Analyzing Holdsworth BBC Recordings

These analyses are based mostly off of bootleg off-air recordings, so...hopefully these will be officially released on a BBC reissue someday. Background on all of these recordings can be found in Chapter 13.

Pat Smythe and
Allan Holdsworth Quartet
BBC2 "Sounds of Jazz" - August 14, 1977
(possibly broadcast November 14)

Allan Holdsworth: Guitar
Pat Smythe: Piano
Ron Mathewson: Bass
Martin Drew: Drums
Trk Title Dur Song Breakdown
1 Forever Until Sunday 4:54 (Bill Bruford, later recorded for "One Of A Kind")
0:00: Arpeggiated descending harmony over broad accents.
0:27: Head in guitar over mid-tempo swing.
0:51: Guitar solo (dialogue with piano comping).
1:58: Piano solo, guitar comps.
3:00: Bass solo, guitar comps (no piano).
3:43: Head reprise in guitar, becoming solo, then slowing accents.
2 Wayley Wayley ("The Water is Wide") 5:17 (Scottish trad.)
0:00: Head in guitar over slow groove (2 sections).
0:40: Piano solo.
1:57: Guitar solo.
3:17: Bass solo (no piano).
4:32: Head reprise in piano.
3 Drumbilical Cord  1:04 (Martin Drew)
0:00: Drum solo.
4 Kibby Fowler  6:31 (Allan Holdsworth?)
0:00: Accented, driving mid-tempo modal triplet groove, head in guitar.
0:39: Piano solo over modal vamp.
1:45: Guitar solo, groove goes into fast eighth-note meter.
3:59: Bass solo (with drums only, drums drop out).
4:48: Drums lead back to head guitar groove.
5:22: Guitar solo 2 over fast eighth-note groove.
5:58: Coda, featuring galloping bass.

John Stevens Quartet BBC Maida Vale "Jazz In Britain" - November 15, 1977
(broadcast December 26)

Allan Holdsworth: Guitar
Gordon Beck: Piano
Jeff Clyne: Bass
John Stevens: Drums

(These free improvisations were released on "Conversation Piece")
Trk Title Dur Song Breakdown
1 Conversation Piece 1 22:39 (Group improvisation)
This improv is loosely thematically-based around a "mystery" motif, mostly carried on piano/keys.
0:00: Electric piano "mystery" motif leads off a soft, textural sequence.
1:10: Piano enters (shadowing electric piano) and mystery theme is developed under dialoguing melodic ornaments.  Pianos begins dominating the melodic line.
4:14: Synth/organ accents begin appearing as improvisation continues ramping up. 
5:10: Guitar tone becomes heavier and more aggressive and dialogues with piano.
6:03: Piano takes the foreground with accented figures, supported by bass.
6:44: Jazzy drums and guitar comping/ornaments re-enter.  Piano and snare become more frenetic and bass follows suit.
8:28: Brief organ accents lead to (clean) guitar solo.
9:06: Pedal harmony with guitar volume swells, developed by piano into energetic dialoguing, toms.
10:46: Textural sequence lead by melodic bass, rhythmic (bluesy) piano chords, developing into soft, mysterious harmonies.  Cymbals and hi-hat imply a slow groove.
13:15: Harmony begins resolving, returns to piano/guitar dialoguing. 
14:05: Bass begins a pedal tone, trying to lead harmony outside.  Drums re-establish subtle groove under jazzy piano.
16:15: Piano briefly drops out, letting guitar feature.  Pianos re-enter in unison figures.
17:05: Allan switches back to lead tone and follows piano line somewhat before taking off.
18:22: Electric piano chord harmony comes to the foreground as guitar winds down.  Cymbals begin fast swing beat, soon picked up by walking bass.  Electric piano solos.
20:05: Lead guitar resumes, piano returns with chordal accents, becoming jazzy and exuberant.  Guitar drops out.  Drums peter out.
21:49: Mystery piano motif reprise.
2 Conversation Piece 2 17:18 Textural free improv with a bluesy vamp groove in the middle section.
0:00: Accented piano kicks off a thorny free improv, with somewhat subdued guitar swells.
0:56: Piano takes the lead solo role as guitar drops out.
1:26: Ominous keyboard motif enters (piano/synth) and is developed.  Guitar re-enters with some ornamentation.  Improv leads to a held cadence.
2:57: Guitar comes more to the front as piano explores high register ornaments (strings?) and synth-organ lines.
4:37: Bass and drums settle down leaving textural guitar and organ duet.  Bass resurfaces with chordal slides.  Abstract keyboard ornaments (with delay processing).
6:45: Chordal slides also begin on guitar, leading to pedal tone in bass.
7:37: Organ/synth begins melodic (diatonic) phrasing as drums begin a subtle groove.  Guitar begins dialogue with piano and bass.
9:03: Keys introduce a jazzy/blues riff as energy rises.  Loose jamming on jazzy pedal.
11:35: Piano drives a cadence harmony.  Guitar re-enters with a bit more bite, groove ramps up into a two-chord blues vamp. 
13:10: Piano takes foreground as guitar drops out.
14:15: Return to more textural guitar sounds, bass in foreground.  Rapid piano lines enter and dialogue with bass.
16:10: Drums resume dense groove and guitar enters rapid dialogue with piano accents, becoming more frenetic. Energy abruptly dissipates.


