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Dick Heckstall-Smith biography
Richard Malden Heckstall-Smith - Born 26 September 1934 (Ludlow, UK) - 17 December 2004

Dick Heckstall-Smith was born in Ludlow( September 26 1934), raised in Knighton, Radnorshire, and played piano, clarinet and alto saxophone in childhood. Aged 15, he had taken up the soprano sax at Foxhole, captivated by the sound of Sidney Bechet. Then the smokiness of Lester Young's sound caught him, and the music of tenor saxist Wardell Graybridge, who was the bridge between Young and the Charlie Parker bebop generation.
Soon he was a professional musician, and by 1957 he was working with traditional clarinetist Sandy Brown (who had awarded him a jazz competition prize at Cambridge), then on a Butlins' season with pianist Ronnie Smith.By 1961, Heckstall-Smith and Baker were playing at west London's Cafe des Artistes, and in the Johnny Burch Quartet at Soho's Flamingo Club, alternating with Georgie Fame's Blue Flames. He also played in Basil Kirchin's quirky bop band, and toured the US with choreographer Jerome Robbins's Ballets USA.
Heckstall-Smith then began working with guitarist Alexis Korner, a Paris-born, upper-middle-class Englishman whose dream was to found a jazz-influenced Chicago-style blues band with a brass line-up. Charlie Watts, Jack Bruce, Ginger Baker, the impassioned alto saxist Graham Bond, and the remarkable Cyril Davies on harmonica all passed through it.
Bond, Baker and Bruce later formed the Graham Bond Organisation - a blues group with a gospelly, Charles Mingus-like edge - and recruited Heckstall-Smith. The saxophonist also toured the US and recorded with John Mayall on the Bare Wires (1968) album.
The success, with Eric Clapton, of the original supergroup, Cream, took Baker and Bruce out of the loop. Between 1968 and 1971, Heckstall-Smith worked with a sophisticated, blues-oriented rock band, Hiseman's COLOSSEUM, led by the brilliant drummer Jon Hiseman. This band, later involving saxophonist/composer Barbara Thompson, passed through various incarnations, and he was still recording and performing on reunion gigs in the mid-1990s. He also worked with Hiseman, Barbara Thompson and others in the New Jazz Orchestra, a Gil Evans-influenced ensemble that was directed by composer Neil Ardley.
Dick Heckstall-Smith died December 17 2004.

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DICK HECKSTALL-SMITH top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.62 | 21 ratings
A Story Ended
4.50 | 2 ratings
Dick Heckstall-Smith & John Etheridge Group: ‎Obsession Fees
4.50 | 2 ratings
Dick Heckstall-Smith / Jack Bruce / John Stevens: This That
4.50 | 2 ratings
Celtic Steppes
3.67 | 3 ratings
Blues And Beyond

DICK HECKSTALL-SMITH Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 2 ratings


DICK HECKSTALL-SMITH Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

DICK HECKSTALL-SMITH Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)


Showing last 10 reviews only
 A Story Ended by HECKSTALL-SMITH, DICK album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.62 | 21 ratings

A Story Ended
Dick Heckstall-Smith Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by GruvanDahlman
Prog Reviewer

4 stars The marriage between jazz and rock is one that has enthralled me for ages. Obviously they stem from the same tree, which is blues, but the improvisational nature of jazz in combination with the power of rock music makes for a very exciting soundscape. So, having said that I would like to say that Dick Heckstall-Smith's album of 1972 is such a pleasant surprise. I like Colosseum and think they were great band in their own right. The progressive rock of theirs, combining jazz and blues into a powerful concoction, is still a treat to listen to. Needless to say, Dick's album holds similarities to his old band. The difference, I think, is that his solo album is far better than any of those he made with Colosseum. The potent mix of jazzy grooves, bluesy licks and hard rock leanings is absolutely magnificent. Also, the abundance of guests on the album makes for a varied and exciting listen.

