November 23, 1985

The following article by Janet Plume appeared on United Press International in November 1985...

Pop star Sting goes jazz...

Sting, the pop star and actor who left the hugely successful Police to start his own jazz-rock band, has returned to the sound that first inspired him to become a musician.

Gordon Sumner, 34, earlier this year picked four top jazz musicians to record 'The Dream of the Blue Turtles'. Its political commentaries are more pointed than the Police, who often swayed to a loping reggae beat instead of jazz.

'Bring On the Night', just released nationally, is a film about the formation of Sting's solo band, which includes saxophonist Branford Marsalis, the brother of Grammy-winning trumpeter Wynton Marsalis.

The lineup also includes pianist Kenny Kirkland, also of the Wynton Marsalis band; drummer Omar Hakim, formerly of Weather Report, and Darryl Jones, a former guitarist with Miles Davis.

"It's rare that a starting band has the money to make a film about itself," said Sting, nicknamed as a teenager because of a yellow-and-black hooped sweater he wore playing Dixieland jazz with older musicians in England.

"I think of it as an honest look into 10 days of my life. If I were to make it (the film) now, the music would be better because my music has gotten better playing with this band."

"Bring On the Night" is Sting's third film this year, preceded by his starring roles in 'The Bride' with Jennifer Beals and "Plenty" with Meryl Streep.

Advertised as a documentary, the 97-minute film of the 10 days before and during the band's May kickoff in Paris of its world concert tour relies heavily on concerts scenes - a sure-hit formula with ardent Sting fans. Those less enamored with Sting may find it somewhat self-congratulatory with its emphasis on the band's racial integration and the omnipotent Sting image - the son of a milkman saw hard times before reaping millions with the Police.

Director Michael Apted shot 250,000 feet of film during a 10-day period, including an excruciatingly personal sequence showing Sting's girlfriend going into labor and giving birth to their son, Jake. "At first, I resisted filming it, then I realized there's a tenuous link between the band being born and the baby, so it fit," Sting said.

What the film attempts but fails to convey through biographical sketches is Sting's existential views, which are reflected in his songs.

The former English teacher uses scattered literary and mythological references in arguing against stereotyping, nuclear war and militarism.

A reviewer once said Sting writes a song everytime he reads a book, and in a recent interview before a concert, Sting agreed his greatest inspiration comes from literature. "I read all kinds of books, but mostly I'm interested in psychology," said Sting, who recently posed for a library poster urging youngsters to read.

Sting, who does not listen to the radio anymore because "there's very little about (pop music) that excites me," said the title of his new album occurred to him while he was founding his band.

"Several years ago, I underwent Jungian analysis, which you use to interpret dreams," he said. "In January, I dreamed I was in my home in England, in the walled-in garden in the back. Suddenly, these huge blue turtles started coming over the wall, and proceeded to completely destroy my garden, violently churning up the soil. And I wasn't upset, I was laughing at the spectacle."

He believes the turtles represented members of the band, "destroying my safe back yard. Instead of doing a another album with Police and staying comfortable, I've chosen to keep the risks high. I need to do that to stay creative."

Sting refused to detail the events leading to his departure from the Police, which other members of the band have described as temporary.

"I want freedom and the privilege to surprise people," Sting said. "With this new band, I want to destroy the old stereotypes that have been built around me. I feel very at home with jazz. This new group has a jazz influence, but it's not a jazz band. It has a polarity of all the best of my music. I try to achieve the cross-pollination in music that happened in the 1960s."

Starting a new band at the height of the Police's popularity also is a way for Sting to avoid the bloating to which so many superstars succumb.

"The greater you get, the more diminishing the returns," he said. "That's why I would rather play blues with a group down on Bourbon Street like I did last night than to a place like Shea Stadium."

Sting's band ends its world tour next April in Australia. He said he plans to take a sabbatical afterward.

"I've been in overdrive for the past year, building up momentum for the past eight years," he said, "and now I need time to sit and assimilate and write songs for six months."

© United Press International



Nov 1, 1985

Bring on the new Sting: It was hard to tell whether there was a moon over Bourbon Street the night Sting and his band hit town, what with the imminent arrival of Hurricane Juan and his vanguard of attendant clouds. But you could still hear and see Sting, and he was more than just a shade. Over the course of a few days, he strolled through the heart of the French Quarter, danced around a concert stage, jovially jousted with reporters in interviews, tumbled through a soccer game at a local field and cavorted on the silver screen...

Oct 1, 1985

The band that Sting built revels in it's new-found fame. They hail from small, cramped clubs, the warming ovens of jazz's classic bebop era. They've learned musical craft from apprenticeships with masters such as Miles Davis, Joe Zawinul, the New Orleans pianist Ellis Marsalis. They are part of what has been called the "Young Lions" movement in contemporary jazz...