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Re: Django Bates, Quiet nights & the Smith Quartet

at Nottingham University

"For Django Bates, the jazz composer and keyboard wizard, music has always been a playground. At Nottingham University, his darting right hand reeled off convoluted fragments of blues, jazz and classical virtuosity, while his left hand flicked knobs and pulled levers on a strange tower of gadgets beside him. The box of tricks oozed an enthralling barrage of electronic textures, inspiring Bates to lean into his microphone and make noises like a panting dog. In the midst of this bewildering blur of movement, he somehow found time to do a silly little dance and to conduct the band with a desperate flailing arm. Strictly speaking there are two bands - Bates's Quiet Nights and the Smith Quartet - though they were seamlessly fused together inside Bates's gurgling tapestry of sound. Centre stage was Swedish singer Josefine Cronholm, who captivated with a pure and ethereal voice. The two violins, viola and cello of the Smith Quartet alternated between classical lyricism and edgy "Theme from Jaws" style modern scraping. A jazz trio of saxophone, bass and drums completed the picture, these being the components of Bates's group Quiet Nights. They played a range of pieces: some familiar, some strange and some familiar but seriously messed with. Into this last category must fall Paul Anka's My Way , which featured a rapping bass player, jungle rhythms and a ridiculously knotty arrangement. This music was a psychotic jigsaw which dissected and fused together swing, rock, free jazz, chamber music and the greatest hits of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. Through it all what was most striking was Bates's use of juxtaposition and contrast, and his constant thwarting of expectations. When the quartet glided smoothly, the keyboards were spiky and neurotic. When the electronic ambience washed in, the saxophone and drums twittered anxiously. Heart-wrenching emotions were conjured up in near silence, and mad, freestyle instrumental aggression had the audience shouting with laughter. Bates himself was warm and genial, and his cohorts were having such a good time that their faces glowed with pleasure. This was modern ensemble playing of the highest calibre, contemporary composition at its most vital and a thrilling show not to be missed."

James Griffiths - The Guardian Dec 5, 2000

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"A long mainly introspective Speak Low ran its course to perfection, with Cronholm proving she is one of the most interesting and accomplished singers at present active in Britain and a perfect counterpoint for Ballamy's translucent fluffy tenor sax" Alyn Shipton, The Times, Dec 2000

"When composer, keyboard wiz and musical anarchist Django Bates vowed never to make an album of standard tunes we all new such a record was inevitable" Martin Longley, Birmingham Post , Nov 1998

"Still the most creative force in British jazz" Birmingham Post , Nov 1998

"Once again Bates is undermining jazz mores to make music that is intelligent yet has a big heart" Garry Booth, BBC Music magazine, Jan 1999

"Bates manages to create jazz that is of international stature yet still quintessentially English" Jack Massarik, Evening Standard , Sept 1998

"Grotesk og Folsom (grotesque and fulsome)" Danish Jazzpar Prize panel, Feb 1997

"Kaleioscopic & unpredictable" Danish Jazzpar Prize panel, Feb 1997

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Re: Human Chain

"Fast pieces proceeded like rollerblades in heavy traffic"

"Ballamy's empathy with Bates made the ensemble passages, both improvised & written, fizz with life"

"The palette Bates works from is large, but the insight & audacity with which he combines the elements is his greatest strength"

"A full house stamped for an encore" John Fordham, The Guardian , 1998

Re: Loose Tubes

"These guys are interested in real composition, real melodies, not just being super hip. I haven't seen a young band in the US that wants to do things like that" Teo Macero, Miles Davis Producer

Re: Bates on Bates

"Being a musician is surreal in itself isn't it? Selling vibrations in the air: what could be more surreal than that?"


"One of the naughtiest boys in music ever" In Tune, BBC Radio 3, UK 1996

"A frighteningly talented player and composer" Time Out , UK 1992

"If there's any justice Blue Note, GRP and the entire cosmology of US corporate jazz will have their A&R men and their chequebooks camped out on this guy's doorstep ASAP" The Wire , UK 1994

"A clear and highly original vision" BBC Music magazine, UK 1993

"His music is on its way to enter adulthood. It makes you love the musicians again a bit more " Le Monde , France 1994

"Simply prodigious talent" The Times , UK 1985

"A superb set .... This is pianistic dynamite" The Wire , UK 1994

"Gloriously talented, endlessly inventive " Harpers and Queens , UK 1994

"One of the most free-thinking artists to operate in the delicate territory of jazz/classical hybrids" The Guardian , UK 1993

"Bates, Ballamy, Mondesir and France are such excellent musicians, who have the strength necessary to melt their instrumental and emotional expression into a perfect balance" Politiken , Denmark 1993

"So far ahead of the rest of the emerging talent he is out of sight" The Wire , UK 1990

"A star of a younger Brititsh generation" The Guardian , UK 1994

"One of the most important pianists of the new young European scene" El Pais , Spain 1994

"A great creative brain" In Tune, BBC Radio 3, UK 1996

         "The Monty Python of jazz" il manifesto , Italy 1996

"At the forefront of the jazz scene in the UK for some years" Keyboard Review , UK 1993

"Probably the UK's pre-eminent composer and band leader " The Independent , UK 1992

"One of the most promising musicians of the British contemporary scene" Liberation , France 1993

"Truly a prodigy " Harpers and Queens , UK 1994

"Ballamy and Bates - two shining stars of the British jazz scene" Downbeat , USA 1987

"Messrs Ballamy & Bates are two strong exponents of true British jazz art in 1993" Berlingske Tidende , Denmark 1993

"Django Bates is the voice of brilliant, modern improvised music" Straight No Chaser, UK 1994

"The Beckenham bullet with the amazing keyboard technique and unpredictable solo style..." Evening Standard , UK 1993

"Nothing could have made a better finale than the music of Django Bates" Jazz Podium , Germany 1992

"A constant redefinition of what is possible for jazz..." The Listener , UK

"A talent that knows no bounds" Birmingham Post , UK

"Tired of all those glum looks on bandstands..." International Herald Tribune , USA 1986

"In full possession of an overactive imagination" Jazzmag , France 1994

"Classy Cocktail" The Guardian , UK 1993