Human Chain
In 1981 Django rehearsed a band called Humans. Django recalls:
"I wanted a band that would happily try out my compositional ideas no
matter how weird. The music was awkward stuff, not necessarily intended
for performance. There was not a fixed personnel; anyone could be a Human!"
Humans did the occasional gig and broadcast during the eighties, but
Django busy with Loose Tubes, Zila etc, still thought of Humans as a
kind of secret 'work in progress'.
Between 1983 and 1984 the name mysteriously changed to Human Chain.
"Quite a few musicians had been through the band; there was already a
chain of notable contributors. I also liked the political implications
of the name 'Human Chain': these were the Thatcher years and all kinds
of people were forming Human Chains in order to demonstrate peacefully".
At one point, Human Chain was just Steve Arguelles and Django. It was
this duo that recorded the album imaginatively titled 'Human Chain' in 1986
which presented 15 folky miniatures.

Whilst recording "Cashin' In" in 198?, Human Chain called upon
multi-stringed instrumentalist Stuart Hall to augment the group's
sound possibilities... the line-up was once again on the move.
"During performances in this trio formation, Stuart Hall would
often make three instrument changes per tune, sometimes playing
steel pan and piccolo flute simultaneouslywhilst unplugging a
violin with his foot"! Of the album Django recalls, "The Bluenote
cover and the name "Cashin' In" were meant to mock the recent
trend for retro-jazz. Nobody got the joke though".  
Oct 1990 saw the last Loose Tubes gig. Says Django, "With Loose
Tubes gone, it was time to stand up and sing out with my own music.
Needing a small group and an orchestral group to do this, I created
the 19 piece Delightful Precipice and set about sorting out Human Chain".
The trouble was, Human Chain had been pretty confused for a while:
at one point boasting two Bass players. Django recalls, "Neither of
them knew why they were both there. I didn't know either; I was still
trying to find a band that could be really powerful without being macho,
and could be really experimental without being bollocks".

Just before a Human Chain tour of South America in Sept 91,
Bassist Tim Harries dropped out to tour with Steel-Eye Span
instead. Django decided to try someone he'd never worked with
before: Michael Mondesir. "I drove to Lewisham to hear him playing
with Jason Rebello. It was a really funky band and gave no clues as
to what Michael would do to Human Chain's music. By the end of our tour,
I knew... and I was very happy!""Michael has an infectious fascination
with all things rhythmic: he chewed through pieces like 'Three Architects
Called Gabrielle... Just What I expected' with an extreme verve and
assurance that forced the whole band to perform at a new level of energy".

Fresh from our South American trip this Human Chain, with Steve Buckley
on Sax and Martin France on Drums, was documented on a CD called
'Pyrotechnics'. We recorded "Three Architects..." and "Up, Up". All
the musicians on this sampler were promised a deal with Bluenote... Guess what?

 

By '92 Iain Ballamy was in Human Chain. There would be no more changes
to the personnel, (unless it was Halloween, Iain's wife's Birthday, or
the imminent birth of a child).Since the settling of the forces, Human
Chain have played nuts music in Japan, New York, China... They've created
the innovative music-theatre piece 'Out There' with Campbell Graham,
disrupted Orchestras from the London Sinfonietta to the Duisberger
Philharmonic... In fact Django always tries to take Human Chain with him
wherever he goes: "It is so much easier to communicate an idea to a
skeptical Orchestra or a group of students who perhaps don't speak English,
if the four of us can demonstrate that idea engagingly and instantly.
We have a common language that's been built up through years of shared
experiences, both wonderful, (Canadian tour 19??), and terrible (Magnar's dream)!
 
    *                       *                     *                      *                     

*We are: Iain Ballamy: Saxophone. Michael Mondesir: Electric Bass.
Martin France: Drums, Electric Percussion. Django: Keyboards, Eb Horn.
The group often performs with singer Josefine Lindstrand.
P.S For a while Human Chain had an alter-ego called Quiet Nights,
but eventually Human Chain ate Quiet Nights.

The Human Chain has been linked from 1981-2004 thus:
Django 
Dave Trigwell 
John Eacott 
Mark Lockhart
Mick Hutton 
Steve Berry 
Eddie Parker 
John Paricelli 
Steve Arguelles 
Stuart Hall 
Steve Buckley 
Steve Watt 
Tim Harries
Martin France 
Michael Mondesir 
Iain Ballamy 
Laurence Cottle 
Julian Seigel
Julian Arguelles
Gary Husband

Recordings:

Human Chain Ah-Um 002
Cashin' In
Pyrotechnics
Bluenote 0777 7 99659 2 2
Many tracks on:
Summer Fruits (and unrest)
To be re-released on Winter and Winter 2005.
Winter Truce (and homes blaze) To be re-released on Winter and Winter 2005.
They are also playing alongside the London Sinfonietta on
Good Evening... Here is the News Argo ?????
Quiet Nights screwu 70007
You Live and Learn... (apparently) Lost Marble LM001

