Friday, 28 March 2014

"it is an 'orrible chord" - the hilarious tales of john etheridge

This morning we were sent a link to a podcast broadcast by the London Jazz News website doing an interview with John Etheridge.
And although we don't have much of saturation of jazz here they thought as we were rather partial to the tricks and magic of guitarists in general we'd find this a bit of a classic. Having now checked out that link we have to agree.
Yes this is something you don't get to hear first hand very often. These tales and stories are often jealously guarded for ghost written biographies of an artist or some freelance journo after some quick bucks.

Firstly, for those not familier with John Etheridge. He's been and still is one of the UK's finest guitar players and characters. Largely unsung on the whole John's playing has often diversified into many styles and in particular with a leaning to progressive rock, jazz fusion, and jazz, which as we know is often, and again especially here in the UK, mostly resigned to a secluded backwater shunned by the mainstream media, radio and TV. When it comes to that 'difficult' music it can leave listeners in the cold by either them feeling uninformed or in most cases just plainly unaware.

To briefly outline the Etheridge bio for anyone blissfully ignorant of the mans back catalogue, he first began back in 1966 cutting his guitar teeth jamming at legendary London's Speakeasy with the likes of Clapton before briefly working with the Deep Purple offshoot Warhorse, then ex-Curved Air violinist Darryl Way and his progressive rock band Wolf, and then the acclaimed prog rockers Soft Machine (1975) recording two memorable albums 'Softs' (1976) and 'Alive & Well' (1978).

During the mid 70's and into the 80's one of John's other bookings was a long-term collaboration with French violinist Stéphane Grappelli. It was with Grappeli and his high end group of players that he was seen on a world stage proper, as you'd expect from one of the worlds greatest violinists. Years since he's recorded and composed solo albums and guested on many other recordings. He occasionally runs out Soft Machine Legacy with some of the ex-Softs musicians, and also assembles for special occasions the Zappatistas, a little matter of a Zappa tribute band that rips the roof off gigs. To hear Etheridge working over Zappa's intricate guitar solos and arrangements is a marvel that most musicians would find challenging to say the very least.

A consummate pro is Etheridge too. But one of the other great things about the man is he's one of life's great raconteurs. And in this podcast by London Jazz News it has Etheridge talking about the period so many people ask him about, when he was employed by Stephan Grapelli.
The subsequent 26 minute interview (including two extracts from Grappelli live performances featuring John's lightning guitar playing), is as hilarious as it is informative of the personality and nature that goes to make one of the worlds music legends.
So it doesn't really matter whether you like jazz or Grappelli or John Etheridge, just to hear him describe, and with the French accent, how the Grappelli world functioned is as close as any of us will get to being in the presence of someone quite so extraordinary.
Many a chat show host would pay good money to have this happen on their show. So now sit back and hear 26 minutes of personal memories with John Etheridge.

Not got the time now? The podcast is available as free download from London Jazz News on Bandcamp here and now uploaded to You Tube below.