all things blurt!

Herald Scotland, july 25 2012

When Ted Milton was invited to play Optimo, Glasgow's uber-hip Sunday night left-field club night, with his band, Blurt, he didn't know what to expect.
"We'd done the sound-check," says Milton in his south London home, "and we walked out of the pub, and there was this long queue outside, and I thought, we're going to die a death. This is a club night, and we're really going to bomb."
As it turned out, Milton's manic bark and relentless saxophone honking powered by his trio's angular guitar and drums had many of Optimo's cool people wigging out on the Sub Club's packed dancefloor.
"It was great," adds Milton, "even though we could only do 30 minutes with no encore, and even though it was a dangerous place to play. There was a piece of metal holding the amps up on one side of the stage. It reminded me of when we played the Mudd Club in New York. The same sort of thing happened. We went off and the crowd were cheering, then this huge metal door came down so we couldn't go back on. They really knew how to do it there."
Whether Milton, guitarist Steve Eagles and drummer Dave Aylward get a similar reception when they play the Voodoo Rooms in the very different context of Edinburgh Jazz Festival this weekend remains to be seen.


Whatever happens, Blurt's uncharacteristically high-profile appearance is a rare opportunity to witness Milton's unique talent at full throttle. For a poet turned puppeteer turned post-punk provocateur who didn't pick up a saxophone until he was in his late thirties, this special Puppeteers of the World Unite show is also a chance to check out a back catalogue that covers more than three decades.
"I'm musically illiterate," says Milton. "I can't play Mary Had a Little Lamb or anything like that, but there are definitely aspects of my performance and the band that are a bit jazzy, and I spent a large amount of time in my youth listening to Ornette Coleman, so that helps."
In truth, Blurt's full-on sonic assault can be said to have pre-dated the sorts of punk-jazz power trios favoured by the likes of Scandinavian saxophone player Mats Gustafson. Having grown up listening to Coleman, and with the recently-deceased Lol Coxhill providing live accompaniment for his puppet show, it's clear where Milton's own playing style comes from. He took a while to get there, however, from his teenage forays into the 1960s poetry scene, which would see his work appear in journals such as the Paris Review and New Departures, as well as the Michael Horovitz-compiled Children of Albion collection.