The opening track 'Future song' is great with it's repetative riff and hard, driving sound. The following 'Crabs' is irresistable. It holds so many moods and swings to and fro in a seamless manner. Great vocals too. 'Moses in the Bullrushourses' is another very good track, owing just as much to jazz, blues and hard rock. Great groove! Graham Bond may have a limited vocal range but delivers a hoarse and enjoyable performance. His organ is to the fore and provides so much joy, since I am a fanatic when it comes to the hammond organ. No other instrument is able to send shivers down my spine like the organ.

'What the morning was after' is a jazzy, quite calm piece offering some relief from the previous track. Then it comes, the main center piece: 'The pirate's dream'. This is really a bluesy, jazzy epic that transforms into a majestic chaos for an ending. Chris Farlowe do have a magnificent pair of lungs. This track is really, really good. The album ends with the bluesy 'Same old thing'. A great ending to a great album.

The overall tone of this album is warmth. It is so sincere and passionate throughout that I am gobsmacked. Everything, almost, sits perfectly. And the title, 'Dust in the air suspended marks the place where a story ended', is irresistable. While the saga or story of Colosseum was ground to, at least, a temporary halt the musical direction of refining and exploring the possibilities of jazz-rock continued in the grandest of fashion.

I own the Esoteric Recordings edition of the album and it sports some really good bonus tracks. Quite often bonus tracks can be so-and-so, really not adding anything to the overall view of a band, but in this case the opposite applies. The bonus tracks are amazing and really enjoyable. They do complete the picture of a short lived but tremendous band. The bonus tracks are comprised of three live recordings of 'Moses...', 'The pirate's dream' and 'No amount of loving'. The potency of this band in a live setting is devestating. There is a great fuzz bass-solo in 'Moses...', by the way. To top things off there are two tracks from the abandoned project Manchild. Also great songs.

When all is said and done there is only one thing to add. This is a fantastic jazz-rock album and while it is of it's time the warmth, sincerity and passion is timeless. It has dated well, I think, and is surely a valid listen if you're into jazz-rock and that side of progressive rock. Stunning album.

 A Story Ended by HECKSTALL-SMITH, DICK album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.62 | 21 ratings

A Story Ended
Dick Heckstall-Smith Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars If you know who Dick Heckstall-Smith is then you no doubt are a big fan of COLOSSEUM who he played sax for. After COLOSSEUM disbanded Dick created this his first solo album with the help of many of his old band-mates. Included in this was Graham Bond who Dick played with before COLOSSEUM in a band called the GRAHAM BOND ORGANIZATION. So we get names like Jon Hiseman, Dave Greenslade, Chis Farlowe and Mark Clarke who all played with COLOSSEUM along with some others including Chris Spedding and Gord Beck both who played in NUCLEUS.

I must admit my first listen to this was a surprising one as the vocals seem to be front and center for the most part, and other than the opening song the vocals really take away from this recording. Just my opinion of course but Paul Williams in particular just ruins this for me, sounding like he's trying to imitate Joe Cocker which i'm sure he wasn't. I listened to COLOSSEUM last night just to see if I was wrong in placing their music far above this recording but it just confirmed to my ears that this just doesn't measure up to that band even though this seems to be highly rated on other sites.

"Future Song" is one track that I do enjoy a lot. I understand that Mark Clarke is singing here and it's not just his vocals but the song itself that really rises above the other tracks here. As Hugues mentions Dick's sax almost has an Eastern tone to it. The guitar, vocals and sax are great on this one. Such an uplifting track. It's all downhill from here on out for yours truly after this though. Killer sax 2 minutes in during a excellent instrumental interlude. Next is "Crabs" and it starts off in a mellow way with piano and reserved vocals as the sax joins in followed by guitar and drums as it builds. Yeah i'm really thinking Joe Cocker here with the vocals. Not a fan.

"Moses In The Bullrushourses" is uptempo with a Blues flavour. Lots of organ here and I like the guitar. "What The Morning Was After" opens with some sax excursions as the drums help out. Acoustic guitar and vocals take over as the piano joins in. I like this one and would rate it as my second favourite tune on here after the opener. A folky song really until it picks up half-way through. "The Pirate's Dream" is the longest track at over 11 minutes. Farlowe on vocals here and Spedding is good on guitar. Some crazy sounding keyboards after 6 minutes as vocal melodies join in. Nice section. "The Same Old Thing" ends it with the most Bluesy song on here. I'm reminded of Hendrix early on here for some reason.

