Alan Skidmore: A Supreme Love

Six-CD compilation of mostly unreleased material covers 70 years and has the Traneian tenorist with Weather Report and many others


The six CDs in this smart-looking box set reflect 70 years of tenor saxophonist Alan Skidmore’s playing career. The collection comprises 46 performances selected from the many live concert, radio and studio recordings he’s made over the years.

Apart from six numbers from three of his albums (After The Rain, 50 Journeys & A Declaration Of Love) and two from Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated LP Sky High, all tracks are previously unreleased.

The compilation features many of the top names in jazz. It’s divided into decades beginning in the 1960s with CD1 where we hear a teenaged Skidmore playing in a quartet in 1961 with his dad Jimmy and organist Alan Haven who married Miss World. Four years later Skidmore is with Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated in which he became a regular member and in 1966 we hear him in Humphrey Lyttleton’s Big Band soloing on Skid’s Kid. By 1967 he’s leading his own quartet (with 20-year-old Dave Holland on bass) and in 1969 he’s fronting a quintet with Kenny Wheeler, John Taylor, Harry Miller and Tony Oxley at Montreux Jazz Festival.

CD2 opens with Skidmore performing with Weather Report along with Wayne Shorter, Joe Zawinul and John Surman in Berlin 1971. He’s with his trio SOS in 1974, and guests with the Österreichische Rundfunksender Big Band in Vienna with Art Farmer in 1976. In 1977 he’s improvising with drummer Tony Levin in the latter’s living room.

CD3 covers 1981 to 1988. First, Skidmore’s on soprano in the supercharged trio SOH with Ali Haurand on bass and Tony Oxley on drums at Fabrik, Hamburg. He’s back on tenor at Pendley Manor Jazz Festival in 1985 with Tenor Tonic and in 1987 he’s in London with Mick Hutton and Spike Wells in the Alan Skidmore Trio. Elvin Jones invited him to join Jazz Machine for two separate performances at Ronnie Scott’s and we hear the first of these from 1988. In the following year he’s with the NDR Orchestra in Hanover and later he’s performing Coltrane’s After The Rain in Colin Towns’ Mask Symphonic at Wembley.

CD4 opens with Skidmore & Kenny Wheeler guesting with the Jazz Live Trio in Zurich. Next, he’s playing with John Surman at Mike Osborne’s benefit night at the 100 Club in 1991. The rest of the disc features his reformed quartet with Steve Melling on piano, Arnie Somogyi on bass and Mark Taylor on drums in London in 1992 and at Cheltenham Jazz Festival in 1997 with drummer Stephen Keogh.

CD5 sees the quartet in Hamburg in 2000 with Gary Husband on drums. In 2005 Skidmore is performing with Colin Towns’ Mask Orchestra at the Moers Festival. Next, his octet Ubizu is in London performing Coltrane’s Africa followed by a performance of Giant Steps with his quartet at the Fleece Jazz Club in 2011. This time, Geoff Gascoyne’s on bass and Tony Levin is back on drums. The CD concludes with the quartet playing two numbers with Georgie Fame on vocals at the European Jazz Jamboree in Germany.

CD6 is something of a paean to John Coltrane whose music has been a major influence on Skidmore. In July 2019 we hear the Alan Skidmore Quartet (with Andrew Cleyndert on bass and Miles Levin on drums) plus tenorists Ed Jones and Howard Cottle performing two Coltrane numbers – Transition and Chasin’ The Trane at London’s Café OTO. Then in conclusion the quartet plays three pieces from A Love Supreme – Resolution, Pursuance and Psalm.

This collection is a comprehensive trawl through the memory and it’s a great introduction for any who may be new to Alan Skidmore’s music. The set has a 20-page booklet with informative liner notes from Richard Williams, photos of Skidmore and various bands in performance and family portraits. At Alan’s behest, once this project has recouped its costs, any future profit will be donated to the Jazz Centre UK.

Now’s The Time; Don’t Get Around Much Anymore; The Preacher; Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting; Honesty; Skid’s Kid; What is This Thing Called Love; Autumn Leaves; Old San Juan; Once Upon A Time; Free For Al; Double Meaning; Directions; Folk Nik; Country Dance; Up There; Oxford Road, B13; Way Out East; Dutch Dreams; Nature Boy; Modal Tonic; I Remember Clifford; Moving Along; After The Rain; George And Me; Just Once; Jass; Ist; Riffing Together; It’s Easy to Remember; K.A.N.S.Y.; Spiritual; Take The Coltrane; But Not For Me; Naima; Impressions; John; Africa; Giant Steps; Mr. PC; Jumpin’ With Symphony Sid; Transition; Chasin’ The Trane; Resolution; Pursuance; Psalm (396.00)
Complete personnel and venue details can be found here. Recorded 1961-2019.
Confront Recordings CORE 33