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15) Steve Taylor 
Smtaylor@iee.org
Location:
Lancs UK
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Friday, 1 July 2005 08:35 Host: dsl-62-3-71-221.zen.co.uk Write a comment Send E-mail

I was at Leeds Uni in the early 80's when Xero was putting together "the Works" - John Boulton (?) was their drummer and my old flat mate. He introduced me to Xero when he was looking for some new gimmicks for his unicycle I think - We shared a few pints and went on our way. Its amazing 20 years on how vividly I remember him, and just how sad I feel to find out he is gone from us. And if JB is reading this - drop me an email mate.
14) Solomon Robson 
Location:
Bellingen, Australia
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Tuesday, 21 June 2005 18:37 Host: dsl-220-235-97-122.nsw.westnet.com.au Write a comment

.....here's a photo of that unforgettable night at het Damberd which Paul refers to - when Jules Deelder and Xero Slingsby and The Works shared the bill and the audience ate 'em up, as Matthew was fond of saying: "Ate us up, they did!"
13) Paul Feyaerts 
damberd@pandora.be
Location:
Ghent, Belgium
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Tuesday, 21 June 2005 13:58 Host: dsl-220-235-98-197.nsw.westnet.com.au Write a comment Send E-mail

Xero Slingsby

First encounter

Beginning of the 80ties
An unshaven busker is playing the saxophone, one afternoon in ghent center. I pass by the man in a ragged t-shirt, playing a ragged sax. 3 steps further I realize he’s playing the riff from Haitian fight song by Charles Mingus. I invite him to come and do this in our jazzcafé het Damberd. This was the start of a collaboration until his death. Once or twice a year he showed up with a band of musicians with a high street credibility-alloy, resulting in the incredible, not yet equalled trio XERO SLINGSBY & THE WORKS, feat. Louis Colan on electric bass (and sometimes on an acoustic one, it served in the Boer War in South Africa), and Gene Velocette, who deserves his nickname without a doubt, delivering speedy and hard beat rhythm. They gained the status of a cult group, not necessary to hang out a poster, one whisper at the bar “Xero is playing next Tuesday” and the place was jam-packed. The highlight of the many gigs was their performance with the ill-famed, punk avant la letter - poet, the self-declared and undisputed night mayor of Rotterdam, Jules Deelder. This gig became one of pillars of the mythical genesis of het Damberd



Arrested for murder

Matthew always showed up with a mean looking, low budget band. Betty, who worked behind the bar, gave them a place to sleep in her apartment. Next morning the police brutally woke them up, a man was found dead, murdered, on the porch of the building. They were all arrested and taken the the police office for an interview. Especially the black drummer (sorry, I forgot your name) was very suspect. Luckily, the case was quickly solved, no gigs were cancelled.


Out of tune

During breaks, Matthew used to socialise next to the stage. A conservatory student, very impressed by his fierce playing, asked if he might try the saxophone, probably to check out where this incredible tone came from. After playing a few notes, the student gave the sax back, saying this instrument was out of tune, too low. Matthew calmly took the sax, put it in his mouth and by force of his breath, played the notes right. That’s the way you play my sax, he said.

One more:

One night a close -by cultural centre invited steve lacy’s quintet. He was interviewed in our café.

There he met matthew and steve promised to drop in later after his concert. We all silently hoped steve would jam with matthew. But after hearing the band for some minutes, steve said: that saxist must have eaten a lot of beef and his sopranosax stayed in his case.
12) Denis Dalby 
denisdalby@tiscali.co.uk
Location:
Leeds, West Yorkshire, UK.
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Tuesday, 21 June 2005 00:47 Host: dial-80-47-130-185.th.lond.access.as9105.com Write a comment Send E-mail

Memories of Matthew Part II

I find it hard to pin down things in the last few years of Matthew's life. There are certain dates... certain events which serve as some kind of chronology and the best I can do is relate my story to those dates.

As I said in Part I, I left Oak Fisheries in Headingley to open a florist shop across the road from the University, lots of people thought we were crazy, so did I after I realised that buying flowers meant getting up at least for 6am every day to go to the market and working until 6pm the same day six days a week... but at least I didn't smell of Webster's Beef Dripping!

