The Bottom End: Synopsis/Quotes

"In Search Of The Holy Grail."

The Bottom End Test Pressing
The Bottom End Test Pressing

The "Holy Grail" was the search for the identity of the artists behind "The Bottom End", not the record itself.

My Quest for "The Holy Grail" (the names of the artists behind
"The Bottom End") began at the tender age of 14, after hearing about
"The Tune" in my school playground
. Some of my friends had gone to the legendary "Jazzifunk Club" at the Electric Ballroom the previous Friday night, and were extremely excited as they spoke about a jazz track featuring a female vocalist singing the lyrics "GET OFF THE GROUND!" at the end.

In 1981 DJ Chris Bangs found an obscure looking record in a second hand vinyl shop in Notting Hill Gate, London, and bought it for 10 pence. A logo with the words
"THE BOTTOM END" was written upon it, as well as "A Product of M&K Sound Inc., Beverly Hills, California."

There was no additional information in regards to its musical content or artists, for this was (as we were later to discover), a Hi-Fi Demonstration Record. A small amount of these Audiophile Discs were pressed, which were given away when purchasing an M&K Sound product. They were also used within the company to demonstrate their state of the art equipment.

Shortly after its discovery, Chris Bangs sold "The Bottom End" to DJ Paul Murphy, who played it at the Electric Ballroom's "Jazzifunk" Club from 1982. When he left the Ballroom in 1984, Paul sold the record to his successor Gilles Peterson, who continued its legacy there.

It was at this club that "The Bottom End" would become the most significant track in English jazz-dance history. The Jazz Room was unlike any other, for it was an arena where many perished upon its "battlefield". The dancing was extraordinary, with a strong humiliation factor that was complimented by the "hardest" and most obscure Jazz Fusion and Latin sounds.

Due to its lyrics, length, and character, "The Bottom End" was the ultimate battle tune. What made it so special and significant were the vocals at its climax. During a battle on the dance floor, whoever had the upper hand at the end of this track would humiliate their opponent by pointing to the "exit" sign, as the vocalist sang the words "Get off the ground!" which served as an indication for them to leave the room.

Due to the lack of information, and the fact that it was a Hi-Fi demonstration record, this made it extremely difficult to find out the identity of the musicians. It was believed that Janet Lawson was the vocalist, and there were many other contenders too.

Where there is a search for a "Holy Grail", you will always find those who try to throw people off the treasure's trail. To gain credibility one record dealer invented a group that did not exist, and claimed that he had sold the original album, revealing "his" band (Janet Lawson with a Japanese Trio) as the mystery musicians. In another episode, invaluable information revealing the identity of the vocalist was withheld that would have led to the treasure itself.

A rather dubious bootleg was released under the group name "Brother Davies Miles", acknowledging (Janet) Lawson/ Everett as the composers. The British band "Working Week" cut a version, but strangely enough the composition was credited to their own musicians, Simon Booth & Larry Stabbins. As dramatic as these accounts may be, they all contributed to the creation of an incredible story, but nonetheless I was no closer to finding the true identity of these mystery artists.

A few years ago, Gilles Peterson managed to find another copy of "The "Bottom End". This was only the second one discovered in 20 years within our jazz scene. Obviously this was not a record that you saw very often, since there was only one owner. I had not looked at it for about 19 years, and all I could remember were that the words "The Bottom End" printed on the label. I got a chance to examine this second copy, and took down the telephone number and address that was written upon its sleeve, but neither existed anymore, so I still had hardly anything to go on.

After all these years it was going to take a lot more than simply checking out the details on the record itself, for if it were that simple; there would have been no mystery, or obscurity about the track in the first place. I was later to discover that M&K Sound had been contacted several times over the years about "the tune". I managed to get some solid connections with people working in the record label industry, which eventually led to direct correspondences with "sound prodigy" Ken Kreisel (the "K" in M&K Sound). This was an achievement within itself, to be dealing with such an Audiophile Legend.

So much time and energy was invested over a period of several weeks, digging deep into Kreisel's "memory bank," and 30-years of M&K Sound history. Ken had recorded countless amounts of source material for testing purposes and audiophile records over 3 decades, so this was not going to be an easy task for him either. He was amazed at the story of my quest, and wanted to find out who the mystery artists were too.

