In Cahoots Timeline


In Cahoots was formed by Phil Miller as a vehicle for his compositions. The line-up was: Richard Sinclair, Phil Miller, Elton Dean, Pete Lemer and Pip Pyle.


Hugh Hopper replaced Richard Sinclair.



Steve Franklin replaced Pete Lemer.


Fred Baker replaced Hugh Hopper.


IN CAHOOTS LIVE 86-89 released.


Steve Franklin left


Pete Lemer rejoined.


LIVE IN JAPAN released.



PARALLEL released.


OUT OF THE BLUE released.


Mark Fletcher replaced Pip Pyle.


ALL THAT released.




Phil Miller Bio

I am a self-taught musician. I had my first guitar at 8 and have been playing seriously since 15. My first band was Delivery formed in 1966 when I was 17.

It included my brother Steve on piano and vocals and our childhood friend Pip Pyle on drums along with bass player Jack Monck. Later on we were joined by veteran jazz saxophonist Lol Coxhill, a friend of Steve’s from the London blues scene where he was already in demand as a pianist. Jack Monck was replaced by Roy Babbington in 1969 and with the addition of singer Carol Grimes we recorded the album ‘Fool’s Meeting’ (1970) for the B&C label. Delivery had had the distinction of backing visiting American blues legends such as Lowell Fulson, Eddie Boyd and Otis Span and were playing upstairs at Ronnie Scott’s quite regularly. The band’s repertoire started to include pieces by Keith Jarrett and Tony Williams and I began my own writing career at this time. Compositions of mine were included on Fool’s Meeting : ‘Miserable Man’, ‘Blind To Your Light’, ‘The Wrong Time’, ‘Fool’s Meeting’ ‘and We Were Satisfied’.

In late 1970, Delivery underwent some personnel changes with the departure of Pip Pyle to Gong and his replacement Laurie Allan. Eventually Roy Babbington left to join Nucleus and Carol Grimes was replaced by Judy Dyble, formerly of Fairport Convention. The band’s name changed to DC & The MB’s – for Dyble/Coxhill and the Miller Brothers. This line-up made a tour of Holland and the UK during the summer of 1971, playing almost entirely improvised music.

A close friend then recommended me to Robert Wyatt who had just left Soft Machine and was in the process of forming his own band Matching Mole which I joined with Dave Sinclair (organ) from Caravan and Bill MacCormick (bass) from Quiet Sun. That combination remained together for just under a year with one line-up change : Dave MacRae from Nucleus was added, then took over from Dave Sinclair.

We recorded two albums, the first, Matching Mole included one piece of mine: ‘Part Of The Dance.’ and on Little Red Record a three further pieces of mine were included: ‘God’s Song’, ‘Righteous Rhumba’ and Nan True’s Hole’, all of which were later performed by Hatfield and the North (live versions of the latter two even appeared under different titles on the compilation album Afters) Matching Mole toured opposite Soft Machine in Holland and France and opposite John Mayall in the UK.

In the summer of 1972 while work was underway on the second album, I began rehearsing with my brother Steve and Richard Sinclair (bass and vocals) both having just left Caravan and Pip Pyle back from his stint with Gong in France. That line-up took the name of Delivery and played a couple of gigs in August, notably at the Tower of London.

After various shiftings in the keyboard department involving Alan Gowen (who went on to form his own band Gilgamesh) and Dave Sinclair (who eventually rejoined Caravan) the band settled down early in 1973 with Dave Stewart on keyboards, Pip Pyle, Richard Sinclair and myself and became Hatfield and the North. During its two-year existence Hatfield recorded two albums, both including several of my compositions : ‘Calyx’ & ‘Aigrette’ on the first album and ‘Lounging There Trying’ and ‘Underdub’ on the second. My aim as a composer in Hatfield was to write pieces that while not as open as those we had been using from my Mole days still had this freer element in them. They contrasted well with Pip and Richard’s songs and Dave’s instrumental and vocal epics.

