Chris Batchelor’s Zoetic: Telling The Tale

In contrast with the jazzed pop and rock of the exuberant Pigfoot, the trumpeter here reminds of John Mayer and Amancio d'Silva's Indo-jazz


Trumpeter Chris Batchelor has been a stalwart of the UK jazz scene for decades. His first professional engagements were with Dudu Pukwana’s Zila. Most notably, Batchelor was a founder member of the legendary Loose Tubes big band, later forming a quartet with fellow Tuber, the altoist Steve Buckley.

Recently he’s put together a quirky outfit under the moniker of Pigfoot with Liam Noble, James Allsopp and Paul Clarvis. They cover songs not usually associated with jazz such as Elvis Presley’s Jailhouse Rock and Led Zeppelin’s Black Dog. But they do this astoundingly well and the CD Pigfoot Shuffle (Pokey Records, 2019) is proof.

Batchelor’s Zoetic project, however, is quite different to the exuberance of Pigfoot. From the very start of Telling The Tale the vibe is subtle and compelling. There is a reminiscence here of recordings made by John Mayer’s Indo Jazz Fusions with Joe Harriott and records by guitarist Amancio D’Silva, whose Integration (Columbia, 1969) was a superb example of early, stately fusion, augmented by members of the Rendell Carr Quintet. It’s also a reminder that Batchelor stood in for Ian Carr (indisposed due to ill health) at various Nucleus Revisited concerts held between 2005 and 2010.

In terms of instrumentation (viola adding colour and no drums but percussion instead), the resulting sound gels seamlessly and most effectively. The music often presents with an Eastern quality perhaps due to Paul Clarvis’s use of tabla-like percussion as heard on the opener Elephant Lane. Also here, John Parricelli’s legato guitar lines fleetingly appear to channel D’Silva’s – whose idiosyncratic style is difficult to emulate. The title track harks back to the same 60s era and the iconic Harriott/D’Silva collaboration Hum Dono (Columbia, 1969), here showcasing the plangent viola playing of Margrit Hasler. Huckster blends a mellifluous quality with angular interspersions by Paricelli. A surprisingly novel and satisfying record.

Elephant Lane; Telling The Tale; Washington Lyon; Huckster; Canto Triste; Corneta; Luck; Dromo (47.35)
Batchelor (t); Margrit Hasler (vla); John Parricelli (elg); Steve Watts (b); Paul Clarvis (pc). London, 19 September 2022.
Pokey Records PR002