The Bottom End: Synopsis/Quotes
"In Search Of The Holy Grail."
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
"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
"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
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 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."
"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."
(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
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
Tanya "Nia" Saw
"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
"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
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."
"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!"
(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!"
"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!!"
" 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."
"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'!"
"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
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."
(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
"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."
(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!"
"I must say you get a lot of mileage out of one LP!"