Category: Interviews & Features

Catching Up With… Sophie Stockham

Sophie Stockham

Sophie Wales catches up with alto/tenor saxophonist Sophie Stockham, based in Bristol.

We’ve been checking-in with jazz artists and musicians throughout the South to see how their lockdown experience has been.

What was your first ever encounter with jazz?

I was lucky to come from a musical family. Music was important to us, so my parents would take me to different concerts throughout the year. I remember seeing Pee Wee Ellis at St George’s, Bristol, and I was so blown away by his sound, it really inspired me. My first real encounter playing jazz was with a youth music project called ‘Remix’ at the time (I think it’s now become Bristol Plays Music). They used to run jazz workshops led by Abram Wilson, Dennis Rollins, Femi Temowo, Soweto Kinch and Denys Baptiste. I learnt so much from them all, and they inspired me to want to get involved with Jazz.

Name a track you wish you’d written.

At the moment I’m delving into the string world. I wish I’d written Leonard Bernstein’s ‘Symphonic Dances’ from Westside Story. The compositions are so strong; I love how well he mixes all the different genres together and the arrangements are just amazing. I played this with the Bristol Symphony Orchestra and it was a game changer for me. There’s so much I can learn from this piece of music. I’m obsessed with it!

Who have you been listening to while in lockdown?

I’ve been listening to: Deerhoof as they write with such variety and creativity. Billie Ellish, Bjork, Kacey Musgraves, St Vincent, Lianne La Havas, and Sailing Stones. They are all incredible songwriters, singers, and musicians; I love their voices and the melodies they write. Little Simz’s new album ‘Grey Area’ is amazing. She is an incredible artist. Her lyrics and delivery are unbelievable, and all of the tracks on the album are brilliant. Her work really inspires me.

I’ve also been returning to my rock side, listening to Joy Division, Radiohead, Biffy Clyro, and David Bowie’s album ‘Blackstar’… I think it’s important to listen to different genres of music. I find I get just as much inspiration from all of the above as I do from the jazz I’m listening to.

Saxophone wise I have been listening to and transcribing Stan Getz (his album ‘Focus’ is amazing), Lester Young, and Lou Donaldson. Again I love a good melody, and these guys are masters of strong melodies and great tone!

Favourite gig you’ve ever been to and why?

Medeski Martin and Wood with Nels Cline at Under the Bridge in London. Each player has such a strong identity, there was a lot of improvisation, experimentation, and groove. They are experts in listening and musically communicating with each other. It was so mind blowing, myself and my partner sat in silence the whole way home from London to Bristol!

Any livestream concert recommendations? 

My good friend Lady Nade has a concert on the 23rd August. She’s got a beautiful voice and she’s a brilliant songwriter. Her music is a mix of Indie-Folk-Americana… I would definitely recommend checking her out!

What advice do you have for fellow musicians adapting to life in lockdown?

Be ok with the down time. Try out the things that you’ve always wanted to do either musically or generally. Also,  think of ways that you can adapt and use your talents until you can play live again.

Have you been working on any new material whilst in lockdown? 

Yes, I’ve been working with my partner Matt Brown and we have written an EP worth of new tracks for our band Sefrial. We’ve also written and finished an EP for a new project of ours Orphic, which will be released soon!

After having the amazing experience of arranging some compositions for my band Dakhla Brass alongside the fantastic Will Goodchild and the Bristol Symphony Orchestra last year, I’ve started work composing for my own Strings and Saxophone project. I’m not sure what its full form will be yet, but it will definitely have a few guest players and also a few collaborative compositions.

Our next ‘Catching Up With…’ will be posted on 26th August. Follow the series on our social media and hear about it directly when you sign up to our mailing list.

Catching Up With… John Law

Image of John Law

Sophie Wales catches up with jazz pianist and composer John Law, based in the South West. 

We’ve been checking-in with jazz artists and musicians throughout the South to see how their lockdown experience has been.

What was your first ever encounter with jazz?

I was living in Germany, taking a break from further classical piano studies in Vienna, after having completed my study at the Royal Academy of Music, seemingly destined for a life as a concert pianist. I travelled with a girlfriend at the time to Amsterdam and I heard some Be-Bop in a jazz bar there. I was hooked. It was almost synaesthetic; I could see the improvised choruses going past me in the air and I was fascinated by the genre. Then after that I had my first encounter with recorded jazz: Thelonious Monk’s trio album playing Ellington. I heard the first few bars, Monk’s 4-bar intro to ‘It Don’t Mean a Thing’ and similarly, I was absolutely hooked.

Name a track you wish you’d written.

There are so many. You have to know I never do favourites, or top lists. But some pieces that really resonate with me as compositions are Alan Pasqua ‘Highway 14’, Jan Garbarek, ‘So Mild the Wind, So Meek the Water’, Ralph Towner, ‘Celeste’, Steely Dan ‘ I Got the News’, and most tunes written by pianist Tom Cawley. Other pieces include Radiohead, ‘Sit Down, Stand Up’. This is a fantastic example of steady build-up. From the opening, with the subtle electronic drum sounds, the eerie glockenspiel and the simple melody (in an unsettling ten beat feel), it gradually builds, particularly through percussion sounds, to a thrilling conclusion. Keith Jarret’s ‘Personal Mountains’ is also excellent. This is such a dark, mysterious, powerful tune, and quite classical and baroque-sounding in it’s own way. I love the combination of that with the driving, Bossa-type, syncopated half time bass line.