My next band National Health was an idea born in the minds of keyboardists Dave Stewart and Alan Gowen following two double-quartet gigs by Hatfield and Gilgamesh in 1973. Alan and I had been friends since 1968. I only provided one composition to the group: ‘Dreams Wide Awake’ included for posterity on the second album: Of Queues And Cures. The music of National Health was extremely complex and heavily written. My own output was virtually nil, preferring to concentrate on playing it rather than writing it. And anyway the sort of things I was able to come up with were not really relevant to the rest of the music. Quite definitely Alan and Dave were then far superior writers to me.

Between the break-up of National Health in March 1980 and the formation of In Cahoots in 1982 I was involved in various projects including a duo with ex-NH fellow guitarist Phil Lee and a trio with Lol Coxhill and my brother Steve.

I was also asked by Alan Gowen to join him on his last project, the album ‘Before A Word Is Said’ to which I contributed four compositions : ‘Above And Below’ ‘Fourfold’ ‘Nowadays A Silhouette’ and ‘A Fleeting Glance.’ This music was recorded when Alan was extremely ill. He died on May 17th, 1981. It is a testament to his stoicism and to his love of music that he could even contemplate embarking on this recording project.

In the weeks following Alan’s death we reformed National Health with the line-up of the second album – Dave Stewart, John Greaves and Pip Pyle and myself. After a couple of gigs, the aim of which was to raise money for Alan’s funeral, we went into the studio and recorded an album of Alan’s unreleased compositions: D S al Coda. (still available from us at Crescent Discs)

In Cahoots was formed by me in 1982 and has been a vehicle for my compositional output throughout its various line-ups.

Rehearsals began in November 1982 with Richard Sinclair and Pip Pyle soon joined by Elton Dean. The music slowly gained shape out of countless improvisations and new arrangements of old compositions. With the addition of Peter Lemer on keyboards we gigged around London with occasional forays elsewhere and recorded for the BBC’s radio 3 Jazz Today. We also did a tour of Holland and France, and made several demo recordings which have remained unreleased thus far.

In February 1985, Richard Sinclair was replaced by Hugh Hopper. The resulting line-up recorded most of the tracks for the album Cutting Both Ways (1987) later that year playing ‘Hic Haec Hoc’ ‘A Simple Man’ ‘Eastern Region’ and This was supplemented by ‘Second Sight’ as a band. two other of my pieces: ‘Hard Shoulder’ and ‘Figures of SpeechStewart in the ’ made in collaboration with Dave previous year. We made extensive use of MIDI for these – this was my first brush with the medium, having just acquired my first MIDI guitar.

Following an extensive tour of Europe and a performance at the 1987 Bracknell Jazz Festival, Steve Franklin replaced Pete Lemer and after further European dates, Fred Baker (previously of the Ric Sanders/John Etheridge band, among others) replaced Hugh Hopper. With the new line-up In Cahoots recorded 4 new compositions: ‘Your Root Two’ ‘And Thus Far’ ‘Truly Yours’ and ‘Foreign Bodies’ for my second album, Split Seconds (1989). Also included as MIDI collaborations were three more of my pieces recorded with Dave Stewart and Barbara Gaskin: ‘I Remaim’, ‘Dada Soul’ which also featured Richard Sinclair on vocals and bass and ‘Final Call’ recorded with ex-National Health drummer and percussionist John Mitchell, now sadly dead.

More European touring followed, which eventually resulted in a live album on Mantra Records ‘In Cahoots Live 86-89’ which included pieces recorded with the previous line-up in 1986. My compositions on that album were ‘Red Shift’ ‘For The Moment’ and ‘Above and Below’. Also included were a piece each by Hugh Hopper, Elton Dean and Steve Franklin. Later that year, In Cahoots resumed touring with another line-up without keyboards but with the addition of American-born trumpet player Jim Dvorak.

Most of the year, though, was spent working on Digging In (1991), which made extensive use of MIDI. Drum parts were programmed by Pip Pyle, while Pete Lemer and Fred Baker added keyboards and bass parts. The compositions were ‘Digging In’ ‘No Holds Barred’ ‘Bass Motives’ ‘Down to Earth’ ‘Speaking To Lydia’ ‘Birds Eye View’ and ‘Louder Than Words’. In December that year In Cahoots went on tour to Japan thanks to my old friend Henk Weltevreden who set up the tour. The line-up of In Cahoots was reinforced with Peter Lemer and another live set, Live In Japan (1993) was recorded during that tour.

