Mick Sexton was an early member of Way Out West since 2004.
He has been a bandleader and gig promoter since the early 1970s. After moving from London to Essex in 1966 he gradually became established in the local scene eventually forming a new band. TORUS (name contributed by then bassist John Mole) was a piano-less septet and started gigging locally from 1972 with occasional forays up to London most notably to the Bulls Head then getting into its second successful decade.
Basildon Jazz Club opened its doors in January 1975 featuring Dick Morrissey with the Pete Jacobsen trio supported by TORUS. For the next two and a half years the club hosted a galaxy of rising stars from the London Scene. The acknowledged big names like Ronnie Scott, Nucleus, Mike Gibbs and Soft Machine down through Henry Lowther, Barbara Thomson, Alan Skidmore, Don Weller, Stan Tracey, John Taylor, Gordon Beck et alia.
The club gradually morphed into a less full-on affair into effectively a weekly residency for TORUS with a monthly guest star. The band itself had shrunk to a quartet built largely around the prodigious talents of Pete Jacobsen on piano but with Mick Sexton, Gary Plumley and Trevor Taylor completing the lineup. The band built up a keen following for the sort of acoustic fusion of their repertoire with material taken from Keith Jarrett, Steps, Chick Corea and Weather Report. This was a regular fixture on the Essex scene until 1989 when TORUS disbanded and the members went their separate ways.
Fast Forward to 2011 and the remaining band members decided to reform. Pete Jacobsen had died in 2002 but his place was taken by Jonathan Gee who had been a frequent substitute for Pete back in the day.
The following review which appeared in Sebastien Scottney’s award winning Blog, London Jazz News brings the TORUS story up to date.
Torus – (Great Northern Railway Tavern. 18th April 2013. Review by Brian Blain)
The great Torus revival is gathering momentum, and, on a recent Thursday night at the new venue in Hornsey’s Great Northern Railway Tavern, a good sized crowd was treated to a blistering programme out of the 80’s that largely passed the English audience by at the time.
Jonathan Gee filled the piano chair which originally belonged to the great Pete Jacobson in the then Essex based band and though the piano’s projection in the first set left something to be desired, Gee’s natural energy and ebullience was a dynamic addition to a kicking rhythm section all evening.
Although the leader is bassist Mick Sexton – behind the scenes stalwart of the Way Out West musicians’ collective- Jaco Pastorious’ classic Three Views of a Secret was largely given over to Gary Plumley, surely the best under the radar tenor saxophonist around, and throughout both sets on great favourites like Steps Ahead’s Islands, a funky ballad by Mike Mainieri, Keith Jarrett’s Questar and even the straight ahead swing of Tea Bag, when Sexton’s long note bass lines really sang, Plumley was passionate, melodically sure, and both free or blues soaked funky, as the material demanded.
FMR label boss Southend drummer Trevor Taylor mainly functions in the free improv area which meant that his fills and patterns always had the element of surprise without losing grip on the groove held steady by Sexton.
In sum: a wonderful night of jazz of the kind that I never expected to hear on the live circuit again.