Only heaven knows what a gruelling, painstaking quest this was for me over so many years. Words cannot express the phenomenal amount of hours spent in record shops, and the meticulous study of countless musicians. My main motivation for trying to solve the mystery was because my twin brother Gary Nurse "claimed" the tune in a battle at The Electric Ballroom in 1984, and it always reminded me of him. I just refused to believe that the artists could not be found, despite what people said. Also, it was just simply my favourite track.

After 23 years of searching, I found "The Holy Grail" in the names of Valli Scavelli and Don Baaska, finally solving the mystery of "The Bottom End" :
The "Holy Grail" was the name of the artists Valli Scavelli and Don Baaska, not the record itself, even though it is sometimes referred to as "The Holy Grail", and the 23 year search was for them.

After so much corresponding with Ken Kreisel, he suddenly remembered Valli. After this Ken did a search on the Internet for confirmation of her name, and then broke the news. A bottle of champagne was opened, and I did not sleep that night. What made this recording so remarkable was the fact that these musicians had never played together before as a group; neither did they know that they were being recorded at the time.

They were asked by Ken Kreisel to record a demonstration track for his state of the art Hi-fi equipment. This historic event took place at M&K Sound's studio, on Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, in 1975. It was recorded Direct to a 2 track analog tape.

Don Baaska was on keyboards, Jamie Faunt (who was working with Chick Corea at the time) played the bass, Ken Park was on drums, and Valli Scavelli sang the vocals. Ken and Jamie had never played the composition before. The musicians were basically having a jam session "to get used to the changes," and then after 8 minutes Valli came in and sang the melody, which she improvised.

Don said that he was amazed when Ken Kreisel said at the end of the jam, "That's a take!" Baaska and Scavelli had never heard this recording of "The Bottom End" before, until I played it to Don down the phone at his home in Puerto Rico.

Remarkably another version was unearthed during the discovery of them. The real title of the song is "GET OFF THE GROUND", which is an original composition by Don Baaska and Valli Scavelli. This is the first ever "-official" release of The Bottom End version of "Get Off The Ground" on Freestyle Records. The shorter version of "Get Off The Ground" and "Floating", were both taken from Valli Scavelli's 1978 debut album "Floating," on Lambda Records.

Incidentally, "THE BOTTOM END" was the name of the revolutionary subwoofer speaker that "Miller and Kreisel Sound Corporation" had designed in the early 70's. For me, the real treasure was discovering and befriending two amazing people that have inspired me in such a special way, and who gave many kids so much joy (and pain) on the dance floor. Don and Valli, thank you so much, for your gift to us is truly beyond words.

The Bottom End: Full Story

Seymour Nurse

Seymour Nurse thanks: Don Baaska and Elvira "Valli" Scavelli (what more can I say?), Ken Kreisel at M&K Sound (you are a genius), Ken Park and Jamie Faunt (two amazing musicians), Gary Nurse (The Ultimate Dancer) and Marshall Smith for
"THE" battle to "Get Off The Ground (The Bottom End)", Milton "The Ballroom King" McAlpine (The Supreme Battler), all the original "Crackers- Horseshoe- Devils- Spats- Jesters- Electric Ballroom- out of town country boys" Jazz Dancers: you are the true Legends of the Jazz Scene, Andrea Nurse Lemard, Adrian Nurse, Tyrelle, Nathan, and Errol Lemard, Robert, Brian, and Albert Moore, Anton-Ricardo Batista, Donna and Damien McKeown, Michelle Nurse, Deborah Grace Bensberg, Richard, Robert, and Albert Davis, Janet Lawson (The Phoenix that flys "So High"), Monika Scheel for all your invaluable help, Jim Morris, Adrian Gibson at Freestyle Records (much appreciation to you), Flora and Airto, George Duke, Norrin Radd, The Original West London Jazz Movement : (Paul Shadari, Michael Knott, Shanty, Sonia Moore, Paul DaCosta, Tim Bloomfield, Roderick Powell, Lee Campbell, Jeff Tarpinian, Anjum, Ateef, Sunny, Bobby, Harvinder "Nagi", Onkar Bancil and Distinc-shun, Roy Ashong, Cyris, Gary Powell, Chris Burfield), Robbie Vincent, Steve Williamson, Kevin "Penguin" Haynes, Jerry Barry, Fergi at Cranford, Julian Symes, Gabriel Cameron, Agha, Sean Edwards, Mark "Good Vibes" Taylor, Jeff Ballard, Bill O'Connell, Michael "Rocky" Laroque, Marciano "Rocky" Bryan, Stephan "Afro" Edwards, Sean P, Phil Levene, Garth Thomas, Chris Frith, Zaf Chowdhry, Andy Zempashi, Alistair Thomas, Nick Hosier, Patrick Forge, Akin Shenbanjo, Samuel Norman Brown, Andrei, Paul "Tjader" Haran, Keb Darge, Raj Gill, Casper Romeling, Tariq, Levi and Dave Graham, Andy Ward, Mark "Captain Marvel" Taylor, Adrian Leach, John Cooper, Tony Hylton, Hugh Albert, Eric X, Chris Bangs, Paul Murphy, Gilles Peterson, Andrew Dyer, Mark Higgins, Colin Parnell and Boo, Taroon, Sylvester, Kevin Beadle, Joe Davis, Andrew Jervis at Ubiquity Records, Snowboy, Jimbo, Joe and Azhar (Sirius B), Akwasi Mensah, Adam Rock, Leroy Smith, Helen and Phil Asher, Lucia "Dimples" Possas, Perry Louis, Andy Hobdell, Nick Weston, Killer Jim, Simon Mansell, Vincent "Dad" and Jeanette "Mum" Nurse (for singing it out of tune when cooking), Thiyana Nurse for holding Valli's note the longest, and lastly, Tanya "Nia" Saw for graciously putting up with my "obsession".

