Peter Batten – A Welcome to Peter Ind
Last month Rottingdean celebrated Peter’s arrival as a local resident with an exhibition of his paintings at the Grange Gallery and an evening of jazz music at the Plough Inn. It was good to hear that the arrival of such an outstanding jazz musician in our local community was being recognised. If you look into Peter’s career, his achievement as a person has been far greater than just his remarkable bass playing. I was not able to attend the jazz evening. As an apology I decided to write this tribute, a thank you to Peter for some great moments he has given me…
I first heard about Peter when I was a student. My friend Mike Shera introduced me to several recordings by Lee Konitz and Lennie Tristano. Some of them included Peter on bass. As I learned more about jazz at that time, the 1950s, I realised that Peter was British and that he had managed to establish a successful career as a jazz musician in New York. He was working with some of the finest American jazzers. [For some years I owned an LP where he and his friend Ronnie Ball, a fine jazz pianist, were part of a quartet with Buddy Rich and the great tenor saxophone player Flip Phillips.]
One evening at the end of the 1970s I went to a jazz Club in Surrey to hear the American clarinettist Kenny Davern. To my surprise Peter was playing bass in the supporting trio. His beautiful solos and supporting lines certainly impressed the audience. I had not realised that he was back in the UK. Some ten years later he provided me with some of the most valuable experiences of my life as a jazz fan.
For those, I have to thank his wonderful clubs The Tenor Clef and The Bass Clef. In the early 1990s I managed a short tour for the Irish guitarist, Louis Stewart. Peter booked Louis to play some evenings with him at The Tenor Clef, where they performed as an excellent duo. Louis was able to stay in a flat at the club. I drove him there and enjoyed their partnership. This was a start. My friend the guitarist Shane Hill arranged a workshop for Louis. Shane had written a book about the great guitarist Tal Farlow, with transcriptions, which was published in the USA. A second edition was to appear and Shane had written a short new chapter describing the harmonies used by Tal. To our delight Tal visited London to play at the Tenor Clef. Shane and I arranged to meet him one evening at the club. During the interval Shane showed Tal the new chapter. He gave a wry smile and said “Oh, is that how I do it?”. That evening I enjoyed more great jazz because Tal and Peter also performed as a superb duo. There were other evenings at the Tenor Clef. One stands out among my greatest jazz experiences. I was able to sit a few feet away from one of my favourite jazz pianists, Kenny Barron, while he played some of the finest jazz piano I have ever heard. Peter was on bass and Mark Taylor on drums. It must have been quite a challenge for Peter, but he certainly confirmed his class. One evening, during an interval, I slipped downstairs to check what was going on at The Bass Clef. A duo, piano and tenor sax, were supplying the music. And what a duo: Stan Tracey and Art Themen!
So thank you Peter, for some great music, most of it created by you. For those readers who are not familiar with Peter’s work I would like to offer 3 recommendations. The first is a set of private recordings which Peter made with his great mentor, Lennie Tristano, in 1955-6. These are on Jazz Records CD JR 11 Lennie Tristano; Manhattan Studio. Then I must recommend an outstanding CD which was recorded during one of Kenny Barron’s appearances at the Tenor Clef. It includes a fantastic version of Morning of the Carnival – The Artistry of Kenny Barron Wave CD 34. Finally I want to recommend Peter’s book, Jazz Visions: Lennie Tristano and his Legacy, published by Equinox. It is an essential read for anyone interested in the history of our music.
Peter, our artistic and musical community in Brighton is enriched by your presence.
Photo of Peter Ind by Lisa Wormsley.