Pat Smythe and
Allan Holdsworth Quartet
BBC2 "Sounds of Jazz" - November 26, 1978

Allan Holdsworth: Guitar
Pat Smythe: Piano
Darryl Runswick: Bass
Harold Fisher: Drums

"Smatter" can be found on YouTube. "White Line" would later be recorded with vocals for I.O.U.'s debut LP.
Trk Title Dur Song Breakdown
1 Questar 7:36 (Keith Jarrett)
0:00: Chords/pedal bass over mid-tempo swing .
0:30: Head in guitar (several sections).
1:07: Piano solo.
3:26: Guitar solo.
5:08: Bass solo (supported by piano comping only).
6:45: Head reprise, ending ornaments.
2 Smatter 5:52 (Kenny Wheeler)
0:00: Head in piano intro, joined by group on final accents.
0:34: Head in guitar over lively groove, accented rising cadence (repeat).
1:19: Guitar solo over uptempo swing/accented cadence.
4:09: Drum solo (unaccompanied).
5:03: Head reprise (repeat).
3 What Am I Doing With You? 6:58 (Pat Smythe)
0:00: Head in guitar over ballad groove.
0:52: Head in piano.
1:45: Guitar solo (tempo modulates to mid-tempo walking bass).
3:16: Piano solo over ballad groove (tempo modulates to mid-tempo).
4:52: Head in piano (some guitar volume swells).
5:40: Head in guitar (ornamented), final cadence.
4 White Line 7:41 (Allan Holdsworth)
0:00: Arpeggio A, head in guitar, accented cadence (repeat).
0:49: Descending bridge harmony, developed.
1:15: Syncopated, relaxed harmony B over pedal bass accents.
1:34: Guitar solo over previous structures.
2:59: Piano solo.
4:48: Bass solo.
6:13: Arpeggio A, head in guitar, accented cadence (repeat).
7:00: Descending bridge harmony, developed, final cadence.

Holdsworth & Co. BBC3 "Jazz In Britain" - November 14, 1979 
(broadcast January 8, 1980)

Allan Holdsworth: Guitar
Gordon Beck: Piano
Ray Warleigh: Alto/soprano Saxophone
John Aue: Bass
John Marshall: Drums

All songs by Allan Holdsworth. "The Things You See" would be rerecorded for a Beck project as well as for I.O.U.'s debut. "Sunday" is an expanded suite version of a melody from the opening of the U.K. song "Nevermore".
Trk Title Dur Song Breakdown
1 The Things You See (When You Haven't Got A Gun)  7:39 (Allan Holdsworth)
0:00: Head in sax (re-used from Velvet Darkness' "Wish") supported by ballad guitar comping (repeat, eventually joined by piano 2nd time).
1:04: Guitar solo over mid-tempo groove (modulating to double time).
2:48: Alto sax solo (uptempo groove).
4:20: Drum solo.
5:27: 2nd theme in an accented mid-tempo groove (with ornaments).
6:20 Head in sax supported by group (ballad), final cadence.
2 Every Little Breeze 4:52 (double-tracked guitar duet)
0:00: Relaxed, chordal harmony in guitar.
0:54: Reprise with additional ornamental guitar track.
1:54: Echoed volume swell textures support lead guitar, becoming more gentle and distant.
3 Sunday 14:29 (Melody extracted from U.K.'s "Nevermore")
0:00: Opening piano cadenza.
0:56: Head in alto sax under slow accented groove (repeat, with end cadence 2nd time).
1:54: Piano solo over alternating uptempo swing and ballad tempos.
5:36: Alto sax solo over alternating tempo structure.
9:25: Guitar solo over alternating tempo structure.
13:20: Head in alto sax under relaxed accents/arpeggios, final cadence.

