Disc  May 13, 1972


MIKE Patto, "receiver of raw energy,"  is roaring about the room pouring forth torrents of verbal jazz. Suddenly, from a vantage point at the window from which he’s been surveying the slate grey Knightsbridge afternoon, he spins round and throws him self into the clutches of an elderly armchair.

Fixing me with laser eyes he declares, "Intellect is the tool of ego; this is the profound statement for the interview." There is a half smile flitting about his ever mobile face. Mike is what your mother would describe as "outrageous;" an amazingly spontaneous and perceptive person with a dry irreverent wit.

In case you don’t know, and you should, Patto, the band, have been together for some time now, four and a half years to be exact, during which they’ve developed a virtually unique blend of free jazz and heavy rock. They’ve not gone unnoticed by fellow musicians either particularly through their involvement with Keith Tippett’s "Centipede" project.

Their essence, though, is in their stage act offering both band and audience the freedom to "loon together" as Mike would say. So not surprisingly, they’ve only produced two albums, "Patto" and "Hold Your Fire," both highly original in their approach, musically and lyrically. "You You Point Your Finger," a track on the newest album, has especially poignant words, which I shan’t quote out of context, here. "Yeah, it’s very emotional. The words are very emotive. Probably the heaviest we’ve ever written. It's the only one of our numbers that we can’t loon about with, however hard we try.

"We start recording the new album in the next couple of days. It’ll be total theatre, he said, smiling benevolently at the scars on the armchair -- but apart from that it’s going to be far freer, looser, than previous material. You see our ideas are coming together right at the last minute, so anybody’s liable to spring a surprise."

If you haven’t heard much from them recently that’s because Patto have been abroad touring Scandinavia and Germany with Ten Years After, which has given them a great boost, despite the fact that they had to adjust to foreign audiences. "We found quite a few differences. Obviously, they wouldn’t understand the rapping and looning, so we tended to become a bit more of a visual thing. They seemed to dig the music about the same though.

"It’s good for us to be doing more live work, because we’ve got so much to do on that level."

What of Patto’s involvement with Centipede, then? Are there going to be any future developments?

"I think Keith’s writing a new piece now. If it gets to be performed, we’ll probably be involved in it. Working in Centipede was an incredible experience. There was so much give and take. I think we turned a few heads on; they certainly turned us on. We all learned a lot. Everyone was so excited about getting the band working on the road -- we even had plans to tour North America, but can you imagine the contractual hustles involved in moving around eighty musicians, all with different companies?"

At that point, a horde of Mike’s friends came clattering in, accompanied by a wandering Spaniel puppy which headed straight for the space between me and the arm of the chair. Taking the hint, I bade my farewell.



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