Songs of Praise Live!

Babel BDV 2768
released  8th October 2007

The Original Press Release:

Praise be to the donkey
Praise be to the blues
Praise be to Ornette Coleman
Praise to the sadness and to the sunny……

                            ….and praise be to the musician, whose resonance and nuance is literally silenced by the strictures of broadcast and broadband signal compression.

Songs of Praise Live! is six musicians entwining in an emphatic orgy of musicality where every next note is an imprint on the unknown, every bar a step into the void.

Spontaneously directed by Billy Jenkins, the ensemble rides and falls on his ability to pick up on subtle inflections from his players and to capitalise on their instant creativity.

This is real live music making in the raw. And you’re hearing it from within the mixing desk. For the live sound engineer for The Wardrobe, Martin Hudson didn’t know on the night of this concert on 11th October 2006 that his artistry too, would be documented on CD.

Thus, the sound you hear is mercifully far away from the safe, manicured and over produced blandness that makes up most recordings these days.

Everything is inside out. Because Mr Hudson was mixing for the room, the drums are slightly down in the PA mix, here and there a quiet violin becomes overloud. It’s Billy’s take on compression – where loud becomes soft and soft is turned into loud. But it’s of the time, for and with the music.

There’s a method in Billy’s recording madness, but it works. He previously used this ‘closed miked voyeuristic upside down inside out aural experience’ on ‘Mayfest ‘94’, recorded live in Glasgow and released by Babel in 1995.

It was a ‘Jazz CD of the Year’ in The Scotsman. Writing in the Sunday Times, Stewart Lee said ‘…an astonishing display. Sounds like it was conducted by Carl Stalling’.

We need to hear the subtly and intonation of the instrument. You’ll find this recording a slightly alarming but truly honest and attention seeking experience. It truly is the sound of musicians creating.

The musicians are:

Born in the 1950’s – drummer Charles Hayward and guitarist Billy Jenkins
Born in the 1960’s – tuba player Oren Marshall
Born in the 1970’s – trombonist Gail Brand
Born in the 1980’s – saxophonist Nathaniel Facey

and finally - conceived in the 1950’s, but born in the 1970’s – violinist and pocket trumpeter, Dylan Bates…..

‘Songs of Praise’ was conceived to present a  forward looking retrospective of the work of Billy Jenkins in his 50th year. The tour was produced by Simon Thackray and The Shed with funding from the National
Lottery through the Arts Council of England.

The CD contains the following tracks, which were selected and produced by blues guitarist Steve Morrison:


Co written by Ian Trimmer and Billy Jenkins circa 1983. First appeared on 1986 vinyl album 'Uncommerciality Vol 1' (Allmusic ALMS 2), with Iain Ballamy the featured saxophonist. Nathaniel Facey quotes at length here from Ballamy's original recorded solo.

Donkey Droppings

Originally first appeared on vinyl album 'Piano Sketches 1973-84' (Wood Wharf Records WWR 841).Instantly composed in the studio on piano 18th March 1984.  A live version, recorded at the Wiesen Jazz festival in Austria in 1987 with an eight piece band was released on the 1992 'First Aural Art Exhibition' CD (VOTP  VOCD 921).

Blues Is Calling Me

Written in 2001 and recorded for the 2005 solo guitar and voice CD 'When The Crowds Have Gone' (Babel BDV2450).

First Time The Earth Shook

Written 1995. Never recorded before. The joy of consensual first time copulation.

Dancing In Ornette Coleman’s Head

Written 1991 and first issued on the Cassette Collection 'Uncommerciality Vol 3' (VOTP VOCA 914).


Another Trimmer & Jenkins collaboration from 1980. re-titled and reworked by Jenkins in 1994 in response to the Bhopal gas tragedy. First appeared on 1986 vinyl album 'Uncommerciality Vol 1' (Allmusic ALMS 2) along with ‘Brilliant’, with Iain Ballamy the featured saxophonist. Feel the tuba solo. This was Oren Marshall’s first public appearance following the funeral of his father.


The Bobby Hebb tune reworked as an instrumental by Jenkins (‘nice tune – crap lyrics’) for the currently out of print True Love Collection CD (Babel BDV 9821) released in 1998. The original recording featured vocalist Christine Tobin, Django Bates and Dave Ramm on keyboards, saxophonist Iain Ballamy, drummers Martin France and Mike Pickering and The Fun Horns of Berlin.

Blues Stay Away From Me

This old Delmore Brothers penned classic first appeared on the Blues Collective’s 2002 ‘LIFE’ CD (VOTP VOCD 023). It closes this album as it does the Songs of Praise concerts – with the band walking off stage singing with one and all.


Secular worship of a musical kind

No kowtowing to dogma
No kowtowing to ethic
Just kowtowing to being…

Available to purchase via the Billy Jenkins Recordings page now!

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