Who have you been listening to while in lockdown?

I’ve been re-listening to Weather Report’s album ‘Heavy Weather’. It’s a big regret of mine that I never heard this group play live… I wasn’t into jazz at that time. To have heard that group in concert (the one with Jaco Pastorius in), would have been an amazing experience. Superhuman musicians, all of them, and a fantastic group sound. Heavy Weather is one of their most successful albums and I’m enjoying it all over again for myself, as if I’d never heard it before.

I’ve also been listening to Hector Berlioz, ‘Harold in Italy’. It’s amazing that famous works such as this can be discovered for oneself, almost as if no-one else has ever heard them before. Personally I’ve never really warmed to Berlioz, apart from the Symphonie Fantastique. But listening to this work, ostensibly a sort of viola concerto, written for the great violinist Paganini, I was captivated. First by the opening fugal section of the first movement (I just love counterpoint… always will!), and then by the beautiful second movement, the March of the Pilgrims. This movement is so typical of him; I played it to my wife and she was amazed at how strange it sounded, how the musical movement seemed to stop and how simple and also angular the melody was. It’s a bit like naive art.

I’m enjoying discovering, for myself, the symphonies of Carl Nielsen, particularly his 5th. This is a really challenging work, full of references, I feel, to the First World War, which had just finished. The piece is really fresh and has a very different sound in comparison to German music, or French, or Italian. It’s also quite a modern-sounding work.

Favourite gig you’ve ever been to and why?

I used to really enjoy and learn from getting into gigs really cheap, as a young, penniless musician. I used to go to Ronnie Scott’s to hear amazing visiting musicians and the house band, which enabled me to study, at close quarters, John Taylor’s incredible playing. Jarrett Trio live at the Royal Festival Hall was also wonderful. Living now for nearly 20 years in the South West, I’ve been really lucky to hear, at the wonderful St. George’s Bristol concert hall, some amazing piano trios: the Esbjörn Svensson Trio (before they went mega famous), Brad Mehldau (with Jorge Rossy on drums, also before Mehldau went stratospheric), Bobo Stenson, John Taylor… It was a great education for me! I also loved hearing Phronesis at Colston Hall.

Any livestream concert recommendations? 

I’ve tried a couple of livestream solos myself and I’m just trying to get in to this and feel more comfortable in the new environment. Early days…

What advice do you have for fellow musicians adapting to life in lockdown?

Try and keep practising. It’s really hard to not feel de-motivated by the whole uncertainty of life, now, and for the foreseeable future. But keep developing and keep enjoying music. It’s one of the most wonderful things that God gave us to get through this strange time on earth that we call life. Albert Schweitzer said God gave us music and cats…

Have you been working on any new material whilst in lockdown?

I’m trying to re-configure a new project of mine called ‘Renaissance’. Featuring midi keyboards and saxophone, with live visuals (which I’ve just started with saxophonist Jon Lloyd and Tangerine Dream visual artist Patrick Dunn), over electronic looped pads created by my son Jasper out of fragments of sacred vocal music. I’m also working on re-scheduling the new album tour for my quartet Congregation, with James Mainwaring, Ashley John Long, and Dave Smith. Plus trying to work on some different piano technique and repertoire which I’ve wanted to do for a while now. I’m actually really enjoying lockdown! I’ve got loads done in the house and garden, including building a pergola!

Our next ‘Catching Up With…’ will be posted on 19th August. Follow the series on our social media and hear about it directly when you sign up to our mailing list.

Catching Up With… Charlie + Jake

Sophie Wales catches up with multi-instrumentalist duo Charlie + Jake, from Bristol.

We’ve been checking-in with jazz artists and musicians throughout the South to see how their lockdown experience has been.

What was your first ever encounter with jazz?

Jake: Listening to Keith Jarrett’s album of the Köln Concert performance at a very young age. It was my parents’ favourite album and with my Mum being a piano teacher, I was subsequently inspired to improvise on the piano myself. Much later my interest in jazz was reignited by a weekend spent volunteering at the Cheltenham Jazz Festival and being engrossed in a huge variety of new jazz artists and bands that left me hungry for more! I’ve since been back three more times to volunteer at the festival and absorb all the wonderful music on offer.

Charlie: I was told really early on that ‘My Baby Just Cares For Me’ was No.1 on the day my Dad was born, so I remember listening to that on his birthday. I then remember having quite a big Jamie Cullum obsession and meeting him at a gig at Bath Abbey at age 17. I was very worried about how to say he has been an inspiration to me, and ended up blurting out “I’m a jazz singer and it’s all your fault!” He was quite taken aback, and then apologised! It wasn’t quite what I meant. Since then, much like Jake, Cheltenham Jazz Festival has been my way to keep up with plenty of new and exciting jazz each year!

Name a track you wish you’d written.

