Songs of Praise Live!

Artist: Billy Jenkins

Date of Release: 08/10/2007

Catalogue no: BDV 2768

Label: Babel

Price: £9.99

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Track Listing









1. Brilliant
2. Donkey Droppings
3. Blues Is Calling Me
4. First Time The Earth Shook
5. Dancing In Ornette Coleman’s Head
6. Bhopal
7. Sunny
8. Blues Stay Away From Me

Recorded very live and dangerous off the desk in October 2006. A 'forward thinking retrospective collection'. Jazz funk, free form danger, corny pop tunes and serious political work all wrapped up with a blanket of blues....

Billy Jenkins - guitar, shouting and singing
Nathaniel Facey - alto saxophone
Dylan Bates - violin
Gail Brand – trombone
Oren Marshall - tuba
Charles Hayward – drums




09/01/2008 www.bbc.co.uk/music

For his 50th birthday tour in 2006, the Reverend Jenkins gathered around him a flock that were comfortable with handling his older, twitchier jazz works, as well as the dirty blues songs that have prevailed over the last decade or more.

The only survivor from Billy's Blues Collective is violinist Dylan Bates, a virtuoso who harnesses a great deal of friction-excitement, capable of traversing just about all the required styles, like Sugar Cane Harris one moment, then Leroy Jenkins the next.

This live blast from Leeds' Wardrobe is captured in full and is digitally pristine without losing its ragged edge. The remaining band line-up arrive from a zone that's more attuned to the old Voice Of God Collective, from an earlier Jenkins testament. Oren Marshall waddles in a New Orleans direction, his huffing tuba seducing old This Heat drummer Charles Hayward into an appropriate shuffling bounciness.

Trombonist Gail Brand is normally found in a hardcore improvising environment, and Nathaniel Facey is nowadays famed as a member of the swiftly-risen Empirical. Both of these blowers deliver pungent solos, with the latter gaining higher ground with his testifying gospel blues outbursts.

Jenkins happens to deliver even more than his usual quota of combustive guitar scribbles, with the opening signature tune "Brilliant" highlighting both himself and Facey in a searing duel to the death. Less parody, and more aggression than much of Billy's recent material? Well, there's still plenty of humour sheafed between the soloing pyrotechnics.

Jenkins still slips in a few ragged-voiced blues numbers, pushing them to the limit, as Marshall makes didjeridu drones, then it's a crazed stumble through "Dancing In Ornette Coleman's Head", as complexity reigns in a harmolodic hoe-down. Suddenly, ludicrously, they all make a manic strut through "Sunny": composed by Bobby Hebb, but popularised by Boney M, amongst many others.

This latest Jenkins crew is an oddball dream combo, specially designed to appeal to other oddballs, and Songs Of Praise is the best Billy Jenkins album of this Millennium so far. It's as if Chris Barber had a funny turn...

Martin Longley


12/10/2007 Evening Standard

Preacher's son Billy is an extremely irreverent live performer with anger-fuelled wit. Composer of such biting ballads as Bhopal, Donkey Droppings and Dancing in Ornette Coleman's Head, Lewisham's thrash-guitar satirist is also a shrewd talent scout.

Iain Ballamy and Django Bates figured in his early Voice of God Collective, and altoist Nathaniel Facey is blossoming in the present line-up. Accustomed to 10-minute workouts with Tomorrow's Warriors, this driven youngster makes every note count during his brief solos here and the results are stunning.

Trombonist Gail Brand, drummer Charles Hayward, tuba virtuoso Oren Marshall and Django's violinist brother Dylan Bates all add freshness to Billy's vocals. You'll be hooked.


Jack Massarik


07/10/2007 The Sunday Times

Jenkins has provided apprenticeships for big-name British jazz musicians while remaining too unpredictable, innovative and entertaining to enjoy his protégés’ subsequent success.

Now in his 50th year, he has a new band that melds three decades of cross-genre experimentation into a seam-splitting whole. The drummer Charles Hayward drove the egghead postpunks This Heat; the tuba-player Oren Marshall and the trombonist Gail Brand represent the new generation of free improvisers; the saxophonist Nathaniel Facey and the violinist Dylan Bates are more conventional jazz players.

Jenkins bellows field-hand hollers as wild extemporisations bounce out of blues riffs, pebble-dashed by his hyperkinetic guitar scree. The punk-blues king of the Lewisham delta is back.


Stewart Lee


01/10/2007 jazzwise magazine

'Through the high-energy aural chaos and laughter, the acerbic wit and wisdom of Jenkins' very English take on the great (American) blues tradition has never sounded in such fine fettle.'


Mike Flynn


29/09/2007 The Times

One of the great mysteries of British life – along with the disappearance of the sparrow and why anyone takes Boris Johnson seriously – is the failure of Jenkins’s music to galvanise the public. This live set by the guitarist, comedian and bowls enthusiast is one of the finest of his long career.

With a crack band featuring sax, trombone, tuba and violin, he ranges from the punk-jazz of Brilliant and Donkey Droppings to the gospel wail of Blues is Calling Me. Bhopal is a haunting change of mood before a ska version of the corny old pop tune Sunny, featuring string-scalding axe virtuosity. The wayward world of Jenkins has never sounded more enticing.


John Bungey


18/08/2007 www.vortexjazz.co.uk

'Featuring one of the Bromley bluesman's most inspired bands, this album preserves what sounds to have been a great gig, at Leeds's Wardrobe, for posterity. Like much of Jenkins's work, Songs of Praise is deadly serious at heart.'

Chris Parker / CD Reviews


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