Sunbird (album)

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This a quartet album of Gordon’s tunes, featuring Allan on electric and acoustic guitar, and violin, Gordon on acoustic and electric piano, Jean-François Jenny-Clark on acoustic bass and Aldo Romano on drums. The music is mostly acoustic jazz, flavored by Gordon’s soulful style. Allan does a good job, but does not really sound at home all the time. Their later duo album “Things You See” has better chemistry.

Allan Holdsworth: An interview (Atavachron 1994)

CH: Yeah, let’s move on... I want to kind of move on and talk a little bit. Gordon’s going to be involved in the next album, and you were telling me that you really hadn’t had a chance to make a real album with Gordon. What do you mean by that?

AH: Well, everything that I’ve ever done with Gordon has been... has had some problems for me, one way or another. Either I didn’t know the music before it was done, like when we did "Sunbird"-we did the music before; it wasn’t music that I was familiar with, or a style of music that I [was comfortable with at the time]... By the end of the tour, at least I’d figured out how I could work my way through it [the changes]. But the album was recorded before the tour, which was disappointing for me. I felt that I liked it but that I sounded really bad on it. And that was my main reason. And everything that we’ve ever done together has been like that for me; I’ve never felt comfortable. So what I wanted to do is at least have the chance to be comfortable with the music before we recorded one. And I have such a respect for him, you know, he’s an unbelievable musician-that I just would look forward to having a chance to do that.

No Secrets (Facelift 1994)

AII of which paints a picture quite different to the one of obvious harmony between him and Gordon Beck. Despite their obvious affinity in Nucleus, their partnership was first really sealed on the 1977 [note: correct year is 1979] album “Sunbird", an uplifting album, deliciously light in touch, but with all the technical mastery both players were renowned for. “The sad thing about that was that we did the album first. My reading’s really bad, and they recorded the album before we did the tour. By the time we’d got through the tour I’d figured everything out, but the album was done!” "Sunbird" also features Allan (briefly) playing violin: "It was the last time I ever played it. I never really played violin - it was just like a hobby. I just went into a music store in Sunderland when I was playing with that Glenn South band and I don’t know why, I was just walking past a junk shop and went in and asked him if he had any old violins. I didn’t see anything - and he went in the back and he came out with this thing - no strings. And it was like 10 shillings or something - no, it was 5 quid. So I fixed it up and got a new bridge made for it and strung it up.

L’hommage de Jean-Marie Salhani à Allan Holdsworth (Guitaremag 2017)

- We're here to pay a tribute to Allan Holdsworth who you've met as a producer, and you were introduced to him by the pianist Gordon Beck. Can you tell us how it was?

- It was very particular. I've already done a first solo album with Gordon Beck and he manifested the desire to record an album with a quartet. He wanted to play with Aldo Romano at the drums and Jean-François Jenny-Clark in the bass, and he had been talking about a guitar player, an alien, a British guitar player who had played with Soft Machine and Gong. I didn't know Allan Holdsworth. I then listen what he had done with Gong. I didn't find the album with Soft Machine at that time. I said yes of course, if you want to have that guitar player with you, and I saw him at the studio Acousti, I think it was late '79, December '79, for the recording of that record, entitled “Sunbird”.

I met Allan for the first time. He came in the studio with a violin. I was surprised to see him with a violin case, and he then came back down, because he had his guitars in the taxi. He also brought a little amp, very heavy, which I had never saw before, it was a Boogie. That brand was popular at the time. It was a small amp which weighed a lot. It needed the two of us to bring it upstairs.

He set up with Gordon and rehearsed for about 20 minutes, and then took the violin. He played on one track, he's playing the melody with the violin. He was a very shy person, very discreet.

In the evening he started to talk in a very surreal manner. We were in another world with J.F., Aldo, Gordon, and me. We spent 3 days in the studio. It was kind of magical because we were very focused on the recording all day long, and the evening it was a bit crazy! We laughed a lot. So we thought we could do a tour and we did for several months, the five of us... well no, six, because there was another person, who is dead now, he is name was Patrick Tandin. He worked at FIP at the time and he was with us as a road manager. He was also a bit surreal too, so there was a very creative atmosphere.

We did something like 30 towns, with what we had. Every night was a different show, none of them were similar. It was a very unique time, I didn't experience that since. Allan was a very special person once we know him and know his music, I have to say that it's difficult to get out of it. It's hard to get out of that mesmerizing feeling. I fully understand the musicians who are in love with his music, and his person. He's someone you can't forget, he's unforgettable. When I heard his passing, like the rest of us, I was crushed, obviously. I didn't think he could die. As matter of fact, he's not dead because fortunately we can listen to his music, every day, every week, every month, as you please we'll listen to him forever. He won't go away.