‘It Don’t Matter’ by Jacob Collier. It simply oozes happiness and joy in every little moment of the song! A gorgeously simple melody and lyrics combined with lush harmonies and wonderful vocal lines. It’s so clear that Jacob had oodles of fun whilst creating this tune, and it continues to inspire us in our own music making too. As well as this, we also wish we’d written every song Lianne La Havas has ever written! Her latest album is just beautiful and her voice is pure gold.

Who have you been listening to while in lockdown?

Dominique Fils-Aimé and her most recent album ‘Stay Tuned!’. We love her all-pervasive use of voice throughout the album, along with some wonderful instrumentation including percussion made from turning pages in books. We’ve also been listening to Jacob Collier. He’s currently in the process of releasing singles from an upcoming album and sharing the musical universe of sounds within. It’s always fun to follow his releases as he shares behind-the-scenes looks at the production and music writing process through livestreams, and we are always fascinated and inspired by what he does.

Favourite gig you’ve ever been to and why?

We can’t decide on one so here’s two sublime concerts we’ve been to recently:

Mesadorm performing at Circomedia, Bristol. We sang as part of the 60-strong choir, Murmuration, accompanying their set. Hauntingly beautiful pieces with a band that is so in tune with each other and so clearly enjoying every moment of the set just as much as we were in the choir. And to be a part of some of the gorgeous music ourselves was unparalleled.

Bokante at St George’s – an absolute feast of rhythm, groove, funk, melody, solos, harmony, and joyous jamming on stage. We loved to see everyone on stage interacting with smiles and glances as they so thoroughly enjoyed each moment and sat in the groove. To add to that, the immaculate vocals of Malika Tirolien and the impeccable percussion of André Ferrari meant the evening was nothing short of magical musical inspiration.

Any livestream concert recommendations? 

We’ve actually been doing regular livestreams of our own! Is that a cheeky answer? But we’ve also enjoyed Jacob Collier’s (yeah, we know, we talk about him a lot…) spontaneous Instagram livestreams, often collaborating with other musicians. We’re also enjoying the wonderful Tiny Desk series which has continued releasing great performances from artist’s homes throughout lockdown (guess who our favourite one was? That’s right… Jacob Collier!).

What advice do you have for fellow musicians adapting to life in lockdown?

One thing we struggled with at the beginning was putting unnecessary extra pressure on ourselves to use all this supposed “free time”. We soon found that there wasn’t as much time as we had thought as a lot of other aspects of life continued needing attention, so it was important to adjust our goals and expectations. Now a few months into it, we’re glad we’ve been able to stay creative, but it certainly hasn’t been as productive as we dreamed it might be in the first two weeks or so, and that’s okay! We’ve been watching many great videos from YouTubers Adam Neely, Ben Levin and Mary Spender, who have continued to provide huge amounts of inspiration throughout this period of lockdown. We’d particularly recommend Mary’s video which shared tips on creative time management in lockdown and seeking the right kind of feedback on your projects whilst they are in progress.

Have you been working on any new material whilst in lockdown?

A lot of our creative energy has been focused on several regular livestreams which we have kept going throughout lockdown. The main project of ours at the moment is the Echoes and Edges Open Collab: a livestream where we create improvised musical worlds around spoken word performances sent in by poets from all over the world. We listen to their poem once or twice to get an idea of the theme and then create music live on stream using our bespoke live-looping setup, responding to the words and turning the pieces into musical poetry collaborations. It has been perpetually fresh and exciting and has kept us creative and collaborative in a time where we would not otherwise have had many opportunities to work so closely with people. You can check out some of these collaborations over on our YouTube channel or even submit your poetry here.

Our next ‘Catching Up With…’ is with John Law, and will be posted on 12th August. Follow the series on our social media and hear about it directly when you sign up to our mailing list.

Catching Up With… Sheboshka

Sophie Wales catches up with Şebnem Zorlu (vocals) and Chris Miles (7 and 6 string guitars) from singer-songwriter duo, Sheboshka.

We’ve been checking-in with jazz artists and musicians throughout the South to see how their lockdown experience has been.

What was your first ever encounter with jazz? 

Şebnem: Listening to jazz tunes on my parents’ vinyl records when I was young and later on discovering Ella Fitzgerald and Nina Simone on the radio.

Chris: Coming across an interview with veteran UK jazz guitarist, Ike Isaacs, in a copy of Electronic Musician magazine back when I was a kid learning classical guitar. The interview had a transcription of a solo piece of Ike’s called ‘After Hours’. I tried playing it but the harmonies were strange and my sight reading was heavily challenged! But it inspired me to go and start checking out jazz guitarists and I could never play an unextended minor triad again…

Name a track you wish you’d written.

Şebnem: ‘The Part You Throw Away’ by Tom Waits.

Chris: ‘Oblivion’ by Astor Piazzolla.

What have you been listening to while in lockdown?

Şebnem: ‘Rain Dogs’ by Tom Waits and Chris Isaak, I’m also on a Nancy Sinatra kick at the moment!

Chris: Tonnes of Bill Evans and a lot of Yamandu Costa.

Favourite gig you’ve ever been to and why?

