Although they show up with some regularity, I’ve stopped buying Eric Jupp albums when I find them in op-shops these days. I’ve listened to a few, and Jupp’s LPs are typically schmaltzy lounge-room jazz firmly ensconced in an old-school, conservative musical mindset. It's pleasant enough stuff and features some great players, but not really my thing. I bought Making It Happen from the Salvos because it features an original composition by John Sangster, and due to the presence of some of my favourite sixties/seventies Oz jazz players (John Sangster, Don Burrows, George Golla, Derek Fairbrass, Warren Daly).
This feels like an album where the young turks have dragged old fart Jupp into a more hip, modern set of songs. It’s not that hip though; there are still a number of soundtrack numbers and standards that are ever-present on these sorts of LPs - Theme From Exodus, Tara’s Theme from Gone With The Wind, Live For Life theme, Nino Rota’s A Time For Us from Romeo & Juliet and Hava Nagila. Most of these are pretty nice, if forgettable.
The bulk of the set however is made up of instrumental arrangements of contemporary pop songs such as Puppet On A String (Sandie Shaw, 1967), Sounds of Silence (Simon & Garfunkel, 1966), The Other Man’s Grass Is Always Greener (Petula Clark, 1967), When I’m 64 (The Beatles, 1967), Help Yourself (Tom Jones, 1968) and Spinning Wheel (Blood, Sweat and Tears, 1969). A lot of these tracks are pretty great and the playing is always top-notch - for example, check out Burrow's echoey clarinet solo in the impossibly jaunty rendition of When I’m 64.
The highlight is unquestionably Kaffir Song written by John Sangster. Most people would be familiar with this song from The Jazz Sound of The Don Burrows Quartet. In my opinion, the version on Making It Happen is superior. It’s a more fast-paced, less conspicuously ‘jazzy’ version and the interplay between the percussion and the bass is far more complex and interesting. (As amazing as the bass work is, the bassist is not credited in the liner notes - I’m guessing it’s Ed Gaston, but who knows?) It’s a looping, hypnotic trip into faux-exotica highlighted by Burrows high-pitched Bb school flute.
The other track which I really like is the Live For Life theme. From what I can tell, the original recording of this theme was a slow waltz - here Jupp reimagines the piece as a frantic whirlwind of exotic strings and horns, with the same picked bass tone as featured on Kaffir Song. It sounds like the kind of song that would played in a sixties movie over a montage of people doing important things very quickly.
Released: 1969? (There is no date listed, but the latest of the cover songs was released in 1969).
Players: Eric Jupp - piano, arrangements and musical direction.
Don Burrows - flutes, clarinet
Billy Burton - trumpet
George Golla - guitar
John Sangster - percussion, vibraphone
Derek Fairbrass - drums
Warren Daly - drums