of a drag.

MS: You like his music?

PS: Yes, yes and no, I mean I know where he’s coming from. I would probably prefer the way Stan
plays, from somebody who’s a similar sort of age

MS: Stan Sulzmann?

PS: Yeah, and that sort of writing.

MS: It’s more sort of harmony in Stan’s thing

PS: Yeah, maybe.

MS: Is that the interest for you?

PS: Well John is very folk orientated, which is…

MS: Well it’s simpler.

PS: Yeah it is. So yeah Don Rendell is still going strong apparently, and he’s 84 or 85.

MS: Yeah he is isn’t he.

PS: I must call him, I haven’t seen him in such a long time.

PS: Shall we have a break?

MS: No.

PS: OK. (Laughs)

MS: Well we can finish soon, if you want? Well let’s go on, and if there’s anything you want to say,
you know, I mean, I’m sort of interested in your development to do with this whole time. I mean, it
will have happened by playing with all of these people, all these different experiences?

PS: Yeah. Hanging out with JT.

MS: You talk about music with JT, John Taylor? Or watch him play?

PS: We never really talked about music that much really.

MS: You played duo didn’t you? Or Trio with Frank Ricotti?

PS: That was a tour, we did a tour

MS: I seem to remember that

PS: But that was later on, that was 87. It was supposed to be Dave Samuels from Spyro Gyra.

MS: Who’s idea was it, Johns?

PS: Yeah, but then he copped out, so Frank Ricotti did it, Steve Arguelles, no bass. I had to use synth
on it, which was good. I’m glad because I was well into synthesis, still am actually. Yeah no bass, and
the vocal summit that was Norma Winstone and Ursula Dudziak, who I fell madly in love with but
couldn’t do anything about – she scared the life out of me. (Laughs). And Jay Clayton.

MS: What with John in the same band?

PS: Yeah all of us together but they would do the first set.

MS: Oh I see

PS: Unaccompanied, three of them. And then we played the second set – some of my stuff and some
of John’s. Pure and Simple, we used to play Pure and Simple, stuff from that time. Then they joined
us. I wrote something for the whole lot, John wrote something for the whole ensemble. I got loads
of cassettes as well.

MS: That was recorded then?

PS: That was recorded just on… I got cassettes off the mixing desk from Paul Sparrow was it?

MS: Yeah he’s still going.

PS: Yeah I hadn’t seen him for years, and I saw him recently, and so I got tapes of every gig. One with
Django as well – Django depped for Frank Ricotti. He used a vibes sound.

MS: Oh right.

PS: When was that 87? So I was 37 and he’d be… How old’s Django? Is he 10 years younger than me?

MS: Django was born in 1960 I think.

PS: Not Django? He’s about 50 isn’t he?

MS: Yeah, he was born in 1960.

PS: Oh yeah, sorry. So he’d have been in his late 20s or something. Tubes would have been going by
that time. He was in Manchester, so we just drove up and we got about 5 or 6 gigs with him. I think
they’d be OK but I’ve not listened to them that much. I listened to them after the event. I must put
them on CD because they sound really good, you can hear everything really clearly on it.

MS: That’s great.

PS: So I’ll have a listen to them and I’ll see what John thinks of them, put them on CD and send them.

MS: Yeah

PS: Yeah but we never really talked about music. That’s one of the things - I was not a big talker
about music

MS: You not?

PS: Well not really at that time, more now, now that I’ve got into education. Because I never really
started teaching until I was about 40 – apart from piano players coming round and hanging out,
saying “how do you do this?”, “What’s that?”. It was in ’92 – Andrea Vicari phoned me up and said
“I’m leaving this school in Wimbledon, do you want 2 days teaching?” and I went “Ah, I don’t know”.
Then I started thinking about regular income, so I started doing that, and that was the first teaching I
did.

MS: So up to then you’d survived as a musician?

PS: Yeah. Doing loads of gigs and sessions every now and again. Yeah I had, yeah… Especially people
when you’re doing gigs and you’ve just finished, so I never really used to like to talk about music
before we went on. At least 10 minutes before. And then I used to hate it when people would come
up and start talking about music as soon as you’d finished playing you know. I’d say I can’t talk about
music now.

MS: What the band or the audience you mean?

PS: The audience, musicians that were in the audience that would come and say “oh well what’s that
you played in bar bla bla” and I’d say “I can’t talk about that now, I need to wind down. Just come
and see me later on”. I’m just not prepared to do it. I used to love just going, if we didn’t have to

rehearse, if there wasn’t a soundcheck or anything, just come in and walk straight on stage, knowing
exactly what time we were on, and play. And then walk out, get up immediately, out of Ronnie
Scotts and go, just to get away from it. Used to go and walk down to the pub and have a pint and a
chat for an hour or something. Then go back.

MS: It was a separation thing?

PS: Not all the time. I just couldn’t get into that scene of talking…

MS: ….about the technicalities of the music.

PS: Yeah. So I never really used to talk about it, hardly ever. Never really spent a lot of time talking
about how we should play this material, we just used to play it, and it used to work itself out, no
discussions. I mean, we did talk about ‘we need to look at this bit’, or sometimes if somethingmight
not work ‘can we change this, OK’ you know. We never used to talk about the aesthetics of it all,
never used to discuss it philosophically or discuss other music really, hardly ever. Just used to talk
about other things – films and sport, tell jokes, mess around.

MS: Was that an environment you grew up with? I don’t mean at home necessarily but I mean when
you first came to London? Did you think that everyone was like that then? Or was it just something
that you personally felt? Or is it something that you felt people weren’t really talking about anyway?

PS: Yeah that’s what I found that people really didn’t used to. I just used to think that everybody
was having a really good time you know, because the prevalence of drinking, heavy drinking, use of
drugs.

MS: That was more then than now you think?

PS: I think so yeah. But it’s funny, it’s interesting that, because… well the house drummer of Ronnie
Scott’s at the moment is now no longer with us.