Meanwhile Fred Baker and I started working out as a duo, making our live debut at the Vortex in the autumn, and eventually recording a CD Double Up (1992) mixing some of my material with two of Fred’s. The music was not scored as such for two guitars. The arrangements came about as a result of Fred and I playing together. He knew the music from the point of view of being the bass player in In Cahoots, and when we worked out as a duo he naturally transferred to guitar things that would normally be voiced by another instrument. Other things had to be reworked and were technically more difficult for us both. We worked at voicing the chords and getting the melodies where they should be but otherwise the arrangements came about as a result of working things out together, finding new ways to do it better. I would find myself playing one part and listening to Fred playing something else in a completely fresh way; a way quite different to my own approach. It’s always a surprise for me, what Fred does and I think the music benefits from our working it out together.

In March 1993, In Cahoots recorded Recent Discoveries (1994) at Gimini studios in Paris. The line-up was Fred Baker, Pip Pyle, Elton Dean, Jim Dvorak and me. My compositions were ‘Recent Discoveries’ ‘Trick of the light’ ‘Chez GeGe’ ‘Breadhead ‘ and ‘Tide’. The album also included a piece each by Elton Dean and Fred Baker. Occasional gigging followed but at that point my main live activity was with Short Wave, whose debut CD Shortwave was released that year also. My compositions on that were ‘Nan True’s Hole’ and ‘The Fox’.

In 1994-95 I gigged occasionally with Short Wave, the Miller-Baker Duo and In Cahoots. The duo was augmented by Peter Lemer on several occasions, some gigs were done as a duo with Pete Lemer. A major British tour was undertaken in January and February 1996 with new material which was recorded in the studio during the summer and released in October as Parallel. These compositions were ‘Parallel’ ‘Simmer’ ‘ED or Ian’ ‘Half Life’ ‘Sitdown’ and ‘Billow’. To celebrate its release, In Cahoots was invited to open for Caravan at their London concert on October 31st and two gigs in Holland in September 1997. In Cahoots toured England again in early December 1997 and did a French tour in March 1998 with the brass-less quartet line-up, followed by more dates in France, Belgium and the Netherlands in the Autumn (some with the full line-up).

In May 1998 my brother Steve was diagnosed as suffering from terminal cancer. In June we played a reformed Delivery benefit concert for Steve at London’s Vortex Jazz Bar with Pip Pyle, Lol Coxhill and Carol Grimes with Fred Baker replacing Roy Babbington. Steve died in December that year.

I wrote the music for Out Of The Blue during the period when Steve was ill. I had originally hoped that Steve would play on the recording but, as his illness progressed, that ceased to be a possibility. In a way this album is a tribute to Steve and is dedicated to his memory. It is something of a return to the roots for me, harking back to earlier days when Steve, Pip and I played together in Delivery and is my first venture into the blues for 30 years. The writing is simpler and there is more of a groove in the rhythm section and its release co-incides with Cuneiform Records recent re-release of the Delivery album ‘A Fools Meeting’.

Out Of The Blue had the usual In Cahoots sextet line up of Phil Miller – guitar and synth guitar, Fred Baker – fretless bass guitar, Elton Dean – alto sax and saxello, Pete Lemer – keyboards, Jim Dvorak – trumpet and Pip Pyle – drums and was augmented on two tracks by Doug Boyle on Guitar.

