Gilgamesh (band)

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For other uses, see Gilgamesh.
Gilgamesh
Origin United Kingdom
Genres Jazz fusion
Years active 1972–1975, 1977–1978
Past members Alan Gowen
Mike Travis
Jeff Clyne
Phil Lee
Neil Murray
Mont Campbell
Hugh Hopper
Trevor Tomkins
Richard Sinclair

Gilgamesh (1972–1975, 1977–1978) were a British jazz fusion band in the 1970s led by keyboardist Alan Gowen, part of the Canterbury scene.

History[edit]

The original basis of Gilgamesh was Gowen and drummer Mike Travis, the two working together on a band project with guitarist Rick Morcombe. The original Gilgamesh line-up consisted of Gowen, Travis, Morcombe, Jeff Clyne and Alan Wakeman on saxophone.

The band's line-up took a while to stabilise, with, for example, Richard Sinclair depping for Clyne on their debut performance in January 1973; soon afterwards it settled on the quartet of Gowen, Travis, Phil Lee on guitar (recommended by Travis) and Neil Murray on bass. Regular gigs followed throughout 1973, including two special performances co-headlining with Hatfield and the North which included a "double-quartet" set consisting of a 40-minute composition by Gowen. A demo tape was also recorded for gig- and contract-hunting purposes.

In late 1973, Murray was replaced by Steve Cook but gigs subsequently became ever sparser, despite a series of radio sessions for the BBC's jazz programmes. For one of those the quartet were augmented with a second keyboard player, Peter Lemer. In 1975, Gilgamesh finally secured a contract with Virgin's subsidiary label Caroline Records, and recorded their debut album in downtime at the Virgin-owned Manor Studios, with Hatfield's Dave Stewart acting as co-producer.

Gowen and Stewart had become friends over the previous months and discussed a possible collaboration, but Stewart was hesitant about being in two bands simultaneously. When Hatfield and the North finally broke up in mid-1975, Stewart joined Gilgamesh as auxiliary member, playing one gig and a couple of radio sessions with the group. Meanwhile plans were laid for the Stewart-Gowen collaboration, which eventually materialised as National Health and also (briefly) included Gilgamesh guitarist Phil Lee. Gilgamesh themselves ceased operations in late 1975 following the cancellation of a proposed Scottish tour.

After leaving National Health, in 1977 Gowen reformed Gilgamesh as a rehearsal-oriented unit with Murray, Lee and drummer Trevor Tomkins (a longtime collaborator of Lee's) for occasional rehearsals. A second album was recorded in June 1978, Another Fine Tune You've Got Me Into (released 1978 on Charly Records), with Gowen, Lee, Tomkins and bassist Hugh Hopper, but the band had no further existence. Gowen died a few years later in 1981.

In 2000, Cuneiform Records released archive recordings of the band under the name Arriving Twice. It consists of the 1973 demo as well as two radio sessions from 1974–75. It features variously Gowen, Lee, Travis, Murray, Cook, Clyne and Peter Lemer, and includes several previously unheard compositions, notably "Extract", from the unrecorded Gilgamesh/Hatfield and the North double-quartet piece.

Discography[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]