The Jazz Doctors – Intensive Care: Prescriptions Filled – The Billy Bang Quartet sessions 1983/1984
For the first time on CD/Digital here is the Jazz Doctors session from 1983 that was released on LP as Intensive Care, with the session recorded the following year that was intended for release as Prescriptions Filled, but was never issued, at last made available.
The Jazz Doctors Bonus Material
The connection between the Billy Bang quartet and John Jack at Cadillac Records probably originated with John’s recording of the great New York tenor player David Murray that resulted in The London Concert (SGCCD08/09) in 1978 in London, and the licence of Conceptual Saxophone (SGC1007), recorded in Paris in the same year. The connection resulted in an introduction to Billy and when his quartet, under the name of the Jazz Doctors, came to the UK on tour, John was keen to record them – so keen that, according to Ogun Records’ Hazel Miller, “John overpaid them out of his own pocket!” Whatever the arrangement, John was extremely proud of the album recorded in November of 1983 at Peter Ind’s Wave Studio in Hoxton Square, London (Bass player, club and label owner Peter is another casualty of this story, sadly passing in 2021). Intensive Care was released in 1984 in time for the group’s follow up tour.
The much missed promoter and music activist Anthony Wood brought the Billy Bang Quartet back to these shores in October 1984, this time with bassist Wilber Morris (who played with Pharoah Sanders and many others) and the then Art Ensemble of Chicago drummer, Thurman Barker replacing Charles and Garrett (allegedly the changes had followed an altercation between Bang and Charles on the bandstand at a Wuppertal gig on the 25th October 1983). The group appeared at Wood’s innovative Actual Festival at the Bloomsbury Theatre in London before embarking on a UK tour. The first stage was organised by Jazz North and featured gigs at the Leadmill, Sheffield (17th), Band on the Wall, Manchester (18th), Bradford Hotel, Liverpool (19th) and Leeds Trades Club (20th), tickets sold for the princely sum of £3.50 (£3.00 concessions). Then back to London’s 100 club on the 21st and on to Cardiff (26th) and Norwich (27th). John Jack of Cadillac and Hazel Miller promoted the tour and during the four down days in London between 22nd-25th arranged to record the band again at Peter Ind’s Wave Studios.
However, the resulting recording, slated for release as Prescriptions Filled, remained unissued. Rumours suggested there had been a technical issue, and by the time of John Jack’s death in 2017 the tapes that were left only included half the recording session (the full session is listed in Billy Bang’s handwriting on some scraps of paper in the archive). Sadly, there the trail ends and we’ll never hear ‘Hocuspocus’ (Thurman Barker), ‘Pooch Walks’ (Wilber Morris), ‘Local Colours’ (Frank Lowe) or the title track ‘Prescriptions Filled’ (Billy Bang), unless they surface in some of the live recordings that exist out there. But we do have the otherwise unrecorded ‘Suite For Gamma’ by Billy Bang, running to 22 minutes, which would’ve formed the heart of the prospective album, and some idiosyncratic covers by the quartet. We’ve not been able to discover the tour set list, but it seems likely that these tracks formed the heart of it.
Billy Bang – Violin
Frank Lowe – Tenor Sax
Wilber Morris – Bass
Thurman Barker – Drums, Piano
Recorded: Wave Studios, London 8th, 15th, 17th Nov 1983
Engineer, Mixed By – Charles Gray
Mastered By – George Peckham
Producer, Mixed By – John Jack
Recorded: Wave Studios, London 23rd Oct 1984
Engineer – Martin Giles