Refugee was an English symphonic-rock trio that released a self-titled album on Charisma in 1974. The band was essentially a reformed Nice with keyboardist Patrick Moraz in lieu of Keith Emerson. The project ended soon after the album’s release when Moraz was invited to replace Rick Wakeman in Yes.

Members: Patrick Moraz (keyboards), Lee Jackson (bass, vocals), Brian Davison (percussion, drums)


Refugee was formed in late 1973 by bassist and singer Lee Jackson, fresh off a three-year stint with Jackson Heights.

Jackson first rose to prominence in The Nice, a psych-rock band he formed in 1967 with keyboardist Keith Emerson, drummer Brian Davison, and guitarist Davy O’List. After their 1968 debut album The Thoughts of Emerlist Davjack, O’List left and they continued as a trio, mixing rock and classical music on the 1968/69 albums Ars Longa Vita Brevis and Nice. Their final proper release, Five Bridges, is a symphonic-rock suite performed live with the Sinfonia of London. They also backed songwriter Roy Harper on “Hell’s Angels,” the epic that closes his 1970 album Flat Baroque and Berserk.

By the time Five Bridges appeared on Charisma in June 1970, Emerson had disbanded Nice and formed Emerson Lake & Palmer with ex-King Crimson bassist/singer Greg Lake and Atomic Rooster drummer Carl Palmer. Davison linked with ex-Skip Bifferty vocalist Graham Bell in a new band, Every Which Way, which issued a self-titled album on Charisma in 1970.

Jackson formed Heights as a folk-rock quartet, which issued one album on Charisma and disbanded within months. He then formed a second Jackson Heights for the 1972/73 Vertigo albums Fifth Avenue Bus, Ragamuffins Fool, and Bump ‘n’ Grind. The last two show a ragtime/music hall slant akin to Sailor and Stackridge.

In a return to the keyboard trio format of The Nice — since developed by ELP and their disciples Triumvirat and Trace — Jackson reteamed with Davison, who recently played on another Harper epic, the 22-minute “Lord’s Prayer” on the singer’s 1973 album Lifemask.

They hired Patrick Moraz, a Swiss keyboardist who first emerged as a teen prodigy on the mid-’60s Montreux jazz scene. In 1971, he gained international renown in Mainhorse, a Swiss–English symphonic-psych band that issued a self-titled album on Polydor. During 1972 and early 1973, he recorded two soundtracks and toured as the musical director of a Brazilian ballet. He came to Refugee with a batch of material that formed the bulk of their singular album.

The Album

Refugee released their self-titled album in April 1974 on Charisma (UK, North America, Europe, NZ). Side one exceeds 26 minutes with Moraz’s opening toccata “Papillon,” Jackson’s swelling, soulful “Someday,” and the five-movement suite Grand Canyon, composed by Moraz with lyrics by Jackson. Side two nears 23 minutes with two Moraz compositions: the instrumental “Ritt Mickley” and the eight-movement suite Credo, worded by Jackson on the twice-occurring “I Believe” sections.

Refugee was co-produced between the band and John Burns, a prolific engineer (Capability Brown, Claire Hamill, Hanson, Jethro Tull, T2, Trapeze) who graduated to producer with the 1972/73 Genesis albums Foxtrot and Selling England By the Pound. The engineer on Refugee, Jean Ristori, was the bassist in Mainhorse. He co-composed “The Lost Cause,” the fourth movement in Credo. Sessions took place at Island Studios in February 1974.

Refugee is a self-contained effort performed on a large assortment of instruments. In addition to bass and vocals, Jackson handles electric and acoustic 12-string guitar, plus electric cello. Davison augments his drum setup with timpani, gong, kabassa, African drums, and Tibetan temple bells. He’s also credited with “broken glass.” Moraz’s keyboard arsenal includes piano, pipe organ, Mellotron, Clavinet, electric piano, and Minimoog and AKS synthesizer. He also plays marimbaphone, alphorn, and “electronic slinky.”

