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It's a joy to see this site up - and the myspace page.
I loved this band. They turned me on to jazz and opened my ears up.
I grew up watching them dozens of times in The Adelphi and in the old Trades Club in Leeds.
They nearly always had some kind of shenanigans happening on stage - I'll never forget the fun they had. 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow' with that bit of wooden cloud sculpture Louis held over Xero's head. He'd pull a string and the sun would come peeping out of one side - and then another string and the lightening would pop out as the solo got more angst. Heheh. And remember the dancing? And the gig as Matthew wandered out playing away - then John slowly packed up and left and Louis then edged out to the door still playing his double bass, leaving us gagging for more.
Great days. Unforgettable. And now less so. Many thanks
with great, thrilling enthusiasm I discovered the website about Xero Slingsby ! so exiting to read all that stuff !
I saw this band playing for at least 30 times in Ghent, where I live, and the only recordings I have is a completely scratched album that I bought way back in the eighties. he was the reason I started to listen to jazz and play saxophone myself.
desperately seeking: does anyone knows where I can buy/order cd's?
I can honestly say that Matthew's influence is the single reason that I
am musically doing what I am today. It is because of him that I bought
my first sax and it is because of him that I have a deep understanding
of what jazz actually means. He introduced me to The Bird and Coltrane
at the age of 14 when we first really met, and to me he represented
everything that I wanted to aspire to: He had long hair in a plait, He
wore a leather waistcoat, had a full goatee beard, and sometimes smoked
a pipe! (bearing in mind he was only 16, that's quite "out there" for
1976!) He was a little older than me and we met through our mutual
friend Nick Parkin (Spock. So called because of his actually pointed
ears. It was Matthew that gave him that name) I had met Nick in the 6th
form common room at Beckfoot Grammar School and had started swapping
Gong albums to listen to. He discovered that I played piano and asked
if I was interested in coming along to a rehearsal of a band that he
was putting together. We met at Nick's house, and along with Roger
McDowell we caught the number 666 Bus (that was actually it's number!
oh how we laughed) to Bradford, stopping off at Shipley to go to
Matthew's place: a curious old farmhouse at the edge of a suburban
That saturday afternoon we sat in his mum's front room, with amps and
wires everywhere, drinking tea and listening to Coltrane and Bird.
"Listen to that" Matthew would say "That's not playing... that's
thinking out loud". It was dirty and vulnerable and exciting.
"THAT'S what I want this band to feel like" he said.
I had been messing about with lots of instrument at that time, including
the flute and also the bass guitar. At the time, Spock was playing
guitar, Roger on drums and Matthew had this old Hoffner Hollowbody bass
guitar that he was using. During a break, I picked up his bass and began
thumping out the riff from Daevid Allen's tune "You can't kill me" and
Matthew immediately said
"oy buggerlugs, do you want a job in a band? cos if you do it means I
can play sax!" He ran off upstairs and brought down this tatty old
suitcase and produced a filthy alto sax.
"It's me Mam's but she won't mind"
Andrew Wells was also a mate of ours and had a variety of home made
oscillators that his dad had made as well as a couple of synths and an
electric piano and between us we became Vedas, a curious outfit playing
a mix of psychedelic jazzrock and Hawkind covers. Matthew sold me his
old bass for £10 and I used to borrow this amp that he had made out of
an old valve television (!!!!) One night at a gig, in a rage, I smashed
the bass up on stage and kicked the pieces into the audience. Matthew
thought that was hilarious and from then on, chaos and deconstruction
became part of the act.
Over the last couple of years I have tracked down and made contact with
most of that old band (and in one case started working together)
Because, for some reason, a few years before, I started having (... oh
shit, how shall I say this? Erm, ) "messages". From Matthew. I can
still hear that Skipton Accent in my memory saying things like "ye daft
bastard, if ye want to go play music, get off yer arse and make it
happen. But don't do it like everyone else does, do it your way!" I
played Xero's music to a sax player friend of mine and said "I want a
band like that" I also sent it to a singer I had met in Leeds and said,
"How would you like to do vocals over something along those lines?" and
so... "The Projects" was born. And all the time, I had (and still have)
Matthew's voice, pushing me forward.
