Classical: Fame was the only spur

Gerard Presencer was paid only pounds 300 for his now-famous solo on Cantaloop - but it made his name.

WHEN GERARD Presencer was 19 he played the now-famous trumpet solo on "Cantaloop", the debut single by a then new group, US3. The track was later used for numerous television commercials around the world, the BBC made it the theme music for Late Review and the album it was from sold millions.

US3 got seriously rich and then broke up, while Presencer receivedabout pounds 300 - the normal fee for a session musician. It did not pay many bills but Presencer did earn serious respect from his peers, an important currency for jazz musicians. The veteran hard-bop trumpeter Freddie Hubbard (to whose old "Blue Note" licks the solo was partly a homage), even thought for a while that he must have played on the session himself. Herbie Hancock, whose composition "Cantaloup Island" formed the basis for "Cantaloop", also voiced his approval.

Now, six years older and a little wiser, Presencer is releasing his own debut album, Platypus (which is also the name of his group).

It seems to have been an awful long time coming: Presencer has been the rising new star of British jazz for years. But after being encouraged from an early age by his jazz-fan father and playing with the National Youth Jazz Orchestra since his early teens, he long ago tired of his wunderkind status.

In the meantime, he has served his apprenticeship as a sideman with various groups, including those of the veteran British pianist Stan Tracey and the Rolling Stones' drummer Charlie Watts, while playing sessions to pay his bills.

Even if you don't know Presencer's name, you will certainly have heard him on records by Jamiroquai and the Brand New Heavies.

The new album is especially welcome as it represents an accommodation between the straight- ahead jazz he has tended to play by choice, and the funk stuff that he does for a living (and which he insists he loves just as much). It is a great album, but the group is perhaps best heard live, when the combination of Presencer's flugelhorn and Jason Rebello's Fender Rhodes electric piano is stunningly effective.

The governing aesthetic may be partly retro (and there's nothing wrong with that), but the tunes are all Presencer's own, and the result offers that all-too-rare experience in British jazz, a middle way between the head, the heart, and the body. You may even be able to dance to Platypus, but you'll have to think on your feet as you do so.

Presencer looks back at the US3 experience with a mixture of stoic acceptance and understandable chagrin. "I was bitter about it for a long time, but that's the plight of the session musician," he says. "I was 19 and they said, `Can you do a Freddie Hubbard?' Now, I don't think I'd do it. When they asked me to play on the follow-up record I asked for a decent fee and a percentage and they said no.

"But it got me known all over the world and it may well be the biggest thing I ever do. It's good now - there was a time when I felt like a novelty act because my dad put me on the stage very young and I was paranoid about it for years. Now I can enjoy being an old bastard at 25."

The idea for Platypus, both band and album, emerged, Presencer says, "because I've had such a schizophrenic musical experience so far, and the main criterion is now to do what I like. I've had this kind of alter- ego career doing Seventies-style funk and acid jazz, and I like that music as well as ordinary jazz. It's not as if I change that much either. Maybe I'm more concise in the funk stuff, but I learned that kind of discipline playing in big bands when I was younger, so that you don't show all your technique in one go. With Stan Tracey's quartet, where I've got more time and an open canvas, I've built on interesting little quirks that I might have learned in pop stuff."

With Platypus, Presencer plays the larger, more mellow-sounding, flugelhorn rather than the trumpet. "For the last two or three years that's all I've been playing", he says. "I'm more interested in a linear approach, like playing a sax, and it's very difficult on trumpet to hold back those flashy tricks... they're just too tempting. It's like the pianist Bill Evans having fantastic technique but the good taste not to use it. I prefer the sound of the flugelhorn now, and I can play as high without just blowing the shit out of it."

The new album's emphatically old-school sound is down to where it was recorded. "We went to Mickie Most's Rak studio because we wanted a Seventies analogue feel to the recording", Presencer says. "There's these old radio mikes and an old valve desk there, and the sound for brass was just what I wanted. It far exceeded my expectations and I'm more than pleased with the result.".

`Platypus' by Gerard Presencer is out now on Linn Records

Arts and Entertainment
Call The Midwife: Miranda Hart as Chummy

tv Jenny Lee may have left, but Miranda Hart and the rest of the midwives deliver the goods

Arts and Entertainment
Legendary blues and rock singer Joe Cocker has died of lung cancer, his management team as confirmed. He was 70
music The singer has died aged 70
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams looks concerned as Arya Stark
Arts and Entertainment
photography Incredible images show London's skyline from its highest points
Arts and Entertainment
'Silent Night' last topped Classic FM's favourite Christmas carol poll in 2002
Arts and Entertainment
Rhys says: 'I'm not playing it for laughs, but I have learnt that if you fall over on stage, people can enjoy that as much as an amazing guitar solo'
musicGruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence
Arts and Entertainment
Krysia and Daniel (Hand out press photograph provided by Sally Richardson)
How do today's composers answer the challenge of the classical giant?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Shenaz Treasurywala
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Watkins as Christopher Jefferies
Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars Director JJ Abrams: key character's names have been revealed
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams won two BBC Music Awards for Best Song and International Artist
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump


Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

    Christmas without hope

    Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
    After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

    The 'Black Museum'

    After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
    Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

    Chilly Christmas

    Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
    Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all