Refugee is housed in a single sleeve with a group shot (front) and member pics (back) by rock photographer Roger Stowell. Jackson sports a blue jacket with red/yellow-striped lapels and trim, mimicked on the frame around his separate pic on the back, which also shows Moraz standing in equestrian attire. Stowell also photographed covers to albums by Humble Pie, Jackson Heights, Stealers Wheel, and Vinegar Joe. Later in the decade, he did photography for Rush (A Farewell to Kings) and Squeeze (UK Squeeze).

After Refugee

Refugee performed at a spring rock festival on June 3, 1974 at the Festhalle in Bern, Switzerland. The event featured sets by Harper, Babe Ruth, Island, Karthago, Soft Machine, Tempest, Uriah Heep, and a temporarily reactivated Blodwyn Pig.

On June 16, Refugee played at Newcastle City Hall, where they performed the Grand Canyon suite and the shorter tracks from the album, plus the new Moraz/Jackson number “One Left Handed Peter Pan” and the Emerson/Jackson piece “The Diamond Hard Blue Apples of the Moon,” the b-side to the 1968 Nice single “America.” In 2007, archivists Voiceprint released a one-hour CD of the show, which ends with the group-improvised “Refugee Jam.”

Amid talk of a US tour with Eric Clapton, Refugee worked on new material for a proposed second album. They were booked for day three (Sunday the 25th) of the August 1974 Reading Rock Festival along with Barclay James Harvest, Esperanto, Focus, Gryphon, Harvey Andrews, Kevin Coyne, Strider, and the Winkies.

However, all these plans were mooted when Moraz got drafted into Yes to replace Rick Wakeman, who’d left the top-selling group after their mammoth late-1973 double-album Tales from Topographic Oceans. Moraz auditioned for the band at Farmyard Studios on equipment set up by a prior applicant, Vangelis. On the spot, he came up with a mid-section for their new piece, “Sound Chase,” which appears on their late-1974 album Relayer.

Meanwhile, Jackson and Davison resigned from the scene. Davison had a brief, unrecorded late ’70s stint with Gong. In 1978, he jammed with singer Vic Goddard at Rehearsal Rehearsals, a rehearsal space owned by Clash manager Bernard Rhodes, who also managed Goddard’s band Subway Sect. However, Rhodes sacked the band prior to scheduled sessions for their would-have-been debut album. After this, Davison sold his drumkit and moved to India. In 2002, he and Jackson reteamed with Emerson for a Nice reunion.

Patrick Moraz stayed with Yes for about 26 months. They toured Relayer into mid-1975, then paused for a year so each member could make a solo album. Later that year, Moraz appeared on the solo debuts of bandmates Steve Howe (Beginnings) and Chris Squire (Fish Out of Water). In 1976, Moraz debuted as a solo artist with The Story of i, an elaborate concept album that mixes electronic- and jazz-rock with the frenzied interplay that he recently displayed on the Yes epics “Sound Chaser” and “The Gates of Delirium.”

Ristori, who plays cello and double-bass on i, engineered the album as ‘Professor’ Jean Ristori. He and Moraz continued their working relationship into the next decade.

In late 1976, Yes reconvened to rehearse and write music for a new album. Moraz collaborated with Howe and Jon Anderson on a new longform piece, but conflicts arose between him and the others. They began corresponding with Wakeman, who ironically now lived as a tax exile in Moraz’s home country, Switzerland. Soon enough, Wakeman was back in the group.

Yes took the Anderson/Howe ideas for the long-piece and added a phone-recorded piano intro by Wakeman. This became “Awaken,” the 15-minute epic on their July 1977 release Going for the One. Moraz took his ideas for the piece and created “Time for a Change,” the eight-minute epic that wraps his second solo album Out In the Sun, recorded five months earlier in February 1977 for Charisma.

Moraz released numerous solo works over the next 35 years, including the Brazilian-infused Patrick Moraz (1978) and the synthpop-inspired Time Code (1984). He formed a drum/piano improv duo with earlier Yes graduate Bill Bruford and joined the Moody Blues for a 10-year run, starting with their 1981 comeback album Long Distance Voyager.


  • Refugee (1974)


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