Two years before in October '84 Leeds Jazz was formed by a group of local enthusiasts tired of trailing to Manchester, Newcastle and other foreign parts just to see some quality American jazz. There was an open meeting at the Trades Club in Chapletown to hear what people thought. Well Matthew let us know what he thought didn't he, not a shy lad our Matthew when it came to expressing an opinion. He thought... that it should be all about promoting local musicians which was OK but not what we had in mind. I should say that I didn't join the Leeds Jazz committee until December of that year and was an interested observer at the initial meeting.

Matthew was fairly ambivalent where Leeds Jazz was concerned, he would come to gigs if he wasn't working himself and would hold court around the bar keeping everyone entertained with stories of his exploits in Europe.
On one occasion I had to ask him to keep quiet during some guy's ballad solo... I think it was Pete King, he let me have it with both barrels saying that we shouldn't be putting on 'old guys who are just Charlie Parker clones' and that we should be putting on some music that they could dance to. It was there that I first saw him after his return from the fated Dortmund trip, I think he still had his head bandaged, recounting how "they've taken half me #@*%!in' brain away..." and variations on that theme. I think he eventually started doing the Adelphi gigs again which were one of the highlights of the week for me. They were such a tight trio and inventive with it, throwing in bits of theatrical business and crazy antics. His pandimoniphone was a thing to behold, a frame of slotted angle iron, bedecked with all manner of bells, whistles and sirens. Louis and John would often go 'walkabout' around the audience and Louis seemed to be able to play his bass in every conceivable position imaginable and quite a few inconceivable ones too!
They eventually did a Christmas party gig to a packed Trades Club audience for Leeds Jazz on 19 December '87 which was a great success.

In the Summer of '87 writer Ben Watson asked me to go with him to take some photos for an article he was preparing for Wire magazine about Xero Slingsby and the Works. I think Ben had been lobbying furiously for the chance and he and Richard Cook, the then editor of Wire deserve much credit for doing a feature on what was after all a 'local' band, although they had a massive following on the Continent.
We spent about two hours at Sally and Matthew's place on Thornville Road and I just took shots as I saw them while Ben probed Matthew and the guys for stories. I have to say they didn't need much probing and we had a great night fortified by nothing more than Red Zinger tea as I remember, Matthew was on a health food diet by then with no booze but he seemed his normal zaney self.
At one point we went outside to try and get some street atmosphere and I posed them, all with great Cheshire cat grins, in front of the old wooden Baptist chuch that used to be just up the road from their house. Matthew picked up a flattened beer can from the gutter and posed holding it in front of him like some trophy while I lay down on the road to get an unusual perspective for the shot.

I was really pleased with the photos I took that night... one of trio in the kitchen, in the shadow and light of the venetian blind worked well, but my favourite was one of Matthew alone, threequarter face, looking down in an uncharacteristically quiet mood. It was the one Wire used for Ben's article... and would be the one they used for his obituary too.

The article was published in Wire issue 42 August '87 edition, it flew the flag for life outside London and gave a boost to the local scene.

I saw Matthew less and less as his condition deteriorated, I can remember seeing him at a gig by 'Lester Bowie's Brass Fantasy' at the Astoria in June '88. There was a good turnout to see this famous American from 'The Art Ensemble of Chicago' with his new band. Then I suddenly saw Matthew being pushed through the audience in a wheelchair to the front of the audience. I was so pleased to see him and I bounced over and said cheerfully, "Hey Matthew, great to see you, how are you?" As soon as the words left my mouth I wanted the floor to open up and swallow me, it was such a crass thing to say.
He acknowledged me quietly and went on to watch the gig. I felt awful and just couldn't concetrate on the music, in fact I left early.
That was the last time I ever saw Matthew.

All during this time we building up the florist business and it was amazing how people who had been customers at the fish and chip shop just transferred their loyalty to the new venture, confident that we would provide a reliable service. We did weddings for kids, now grown up, who had come in the shop with their parents, we did the flowers for Paul and Therese Hession's wedding too!
When Matthew lost the fight against his illness in August of '88 Sally came to ask if we would do some flowers for the funeral. Joan made a floral tribute with the shape of a sax picked out in red roses against a white background. There were also two arrangements of purple orchids - Matthews favourite colour - in two corners of the piece.
It was a small consolation to me for the insensitive way I had greeted him that night at the Astoria and Sally was pleased with the flowers too.

I have never been to a funeral like Matthew's before and probably never will again. I arrived at Lawnswood Cemetary gates with two friends just as the hearse was arriving and was immediately caught up in a procession that had formed behind the hearse. Leading the cortege were about 10 to 20 musicians, I knew quite a few of them but wouldn't like to name them all for fear of leaving anyone out and they began to play - like some New Orleans Jazz band following the cortege - quietly at first, then gradually building as we got nearer to the remembrance chapel. As we drew up to the chapel they exploded into a massive free jazz jam and then there was a minute or two of silence before we followed the coffin into the chapel.

