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London Evening Standard   21 June 2007

Ska-punk prince turns jazz expert

Jack Massarik

Jarvis Cocker's only jazz event in his Meltdown was brilliant, thanks to his keyboard-playing pal Jerry Dammers. The ska-punk prince of Coventry turns out to be a solar-jazz expert, capable of effective orchestrations in the Sun Ra style and hip enough to assemble a 15-piece group of similar inclinations.

Larry Stabbins, for example, might not get another gig this year, but his instant-freakout tenor-sax was ideal for this hairy occasion. Flautist Finn Peters and soprano saxman Denys Baptiste also sparkled, while bassist Neal Charles and drummer Patrick Illingworth were inspired choices in a five-man rhythm section that swung their masked and costumed colleagues with trancelike aplomb.

For the Sun Ra Arkestra, think of a super-stoned Duke Ellington band - Take the E Train, as it were. Alice Coltrane's stately waltz, Journey in Search of Peace, had a rugged grandeur, while My Temple and Egypt Strut rumbled along with elephantine momentum. Singers Francine Lucha (I'll Wait for You) and Anthony Joseph (Nuclear War) supplied reflective moments before this memorable set climaxed with Space is the Place. Space should certainly be made for Jerry's band.

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