Chris: That’s got to be Vincente Amigo back in 2003. It was a tour for his Ciudad de las Ideas record which is still my favourite of his. It was in the old amphitheatre in Famagusta, Northern Cyprus — just a stunning concert in a stunning place.

Şebnem: Ditto!

Any livestream concert recommendations?

Chris: Bireli Lagrene Trio at the Maisons-Lafitte Jazz Festival. It’s on YouTube!

What advice do you have for musicians in lockdown?

Şebnem: My advice to lyric writers in lockdown or otherwise, would be to listen to a vast variety of well written music in different genres and languages, watch movies, read books, and sharpen your skill for emotional memory.

Chris: Find some online lessons or book a Skype lesson with a favourite artist (there are some amazing people doing this in lockdown) and just commit to using some of this time to get back to practicing some basics.

Have you been working on any new material in lockdown?

Both: Yes, we’ve been writing some new songs. We just posted a rehearsal recording of one of them, ‘Something Beautiful’, on Instagram.

Find more of Sheboshka’s music on their website, and check out their album ‘Shadows Behind Us’.

Our next ‘Catching Up With…’ is with Charlie + Jake, and will be posted on 5th August. Follow the series on our social media and hear about it directly when you sign up to our mailing list.


Catching Up With… Abi Flynn

Sophie Wales catches up with Abi Flynn, Brighton-based singer and songwriter.

We’ve been checking-in with jazz artists and musicians throughout the South to see how their lockdown experience has been.

What was your first ever encounter with jazz?

My grandad was a jazz singer in his day. He used to sing the greats whilst filling out his crosswords or serenade us at family weddings and parties. He had a beautiful baritone voice and used to tell about his days secretly singing in jazz clubs whilst my nanny thought he was out having a ‘normal’ job!

Name a track you wish you’d written.

There are so many, but what comes to mind this second is ‘Both Sides Now’ by Joni Mitchell (the smoky jazz version from the 2000 album). Wow. The depth of meaning within the lyrics, the melody, the FEELING. Just goose bumps.

Who have you been listening to while in lockdown?

I’ve been listening to a lot of music where world-inspired rhythm and percussion meets orchestral landscapes. Such as Michael Kiwanuka, Terry Callier, Minnie Ripperton, The Isley Brothers, Pete Josef, Snarky Puppy. I’m loving cranking up some personal favourites such as Chantae Cann, Stevie Wonder, Rohey, Esperanza Spalding, Fatima, Bobby Caldwell and Chaka Kahn.

Favourite gig you’ve ever been to and why?

Snarky Puppy live in Brighton. Every single song was like being caressed by about five different dimensions of delicious sounds! I was right at the front, so I soaked it all in and stared in total amazement at the musicality and pure heart that went into every bar.

Any livestream concert recommendations?

I can’t believe I’m saying it but I haven’t seen any livestream concerts! For me, lockdown has been such a time of introspection and redefining myself as an artist, whilst being a new mama in a bit of a love bubble. Lots of gentle experimentation with new sounds and exploring what I’m passionate singing about in this new chapter. I’m going to look into these livestream concerts after this!

What advice do you have for fellow musicians adapting to life in lockdown?

Make it real. Make it felt. We are all feeling so much right now, in one way or another. Without so much distraction from the outer world, we are coming face to face with so much of our inner world. So much of our innermost felt expression usually goes under the radar, but in these illuminating times, we have an opportunity to embrace the discomfort rather than cover it up with more distraction. Inside the discomfort is the good stuff. My advice is to get deep, be with it, and make it into art. That is true alchemy. Also, trust is something magical. Trust that just being and experiencing the vast inner landscape, as apposed to the need to ‘do’, will actually move mountains beyond what you could have imagined in terms of creative expansion and bringing your dreams into manifest!

Have you been working on any new material whilst in lockdown?

In a surprising turn of events, my partner Bradley and I have been writing beautiful songs together. He’s a wonderful songwriter and guitar player. Time will tell what happens with these! But mostly I’ve been falling back in love with singing just for the love of singing. I have so much music written that I didn’t get to release yet due to cancer, pregnancy, and the pandemic, so I’ve been creating a master plan to bring it all out.

Read more about Abi’s story on her website, and head over to her Spotify to check out her music. You can also watch her brand new music video here.

Our next ‘Catching Up With…’ is with Sheboshka, and will be posted on 29th July. Follow the series on our social media and hear about it directly when you sign up to our mailing list.

Catching Up With… Nadav Schneerson

Sophie Wales catches up with Nadav Schneerson, drummer and founder of Yadasofi, a jazz ensemble based in Brighton.

We’ve been checking-in with Jazz artists and musicians throughout the South to see how their lockdown experience has been.

What was your first ever encounter with jazz?

I was probably about 15. My older brother was really into jazz at the time and had some CDs (including Sonny Rollins ‘Saxophone Colossus’, Horace Silver ‘The Tokyo Blues’, Cannonball Adderley ‘Somethin’ Else’, Wynton Kelly Trio and Wes Montgomery ‘Smokin’ at the Half Note’, Kenny Burrel ‘Midnight Blue’, Charlie Parker ‘Charlie Parker with Strings’). I put them onto my iPod classic and got into it! I still listen to the albums to this day and they’ve massively influenced me; I know some of them off by heart now. I began jazz drumming lessons when I was 16 and I started to understand the genre a little more; this was the game changer for me.

