About Perfect Stranger
After leaving university in 1973 with a B.Mus., Chris Sansom wanted to explore the idea of composing based on ‘classical’ principles but using the musical vocabulary and sounds of jazz and rock music. He was initially influenced conceptually by, among others, Yes, who were creating extended, through-composed pieces without the standard repetitive pop song or jazz number formulae. Stylistically, and especially rhythmically, he was more influenced by Frank Zappa and various jazz/rock/funk artists.
He put together a band, some of whom came from the National Youth Jazz Orchestra, others through word of mouth and he met the bass player, Andy Crawford (now a leading decorative box maker), in the queue for a Zappa concert. He ended up with a fine group of nine players, which he led from the guitar. This was the embryonic Perfect Stranger.*
Some of these musicians went on to become highly respected players on the London jazz circuit, most notably Chris Biscoe (saxes), Dick Pearce (trumpet and flugelhorn), Paul Nieman (trombone) and the late — and legendary — Pete Jacobsen (electric piano), a truly extraordinary musician, about whom Chris has written his own reminiscence.
Chris wrote a four movement work for this band, called Life & Times (of a Perfect Stranger), along with various other pieces.
Although this project seemed to have come to nothing back in the 70s, it led on to one of Chris’s most ambitious works, Music for an Imaginary Ballet for jazz/rock sextet and orchestra (as yet unperformed), among other pieces.
* This is nothing to do with Frank Zappa’s ‘The Perfect Stranger’, which came out in 1984.
Photos by Steven Cropper, Gary Franklin, Glen Jevon, Abi Warren
A few years ago, after meeting Chris Biscoe and Paul Nieman at a gig they were both playing in, Chris got the idea to revive Perfect Stranger, and now Perfect Stranger has this stellar line-up.
Apart from Life & Times, our repertoire also includes the other major piece written for the 1974 band, but which we never got as far as looking at: Ludwig’s Van. This, as the title suggests, is based on a piece by the mighty LvB himself: his Große Fuge op.133. Add to this some smaller-scale numbers — Lugubrious Boots (also 1974), a newer one, Kapadokya and a couple of tiny pieces by Frank Zappa, Igor’s Boogie, Phases 1 and 2 — and you have our current set...
...and now... our debut album, Unfinished Business, is in production!