"The music's commitment, spontaneity and intensity gave us a feeling of
being witnesses to the very moment of creation"
Politiken, Denmark 1993
"This is modern ensemble playing of the highest calibre, contemporary
composition at its most vital"
***** The Guardian 2000

BACK TO TOP



DELIGHTFUL PRECIPICE
Following the demise of Loose Tubes, Django Bates formed the eight piece
Powder Room Collapse Orchestra, a band which produced the highly acclaimed
Music for the Third  Policeman album in 1990. However, the desire to write
for a large ensemble remained and in 1991,  the orchestra Delightful Precipice 
was formed to play new work written by Django. It was an eighteen piece outfit 
with a small string  section, a small brass section and instruments like french horn 
which aren't usually associated with jazz. Never one to take the easy option,  the 
first project Django undertook was a commission from a major arts  centre in 
London to write a series of new works for the eighteen piece  orchestra and one 
of Europe's leading new circus companies, Snapdragon Circus !!! 
This work was performed to sold out audiences under canvas in London for a week, 
and included delicacies such as a bagpipe playing chicken  on a piece called 
"Scotch Egg" (!). The music was mainly inspired by  the late Angela Carter's book
Nights at the Circus , which in fact was also the title of one of the most impressive 
pieces. 
The critics and the audiences  loved it: 
"Kids of all ages, as they say, were ecstatic"
The Guardian 1991 
"Clowning around Fantastic Sounds"
The Stage 1991 
"Totally brilliant!!! Fantastic!!!"
City Limits 1991 
The current 'edition' of Delightful Precipice, a similar orchestra but  now with nineteen 
musicians and without the string section, features several ex-Loose Tubes performers 
such as saxophonists Iain Ballamy , Mark Lockheart and Julian Arguelles ,
flautist Eddy Parker and trumpeter Chris Batchelor , as well as instruments such as
french horn, tuba and violin. 
The orchestra undertook a major tour in the UK and Europe in the autumn             
of 1993 concluding with a date at the prestigious Berlin JazzFest relayed            
 live across Germany by television and radio. Since then they have toured             
Europe and the UK with performances at the Koln Triennal in Germany,            
 Jazz an der Donau in Vilshofen in Germany, Vooruit Festival in Gent            
 in Belgium, London Jazz Festival in the UK, Saalfelden Jazz Festival            
"Delightful Precipice exuded joyous, humane, witty and quite uncategorisable             
music mingling circus rythms with heavy-rock, football chants, fast            
 bop and some highly original composing"
Venue Magazine 1996  
"Delightful Precipice was propelled by a desire to play which provoked             
three encores"
The Guardian 1994 
"Delightfully different musical approach"
Le Monde, France 1994  
BACK TO TOP 
 

Quiet Nights

Django Bates' latest project, was created in Copenhagen in March 1997 as part of Django's 1997 Jazzpar Prize concert series. It is an unusually calm and contemplative group which interprets songs like Speak Low , Over the Rainbow and Quiet Nights ,      in a fresh way.

The group was formed of Django's regular quartet Human Chain with Django on        keyboards/Eb horn, Iain Ballamy on saxophones, Michael Mondesir on electric bass, Martin France on percussion and featuring young Swedish singer Josephine Crønholm.

Since the Jazzpar Prize , Quiet Nights has performed at the Køln Musik Triennale in Germany, the Jazz Encounters Festival at the Wigmore Hall in London and at the Harrogate International Festival.

This is a side of Django rarely heard; soft, intricate, reflective and intensely peaceful...

Quiet Nights was recorded in August 1997 and released in November 1998 on the Screwgun label .

DJANGO  BATES: Quiet Nights

(1998) (Screwgun SC 70007)

1. Speak Low (9:12)

Weill/Nash - Warner Chapell Music, Ltd

2. Teach Me Tonight ( 3:11)

Paul/Cahn - Global Music Ltd./Westnimster Music Ltd

3. And the Mermaid Laughed (3:21)

Bates/Ballamy/Mondesir/France/Cronholm - prs

4. Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars (3:14)

Jobim/Lees - Antonio Carlos Jobim MCA Music Ltd.

5. Hi Lili Hi Lo (4:06)

Raper/Deutsh - EMI United Partnership Ltd.

6. Solitude (5:07)

Ellington/DeLange/Mills - Lafleur Music Ltd

7. Like Someone in Love (2:58)

Van Heusen/Burke - Chappel-Morris Ltd.

8. Is There Anyone Up There? (5:47)

Bates - prs

9. Over the Rainbow (6:36)

Arlen/Marburg - EMI United Partnership Ltd.

All  songs arranged by all of the musicians:

Django Bates: keyboards, peck horn, distant voice on "Rainbow"

Iain Ballamy: saxophone, bass harmonica, lipo-sax

Michael Mondesir : electric bass

Martin France: wooden and electric drums, percussion

Josefine Cronholm: voice, Tibetan bell

BACK TO TOP