Name a track you wish you’d written.

Ooh that’s a hard one. I can never pick just one song! If it was an older Jazz tune it would have to be Thelonious Monk ‘Ruby, My Dear’, or Oliver Nelson ‘Stolen Moments’. A more modern track would have to be ‘Hamina’ by Omer Avital, or in fact any of his tracks. There’s many more…

Who have you been listening to while in lockdown?

I’ve been listening to a lot of Itamar Borochov, Yemen Blues, and Moroccan Gnawa music over the past weeks. Innov Gnawa and Simo Lagnawi are good groups to start with! Clark Terry and plenty more Middle Eastern music!

Favourite gig you’ve ever been to and why?

Probably Omer Avital Qantar at Pizza Express in Soho. He’s been a great influence to me for a while so it was really amazing to finally see him live. I was swinging in my seat and grinning for the whole set non-stop.

Any livestream concert recommendations?

Yes! Yemen Blues streamed a live gig which is on their Facebook! I felt like I was really at a show, it was really well recorded and had me jumping out my seat dancing.

What advice do you have for fellow musicians adapting to life in lockdown?

Honestly, we all move at a different pace. I’ve been using this time to reflect on myself. I would say take your time and don’t let the pressure make you feel bad if you’re not being as productive. I think it’s challenging to find inspiration right now. This isn’t a competition, so it’s important to sit back and reflect on what you really want. If your expression is to share your progress online then that’s brilliant! But as I, and many others are, allow yourself to rest. Do what you can and make a plan for what you want long term.

Have you been working on any new material whilst in lockdown?

At the beginning I finished a tune I was writing for a while. It’s probably my favourite tune I’ve composed so far. We’ve started making a remote video, which is getting there. I’ve felt a little unmotivated during this period, but hopefully it’ll be over soon!

Check out Yadasofi’s bandcamp page to hear their music for yourself.

Our next ‘Catching Up With…’ is with Abi Flynn, and will be posted on 22nd July. Follow the series on our social media and hear about it directly when you sign up to our mailing list.

Catching Up With… Jelly Cleaver

Sophie Wales catches up with guitarist, producer, and singer-songwriter Jelly Cleaver, who is now based in London, but grew up in Southampton.

Welcome to our new series in which we are checking-in with jazz artists and musicians throughout the South to see how their lockdown experience has been.

What was your first ever encounter with jazz?

When I was a teenager, about 13/14, I used to shop in charity shops and I’d always get CDs from there. I’d spend ages going through all the racks, just looking at the liner notes. They mostly had out of date cheesy pop and some old rock and folk classics (my thing at the time), but once I found Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughn, and Nina Simone it was game over.

Name a track you wish you’d written.

I think ‘Move on Up’ by Curtis Mayfield is an impossibly good piece of music. It’s an absolute floor-filler half a century after it was written, and the message still resonates.

Who have you been listening to while in lockdown?

Dexter Gordon is my new idol. I love the sound of his voice. I always listen to a lot of John Coltrane, he puts me in a good place. I’m obsessed with the new Cleo Sol album ‘Rose in the Dark’. Chloe X Halle has been on repeat. So has Mariah Carrey.

Favourite gig you’ve ever been to and why?

Oh, that’s a hard one! If I really think about it, it would probably be some wild underground jam with only about 30 people there. I’d probably have to say it was my album [The Dream Jazz Manifesto] launch actually . Even though I’d come down a few days before with what I think was glandular fever, and I was struggling to speak audibly, I still had an amazing time and me and most of the audience went to my house afterwards for birthday cake. I think the police were called.

Any livestream concert recommendations?

I haven’t been looking out for livestreams much, but me and my housemates watched an amazing one by Laura Marling at Union Chapel. That was really special.

What advice do you have for fellow musicians adapting to life in lockdown?

It’s a tough time! I haven’t actually felt very creative, which is a shame because it’s rare to have this much spare time as a musician! I’ve been using lockdown to think more about what purpose I want to make music for when we’re back to live concerts and gigs. I’ve found it really useful to focus on practising basics, learning standards, and going over music theory. Not exactly thrilling. But I’d say to everyone, use this time for what you feel you are able to do. Some might go hard on the admin, some might be gripped by creativity and be composing some of their best work, some might use the time to focus on their physical and mental health. All are useful. You do you!

Have you been working on any new material whilst in lockdown?

Like I said I haven’t been able to write anything since lockdown, I think some part of me is still processing everything. But I’ve used the time to gather all the tunes I’d already written into different projects and begin to arrange and score them so I can hit the studio running when it finally opens up. I’ve also been polishing up a few tracks I was producing, getting the final mixes ready. So, hopefully, there should be more music coming from me relatively soon!

Jelly’s latest single ‘In Dreams’ was released on the 5th June. You can listen to more of her music here.

Our next ‘Catching Up With…’ features Nadav Schneerson of Yadasofi, and will be posted on the 15th July. Follow the series on our social media and hear about it directly when you sign up to our mailing list.

