BRIAN CASE presents ON THE SNAP: Three Decades of Snapshots from the World of Jazz Film & Crime Fiction courtesy of Caught By The River
It’s mid-week, mid-day and the sun is shining in Soho. Upon entering the customary gloom of Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in Frith Street I’m immediately welcomed by Jeff Barrett, a prime mover (along with James Oldham) behind the publication of journalist Brian Case’s On The Snap – the first book to be published by the Caught By The River crew. I make my way upstairs and into the room which I hadn’t been in since Dave Hucker was resident DJ there in the late Eighties. Back then we’d slip out onto the roof for a reefer while a side-long Fela or Franco tune held sway on the dancefloor – a most pleasant experience.
Scanning the room for familiar faces there was journalist Emma Warren, journo/author Paulo Hewitt, A&R/PR don Eugene Manzi, Rough Trade’s Jeff Travis, playwright Alex Webb, the legends that are John Jack and Val Wilmer, Glyn Callingham, Mike Gavin and Paul Pace from Ray’s Jazz Shop and our interview/host Richard Williams – former editor of the Melody Maker, retired sports writer and man behind the excellent http://thebluemoment.com/
Settling into a corner at the rear of the room perennial mod Glyn Callingham recalled how they used to organise “a hang” at Ray’s just so they could indulge in the diverse repertoire of yarns that Brian Case had to offer and what followed at Ronnie’s was definitely in the tradition and provided an excellent taster for On The Snap.
The son of Deptford copper, the teenage Brian Case dressed like a Ted but listened to Lee Konitz. He failed to escape National Service and went on to study history at Hull University where he inevitably clashed with an uptight and nasty Philip Larkin. On the suggestion of Charlie Gillett – who pointed out that he’d get free LPs if he took up reviewing music – Brian ended up writing for the Melody Maker, NME, Time Out and Uncut amongst a host of other publications.
As a jazz journo at the NME he inevitably became a soul mate for the paper’s “practical rabbit” – Roy Carr and during the Q&A he readily recalled them embarking upon a joint mission to communicate with the late Buddy Holly. A very funny story! At the NME Brian was cast in amongst a crew of inveterate rockers like Charlie Murray, Mick Farren and Nick Kent –“who always had two pairs of leather trousers on – one covered the holes in the other” – but clearly enjoyed the cameraderie of the post publication pub sessions. The picture he paints of the teenage Julie Burchill is scathingly funny.
As the Q&A gathered momentum he recalled being dispatched – along with Big Don, a beefy 6’3″ photographer clad in a damson coloured suit – by the Observer to Caerphilly where they were to report on the Sex Pistols Anarchy In The UK tour. In short, once past the Baptist Watch Committee picket line and into the fleapit cinema he finally got his interview. The Pistols were essentially a bunch of “cunts”. However, Case concedes that Malcolm McLaren was altogether something else – “a hustler of the highest order”.
His interviews have carried him far and wide and I’ve definitely picked up a few choice reads on the back of Brian’s Time Out book reviews. On The Snap reflect his diverse passions and this modest 63 page volume consists of short pieces/reminiscences – occasionally accompanied by the illustrations of Joseph Ciardiello – on a serious array of players from Art Blakey to Al Pacino to Duke Ellington to Ian Dury to James Ellroy to Dexter Gordon to Sam Fuller to Michael Caine to the Sex Pistols to Richard Harris to Johnny Griffin et al.
To cap off the Q&A Brian told us the story about a doctor enquiring of Robert Wyatt what he going to do, career-wise, after being confined to a wheelchair. Robert explained he could still play percussion and sing and write songs. The doctor then turned to another patient, a former cat burglar who was also confined to a wheel chair, and asked what career he now planned to follow. “Fraud” was the reply. OK, it was undoubtedly funnier when Brian dropped the punch line live… but you get the vibe. So, check the book… a nice addition to the bookshelf and/or a lovely little present for some lucky person.
To check the man himself reading from the book: https://soundcloud.com/caughtbytheriver/sets/on-the-snap
The book is on sale now from : https://caughtbytheriver.greedbag.com/buy/on-the-snap-by-brian-case/