Appearances at SoundCellar -
THE TRIO FREESTONE TRIO - Thursday 31st July 2014
THE TOMMY ANDREWS QUINTET - Thurs 3rd July 2014
DAVE MANINGTON'S RIFF RAFF - Thurs 15th May 2014
Question 1 - What made you want to become a musician?
I used to play guitar with my dad when I was very little. He would play folk songs and sit in at the local open mic sessions. So I got the bug initially from him. Then later I formed a rock band at school and we got into jazz together and ditched the rock songs...
Question 2 - What was your practice routine when you decided to get serious about playing jazz?
A lot of time playing along to records, tunes that were in the real book at first, then I began to take down lead-sheets of original tunes I was into and take them along to rehearsals. I did some of the methodical stuff too, scales and arpeggios with a metronome, learning bebop heads and trying to transcribe solos off records.
Question 3 – What advice can you give to other musicians to get the most from their practice routine?
Well I still find it hard now not to just sit down and play things I can already play, rather than identify which things I’m struggling with and ruthlessly dissect those bits.
Question 4 - Can you recommend some books that helped you with your studies?
I’ve never really used many books for my own practice, apart from double bass classical studies which are good for technique, especially as I’m not a classically trained double bass player by any means. I play out of the Omnibook sometimes, and I’ve used the Marc Levine books when teaching sometimes, they’re very good on the basic harmony stuff.
Question 5 - Which recording, either as a leader or a sideman, do you think is the best example of your playing?
Apart from my own albums, where I take more of a backseat playing wise with it being a sextet, probably the best recording I’ve done is Tori Freestone’s new album “In the Chophouse” which is out very soon on Whirlwind records. As it’s a trio with no piano/guitar I get a lot more room and responsibility playing wise and obviously a lot more solos!
Question 6 - Do you have a standard procedure for your compositional process?
I try and do as much as possible not to have a standard procedure as I think for me that often leads to going over the same ground compositionally or getting stuck in a rut. So I try and start a new composition from different angles whenever possible, maybe from a Bassline, particular groove/feel, some chords, or often a melody.
Question 7 - What qualities do you look for in your collaborators?
Well i guess the main thing is they have to have their own strong musical identity. They have to be open to listening to each other and responding/leading as they see fit in different circumstances (which could change very suddenly sometimes!). A certain level of technical wizardry and being able to read crazy melodies in 13 is preferable but more important is great improvising, either within the framework of a piece or just freely between the whole band.
Question 8 - Name some of your favourite standards and tell me why you like them.
Mostly these are tunes with great changes that I love soloing on, often with a great melody as well, like "I'll be Seeing you". I always call "All or Nothing at all" on standards gigs. "Skylark" is another favourite. "Windows" by Chick Corea, or anything by Wayne Shorter..
Question 9 – What are some of your desert island discs?
Joni Mitchell “Travelogue”
Miles Davis “E.S.P.”
Brad Mehldau Trio “Songs”
Iain Ballamy “All Men Amen”
Django Bates “Summer Fruits”
Herbie Hancock/Wayne Shorter “1+1”
Question 10 - What music are you listening to at the moment?
Scott Colley “Empire”
Question 11 - What motivates you to focus on creative music?
Generally listening to or playing with other creative musicians. There are so many incredibly talented musicians playing in the UK these days and not just jazz musicians so its hard not to get inspired by hearing them play.
Question 12 – Tell me about some of the most memorable gigs you’ve played?
Tricky question! Often the best ones musically are in little clubs somewhere with about 20 people watching but for some reason the combination of the musicians and the sound etc that evening is perfect and the music just takes off..
Question 13 - Tell me about some of the most memorable gigs you’ve been to?
I remember seeing the Miles Davis tribute gig when I was at school and it was Wayne Shorter, Herbie, Ron Carter, Tony Williams and Wallace Roney doing the Miles bit and that’s as close as I’ll get to seeing that amazing 2nd quintet. The first time Wayne came over to England with his Quartet was amazing too. Seeing Django Bates gigs when I first moved to London and he’s written all this mad music and Delightful Precipice are all crammed into the old Vortex upstairs..
Question 14 – Tell me about your current equipment set up?
I’m playing a Hungarian Double Bass which I’ve had for 2 years now. Really pleased with it. That’s going through a Mark Bass head into a Vanderkleg speaker cab. I sometimes use a Dpa mic as well and mix it through a preamp with the pickup signal.
Question 15 – Tell me about some musicians you think people should check out?
There are too many to mention! Seriously, all the members of my band are great musicians with brilliant records out with their own projects.
Question 16 - What's your favourite cultural pursuit other than music?
I don't know if it qualifies as cultural but I like to do Triathlons, running, swimming and play football so that's my main activity outside of music and my family, not much time for anything else! On a rare night out I'll generally try and catch some comedy or see someone elses gig!
Question 17 - What do you think of the state of jazz in the UK?
At a crossroads really. The old gig circuit is drying up and we need to find a new audience of young people who are receptive to live music and up for something a bit different.
Question 18 - Have you got any tips for jazz promoters?
It’s a tough job promoting jazz at the moment anywhere. I guess the main thing is you get out what you put in. It takes a lot of work to run a club successfully and a lot of places it seems like they don’t have the time or energy to promote the music to a wider and younger audience apart from just putting the gigs in the listings and telling the regulars about the next week’s band.
Question 19 - What was the last thing you heard that got you excited?
Drew Gress’ new album “The Sky Inside”
Question 20 – Have you got anything you'd like to promote?
I’m promoting my new album on this tour which is called “Hullabaloo” and was released on Loop Records in 2013. It features the same Riff Raff line up that appeared at the Soundcellar in May.