Tribute to Keith Tippett 1947-2020

On Sunday, 14 June 2020 the British jazz scene lost one of its finest virtuoso’s, Keith Tippett. An outstanding and unique musician from the South West, Keith has left a huge legacy across the world of jazz and improvisation. As solo artist, collaborator and innovator, his music inspired peers including luminaries such as Paul Dunmall and Andy Sheppard, as well as encouraging a younger generations of jazz musicians such as Matthew Bourne. Keith’s compositions, his spontaneous and improvised performances using different objects inside the piano and on the strings created an original and individual sound.

Megija Petinena has gathered articles, poems, and tributes from musicians, promoters and critics who knew Keith well, including a film and tracks  from the last recording he made, giving an insight into his musical world, innovation and explorations right to the end. We are grateful to everyone who has shared material with us. If you would like to add to this tribute please see details of how you can do this at the end of this article.

Ian Storror, long-time friend, jazz promoter and fellow Bristolian, gives a broad account of Keith’s career:

From the early days in Bristol, Keith studied classical piano and organ and played with a Bristol brass band before creating his first jazz trio. He moved to London in the late 1960’s to pursue a career in music, moving between rock and jazz before going on to form groups including The Keith Tippett Sextet, 50-piece ensemble ‘Centipede’ and ‘Mujician’ (which began as a 3-series solo album project) and onto further international performances and projects. In 1970 he married the pop singer Julie Driscoll (Julie Tippetts), who became a lifetime creative collaborator. Read Ian’s full account here

Nod Knowles, long-time friend and supporter writes his own memoir ranging from the personal, the musical, the political and everything in-between.

‘Amongst his signature philosophical phrases Keith often used to repeat ‘Our job as musicians when we play a gig is to remove our listeners from chronological time’. He did that for me every time – and will still do it on record and in memory for as long as I can imagine. Keith Tippett was funny (oh those classic jokes), sociable (another cider please), passionate in his views and opinions and, sometimes just a wee bit intransigent (‘Can a diva’, someone fondly asked, ‘have a Bristol accent?’) – and I swear that I enjoyed every single moment of the chronological and musical time I spent in his company. Along with thousands of others – musicians, students and audiences – I’ll miss him terribly.’ Read Nod’s full version here

David Jones, co-founder and Director of Serious/EFG London Jazz Festival remembers:

‘The Steinway tuner objected when he gently laid a plastic crocodile on the piano strings for resonance – ‘You’re not allowed to prepare the piano!’ Keith drew himself up to his full height and declaimed ‘How dare you! I never prepare anything – it’s improvised’. The croc stayed… Keith Tippett was a life-enhancing spirit who cared passionately about every note he played’ Read David’s full version here

Tony Dudley-Evans, jazz promoter gives an overview of his musical journey as an innovator and more:

‘Keith’s individuality took many forms.  Above all there were those moments when his humour, the way he responded to situations, the timing of his surreal comments in the Bristolian burr he never lost, made one aware that one was in the presence of genius. I remember a moment in the middle of the Tony Levin Memorial Concert. There was a sudden burst of loud feedback in the hall.  Keith heard the sound. He didn’t wince, but did ‘explain’ to   the band and the entire audience what was going on: ‘It’s Tony.  He’s trying to get in on it!’’ (Tony Dudley-Evans, London Jazz News) Read full article here and London Jazz News Podcast interview with Keith (2013)

Keith worked with students including his teaching/mentoring at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama to his long-standing annual courses at Dartintgon Summer School, influencing a range of musicians.

‘It was his kindness, openness and humanity that opened my ears to improvised music. He was a musician of extraordinary originality, a composer who broke all the rules but never lost his way in what he wanted to achieve. ‘(Dave Stapleton, Edition Records) Read the full version here

‘My discalculaic brain struggled to sight read regular notation let alone 13th chords on the charts he was showing us (and still does). But Keith was only ever encouraging and never once made me feel bad about it, instead giving me credit for listening and trying out unusual chord voicings. There was always humour and ice breaking and attempts to put us at ease: ‘you’ve made an old man very happy… or is that a happy man very old?’ To this day, some of my favourite jokes are Keith jokes.’ (Roshi Nasehi) Read full version here

‘It wasn’t just that Keith was a formidably talented pianist. Or the sort of absolute one-off character who inspired people to be more themselves, more comfortable in their own skin, than they’d ever dared before… it was his generosity of listening which was inseparable from the generosity of his heart.’ (Ana Juliet Silvera ) Read full version here

‘The man inspired so many and the impact he has on many inspirational musicians over a 50 year period is incredible. He was a ‘sweetheart’ (as he would say of those who were genuine and kind hearted), my life was made so much better with him in it as a student and I will forever treasure those many brilliant moments. ‘(Luke Lockyer) Read full version here

‘Feeling real gratitude for having witnessed so many of his performances at Dartington, both his free-wheeling, wild and inquisitive improvs with Julie Tippetts, and his generous, joyous holding of space for students to shine.’ (Sara Mohr-Pietsch)