An okay album that COLOSSEUM fans seem to really dig. I wish I could get into it but a low 3 stars is all I can give for this one.

 A Story Ended by HECKSTALL-SMITH, DICK album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.62 | 21 ratings

A Story Ended
Dick Heckstall-Smith Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

4 stars After the demise of Colosseum, DH-S set out to make a solo album, mainly based on a song that he'd written with Clempson during (and for) Colosseum. Actually that 11-mins epic Pirate's Dream was played live with the band and even recorded on a BBC show. Just out of Colosseum, but having played with John Mayall and Graham Bond organization prior to that, DH-S has a lot of friends - one might even say "heavy friends" without attempting to pun at their waist size, since these guest make a five-star cast. Just to name the few would- be "usual suspects" (had he done more albums): Bond, Jack Bruce, Dave Greenslade, Rob Tait, Paul Williams, Chris Farlowe, Pete Brown and Chris Spedding. Keeping track with Bassist Mark Clarke, DH-S "invited" Hiseman as a producer, and this album reeks of Colosseum's corpse.

Straight away, out of your speakers come DH-S' typical sax playing over an intricate riff, and this Future Song makes an excellent present song. H-S sounds slightly eastern-influenced on some of his outstanding sax lines, while Quaye's guitar closes the track in a beautiful fade-out. The mid-tempo Crabs has Farlowe's vocals all over it, and Greenslade's piano takes it in eunexpected territory, although you could easily imagine both tracks on a Colosseum album. The following up-tempo almost-funky Bullrushourses is less convincing as potential Colosseum, partly because of Williams' voice, helped out with Clarke. Closing the first side is another H-S (with Pete Brown for lyrics) track, this time with Jack Bruce singing out on a much jazzier (and quieter) track. On its whole, the album is also reminiscent of Pete Brown's two groups: Battered Ornaments and Piblokto, Brown's influence in the writing helping just as much as Tait's drumming does.

The flipside is made of two "Colosseum" tracks (both penned with Clem Clempson, strangely absent on this album), the first of which is the album's foundation, the 11-mins Pirate's Dream, Some typical Hiseman drumming opens followed by Farlowe's inimitable voice play and responds to H-S's sax lines while Bond's organ (mixed a little low here) underlines the whole thing., until a slower section has H-S reigning supreme - double tracking himself as he feels, although the man can play two wind instrument simultaneously ? and slowly rebuilding its structure, accompanied by some Bond's synthesizer's solos(apparently recorded at half speed for lack of rehearsal),.and once the song is back in full swing, Bond kills it with monstrous synh delirium, while Hiseman drums up a hurricane and Spedding's guitar death throes, the song ending in mayhem and the Pirate's ship sunken in the ocean. Closing the album proper is a slow blues track, aptly called Same Old Thing, where Farlowe has to deal with Spedding's superb guitar

Once the album completed, DH-S assembled a band to promote it and contacted another ex-Colosseum, Litherland; whom in turn, provided most of the band that would tour as Manchild in Germany, UK and US. .Most of the bonus tracks are from that line-up, beit the three live ones (amount to some 28 minutes) are very exciting and rawer, both tracks from the album sounding fairly different - except for H-S, this is a completely different band, with Litherland on the mike.

The last two (short) tracks are from that Manchild project that was not to be, because tan accident prevented H-S to finish and release it, both being in a similar vein, with H-S's leads on instead of the finished parts. These two tracks sound a bit different, but nothing ruining the album's enjoyment. If this A Story Ended is not a Colosseum album per se, I have yet to hear a non-Col album that sounds so close to the MkI sound, and I find this album (and its great bonuses) better than Daughter Of Time. A very pleasant surprise and a renewed Esoteric release (although I reviewed the Sanctuary/Castle release), that might just come with more Manchild bonus tracks.

Thanks to snobb for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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