SELF-TAUGHT Born in Watford, Hertfordshire, Jamie Revell didn't pick up a guitar until he
was 18. Academic musical experience has been variable. Early School : told he couldn't "skip"
in Country Dancing (the shame). Later School: No appreciable talent for music (I agreed).
Started a degree in Aeronautical Engineering at Southampton University, but discovered the
guitar and other distractions, which brought the curtains down on his trip to outer space. Finally,
got a BA in Music from Middlesex University, but was kicked off the Instrumental faculty for poor
sight-reading skills. (In those days - c1986, it seemed all you had to do was turn up with an
instrument case to get in. If I'd've known, I wouldn't have worked out 'Trane's "Giant Steps" solo
for the audition. No, I probably would've.) Anyway, they perversely allowed him to make up the
module by fulfilling a long time dream: Playing Bartok's 2nd Violin Concerto in his arrangement
for guitar & piano, in a duo with Composer and Pianist Walter Fabeck.
THE GUITAR Like many self-taught guitarists, Jamie's early experiences were watching other
players, trying to remember what they were doing, and making lots of mistakes before it sounded
OK. The number of guitar instruction books in the 1970's were small, but he picked up some
knowledge through the Joe Pass Books and the Jamey Abersold play-a-long records. Disillusioned
with the lack of kindred spirits at the time and chances to play, he immersed himself in Classical
and 20th Century music, and briefly took up the violin. This led to various guitar tuning experiments,
mainly in symmetrical intervals: in thirds, fourths, tritones, fifths. He started working out Bach solo
violin movements in fifths, but gave this up when the stretches became impossible. Setting about
Perfect Fourth tuning with gusto, this became the most practical and musical way for him. (There
were also various contraptions and musical instruments I invented, but let's not dwell on these - it
brings back memories of a vintage Gibson 335 I destroyed..)
MUSIC MAKING First regular gigs were at a weekly Jazz residency above the Watford Odeon in
the early 1980's. Before that, various courses - the Barney Kessel Seminar, and the Jazz Centre
Society Summer School with Gary Boyle, where he met the youthful Tim Crowther. At Middlesex
in the late 80's, he became part of the weekly Jazz night, playing with Stuart Hall, Theo Travis,
Andrea Vicary, Martin Dunsden and fellow inmate Tim Collinson. After Middlesex, various short
lived projects, notably a quintet featuring Martin Dunsden and Aaron Whitby, playing his early
originals. There was a period of doing solo gigs at West End hotels, but between the agents, the
dinner jackets and the indifferent diners, there was a desire to play his own stuff again. In the late
1990's he formed a trio with Wally Shaw (Bass) and Lester Bennett (Drums), later with Claudio
Leisse on Electric Bass.
Gone but not forgotten
2008 saw the release of the new CD, and also the loss of my father, Jim Revell, after a battle
with Alzheimer's. Anyone who has cared for and seen the decline of a loved one, as they literally
lose their mind, will know that there are some times you just have to put the music on hold.
Well, eventually the dust settles, we pick up the pieces, and we try to honour those who are
gone, by continuing to try to lift ourselves up by our own bootlaces. Here's to you Dad...