The big problem with jazz, as I see it, is not the music as such, it's
the way it is marketed (and the audiences it now attracts). When Bebop
was new it was scary! - people hated it. It was like punk music, it
spat and swore and took drugs and made loads of noise and was
technically and creatively briliant: unleashed and dangerous. This was
the reason I started looking for different sounds in my own playing
and why I drifted away from mainstream jazz.
I am very excited and proud of what we have done with my new band in
less than a year. I am also proud to list The Works in the gallery of
influences as well as putting links back to this page. I want people to
know about him, the band and his music. !
The Projects (www.myspace.com/thebristolsound)
Hi. When I did a search on Dexian I xaw a link to www.solomonrobson.com/x17-world-cup.htm. The site is no longer active, but then I looked up www.solomonrobson.com and got here. Can you give me any leads on Dexian? Is it still in business? Where can the pieces be found? Any contacts or shops? Thanks. (Hope you finished your shelves.) Susan.
Matthew had walked from St-Pietersstation to the Damberd, carrying the double bass, the battered sax case and a old army kitbag full of bottles. As always, he seemed to be huge, I mean taller than I am, although when we stood next to each other I had to look down at him to try and hold his stare. We were having an Adler pils, the bar was still all timber and plywood, no copper or bronze at the time, I think. Looking at his kitbag, bass and sax, I made some stupid comment about all the luggage he was dragging with him. So he took took out his toothbrush from his shirt's breast pocket and replied: "nope, you gottit all wrong, I travel light. Those are just my flippin' music instruments and booze, mate."
Later, towards the end of the umpteenth Gentse Fieste, we were hanging out at P.'s house in Zomergem, and Matthew was sitting cross-legged right in the middle of the narrow country road, rolling a spliff. It was about 6 am, we had just ended the party, the grass was too wet because the first sunrays were to shy to change the dew into vapour. An eighteen-wheeler crawled along the road and cale to a forced halt about forty inches from Matthew and started honking and hooting. Matthew was mumbling something like "just gimme a break I'm almost finished." R. and I lifted him from the road, very gently, so that he could resume he task, we carefully put him down on the kerbstones (no longer vengeful at dawn) and let him finish rolling the joint, while the truck departed into the Flemish mist.
Thanks Solomon, I read all 33 chapters with bated breath and my favourite tears trickling down my cheeks.
Nice site Thanks
Sitting here listening to SHOVE IT on Vinyl (bought when it first came out!)made me wonder if any of Xero's stuff ever came out on CD. I 'googled' and up popped this site. What a treat. The only downer being that I have to sit bolt upright at my PC to read it(or print every page one at a time!) not doss on the sofa mellowing to Xero, Louis and Gene at the same time. Not really read it all yet (a treat in store) but did flick through and found the video of SHOVE IT. Did stuff come out on CD or do my two pieces of Vinyl represents Xero's total output 'commercially'?
Life is an UPPER, Death is a DOWNER and the true trajectory of genius is SIDEWAYS.
Thanks, Solomon for doing this.
To those still living a Happy 2006 and beyond. To those who arent, have a great eternity.
Many thanks for your contribution to the Matthew Coe Memorial Wall.
As Voluntary Curator of the Wall I visit here most days to clear away the spammers and tyre-kickers and handle-tryers who leave their unwanted debris scattered around.
I re-read your message today and realised that the very special nature of Matthew's genius and the very nature of what he created in tandem with Louis and Gene was that it never did become popular.
Sublimely representing the Essence of Jazz and Impermanence, Matthew was here one minute and gone the next. And although he quite liked the idea of being in a hologram, if what he did had've transcended it's cult status it would have been a different beast altogether.......may I refer you to Matthew's own words in Chapter 33: "When is a cult not a cult?"
I'd be interested to know what everyone out there thinks about life, death, the avant garde and the trajectory of a true Genius.
PS The pic is one of the latest to appear on the web, and was taken in Zurich, I think.
I hadn't heard any of Xero Slingsby's music before visiting this site. I'm blown away by how extraordinary it is, & the total conviction that the music is played with. How is it that this music is so hard to find, when it's this good? Surely any listener who cares about jazz, punk, funk, free improv, or just plain Great Music would fork over enough bucks to support a cd release. Even though I'm unfamiliar with the specific situation this music came from (I was about 2 years old when it was made, & in New York City), I can completely appreciate the intensity of expression, & its originality prevents the music from ever being stylistically dated. It really is a shame that these guys aren't more widely known. Thank goodness this site exists or I'd probably never hear this stuff.
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