Sonic Curiosity June 2007

The band is: Phil Miller (from Matching Mole, Hatfield & the North, and National Health) on guitar and synth guitar, Pete Lemer on keyboards, Fred Baker on bass, Mark Fletcher on drums, Simon Picard on saxophone, Simon Finch on trumpet and flugelhorn, Annie Whitehead on trombone, Didier Malherbe (from Gong) on saxophone, flute, doudouk and ocarina, Doug Boyle on guitar, Dave Stewart (from Egg, Hatfield & the North, and National Health) on tuned percussion, Barbara Gaskin on vocals, and Richard Sinclair (from Caravan) on bass.
With a line-up of seasoned pros like the above, one must expect the music is going to be excruciatingly tight and slippery slick. It is.
The horns waft and sway with amiable emotion. Maintaining a very jazzy disposition, the horn section delivers tasty riffs with delightful expertise. Comfortable melodies are imbued with molten passion. The saxophones wail with cheerful melancholy. The trumpet warbles with earnest fervor.
Enchanting riffs spill from the guitar with glorious agility. Each note is meticulously placed to elevate the entire instrumental gestalt. And when the guitar gets the chance to elbow its way into the spotlight, the glory becomes ecstatic and amazing.
The keyboards provide delicate embellishment to the melodies with often dramatic sweeps. Nimble-fingered chords slide into wondrous melodies that serve to connect the other instruments’ riffs.
The percussion is skillful and knows exactly how to drive from a submerged vantage. Never too strong, never too elusive, the rhythms fit perfectly between the rest of the notes.
The basslines are intricate, fluid, and lend particular nectar to the tunes.
These compositions are dazzling and engaging. Their ability to immediately put the listener at ease is eminent. While steeped in Canterbury roots, this music is very straight-ahead jazz, merging old school traditions with modern delivery. The result is mesmerizing and rewarding, with wide appeal.

All About Jazz – June 2007

By Nic Jones

Maybe it’s not fair to refer to guitarist Phil Miller’s times as a member of British bands Delivery, Matching Mole and Hatfield & The North as that was all some decades ago. But the fact of the matter is that the often very straightforward nature of the music on this one loses out in comparison with those names. Whereas once the music was alive with quirks and all, the diffidence that could be mustered when playing in a time signature of say, 7/4, very little of that kind of thing seems to ruffle the surface of the polite fusion on offer here.
This is not however to suggest that the music doesn’t have its moments. The line of Miller’s “Press Find Enter” has a quality that embraces both light and shade, and trombonist Annie Whitehead‘s solo seems to tease that quality out with equal measures of both joy and trenchant wit.
The broken time of “5s & 7s” has a similar stamp to it and the enhancements of Barbara Gaskin‘s minimal wordless vocal contribution and alto sax played presumably by Didier Malherbe lift it out of the realm of the polite and make it memorable.
“Orinaca” also has an individual air about it, not least as a result of Malherbe’s work on ocarina. Keyboard player Pete Lemer‘s deft touch colors the line nicely and the result would fit nicely particularly within the Hatfields context.
Miller has always been a guitarist of distinction, and it’s thus sad to relate that there are times here when it’s like he’s absent from his own disc. On the Weather Report-like “Flashpoint,” bass player Fred Baker gets his turn in solo and underscores that comparison with a display of Pastorius-like dexterity. For all of Baker’s formidable technique the listener might just be left wondering what Miller would have made of the opportunity had he taken it himself.
On the lengthy “End Of The Line,” Miller does come out of the ensemble for one and it’s like the sun coming out on an otherwise cloudy day. All the hallmarks of his work are still in place—his idiosyncratic phrasing, his sense of economy, before the demands of a fusion idiom in which technical precision and ‘correct’ virtuosity are of overriding importance seem to regain the upper hand.
Overall, the old one about those who like this sort of thing really liking this sort of thing applies here.

Let it Rock – June 2007

Whatever you might make of the Canterbury scene these days, it’s not the same anymore, there’s not much progressiveness in it now, which is not to say it’s worse than it was before – but Phil Miller‘s band were latecomers anyway. With a new album to mark the group’s 25th year in the business, they bring on the top-notch fusion, the title track wrapping round the listener’s ears like a cosy pillow to lay a head on and rest yet not sleep, only drift away. Save for brooding “Crackpot”, the main man tends to keep behind his reeds-blowing cohorts – veterans such as Didier Malherbe and Annie Whitehead as well as Simons Finch and Picard – for most of the time, and when he sends a tune to wallow amidst the waves of Fred Baker’s bass he also sends the shivers down the spine. Thus, the elegy that’s “End Of The Line” descends as a delicately electrifying sensation where Pete Lemer‘s piano sings so poignant. It’s clearly the effortless endeavour for the players, and all the better for it, so it’s tempting to rush headlong into the breezy romp of “5s & 7s” and do the groovy African walk in “Orinaca”. So whatever the conspiracy is the secret is not advised to be kept.

