Get The Blessing in Disguise

Get the Blessing
Get the Blessing
Share this article

Portishead’s Jim Barr remarked that Get The Blessing were the punk entry when they won the BBC Jazz Award for their much heralded album, All Is Yes.

“Somebody called us Jazz-Zeppelin and we all enjoyed that,” joked Portishead rhythm master Barr, who formed the Bristolian jazz-rock quartet with bandmate Clive Deamer.

“When we were given that jazz prize there was a feeling we were intruding on the traditional jazz scene, and some purists were a bit sniffy.

“We’ve played gigs and people have walked out because it wasn’t trad., but I think we’ve won them over.”

Get The Blessing wear their jazz credentials lightly but defiantly and Portishead’s trip hop sound is fused deep into their work.

“Our music packs an emotional punch, and is also readily accessible,” he added.

“We just try and push the boundaries out – but we are definitely total outsiders.”

Get the Blessing’s latest offering – Lope and Antilope – swerves away from their previous three albums as it makes use of sounds collected whilst on the road but crucially, is almost improvised.

“we did the album in an empty pottery shop in Wales,” he added. “With nothing written, everything on the album came out of four days of improvising.

“The starting point was often experimentation with sound effects, both acoustic and electric, to which a groove would be added, then a tune, or a solo and so forth.

“It was the culmination of four days of recording, three years of gigging and twelve years of drinking tea and gin.”

And all of this despite other commitments for the Get The Blessing team, not least Deamer’s recruitment as Radiohead’s second live drummer a couple of years ago.

Deamer has also worked with Roni Size and Robert Plant, and was introduced by Radiohead leader Thom Yorke when the super group made a surprise appearance at Glastonbury.

“Radiohead were playing Kings of Limb, pretty much for the first time, and it was incredible to be involved in that,” said Deamer.

So how do Get The Blessing juggle the logistics of two influential bands?

“It can be tricky. There’s a lot going on in all our lives,” said saxophonist Jim McMurchie. “I like to think both their hearts (Deamer and Barr) are with Get The Blessing.

“Portishead is such a big operation they tend to tour in concentrated blocks of time so Pete Judge (trumpeter) and I just work on other projects in those periods.

“We all have very diverse listening habits. There are a few corner-stones we all admire and aspire to, especially with composition – Radiohead, Bowie, Wayne Shorter, Ornette Coleman, but we’re just as likely to refer to a book or a film or a particularly good meal as a reference point.

“When we write, we’re more concerned about the emotional impact on the listener than on the musical process, so we’ll often discuss the purpose, context and atmosphere of a tune and what it evokes for us.”

Get The Blessing. Clitheroe Grand Theatre, March 29. £14 advance. 01200 421599.

Tony Dewhurst