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This article by Richard J. Skelly was prepared for the August 28, 2002 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Jethro Tull: For Now, Forever

In the biography that accompanies his new album "Living

With The Past," bandleader and flute player Ian Anderson offers

up some answers to some "all too frequently asked questions."

Jethro Tull, the band Anderson formed in 1968 that has been around,

making records and touring in varying forms ever since. Asked how

long he plans to continue touring and recording, he responds: "As

long as it remains a challenge and my health permits. One year, ten

years, who knows? Then there are painting, writing, and other creative

indulgences to consider. Which will go first: the eyes, ears, or hands?

Fear of boredom in old age is my greatest concern."

Anderson, who is 55, was in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1947. He was 20

when the group formed in Blackpool in 1967, and within a year was

trying to bust its way into London’s then-healthy nightclub scene.

Through the mid-1970s and into the early 1980s, Jethro Tull would

regularly sell out large arenas like New York’s Madison Square Garden.

"Back in February, 1968, we had many different names which usually

changed every week, since we were so bad that we had to pretend to

be some new band in order to get re-booked in the clubs where we aspired

to find fame and fortune," says Anderson.

"Our agent, who had studied history at college, came up with the

name Jethro Tull [after an 18th -entury English agricultural pioneer

who invented the seed drill]. That was the band name during the week

in which London’s famous Marquee Club offered us the Thursday night

residency. So it stuck. Was it too late to change? I thought so."

Not surprisingly for the times, Jethro Tull began as a blues-based

band with some bebop jazz influences. Although Anderson also plays

guitar, harmonica, and mandolin in the current lineup, he and others

in the group were heavily influenced by the music of 1960s bebop saxophonist

Rahsaan Roland Kirk. Kirk, who died of a stroke at age 48 in the early

1970s, was famous for playing three saxophones at once and for his

circular breathing technique that allowed him to play continuous three

and four minute solos.

Jethro Tull had its first success at the 1968 Sunbury Jazz and Blues

Festival in England. The band made its first U.S. tour in 1969, based

on the radio airplay the band was getting for "Stand Up,"

their second release in 1969. One of the more popular tunes for airplay

on that album was Anderson’s flute instrumental based on a Bach "Bouree."

The band’s previous release, "This Was," featured Anderson’s

version of Kirk’s tune, "Serenade To A Cuckoo." While there

have been many personnel changes since the early 1970s, Anderson and

guitarist Martin Barre have stayed.

These days, the lineup for Jethro Tull includes Anderson, with longtime

member Martin Barre on electric guitar; Doane Perry on drums, Andrew

Giddings on keyboards, and Jonthan Noyce on bass.

On the current tour, the band is performing classic chestnuts from

the late 1960s and early ’70s, much of which can be heard on the current

release, "Living With The Past," a whopping 78-minute compact

disc that has just been released on Fuel 2000 Records. Anderson and

company will play newer material like "Roots To Branches"

as well as the old classics, "Aqualung," "Living In The

Past," "Locomotive Breath," and "My Sunday Feeling."

Asked if he hates playing the same old songs night after night, Anderson

responds: "If they were not decent songs, then I certainly would,

but I am lucky to have a good collection of material which I still

enjoy playing.

"There are over 250 songs to choose from. Anyway, much of Tull’s

music contains elements of improvisation, so the songs are never the

same two nights running. There is always some scope for variation

and interpretation in each performance. A Tull concert wouldn’t be

the same without some of `Locomotive Breath.’ Well, for me at any

rate."

— Richard J. Skelly

Jethro Tull, Patriots Theater at the War Memorial,

West Lafayette Street, Trenton, 609-984-8400. Opening by Alana Davis.

$38.50 to $68.50. Wednesday, August 28, 7:30 p.m.

Jethro Tull, PNC Bank Arts Center, Holmdel, 732-335-8698.

$15.25 to $42.75. Suzanne Vega opens the show. Thursday, August

29, 7:30 p.m.


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