From Let it Rock – DME music site

The Squid’s Ear – June 2007

Miller first came to note in Robert Wyatt‘s post Soft-Machine band, Matching Mole. Since then he’s built a great catalogue of tunes, particularly with his “In Cahoots” band, which has released eight albums since 1985. “Conspiracy Theories” is extremely melodic, gentle music without being muzak-y in the slightest way. The Canterbury sound always embraced melody, and this album is the result of decades of playing, listening and composing. No doubt this is a fusion release, but in the best sense, and if all fusion had followed such magnificent form the genre would be less panned by many a listener an critic. The pieces on this CD show some incredibly tasteful, lovely playing over thoughtful and unhurried music from musicians who know how to lay back and say what’s on their mind at their own pace.

From The Squid’s Ear

Find other Moon June 2007 Releases here: including; Elton Dean & The Wrong Object – The Unbelievable Truth; Soft Machine Legacy – Steam; Hopper / Picard – Franklin / Hayward – Numero D’vol

All About Jazz – June 2007

By Glenn Astarita

Eminent British Canterbury progressive-rock guitarist Phil Miller always plays the right notes. He doesn’t dazzle you with supersonic and heavily distorted riffs. On the contrary Miller sports a markedly distinctive style amidst his all-encompassing jazz, rock and jazz-rock vernaculars. Revered for his participation in seminal prog bands such as National Health, Matching Mole and other projects too numerous to cite here, Miller is a consummate director of musical affairs. His discriminating integrations of whimsical, Canterbury rock era-like thematic forays bestow one of many compelling attributes. The chemistry behind this band’s presence on Conspiracy Theories is firmly rooted within sinuously enacted unison lines, featuring horns, keys and Miller’s resonating single note licks. Longtime band-mates Pete Lemer and Fred Baker, on keyboard and bass respectively, help provide a fertile undercurrent for the addition of several highly respected British hornists, who expand the group’s overall design. Yet the gist behind this outing resides within the layered horns and off-kilter shifts in strategy, where dynamics and heated improvisational exercises project a cohesive maxim. Lyrically rich solos by trombonist Annie Whitehead and tenor saxophonist Simon Picard often complement the band’s surging opuses as melody plays an important role in Miller’s compositional guiding principles. Baker’s “End Of The Line” merges a dream-laden soundscape with Didier Malherbe’s (of Gong) ethereal lines, zealously counterbalanced by Lemer’s fuzz-toned electric piano phrasings and Miller’s gliding, sustain-drenched notes. It’s a ballad augmented by an ominous disposition and lucid imagery—perhaps a dad teaching his sibling about the rigors of youth and learning comes to mind. On “Orinaca (anagram for Ocarina),” Malherbe renders a poignant ocarina motif, contrasted by Miller’s low-key and bluesy progressions, which segue into a catchy, world-music vibe. Ultimately, Miller’s notable sense of diversity is uncannily cycled into a singular group sound that melds the fabled hierarchy of 1970s Canterbury stylizations with a modernist groove. And that alone speaks massive volumes. With his latest incarnation of In Cahoots, Miller furthers the scope and sound of the preexisting factors that have placed this unit at the pinnacle of the jazz-rock realm. No doubt, this album should find its way onto upcoming top ten lists for 2007. Miller glowingly separates the listless wannabes and copycats from the proven warriors, largely transmitted with fluid power and a thrusting impetus.

Jazzwise – Issue 41 – April 2001

Guitarist Phil Miller’s In Cahoots have been recording in one form or another since their debut album in 1985. This latest offering features two versions of the London-based band, a quintet with Pete Lemer on piano, Fred Baker on bass and Pip Pyle on drums, augmented by special guest Doug Boyle on guitar, and a sextet with Elton Dean on alto sax and saxello and Jim Dvorak on trumpet added to the basic quartet. The project is built around a half-dozen recent compositions which Miller felt reflected a strong feeling or influence from the blues, plus a short piano piece by Pete Lemer entitled ‘Phrygian Intro’, which precedes Miller’s ‘Phrygian Blues’. The music has a flowing, energised jazz-rock feel, both in the inventive soloing and in the cohesive, often quite intricate ensemble playing, and goes well beyond a series of standard-issue blues workouts. Out of the Blue is available directly from the artist at Crescent Discs, 29a Colvestone Crescent, London E8 2LG (cost is £12, which includes postage).

