Terry Callier: London Jazz Cafe

Sometime Beth Orton collaborator and jazz-folk legend Terry Callier is back from the wilderness...

Jamiroquai? Just out of short trousers. Paul Weller? Hmm, well he’s just about getting the hang of things… These, one suspects, are the thoughts that are racing through Terry Callier’s mind as he stands before a rapt audience at a sold-out Jazz Cafe playing the highlights of a career which stretches back as far as the eye can see.

“I remember when I was first asked to go out on the road,” he murmurs, suitably, after ‘Lazarus Man’, and the chatter in the already reverential venue drops to a church-like hush: “I came home from school and started to pack, that is until my mum came home and stopped me…”

Which year this was, no one dares to hazard a guess. But then this is man who, having been bought up in the dead-end of the Chicago housing projects, was playing piano at three, formed his own doo-wop band at twelve and has been lauded and ignored in equal measure ever since his first album finally saw the light of day in 1968 (and this after a four year hiccup when the mastertapes went AWOL). And having spent the ’80s in the sort of wilderness that would send Jesus into a blind panic (working, can you believe it, as a computer programmer), he’s back and happy to rifle through his back pages.

So we get a mesmerising ‘Butterfly’ (really, the stuff Damon Gough dreams of) and best of all, a joyous romp through ‘It’s About Time’, dredged from that first magical album, recorded almost forty years ago and still sounding as fresh as tomorrow. Or, even, Starsailor. Nothing short of magical.

Paul Moody