Ian Carr with Nucleus+ BBC3 - March 17, 1980

Ian Carr: trumpet
Allan Holdsworth: guitar
Brian Smith & Tim Whitehead: sax/flute
Geoff Castle: keyboards
Chucho Merchan: bass
Nic France: drums
Chris Fletcher: percussion


Available on SoundCloud, Allan only really cuts loose on "Sidewalk" here.
Trk Title Dur Song Breakdown
1 Conversation With The Blues 1  9:12 0:00: Accent figure becomes funky guitar and bass groove.
0:30: Head in trumpet, cadence, repeat.
1:14: Sax solo over blues progression.  Trumpet accents surface.
3:23: Piano solo (no brass), groove drops out for solo piano cadenza.
4:55: Opening accent figure lead by piano, groove develops.
5:59: Brass solo breaks.
6:41: Head in trumpet/sax, cadence developed.
7:37: Slow accented brass breaks, trumpet solo cadenza, slow groove resumes.
8:57: Final held cadence chords.
2 Conversation With The Blues  2 9:15 0:00: Fanfare accent leads to volume swell harmony on guitar, joined by flute lead.
1:25: Lounge/exotica groove enters as flute solo/guitar swells continue.
2:51: Brass/wind melody figures enters with supporting accents.
4:19: Trombone solo.
5:41: Brass ornaments join trombone lead.
7:08: Brass/winds with supporting accents.
8:37: Final cadence harmony.
3 Sidewalk 7:37 0:00: Uptempo vamp driven by keys and brass accented figures.
0:53: Bridge, repeat with added brass, end cadence.
1:45: Heavy funk groove driven by guitar/bass, pedal cadence.
2:43: Trumpet solo over opening vamp, bridge groove, cadence, heavy funk groove with trumpet accents, pedal cadence.
5:14: Guitar solo over opening vamp, bridge groove, cadence.
6:41: Conga featured over syncopated groove, joined by guitar/brass accents.

Pat Smythe Quintet BBC1 - May 25, 1980 (broadcast date)

Allan Holdsworth: Guitar
Pat Smythe: Piano
Ray Warleigh: Alto saxophone, Flute
Chris Laurence: Bass
John Marshall: Drums

Each track here is available on YouTube.  "Letters of Marque" and "Out From Under" was also recorded for I.O.U.'s debut album session in 1980/81.
Trk Title Dur Song Breakdown
1 Letters of Marque  7:54 (Allan Holdsworth)
0:00: Main melody on solo guitar.
0:31: Sax solo over main harmony in an uptempo groove, 2 choruses, each time ending in a pedal cadence.
2:50: Piano solo (1 chorus).
3:58: Guitar solo (2 choruses).
6:16: Drum solo.
7:27: Main melody on guitar/cymbals.
2 Reflection 5:46 (Pat Smythe)
0:00: Head in flute (then picked up by guitar) over relaxed groove.
0:41: Piano solo.
1:53: Flute solo.
3:08: Guitar solo.
4:20: Bass solo.
4:55: Head in guitar, then flute, ending flute cadenza.
3 Out from Under 6:00 (Holdsworth/Steve Robinson)
0:00: Arpeggiated solo guitar harmony.
0:23: Sax joins guitar with head, developed.
1:07: Head reprise, arpeggiated guitar bridge.
1:48: Piano and bass enter as guitar solo begins.
3:11: Sax solo.
4:26: Piano/bass/drums featured, leading to bass solo.
5:40: Coda based on head on solo piano.
4 Steppes 7:02 (Smythe)
0:00: Propulsive, mid-tempo modal vamp leading to head melody in flute.
0:36: Piano solo.
1:57: Flute solo.
3:17: Guitar solo.
4:32: Bass and drums duet.
5:20: Piano tremolo leads back to head in flute over vamp/piano accents, flute outro solo.

