It was twenty years ago today (or thereabouts) that the key ingredients of what was to become the award-winning, internationally touring, musical potage Get The Blessing were first gathered together in a Bristolian deep-sided saucepan to begin the slow process of sweating…

Since then, the recipe has been periodically tweaked and adapted, with unexpected spicings and unlikely additions, but the basic sofrito has remained constant: the rhythm section of Jim Barr (bass) and Clive Deamer (drums), best-known for their work with the band Portishead, and the horns of Jake McMurchie (saxophones) and Pete Judge (trumpet), two of the most distinctive players to emerge from the Southwest’s vibrant jazz scene.

Another constant flavour has been the influence of Ornette Coleman’s great early quartet. The Blessing, as it was until an enforced name-change, took its name from one of Ornette’s tunes, and began as an acoustic homage to those ground-breaking free-spirited albums of the late 1950s and early 1960s, before plugging in and ploughing on in its own uncategorisable furrow.

From then on, GTB has rarely stopped touring, amassing a truly international fan-base, with tours and festival appearances in the UK, USA, Canada, Dubai, Ireland, Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Turkey, and Ukraine.

Six albums later…

All Is Yes (Cake/Candid, 2008)
BBC Jazz Award Winner for Best Album
“at last, a noisy, thrashy post-jazz combo that sounds like a proper band”
(The Independent)

Bugs In Amber (Cake/Candid, 2009)
“the strength of the composing, the deafening dancefloor drive, the ensemble inventiveness” (John Fordham, The Guardian)

OC DC (Naim Jazz, 2012)
“mixes scorching rock with Ornette Coleman-like sax and much more besides to thrilling effect” (John Fordham, The Guardian)

Lope & Antilope (Naim Jazz, 2014)
“it’s probably their best album yet ” (John Fordham, The Guardian)

Astronautilus (Naim Jazz, 2015)
“the momentum of creativity is undipped ” (BBC Music Magazine)

Bristopia (Kartel, 2018)
“excellent…unmissable” (Jazz Journal)
“atrocious, cacophonous, monotonous, pretentious” (Jazz Journal)

… we arrive at Bristopia, the band’s tribute to its home city, and proof that the stew is still bubbling away, still delivering kicks and nourishment in equal measure, and still incorporating new flavours that inspire, provoke and divide even the same set of critical tastebuds.

Get The Blessing will be celebrating its big birthday with special gigs in Bristol and London. The saucepan lid rattles on…