Sunday, October 22, 2006

Interview to Alan Hawkshaw

It is roughly 15 years that I delight in selecting, collecting and proposing in the clubs this sound that mixes various sounds such as jazz, Bossa Nova, orchestral r’n’b from the end of the 60’s, soul funk, oriental influences in jazz music, rare grooves, soundtracks, themes and many other kinds of music that has been produced in a range of time that goes from the middle of the 60’s to the beginning of the 70’s. As it is a rather vast subject, after many years spent amongst such sounds there has risen in me the need to define it all with just one definition… thus was born ‘The Soul Beat’, a column where I will touch on, from time to time, all of the above mentioned genres! I will start off by telling you about the so called ‘library’ music, re-discovered recently and created by labels that, giving a free hand to better and less known composers, produced themes (with the help of the cream of session men of the time) that were used as background music for radio or television spots. The labels in questions were CONROY, MONTPARNASSE 2000, DE WOLFE, TELEMUSIC, BURTON, the most famous KPM and many others, Italian also, with whom collaborated names of the calibre of Umiliani, Morricone and Alessandroni! The re-discovery came about around 94 when three English DJ’s, with their “The Sound Gallery” compilation, brought back in a big way great grooves and great composers. It was however the DJ’s from Blow Up in London who found the skein in the web by launching “Exclusive Blends” that put into evidence the KPM label, putting up the prices even to this day (and who knows for how much longer)… Think about it a KPM could cost anything up to £150! The sound was very varied and touched on easy listening, pop, jazz, Bossa, beat, jazz funk and soul but it also wasn’t rare to find some ethnic or experimental sounds. There is nothing better now than to give you a run down of some of the more significant KPM’s that I have picked up throughout Europe or the most significant composers starting off with the mythical Alan Hawkshaw, an organist who composed, together with Keith Mansfield and Alan Parker in the KPM ‘green’ or ‘1000’ series, the most costly and sought after pieces, “Move Move Move”, “Soul Organ Impromptu”, “Beat Me Till I’m Blue”, “Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde Park”, “Senior Thump” or “The Storm”, some of which are contained on a very rare and very expensive album from the Mohawks (1968 – PAMA Records) where Hawkshaw played under the The Hawk name, re-discovered in the 80’s becoming celebrated with that organ riff “The Champ” that made hip-hop history (see KRS ONE and others). Many groups today, such as Corduroy, Jtq or Big Boss Men, have clearly been influenced by the ‘KPM Big beat’, also many DJ’s and collectors search for these pieces in places such as on line auctions in an effort to enrich their own collections, to drive the floors wild and, above all, to have new samples of drums, bass and various grooves… For those who are looking for KPM I will list a few titles: The Essential KPM’s 1000 series > Flamboyant Themes Vol. I, II, III, IV, Gentle Sound Vol. I, Flute For Moderns, Accent On Percussion, The Big Beat Vol. I and Vol. II, Music For A Young Generation, The Sound Of Pop, Beat Incidental and Colours In Rhythm. The Essential Composers > Alan Hawkshaw, Alan Parker, Alan Moorhouse, Keith Mansfield, Syd Dale, Johnny Pearson, Ray Cameron, David Lindup, Johnny Hawksworth.

After a lot of researching i get in touch with Alan Hawkshaw , one of my KPM and Organ player heroes .
I decide to ask him some questions about that music , that period and other things
Alan Hawkshaw were rediscovered in the mid 90's by Blow Up's DJ's for the " Exclusive Blends " Compilations .
Hawkshaw were one of the most wanted Organists during the Library music recordings period in the 60's till mid 70's and he’s still riding now days .
He recorded more than 7000 tracks for labels like KPM , Bruton Music , Music House etc . He was the leader of the mithic band called " Mohawks " , his 60's and 70's recordings are sold today up to 300 UKP and his riffs were sampled by loads of Hip Hop bands .His style is unmistakable songs like " Move Move Move " , " The Champ " , " Beat me till i'm Blue ", "Pepsi " , "Hot Pants", " L.S.D " , "Piccadilly night ride " are now masterpieces .
I had a chat with him trying to understand more about this man wich is not so easy to get informations about


Lets talk about the Mohawks , how did they born and who were the Mohawks ?we have so less informations about them .

The Mohawks was a scratch session of various well known session
musicians of which I was one. There was no actual band called the
Mohawks. My name on the record is Morris Hawk. Its that simple.

Which musicians did influence you at the beginning of your career ?

Musicians that influenced me early in pre-teens would have been Fats
Waller, Benny Payne, who are both pianists. Jazz pianists continued
to influence me right into my teens and beyond including Oscar
Peterson, George Shearing, Bill Evans, E rrol Garner.

How the relationship between you and KPM started?

An introduction to Robin Phillips who was head of KPM in 1962 by Guy
Fletcher . This led to a long association with Robin through various
other library companies including Music House and Bruton Music.

How do you define the end of 60'S KPM/ Mohawks sound , R'n'B , Pop ...

The Funky sound began to change during the early seventies as other
forms of popular music began to take shape. That it has been revived
in the 21st century is a mystery to me but I am flattered that this
gendre of music has sustained itself all these years.

How the relationship with Keith Mansfield started ?

Keith Mansfield met in the mid sixties while I was still in a rock
group called The Original Checkmates. He used me on most if not all
of his recording session from the mid sixties into the late seventies.

What about the Swinging London feeling we get listening to "Move Move Move" or "Soul Organ Showcase" album . Is still London Swinging now days?

I would say that the term Swinging London applies to the sixties
period. That decade was quite different than any other decade in that
it contained the tidle wave of the Beatles and the subsequent
Liverpool sound plus people were more aware of fashion. Hot Pants,
Flower Power were all part of the culture of that time and with the
advent of boutiques in fashion streets such as Carnaby Street the
term Swinging London encompassed all these elements. It may still be
swinging today but not in the same way as the sixties.

At the Big Beat vol 1/2 recording sessions was you thinking about create music for a spot or an advertisement or to make Youngster dance ?

Big Beat had no ulterior motive other than its energetic content. It
was typical of the music of that period.

You worked with loads of musicians , touching many kind of music , also near Rock things like Rumpletiltskin or the Hawkshaw version of Hair .
How these collaborations happened ?

All the musicians I worked with were part of the London session scene
and we all met on our various day to day sessions, of which I
recorded approximately 7000 during a 13 year period.

What you think about todays Organists wich are inspirate by Hawkshaw Style ?

I am flattered that organists are inspired by my style.

Whats your feeling about knowing that KPM records like "Big Beat vol 2" costs about 200 uk pounds or more?

I know collectors are paying large sums for certain vinyl albums of
the sixties. None of this money ever reaches me by the way.

Did you ever think about a Mohawks / KPM all-stars reunion after the Jazz Cafe success , some years ago?

I'd love to do another Jazz Cafe live concert with the KPM writers
and musicians and this will almost certainly happen within the
forseeable future.

Wich label gived you more creative space ? De Wolfe , KPM , Studio2 ?

KPM was without a doubt the first company to give me free license to
pursue my library writing and playing.

Some days ago KPM all stars played again at Jazz Cafe with a lot of energy and a lot of positive response .

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Free Web Counter
Free Counter