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Over 45 years old and surviving the test of time… a recently discovered recording of ‘E’… a trio of Peter Lemer, Steve Cook and Laurie Allan.
Although much better known as a consummate sideman than a leader, British-born pianist Peter Lemer bridges the gap between jazz and progressive rock, playing and recording extensively in both categories. Born in London in 1942, Lemer studied piano at the Royal Academy of Music, and later with Paul Bley and Jaki Byard. Through the '60s, Lemer was a regular fixture on the new jazz scene in London, appearing in line-ups beside giants of British jazz like Elton Dean, Dick Heckstall-Smith and he toured and recorded with Barbara Thompson for many years, while leading his own groups as well. He only released one album as a leader, Local Colour (produced by future Jimi Hendrix collaborator Eddie Kramer) on New York's legendary ESP-Disk label in 1966. Unlike many jazz folks, however, Lemer slipped easily into the fusion and progressive scenes of the '70s. Lemer played and recorded with Ginger Baker, Mike Oldfield and guitarist Phil Miller.
Steve Cook’s bass playing became serious during the 1960s at Cambridge University, where he played double bass in the Jazz Club accompanying visiting soloists. In mid-1971 he joined the progressive rock band CMU with Ian Hamlett and Roger Odell (later to be the drummer of Shakatak), both of whom he met in Cambridge. After CMU folded in 1973, Cook joined Barbara Thompson’s Paraphernalia and Jubiaba. He first met Peter Lemer in Jubiaba and has played with Peter in a wide variety of settings ever since. He joined Alan Gowen’s Gilgamesh which did few gigs but did record a couple of
radio broadcasts. Another association with Lemer was the progressive rock band Seventh Wave – Cook plays on their second album Psi-Fi (1975). Around the same time Cook formed Mirage alongside
Brian Godding, George Khan, Dave Sheen and John Mitchell; the band played regularly and recorded an album Now You See It in 1976. In 1976 Cook joined Soft Machine, touring and recording with them until 1978. From 1978 onwards he toured with Mike Westbrook for
several years, appearing on three albums. Cook also played in freelance settings, including a stint at Ronnie Scott’s with Mark Murphy, another with the Gil Evans Orchestra, gigs with Michael Garrick, Pete Jacobsen, Ronnie Ross, Don Rendell, Art Themen, Paz, Big Chief and others. He has also recorded with Pete Atkin, Julie Covington, Steve Tilston, Don Rendell, Annette Peacock, and Joji Hirota. In the 1980s he became an academic computer scientist and stopped playing altogether during the 1990s. In the 2000s he returned to playing as a semi-professional.
Laurie Allan started drumming when he was 12 and his professional career got going in the early 1960s. He was in The First Real Poetry Band with Pete Brown (vocals), John McLaughlin (guitar), Binky McKenzie (bass), and Pete Bailey (percussion); before this he had played with Chris McGregor’s Blue Notes when Louis Moholo went to South America with Steve Lacy and before that with the Spontaneous Music Ensemble when John Stevens went to Denmark with John Tchicai. In 1967, he recorded with Chris McGregor, Dudu Pukwana, Ronnie Beer, and Coleridge Goode on Gwigwi Mrwebi's Mbaqanga Songs. By 1968, he was in the Gunter Hampel trio with John McLaughlin when he met Daevid Allen. He played with Gunter Hampel at the 1968 International Essen Song Day, alongside Bruno Besse (guitar), Freddy Gosseye (bass), Simon Prestvitch (fluid lights) and Raoul Kroes (technician). He played in Formerly Fat Harry in 1970. In 1971, Allan joined Delivery with British keyboardist Steve Miller, replacing Pip Pyle who went on to join Gong. In 1972, Allan then joined Gong, again replacing Pyle. Allan left Gong in 1973 to join a new Delivery line-up, but this was short-lived and soon broke up; Allan did appear on Miller and Lol Coxhill's The Story So Far/Oh Really? album (1974). He provided drums and percussion on Ralph McTell's album Not Till Tomorrow (1972) and Bert Jansch's album Moonshine (1973). Allan also played with Robert Wyatt, for example on his albums Rock Bottom and Ruth Is Stranger Than Richard, and he was previously in a relationship with artist Alfie Benge before she married Wyatt. Allan re-joined Gong briefly in 1974 and maintained a connection with the band for some year afterward, including working with Mother Gong in 1978. He played with Barbara Thompson's Paraphernalia (1974–75). Allan also worked with Peter Lemer in the 1970s, but he largely left performing in the 1980s.
Memories of E:
I first met Laurie way back in 60s, when we shared a vibrant group of experimenters, including John Mitchell, George Khan, Jeff Clyne, Steve Cook, Johnny Dyani, Francis Moze. A sort of north London enclave. I met Steve for the first time at the Bull's Head, Barnes, onstage with Barbara Thompson's Jubiaba. We hit it off fairly quickly and played together for many decades, right up until recently, when Steve joined me and Paul Robinson for performances with the Spanish Harlow orchestra, Adam Amor's Que Pasa, and my own Quintet.
As Pete says, he and I met on stage at the Bull's Head performing in Barbara Thompson's Jubiaba, and we started playing together in various enterprises, often including Laurie. I believe that the members of "E" also constituted an early version of Paraphernalia without
Barbara, playing different material: I seem to recall we did a gig in Belfast as a trio because Barbara didn't show for some reason. I also have a diary entry indicating that "E" performed at the Phoenix in London. At the time of the broadcast, I was playing regularly with Soft
Machine, Michael Garrick, Barbara Thompson's Paraphernalia and Jubiaba, and George Khan's Mirage, plus various commercial gigs and sessions.
I have no memories of the Jazz club gig but hearing it after all this time it holds together well. The year 1977 for me was one of transition. Sacked by the Done Our Bit Club, Pete and I went separate ways. I met the girl who I am still with and got consumed with and by the History of Ideas.
Laurie’s reference to the Done Our Bit Club brings memories roaring back. This was a working men's club in the depths of Kilburn, and we played as a duo to entertain a host of middle-aged families, performing WW2 songs and similar. Occasionally we'd play jazz and the club manager would half tolerate it as long as we majored in singalongs.
I too served my time at the Done Our Bit club. Sunday lunchtimes, I seem to remember
released July 4, 2023
Peter Lemer – piano & keyboards
Steve Cook – bass
Laurie Allan – drums
1. Introduction (Lemer) / The Spraunce (Cook) 4’52”
2. Dognose (Lemer) 4’45”
3. Blues For Something Funny (Lemer) 3’16”
Recorded January 1977
Tracks 1 & 2 Copyright Control, track 3 Temple Music
From the Colin Drury reel tape archive
Mastered by Chris Martyn
Special thanks to Pete Lemer, Steve Cook, Laurie Allan & Ru Lemer
A not-for-profit organisation, whose aim is to collect, curate, preserve, celebrate and promote the legacy of British jazz
musicians. The archive collects, curates and preserves off-air and other recordings of British jazz performances.
The organisation will publish books, release vinyl, CDs and downloads, working in partnership with musicians and their families....more