"The Bottom End mystery is solved by Sleuth Seymour!!! Love it."
Janet Lawson

"To find such a gem is something Indiana Jones would have been proud of. The Bottom End is the music every dancer in those times was enthused by. It is truly the "Holy Grail" of the jazz scene and an amazing accomplishment. You've just got to respect the tenacity of Seymour Nurse."
Gary Nurse
(Legends of the Underground/ IDJ jazz dancers)

"All these years…I kept hearing about this record. The Bottom End, The Bottom End… I thought I was gonna go crazy! Then the mystery unravelled itself and I actually saw the record. I do have to say, I WAS IMPRESSED! By the record and the whole story obviously…. that's when I truly "got it!"
I'm very proud of Seymour's quest! It was as if he'd found "The Holy Grail", that's how much it meant to him and many others. So what's next on your list Seyms?"
Tanya "Nia" Saw
(Zap Mama)

"Strange, as I remember the mates I was with upstairs at The Electric Ballroom, and what I was wearing watching Milton take on a guy dancing. I can also remember seeing for the first time Milton spin, drop, freeze, only to realize that both his feet were out of his shoes, which he had left on the floor without the excited crowd even noticing.
All of this went on to the track "The Bottom End/ Get off the Ground", which I heard for the first time. I got home at 4:30 am and woke up my younger brothers Robert and Brian, and told them what I heard and saw that night. They were too young to spend a night out that weekend. I tried to show them the move that Milton unleashed in front of the frantic crowd, while trying to hum this massive, wicked, PURE JAZZ tune to my younger brothers.
People will always remember where, and what they were doing on September 11th, when the Twin Towers were hit. I will always remember when and where I first heard, The Bottom End. I think that Seymour should be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize."
Albert Moore

"The weekend that Nelson Mandela was free from captivity during an unforgettable music session with Seymour was the first time I listened to "The Bottom End".
Yes, I was the younger brother woken up in the early hours of the morning enthralled to hear the latest events of the Electric Ballroom. The enthusiasm of my elder brother waking me up at 4am to relive the events at the Electric Ballroom including attempting to sing, "Get off the Ground", captivated me more than any Hansell and Gretal story. Fondling, I mean fond memories."
Robert Moore

"The most mythical and mysterious of jazz-dance classics. A tune so perfect for the dancers, it seems inconceivable that "The Bottom End" wasn't tailor-made for them. Congratulations to Seymour Nurse for solving the enigma!"
Patrick Forge
(Kiss FM/ Da Lata)

"One of the true classics of the UK jazz dance scene- an original 'rare as hen's teeth' tune brought to you by the one and only Chris Bangs, and until now an original bruk dub plate. This tune is our history!"
Gilles Peterson