 ‘Matt Davis and I shared the bill once with Keith and Julie. I was expecting him not to like our set at all. We were VERY minimal in that period. Electronics, trumpet and amplified tam tam, small sounds, tiny gestures, long silences. Afterwards, he was wonderful, very complimentary and said our music was serious and sophisticated and that we delivered it with ‘aplomb’ (the only person I’ve ever known use that word!). The concert was at the Lighthouse Theatre in Poole, Dorset, organised by Stuart Riddle. We played in the little black box, arts space downstairs, usual audience of about 40 people. Quite by coincidence, upstairs in the main concert hall was a big presentation by Karl Jenkins and the Bournemouth Philharmonic Orchestra, Keith’s old band mate and by now, world famous composer. Audience of 1500. I asked Keith about Karl’s success and he replied, with his usual humility and generosity, that it couldn’t have happened to a nicer man and that he deserved every moment of it.’ (Mark Wastell)

‘Over the years I got to know Keith so that as a student and secretary of the Jazz and Improvised Music Society at Middlesex Poly I arranged for him to play a solo concert at Trent Park. Keith had just returned from playing in Japan. He was tired from the travel but, naturally, gave an unforgettable performance. Later in the 1980’s I became seriously ill and was admitted to hospital for open heart surgery. As I began to recover a card arrived from Keith. I don’t know how he had heard but this was the kind of thoughtful, generous person he was, and his best wishes helped. Once recovered I invited him and Elton Dean to play at the Makeshift Club in the back room of the Duke of Wellington on Balls Pond Road, and I was fortunate to support them in a combo with Keith.’ (Stuart Wilding) Read full article here

We were delighted to be contacted by Adrian Chivers who contributed his recent film:

‘I have a collaborative music project called ‘Noise In Your Eye which features Keith co-writing and performing on this record. We finished the record at the end of March. The plan was to showcase and tour the record this year, however Covid-19 had other ideas! Noise in Your Eye brings together elements of jazz, modern composition, film-score, electronica, ambient and free improvisation and is in fact the last record that Keith released. In the video you can see Keith recording the track Touch the Water at my place’ (Adrian  Chivers) Full album available here



So after all, encore, reprise, that’s all you knew.

I’ll forever see this captain of the grand

swashbuckling, conjuring up monsters and motions disturbed from deeps;

from weightless silence plucking a child’s world with music box pling,

pulling this heart string.


A dedicated artist dies

yet resonates for ever unsurrendered;

no compromise.


Bellows of Spirit through finger tips

Tippett bent over

Brooding, incanting

Blacksmithing magic.


Offstage cheek, crude as crap, joke crackling for our warming.

Diffidence? Not his forte. The English are not supposed to fuss but he was made of other stuff.


Lungs empty now,

he inspired many

who blow embers,

embed the muse,

light fuses and refuse

to let dull normal win.


Keith, our twin.


Shaman of unshaved side burn, burn!*

swing fast

swing low

swing high

sweet man,

sweet soul.


*as in play as fast and furious (David Mowat, Musician)


Other articles:

Keith Tippett Obituary

Keith Tippett: the jazz great who saw music as a source of goodness

British Jazz Pianist Keith Tippett Dies at 72

Bristol Jazz Legend Dies



If you would like to add a tribute here, please email us at

Catching Up With… Run Logan Run

Sophie Wales catches up with Andrew Neil Hayes (saxophones/electronics) and Matt Brown (drum kit/percussion) of Run Logan Run, based in Bristol.

Welcome to our brand new series in which we are checking-in with jazz artists and musicians throughout the South to see how their lockdown experience has been.

What was your first ever encounter with jazz?

MATT: Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers ‘Moanin”, was 100% THE album that got me into jazz and one I still revisit a lot now; I will never tire of it. I do however, have a special soft spot for a few years later when Wayne Shorter joined the band (one of, if not the greatest improvisers of all time in my humble opinion). The mix of Art’s unique power, groove, and feel, blended with Wayne’s deeply honest, boundary pushing explorations is one of my favourite combos. Art has one of the greatest shuffle’s ever, his attitude when it comes to fills, solos, and comping is very moving and energising. JAZZ CAN GROOVE TOO is another big lesson I learned from him, coming from a past of funk, blues, rock, and all other types of groove based music. His music then proved a great gateway into the free, avant-garde music I love.

Name a track you wish you’d written.

MATT: There are way too many to list and not all of them would be jazz, but off the top of my head right now I’d say Radiohead ‘Everything in Its Right Place’, Bjork ‘Joga’, Wayne Shorter ‘Witch Hunt’, Lee Morgan (as a part of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers) ‘Afrique’, and all of Thelonious Monks compositions.

ANDREW: Young Fathers ‘Shame’.

Who have you been listening to while in lockdown?

MATT: I’ve been going through a very severe Deerhoof phase, especially the albums ‘Offend Maggie’ and ‘The Magic’. Their unique blend of straight up alt rock, pop, schizophrenic collaging and rebellious attitudes towards songwriting and playing time, has made them one of my all time favourite groups. The chemistry this bunch have is way off the chart. I’ve been going back through lots of vinyl I’ve collected over the years too and so far other favourites of mine have been Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers ‘Free For All’, Dr John ‘Desitively Bonnaroo’, Lou Donaldson ‘Fried Buzzard live’ and Mark Orton ‘Nebraska’ (original soundtrack).

