52 Years ago …

One October morning in 1969 Alan Skidmore arrived at Lansdowne Studios to record an album of new compositions by his friend Stan Tracey. Alan was fairly newly arrived on the jazz scene having served his Blues Apprenticeship with John Mayall and Alexis Korner but he knew Stan from listening to him as house pianist as Ronnie Scott’s Club after popping round there between his sets at The Talk of the Town.

Stan’s earlier Jazz Suite inspired by Dylan Thomas’s Under Milk Wood has been a huge success and today’s material was Stan’s take on the Shakespearian theme from Jacques speech in As You Like It. The sixteen-piece Stan Tracey Big Band recorded eight tracks that were released in September 1970 as The Seven Ages of Man on Columbia Records. It did well but over the years fell out of print.

Jump forward to 2020 and Stan’s son Clark Tracey has produced a digitally remastered version of this session and one recorded with a quartet a month before as a double CD Wisdom in the Wings. Released in January 2021 it presents a fascinating opportunity to revisit some early Tracey material.

Alan has a solo on the first track ‘All the Worlds a Stage’ described as ‘ferocious’ by sleeve note writer Simon Spillett. Both CDs are well worth a listen with superb sound quality in this reissue. You can buy them from Resteamed Records as CDs or downloads and from other suppliers.

Over his long career Alan collaborated with Stan Tracey in a number of formats: with the Big Band, an Octet and a tour in which they performed piano and saxophone duets which they took to the Edinburgh Jazz Festival.