"When I first picked up an interesting record while diggin' the crates 20-odd years ago, I little thought that that record would go on to acquire the legendary status that it has achieved over the years. Looking back you can see why Murphy turned it into such an anthem, as it has everything a DJ could possibly want from a record…
DJ'ing on a rare record scene, which is what all us Jazzers were doing at the time, you look for certain things in a record:
1) Exclusivity - well, it took 20-odd years before even another copy was found!
2) Longevity - timeless bass, driven hard jazz that was never out of fashion 'cos it was never in fashion either!
3) Mystery - the record itself gave no clue to who it was by- it just said "THE BOTTOM END" on the sleeve. One side was with some geezer noodling around on a church organ and the other side had this dirty live jammin' jazz cut direct to disc with enuff bass…. and it just played really, really, really loud!!
On the Northern soul scene people used to cover up records, so no one else could get hold of a copy- this was so obscure you didn't even need to bother - perfect! Add to that a few dodgy bootleg releases and you have a record that's been one of the most in demand and hard to get on the planet! Until now!!"
Chris Bangs

" I don't remember buying it or selling it. How Seymour found out about it all beats me. I barely remember the Electric Ballroom except that it smelt of piss and burgers…such a long time ago."
Paul Murphy

"Praise be to original jazz dancer and DJ Seymour Nurse, whose spirited quest revealed the people behind this truly obscure classic, revered by dancers and collectors alike.
Now that the mystery's solved, here's hoping that global recognition of Valli and Don's music, in whatever name, gets 'Off the Ground'!"
John Cooper

"The Twins (Seymour and Gary) were hooked on jazz from a very young age, especially Seymour, and as I recall there was one song in particular that he played non-stop which at the time was very annoying, but it was also a "catchy" tune that one found one-self humming after a while until it became a ritual.
I remember saying "Oh! Not that song again!" but would always find myself singing "Get off the Ground, go fly high as a kite…" and waited until the end of the last line just to sing along to "GET OFF THE GROUND!" which stayed with me all these years, and amazingly now the young ones (my Grandchildren) are doing exactly the same thing, but it was always a favourite of Seymour's."
Jeanette "Mum" Nurse

"To me this tune is synonymous with Seymour- I hope you like the play on words…There's something about those drums that reaches my core at a base level I don't even understand. I'm just compelled to move and sing to it. It's a song that draws you in with Valli's haunting, yet gentle vocals over a sometimes-urgent drumbeat woven into the hypnotic sound.
However, "Get off the Ground" is not only about getting up and expressing yourself through dance, the song itself is an expression of life and all its "ups and downs". The combination of all the sounds mixed with Valli's vocals is about the different tempos of life as you follow the tune to the end, you'll find yourself flying, and victorious as she sings the last "Get off the Ground!"
Andrea Nurse Lemard

"The Ultimate dancers fusion track!"
DJ Eric X

" Like a modern day Miss Marple but with more energy, Seymour Nurse has unearthed the Jazz dance jam session treasure- The Bottom End. A mystery that not even Scooby Doo and friends could solve is now available, courtesy of some hard digging.
The sound now released for your ears and feet, its time to take a seat, and sit back, relax and get yourself a Scooby Doo Snack!! Congratulations on getting to the bottom of The Bottom End my friend."
Adrian Leach
(Happy Jazz Radio Show and the "King of Descarga")

"The first time I heard the track, I did not know what to do, it was so different, so jazzy in its feel, and the vocals, wow!! It blew me away, and since then I've chased high and low around the world trying to find its source (I am still looking for an original).
It has to be the "best kept secret" until now…Thank you Seymour for unravelling the mystery and putting all our minds at rest…we can dance in peace."
Perry Louis

"The Bottom End" is a song I'm very familiar with. My favourite Uncle would always play this music to me. When we were in the park, he would sing it (unfortunately). I learnt to dance jazz and battle Uncle Seymour to "The Bottom End" at 5 years old."
Tyrelle Lemard
(Niece, Age 14)

"Emerging from the Tropical Forests of Central America, our very own Indiana Jones of the Jazz World with the vital knowledge of the source of "The Bottom End". Having started his search in Japan, and then having found clues in the Caribbean to the origin. He finally ended up in Puerto Rico to solve the ongoing mystery of who performed the Jazz- Dance classic "The Bottom End". Well done Seymour for sticking at it, and ending the mystery."
Mark "Good Vibes" Taylor
(Happy Jazz Radio Show)

"As if the tune wasn't obscure enough, I was trying to find a record called "Bollament", as that is what I mistakenly thought the DJ (Gilles) had said on the "Horizon" radio - what a twit!"
Phil Levene

"I must say you get a lot of mileage out of one LP!"
Frank Grover