LAURA JURD (Oct 16)
Appearances at SoundCellar -
DINOSAUR - Thurs 10th Nov 2016
HON - Thurs 18th Feb 2016
THE PHIL MEADOWS GROUP - Thurs 8th Oct 2015
THE WILD FLOWER SEXTET - Thurs 12th Feb 2015
Question 1 - What made you want to become a musician?
I grew up with a piano in the house and always loved to play it. For as long as I can remember music has resonated with me in an extremely deep and powerful way. It's very much a spiritual thing and I never really considered being anything other than a musician. Perhaps music chose me!
Question 2 - What was your practice routine when you decided to get serious about playing music?
As soon as I became more serious as a trumpet player it was all about consistency. It has to be due to the physical nature of the instrument. I continue to practice every day for a certain amount of time. Most of this is technical practice.
Question 3 – What advice can you give to other musicians to get the most from their practice routine?
Mindfulness. When I pick up my instrument at the start of the day I try and treat it like I've never played trumpet before - starting from the beginning. It's all about the process rather than longing for results. My first practice session of the day feels like a meditation, when done well. You definitely have to give yourself to process in order to be truly mindful. It takes practice and I still struggle with it at times. I should also mention that it's all about early mornings - when the mind is nice and empty. I find it much easier to achieve a meditative state of mind at that time of day. I could go on about this stuff for ages because the last few years have been a bit of a technical struggle for me trumpet-wise - the art of practice is something I've been thinking about a lot.
Question 4 - Can you recommend some books that helped you with your studies?
I've been using the James Stamp, Warm Up and Studies for Trumpet a lot recently. If practiced carefully and well it can really help. Classical trumpet guru Håkan Hardenberger talks about how to play these exercises - it's as much about how you practice them as, rather than just what they are.
Question 5 - Which recording, either as a leader or a sidewoman, do you think is the best example of your playing?
I'm going to have to say my latest album 'Together, As One' by Dinosaur. Having finally made an album with my band of 7 years my trumpet playing is perhaps featured more on this album than my others - which are a lot about composition.
Question 6 - Do you have a standard procedure for your compositional process?
It differs from piece to piece, but I often compose at the piano. Or at least develop initial ideas at the piano. I think of composing like practice as well - in the sense that it requires as much routine and regularity as possible in order to progress. When I have a lot of writing to do I find that I end up getting into the swing of things, if composing everyday. Ideas begin to flow more naturally and it becomes easier to access a place of inspiration. Again, it's about practicing mindfulness, emptying the mind and allowing the music to write itself in a sense!
Question 7 - What qualities do you look for in your collaborators?
Everyone I collaborate with completely inspires me creatively and I'm drawn to people who have a unique artistic identity which goes beyond their instrument. I feel so lucky to play with some of my favourite musicians on the planet. In terms of my band, the four of us spend a lot of time together, especially when on tour. We laugh a lot and everyone is a team-player and dedicated to the cause.
Question 8 - Name some of your favourite standards and tell me why you like them.
'You Must Believe In Spring' is a very beautiful song. The melody, harmony and words go hand in hand to create something really profound. Another tune which I've always loved is 'Pennies From Heaven'. For different reasons, I think the lyrics are really cool in this too. As a tune it's dripping with positivity, plus in the right hands it swings really hard - I'm thinking Frank Sinatra with the Basie Band! Whoop.
Question 9 – What are some of your desert island discs?
Here's a few pieces/albums that completely blew my mind when I first heard them and remain very special pieces in my life.
'A Child Of Our Time' - Michael Tippett
'Desert Music' - Steve Reich
'Sangam' - Trygve Seim
'Kind of Blue' - Miles Davis
'Turangalila Symphony' - Olivier Messiaen
'Petrushka' - Igor Stravinksy
'Säd Afrika' - Loose Tubes
Question 10 - What music are you listening to at the moment?
I recently came across the vast array of music by British guitarist Billy Jenkins. He made a solo album called 'Death, Ritual and Resonation' which knocked me off my feet when I first heard it. There's so much life in the way he plays the guitar.
