Django Bates is a pianist, Eb horn player, and composer, who credits the variety of musical influences in his work to his childhood, his father being a collector of Jazz, African, and Romanian folk music. A founder member of Loose Tubes, Django was a leading light in the 1980s European jazz renaissance. The Dutch Metropole Orchestra, The Brodsky Quartet, Joanna MacGregor, Britten Sinfonia, Royal Shakespeare Company, and Duisburg Philharmonic are some of the many ensembles that have commissioned new works from Django. As well as leading his bands Human Chain, Delightful Precipice, and stoRMChaser, he has appeared alongside Bill Bruford, Dudu Pukwana, Sidsel Endresen, Wynton Marsalis, Michael Brecker, Tim Berne, and Ronnie Scott. In 1997 Django was awarded the prestigious Danish Jazzpar prize, dubbed the ‘Nobel Prize of Jazz’.
Django Bates was appointed Denmark’s first professor of rhythmic music at Rhythmic Music Conservatory in Copenhagen, Denmark, a position he held until 2011 when he left to take up a position as professor of jazz at the Berne University of the Arts in Switzerland.
Django is currently composing a Bass Clarinet Concerto for Soloist Håvard Lund. The work will receive its world premiere on 23. Jan 2015 at Nordlysfestival, Tromsø, Norway, performed by The Arctic Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Christian Lindberg.
The last major piece I wrote for the iconic British big band, Loose Tubes, was called “Sweet Williams”. So, 14 years on from the band’s “last” performance at Ronnie Scott’s club in 1990, I used the final phrase of that piece as a starting point for a new work. Hence the title, “As I Was Saying…”; a musical dialogue resumed after a twenty-four-year interruption! Loose Tubes toured in 2014 and As I Was Saying… was commissioned by BBC radio 3 for this 30th anniversary celebration. Loose Tubes’ early gigs heralded the eighties’ UK jazz revival and I wanted to recapture that spirit.
I started this new work with a shambolic count-in, deliberately notated at different tempi to celebrate the famously anarchic character of Loose Tubes. Then the last eight-bar phrase of Sweet Williams takes a swerve into completely new material; an exploration of a nineteen-beat bass-line over which a big blunt melody is introduced, leading to an improvised keyboard solo. After this, the energy notches up continually, and fragments of old Loose Tubes “hits” are woven into the mix. In the last part of As I Was Saying… we return to the ending phrase of Sweet Williams, now developed and magnified; again and again it comes, always extending intervalically, whilst all the great improvisers of the Loose Tubes saxophone section take turns to work their magic over the ever-changing harmonies. A grand finale that, like Loose Tubes itself, seems as if it might never end. Django Bates
As I Was Saying… was commissioned by BBC Radio 3 in association with Jazz on Three and performed by Loose Tubes at the Cheltenham Jazz Festival on 2nd May 2014