In the early hours of July 28th 2010 the noted drummer Chris Dagley tragically lost his life in a road accident coming home from his residency as the house drummer at Ronnie Scott’s. Later the same day I wrote this piece with Chris very much in mind.
He was incredibly talented and hard working, but, more than that, he was one of the most generous musicians I have every worked with – always willing to try new ideas, always supportive of composers and fellow musicians alike; always with a ready smile on his lips, he was a joy to know. No star shone more brightly.
Although this is not a jazz album, I wanted to get something of the sense of Chris and his immaculately tasteful playing, so I invited long time friend Mike Smith – himself an eminent drummer – to contribute some colouristic cymbal textures, which he did beautifully in one take.
Typically, though, Mike wasn’t satisfied, and only after we had allowed him to do a couple more takes and some extra overdubs did he declare the performance satisfactory – so very like Chris in the generosity of his talents and his perfectionsim!
The piece is a quartet for cello, tuned percussion and cymbals. It follows a straightforward ternary structure – just as a jazz piece might follow the traditional form ‘head – solos – head’ – with the central section taking the form of a dance in which the cello plays polyrhythmic melodic shapes against the constant 5/4 of the percussion.