JJ 12/81: Stinky Winkles / Chris Hunter Band at the 100 Club, London

Forty years ago, Mark Gilbert saw Welwyn Garden City's Stinky Winkles and NYJO alumnus Chris Hunter. First published in Jazz Journal December 1981

Stinky Winkles in Veryan Weston's practice room, 'Cabin in the Sky'. Photo © Dennis Williams

Stinky Winkles have always been notable for an irreverent originality that is unbounded by lines of musical demarca­tion. This, combined with solid musical ability has made them one of the most interesting recent bands. Now, while these qualities remain, the group have shifted direction. While retaining some of the earlier funky material, a large part of this evening’s set comprised reworkings of jazz standards.

At first this music might seem inaccessible (it includes a serialist interpre­tation of Misty and a rhythmically atrophied Doxy), but for all their angularity and dissonance, these recompositions have a strong element of macabre humour, and indicate a healthy tendency to overhaul musical values. If the band have eschewed the exciting grooves they once favoured, they have substituted a more cerebral approach, and one that has yet to be consolidated, but the only danger is that it may become too academic.

The Chris Hunter band trod altogether safer ground, resting firmly in the modern mainstream; but taking few risks they had less to gain. The solid but predictable rhythm and harmony gave the soloists plenty of room to stretch out, and both Chris Hunter and Guy Barker showed superb technical and expressive ability, blowing some fiery and thorough solos. However this excellent work did not compensate for lack of variety in material and arrangements.