Kenny MathiesonJazzwise

Acid Dragon – Issue 30 – Spring 2001

“In certain areas fairly intricate and complex, but at the same time having an overall simplicity,” writes guitarist extraordinaire Phil Miller in the sleeve notes to this latest In Cahoots release. Phil also traces the roots of this album to the ‘Parallel’ sextet release 4 years before and to the re-issue of the blues based Delivery album ‘A Fool’s Meeting’ originally recorded in 1968. Hence the title ‘Out of the Blue’ so that “people can hear what the passage of time has brought to my music.” That’s enough talk of the writing though – what of the music? Well, it’s dazzling from the opening bars of the superb bluesy 9 minute opener ‘Early Days’ to the jazzy 1 3 minute closer ‘Slime Divas, both per-formed by the sextet version of In Ca-hoots. That is Miller accompanied by Pete Lemer on keyboards, Elton Dean on sax, Jim Dvorak on trumpet and a rhythm section of Fred Baker and Pip Pyle (More restrained than I remember him playing live but always one of the best drummers!) On ‘Early Days’ Miller indulges him-self alongside apposite brass interventions with some excellent soloing – and why not? – but still leaves time for some telepathic piano from Lemer. ‘No More Mr Nice Guy’ features great solos by Baker on fretless bass, Dean and Lemer on piano and some memorable-able guitar phrases by Miller, showing that he has lost none of his dexterity and invention over the years. Next we come to ‘Delta Borderline’ performed by the quartet (No brass) this is a number more rooted in the rock side of blues, strangely saturnine and vivacious at the same time with a killer bass line and some great pyrotechnics from the guitar synth of Miller and additional guitar by Doug Boyle. A felicitous and adroit piano solo from Lemer is the icing on the cake. This is one of the finest pieces of music I have heard for a long time and Pip Pyle is at his very best adding some stunning percussion as the music nears its climax. Phew – it’s time for a breather and the 2 minute solo acoustic piano intro to ‘Phrygian Blues’ is very necessary at this stage while I cool down. The substantive piece 1-9 led by Elton Dean’s sax with a soul-stirring brass duet and solos from Dvorak and Dean that are positively daedalian! (A great duet and trumpet solo can also he heard on ‘Slime Divas’) It’s back to the quartet with guest guitarist Boyle for ‘Open Seat’, another sparkling fluid lead line from Miller and a brilliant bass solo (Are those harmonics I hear in there?) For those unfamiliar with Miller’s history he was in Delivery, Matching Mole, Hatfield and the North and National Health. I was once privileged enough to see Miller and Pyle play live in the Hatfield’s, an experience I will never forget. This brilliant recording even proves Einstein’s theory of relativity. How can In Cahoots make an hour of music go so fast?! A wonderfully absorbing release, this exhilarating music is positively addictive! (It’s never been far away from my CD player.) An essential purchase for all lovers of progressive jazz and blues based music.

Phil Jackson – Acid Dragon

The Wire – Issue 205 – March 2001

Before Hatfield and the North and his stint with Matching Mole, Phil Miller played guitar with Delivery, who started as a blues outfit. Other members included Miller’s brother Steve on keyboards, drummer Pyle and saxophonist Lol Coxhill, a mixture guaranteed to burst the banks of any format. On out of the blue, the guitarist returns to his blues roots with quartet and sextet versions of In Cahoots. Pyle whose résumé includes Stan Webb’s Chicken Shack and Daevid Allen’s Gong, is again on drums, with Fred Baker on bass, Pete Lemer on keyboards and, on most tracks, trumpeter Jim Dvorak and saxophonist Elton Dean. Of course , the intervening years of navigating the labyrinthine contours of rock at its most complex act as a filter for Miller’s early enthusiasm, yet this refined, blues based music offers a concentrated view of his considerable strengths. His playing is melodic without a hint of banality, never histrionic or unnecessarily fussy. Whether surging or teetering forwards, his solos are always heading somewhere specific. New listeners can start their voyage of discovery here. Long-term fellow travelers will have their expectations amply met.

Julian CowleyThe Wire

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