Question 11 - What motivates you to focus on creative music?
I once heard the conductor/composer Esa-Pekka Salonen say that if something resonates with you then it will resonate with others. Whether that's 10 others or 10000 others doesn't matter. The positive impact that art, in this case music, can have on human beings is so profound and strong that I see it as something I have to do. If ones' music is 'niche' I believe it to be crucial not to starve the '10 others' out there of that shared feeling of inspiration. This stuff can enrich, enlighten and save lives and is a reminder of what it means to be human.
Question 12 – Tell me about some of the most memorable gigs you’ve played?
2 gigs stick in my mind:
Playing with Loose Tubes at Ronnie Scott's in September 2015 - I depped for Chris Batchelor on trumpet.
Berlin Jazz Festival 2015 with my band, Dinosaur.
Question 13 - Tell me about some of the most memorable gigs you’ve been to?
There are so many! But here are a few:
A few years a go now I saw Django Bates' Beloved trio with Evan Parker at the Vortex. They mostly improvised and it was completely amazing and inspiring.
Trumpet demi-god Peter Evans at Cafe Oto playing solo. I couldn't believe it was one man - he has completely set the bar in terms of technique.
Simon Rattle conducting the Berlin Philharmonic playing Messiaen's Turangalila at the Proms a few years a go. I sat in the choir stalls so I could watch Rattle effortlessly shaping and energising the sound. An astonishingly powerful piece of music piece, played incredibly by the Berlin Phil.
Other musicians/bands which I remember being part of very special live experiences are: Polar Bear, Jim Black, Elliot Galvin,Tom Rainey, Arve Henriksen, Liam Noble...
Question 14 – Tell me about your current equipment set up?
I play an Eclipse Trumpet, a yellow bell large bore instrument. I use a Bach 3c mouthpiece. I'm not even sure what any of these things mean, but I'm very happy with the instrument etc. I'm still learning how to play it though!
I also play a Novation mini-nova synth. It's a great, portable, easy to use digital synth.
Question 15 – Tell me about some musicians you think people should check out?
There's a great Norwegian indie-pop band called Broen. They are amazing and consist of some great musicians who I have met in a more improvised/jazz music context. I recently played with the drummer Hans Hulbækmo as part of a project in Norway with saxophonist Hanna Paulsberg. There's lots of great musicians from Norway that I really love including trumpet players Matthias Eick and Arve Henriksen.
Question 16 - What's your favourite cultural pursuit other than music?
I love going to art galleries when I get time. If I wasn't a musician I'd love to paint!
Question 17 - What do you think of the state of jazz in the UK?
It's in a wonderful state musically and artistically. There's a lot of exciting things going on. However I think if arts in education was more valued there'd be even more great things going on. It is challenging for British artists to share what we do on the global stage. The current government doesn't seem to value cultural export at all, even though it'd clearly be beneficial to the economy.
Question 18 - Have you got any tips for jazz promoters?
Present jazz music in a way that is as exciting and engaging as the music itself. Get people in the room and on side. Once they've heard the goods - they'll be back! And they'll tell their friends too... I guess to do this effectively takes a lot of advance planning and a bit of investment - time-wise and money-wise. Saying this, with technology in its current state, it is so easy (and cheap) for individuals to present things in a professional and engaging way from the comfort of their homes. Printing flyers, posters, social media campaigns, youtube - that stuff can all be very positive and a great way to bring communities together. Oh... and be bold with your programming. Don't assume what the public want to hear! It goes back to the resonating thing. If it resonates with you, go for it!
Question 19 - What was the last thing you heard that got you excited?
A piece called 'Hoketus' by Louis Andriessen.
Question 20 – Have you got anything you'd like to promote?
My latest album, the debut album from my band Dinosaur entitled 'Together, As One' which was released on 16th Sep on Edition Records. I'm really delighted with the album and immensely looking forward to touring it this autumn.