I.O.U. BBC3 "Jazz In Britain" - October 20, 1981

Allan Holdsworth: Guitar
Paul Carmichael: Bass
Gary Husband: Drums, piano

All songs Allan Holdsworth, except "Prayer" by Gary Husband (more info here). Most of these songs had just been recorded in the prior year for the debut I.O.U. LP (released 1982). "Drifting Into The Attack" is a version of "Gattox" ("Velvet Darkness"), and would be later be renamed again as "Gas Lamp Blues" on "All Night Wrong" (2002).
Trk Title Dur Song Breakdown
1 White Line 4:32 (Allan Holdsworth)
0:00: Arpeggio figure A, 1st verse head with accented cadence, arpeggio A.
0:23: 2nd verse, cadence.
0:38: Descending bridge harmony, developed, arpeggio A.
1:05: 3rd verse, cadence.
1:22: Syncopated volume swell harmony B over pedal bass accents.
1:44: Uptempo groove variation of B with chordal figures.
2:06: Chorus over 2-chord vamp C, volume swell B with drum accents.
2:40: Guitar solo over uptempo groove variation of B.
3:02: Solo over syncopated accent B variation, returning back to uptempo groove.
3:43: Chorus over 2-chord vamp C, arpeggio A.
4:10: 4th verse, cadence, outro fanfare.
2 Shallow Sea (Intro) 2:08 (Allan Holdsworth)
0:00: Volume swell guitar intro based on descending harmony.
1:02: Reprise, bass pulses enter.
3 Where Is One? 5:33 (Allan Holdsworth)
0:00: Syncopated 2-chord arpeggio figure, cadence A, heavy rising figure B, cadence A, pedal harmony with swelled chords, cadence A', pedal harmony with "outside" guitar lead.
0:43: Harmony chords C.
0:58: Cadence D (more accented), pedal harmony modulating (tremolo scoops).
1:24: Cadence A, pedal with guitar lead, cadence A, pedal with lead, cadence A, heavy figure B.
1:55: Harmony C, syncopated 2-chord arpeggio figure modulating, cadence A (implied).
2:28: Guitar solo over modulating tempo/harmony variations of previous sections, ending in pedal harmony.
4:05: Cadence D, pedal harmony modulating.
4:31: Cadence A, heavy figure B, cadence A, pedal w. lead, cadence A, pedal harmony w lead.
5:03: Harmony C, final cadence with enigmatic guitar motif.
4 Prayer/
Drifting Into The Attack
7:30 0:00: Prayer (Gary Husband): Piano ballad
1:05: Guitar volume swells gradually join as harmony becomes more complex.
1:50: Drifting Into the Attack (Allan Holdsworth): Guitar volume swells alone, joined by cymbals and bass at end.
3:02: Mid-tempo groove under textural guitar.
3:23: Guitar solo.
4:57: Textural guitar swells resume as bass solo enters.
5:49: Groove dissipates into textural guitar/cymbals.
6:42: Prayer (reprise): Piano resumes as textural guitar fades out.
5 Letters Of Marque 7:17 (Allan Holdsworth)
0:00: Drum fill into main riff, pedal harmony, reprise with added accents, pedal.
1:01: Bass solo over uptempo groove, with pedal cadence.
2:08: Guitar solo, groove modulates, pedal (2 choruses).
4:24: Drum solo.
6:05: Guitar and bass reenter for pedal section, main riff reprise with added accents, final cadence.

Gordon Beck Quartet with Allan Holdsworth BBC - December 2, 1981

Allan Holdsworth: Guitar
Gordon Beck: Piano
Jeff Clyne: Bass
Gary Husband: Drums

Available at SoundCloud. "Diminished Responsibility" was also recorded for the Beck/Holdsworth album "The Things You See" (1980), and "Sans Melodie Too" later surfaced (without Allan) on Beck's "The French Connection II" (1982).
Trk Title Dur Song Breakdown
1 Diminished Responsibility  7:49 (Allan Holdsworth)
0:00: Fast rhythmic figure leads to pedal chord with piano ornaments.
0:19: Rhythmic figure variation leads to pedal with drum ornaments, final cadence.
0:33: Held semi-free harmony texture with piano arpeggios, tremolo bass.
0:59: Rhythmic figure alternates with pedalled and drum/piano ornaments, final rhythmic cadence.
1:36: Guitar solo over held semi-free harmony texture (piano lays out), groove ramps up.
2:43: Ending rhythmic cadence on guitar leads to piano solo over modulating groove.
4:40: Ending rhythmic cadence leads to drum solo.
5:55: Cyclic ascending chords, joined by guitar lead, ending on final rave up harmony.
7:11: Reprise opening structure (Rhythmic figure, piano cadenza, rhythmic figure, drum ornaments, final rhythmic figure).
2 Sans Melodie Too 11:24 (Gordon Beck)
0:00: Gentle piano developing over pedal harmony.
1:55: 6/8 piano arpeggio joined by bass accents and cymbals, guitar volume swells, developing into a relaxed groove.
3:29: Piano solo over mid-tempo swing, ending in 6/8 arpeggio figure reprise.
5:20: Guitar solo.
7:47: Bass solo over piano and drums.
 8:58: 6/8 piano arpeggio reprise with bass accents, etc. (opening section reprise, developed with more drum ornaments).
10:30: Final piano arpeggio figure sequence and end cadence.
3 For C.W.
(Cedar Walton)
6:12 (Gordon Beck)
0:00: Drum solo leads to uptempo swing vamp.
0:37: Head on piano and guitar, cadence figure, piano lead, head reprise, cadence.
1:17: Piano lead, rhythmic descending cadence, piano lead.
1:41: Repeat from head (head reprise, cadence, piano lead, head reprise, cadence, piano lead, rhythmic descending cadence, piano lead).
2:43: Guitar solo, groove intensifies, cadence figure.
3:50: Piano solo, cadence, drum solo.
5:50: Piano lead, cadence figure.

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