Two things stand out about the service, first Sally's wonderful valediction for Matthew, a mixture of emotions, happy and sad and all through it Sally was so composed and calm, amazing !
And then the playing of Matthew's recording of 'Somewhere over the Rainbow'. After the service there was a fantastic feeling of serenity and respect.

We were invited to the wake, held apropriately at the Adelphi, where Xero Slingsby and the Works had given so much pleasure to to so many people.
There was beer and food and it seemed that everyone wanted to tell their own story about Matthew. There were a lot of laughs too, I'm sure he would have approved.
11) Solomon Robson 
sr@solomonrobson.com
Location:
Bellingen, NSW, Australia
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Monday, 6 June 2005 18:30 Host: dsl-220-235-110-224.nsw.westnet.com.au Write a comment Send E-mail

Here is Denis' photographic portrait of Matthew......
10) Denis Dalby 
denisdalby@tiscali.co.uk
Location:
Leeds, West Yorkshire
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Sunday, 5 June 2005 05:27 Host: dial-80-47-242-212.th.lond.access.as9105.com Write a comment Send E-mail

Memeories of Matthew.

From 1967 to 1986 I had a fish and chip shop in the heart of the Headingley student area near the Skyrack and Oak pubs.
Headingley was much more mixed than the predominently student population of today and a very cosmopoliton mix of artists, musicians, sportsmen,lecturers and students from the nearby University formed a large part of my custom.

This was an amazing period of alternative culture and I was used to every kind of outrageous behaviour and appearence in and around the shop, so when I first began to see... be aware... of Matthew with his Mohican haircut and then when he had a star shaved into his hair, just two among many of his quirky hairstyles, he seemed to be just another part of that culture. I can't remember the first time we met, so to speak, he just became part of my Headingley experience. At first it was just the sight of him carrying or dragging (he had a kind of shopping trolley carriage at one time) his alto around; always with his alto... going to busk or on the way to gig or... or...just in case. Then I would see him at gigs in the pubs around there. The Royal Park was a regular venue, in the upstairs room. It didn't have to be his gig either, he would just turn up and start to play, this, before The Works was formed.

One vivid memory if this was at the old Tartan Bar at the Leeds University Union. The Don Weller Quartet were doing a gig there and Matthew turned up at half time and asked Don if he could sit in with the band. Don was less than enthusiastic and politely said no. Matthew, undeterred, after the break, sat on the front row, took out his sax and proceeded to jam along, totally absorbed. It didn't take Weller - a big dour guy - to suggest that maybe Matthew should take his sax and leave, in the strongest terms. Matthew just shrugged and smiled, he had a wonderfully disarming smile did Matthew, and left.

One time he came into the shop and asked me to put up a flier for an event he was trying to organise. He wanted to set up a jam for 200 or so sax players at the Belle Vue Community Centre nearby. "Just imagine" he said "200 saxes blowin' like mad, all in one place. I've written some music for it too". When I saw the date for the proposed extravaganza was April 1st I queried it but was met with "No, honest, it's gonna be great". As I was heavily into photography at the time I thought what a brilliant opportunity it would be for some unique shots and I turned up at the appointed time.

He had put fliers all over Leeds asking for people to take part, a fair number did turn up including Chris "Snake" Davis, the now quite famous soul sax man and also a fair few from the Leeds College of Music. Matthew didn't turn up of course and he was unapologetic about the whole thing when I tackled him about it after... "Well, it was April 1st", he said "what did you expect".

After 19 mad years in that fish and chip shop I sought what I thought would be the relatively peaceful and sweeter smelling surroundings of a flower shop I opened with my wife Joan opposite the University. We put an advert in the LOP, "Denis and Joan, late of Oak Fisheries, now smelling of roses at Dalby's Florist opposite the University". And it was there that we were to have a more piognant connection with Matthew, but more of that some other time.

