Oral history of jazz in Britain

Cupido, Josefina. (2 of 3). Oral history of Jazz in Britain

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  • Recording locations

    London, UK

  • Interviewees

    Cupido, Josefina (speaker, female)

  • Interviewers

    Wilmer, Val, 1941- (speaker, female)

  • Recordist

    Wilmer, Val, 1941

  • Abstract

    Part 2. First encounters musical arrangement charts while working in cabaret; still not a good reader; tours West Germany with Abba material. Tony Haynes hires women for a multi-cultural group, Red Brass, including: Pete Hurt, saxophone; Butch Potter, bass; John Ince, drums; Sarah Laryea, singer; and later Courtney Pine and Gayland Dorsey; group plays jazz-funk with a wordy, proletarian bent. Discusses the open, optimistic political climate of early-mid 1970s and the lack of gay and lesbian lyrics in Tin Pan Alley songs; band now known as Grand Union. Discusses the feeling in music. Talks about her favourite drum and favourite drummers: Paul Motian, Billy Higgins, Jack DeJohnette, Steve Gadd, Roy Dodds; also Aretha Franklin, Miles Davis, and John Coltrane for their influence of spirit. Red Brass venues: art centres, The Everyman in Liverpool, Leicester; workshops as an oral way for the leader Haynes to communicate ideas to ensemble. Lesbian scene; Terry Hunt; Jam Today ensemble; Laka Daisical; Ruthie Smith; the end of the Soulyard ensemble; Julia Doyle. Ambitions and unwillingness to be limited to the lesbian scene. Val Wilmer discusses Soulyard, Jam Today, and the lesbian movement. Subject discusses the Monstrous Regiment ensemble, 1976-1977, a feminist theatre company; opportunity to do more drumming, whereas in Red Brass she was limited to singing and percussion. Meets Terri Quaye, considered a superior drummer, from whom she learns a bit of technique; discusses African and Latin drum styles and the fear of being a learning professional. Val Wilmer discusses examples of cross-questioning, advice-swapping among musicians, and the three-dimensional approach to arts, including painting, music, and dance. Subject discusses Monstrous Regiment productions, “Death Destruction - Dirty Washing,” on which she drummed and sang, “Vinegar Man,” authored by Caryl Churchill, and “Kiss and Kill,” which provided opportunity for improvisation; describes the ensemble majority as being straight and intellectual. Cabaret work; contacted by bassist Julia Doyle to join the Guest Stars, featuring Linda Malone on congas, Sue Ellory, keyboard, Laka Daisical, Annie Whitehead, Louise Elliot. Switch in group from acoustic to electric bass causes subject to struggle to accommodate varied ensemble requirements. Discusses learning processes regarding music. Discusses Jam Today; guitarist Terry Hunt, a confident lesbian; subject’s own coming out and unwilling to sever herself from male musical influence; Angele Veltmeiser; Alison Raymer. Grand Union ensemble; Val Wilmer discusses the dual lecture given with subject for the Communist Party; subject notes the “victim” aspects of Janis Joplin, etc., as displaying a stereotype of being “pretty, free, white, and twenty-one.” Guest Stars ensemble, all-women group. Val Wilmer discusses women’s bands in history, i.e., Gracie Cole and Ivy Benson. Works with the Lydia D’Ustebyn Ladies’ Swing Orchestra. Guest Stars; starts one night per week, mostly doing standards with originals increasingly; varied repertoire including jazz, African, calypso, soca, rock, soul, gospel; discusses the difficulty of keeping up with different styles; Val Wilmer describes the band and its press coverage; week-long engagement at Ronnie Scott’s. Carol Grimes as a strong influence; Val Wilmer discusses a performance of Grimes and Daisical at Dingwall’s club in Camden Town. Discusses Guest Stars, 1983-1989, when Cliff [?] joins on drums. Subject struggles to define her approach to drumming as generally but not biologically female and varied, around the beat, rather than as male and rigid to the beat. John Stevens gives a lesson. Meets Shannon Jackson who preaches Buddhism; Wilmer relates that, according to Jackson, subject needs to work on her footwork. Discusses difficulty in playing funk music; credo is self-expression with an overall contributory approach. Discusses female vocalist Eddy Reader, drummer Roy Dodds; subject teaches drums in Scotland; current touring of Dublin, Japan, New York, Australia

  • Description

    Item notes: Jesefina Cupido interviewed by Val Wilmer, 19th July 1994.

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