I have enjoyed being part of the tribute wall, Matthew was a special person and let's not forget Sally, who was such a tower of strength when he needed her most.
9) Richard Underhill 
rich@richardunderhill.com
Location:
Canada
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Wednesday, 11 May 2005 16:43 Host: dsl-220-235-97-140.nsw.westnet.com.au Write a comment Send E-mail

I remember Matthew..Xero Slingsby to us, from a breezy summer day in Amsterdam. We had just blown into A'dam and were busking on the Dam Square, a perfect spot, we thought. Xero and his lads checked us out for a tune or two and then came up and showed us what 'Amsterdam Rules' were all about. 'You lot almost finished? ' he said, 'We got a set to do today too, you know..' The 'you lot' in question were 4 maurauding buskers from Toronto called the Shuffle Demons. Freshly attired in a colourful African wardrobe from Paris, we had 3 saxes and a kids drum kit for portability and were wailing away on Dam Square, trying to fend off the amplified folk singers, hordes of pigeons and begging junkies so that we could play a set. We begrudgingly did another tune, rotting that we'd only just got started, but these English lads looked like they meant business... and we'd heard about the soccer hooligans....Moments after our last note they were set up and began honking out 'Shove It' for the newly assembled crowd. We stood in awe of the power of Matthew, Louis and Gene, the most kick ass trio we'd ever heard on the street...or almost anywhere!


That chance encounter started a fast friendship that carried on through our short Dutch tenure that summer of 1985. Xero Slingsby and the Works were in town to do a gig at the Bimhuis, so we followed them there, and got more than we bargained for. The show was a sonic stew of tank commander throat mics, sirens, effects and some really great earthy, organic, #@*%!ed up sax playing, not to mention a great rhythm section, upside down bass player and all. We were blown away by the boys at Bimhuis and sat in for a couple of tunes with much enthusiasm.


We hung out a bit more in Amsterdam, doing a few street jams, and getting off on each others playing.We promised to send each other records and Matthew sent me his album which I religiously played on my college jazz program.


Eventually we lost touch and it took us many years to get back to Europe. Through Louis and Gene we heard of Matthew's passing and it was a real blow to us. As often happens, the strongest fires burn out quickly.


On a tour in 1992, we played a set at the Irish Centre for Leeds Jazz and did 'Shove It' for the crowd in tribute to our fallen friend. He made such a big impression on us in such a short time. And we'll always remember how emotionally moved the audience was by our gesture and our performance of Matthew's signature tune.


Matthew, we miss you but we'll always remember your balls to the wall sax playing and incredibly honest, go for it attitude. If we can knock down half as many walls as you, we'll be happy.


The Shuffle Demons.


Demon Rich Underhill
Demon Stich Wynston
Demon Dave Parker
Demon Mike Murley
8) Dru Cutpint 
cutpint@yahoo.com
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Tuesday, 10 May 2005 17:53 Host: 69-50-191-98.esthost.com Write a comment Send E-mail

Hi this is a very informative site! It's nice on the whole but it seems that the navigation system is a little bit confusing. and some pages(interact) can't fit in to a 800x600 screen ... i have to scroll left and right to read all the text. I agree with Roy Forrest that more pictures could be added too. But on the whole it's great! I wish you guys good luck!
7) Solomon Robson 
sr@solomonrobson.com
Location:
Australia
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Thursday, 5 May 2005 07:15 Host: dsl-220-235-97-116.nsw.westnet.com.au Write a comment Send E-mail

....and here is some music written by Matthew for Walter, which Walter has kindly supplied. Cheers Walter - all the best, Solomon
6) Walter 
walter.stevens@pandora.be
Location:
Gent-Belgium
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Thursday, 5 May 2005 05:02 Host: dD576C898.access.telenet.be Write a comment Send E-mail

Hello,
A very nice site, i must say! I used to know Matthew very well some 20 years ago. He arrived in Gent some (sunny?)day in June 1981. I was having a pub with a stage in those days, and invited them to come back in July for the "Gentse Feesten" a 10 day music and everything-else festival that is taking place every year (3th week of July) in Gent. And they came back. Stayed in Gent (on the second floor, above my pub) for that whole period (and maby longer) played a lot of gigs in different pubs. After that, they kept coming back, well Matthew came back, not allways with the same musicians, it was still a few years before "The Works". That first year they were 4, Matthew, Richard and Richard, and i can't remember the name of the fourth musician -sorry!
I had my pub until end 1983, and after that Matthew even asked my to be his manager, he had some trouble keeping his finances healthy, but at that time of my life i didn't really was up to the adventure, somehow i allways think about it with some regret.
Anyway, it was nice to read about Matthew and what he did and what he meant to some of us. Thanks for putting up this site!
Walter
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