ANDREW: I was listening to the quiet. Bristol normally has a horrible hum and a horrible smell. It’s all come back now though.

Favourite gig you’ve ever been to and why?

MATT: This is a very hard one and I have no way of giving you one answer, but experiences that pop into my head would be seeing one of my favourite drummers Herlin Riley, play with one of my all time favourite artists Dr John in Bristol a few years back. These are two very deep and unique musicians and they played a lot of Dr John’s earlier material from the album ‘Gris Gris’, which I’m very fond of. It was a heavy lesson in so many ways from two of the New Orleans greats. Another was an Afrobeat gig in Paris and I have no idea what the band was called. They were good, however, half way through the show Tony Allen showed up and sat in. My brain melted, one musician had changed and there and then I learned the genius of Tony Allen. The power to elevate this group into the stratosphere blew me away. That man’s sound, feel, vision, and energy makes him one of the best to EVER play the instrument. Finally watching two of my favourite guitarists John Scofield and Nels Cline on separate occasions play with one of my favourite bands Medeski, Martin and Wood was a mind blower as well. One concert was straight up face melting funk and groove and one was a heavy acid trip of improvisation. I was left speechless after both but I’ll let you ponder who played which gig!

ANDREW: I’ve seen The Sun Ra Arkestra under the direction of Marshall Allen six times now and each time has been a revelation. Most of the band are in their 60s and 70s and Marshall is 95, and they wipe the floor with everyone else whilst doing cartwheels across the stage, literally.

Any livestream concert recommendations?

ANDREW: It’s not a concert, but Berkley Global Jazz Institute live streamed the Wayne Shorter Quartet chatting to each other and it’s awesome!

What advice do you have for fellow musicians adapting to life in lockdown?

ANDREW: Normally I think it’s prudent to have one eye on the future, however, at this time no one really knows what the hell’s going on, so stay in the moment! Tune out from the noise and focus on your creative practice. Don’t get caught up in thinking you need to churn out ‘content’. Try and answer the question: ‘what are you trying to say?’. Also get outside and breathe some air, read some books and tell someone how much you love them!!

Have you been working on any new material whilst in lockdown?

ANDREW: Yeah loads! I started a progress of recording five minute improvisations and going back a day or two later, to transcribe chunks that I like. I’ve been using these chunks to build new compositions. I reckon I’ve almost got an albums worth of tracks now. I’ve also been working on a bunch of electronic compositions with modular synths. I can get stuck for hours twiddling knobs and pumping beats in my headphones.

Our next ‘Catching Up With…’ features Jelly Cleaver, and will be posted on the 8th July. Follow the series on our social media and hear about it directly when you sign up to our mailing list.

Stay at Home Soundtrack: Emilia Martensson

Emilia Martensson is a vocalist, composer, and educator at the University of Southampton. She recommends five albums to listen to whilst on lockdown.

In these challenging times we need music more than ever. While live gigs are cancelled we want to shine a spotlight on the jazz community in the South. We’ve been in contact with artists, venues, and promoters to ask them for their listening recommendations.

1) Nancy Wilson and Cannonball Adderley – Nancy Wilson/Cannonball Adderley

This was the album that made me fall in love with jazz. A teacher at my school, who is also a professional jazz drummer in Sweden where I grew up, gave it to me and asked me to learn some of the songs to perform with a jazz ensemble in the school. ‘Never Will I Marry’, ‘Save Your Love for Me’, ‘The Old Country’ and ‘Happy Talk’ were the first jazz tunes I performed live. The sound of Nancy’s voice, her phrasing and the interaction between her and the Saxophone, played by Cannonball Adderley, felt so exciting. The idea of having a conversation in music this way was so compelling to a 15 year old me.

2) Louise Hoffsten, Lasse Englund, Esbjorn Svensson Trio – Kära Du

This is a beautiful album of Swedish Folk songs. I love the arrangements and their playful and colourful approach. I especially like track 12, ‘Akvarell’, where Louise starts laughing spontaneously in the middle of the song. Instead of stopping, the laughter gets weaved in to the piano solo.  This album has had a huge influence on me as it weaves Swedish folk melodies together with the ‘jazz approach’ of having more open arrangements, a richer harmonic language, and deep grooves.

3) Ella Fitzgerald – Ella Fitzgerald sings The Cole Porter Song book

If I had to choose an all time favourite singer I think I would have to say Ella Fitzgerald. I love how playful and free she is in her singing. I find her to always pay tribute to the songs in terms of how the composer intended them to be sung before she flips them around to use them as her playground. This album was one I got in to whilst doing my jazz degree. I fell in love with Cole Porter as much as with Ella.

4) Keith Jarrett – The Köln Concert

A live recording by pianist Keith Jarrett where he is improvising a whole set of music. This is my favourite record to put on, as loud as possible, first thing whilst drinking my morning coffee.

5) Sidsel Endresen and Bugge Wesseltoft – Duplex Ride 

A stunning duo album. I love the easy open flow between the pair. There is such adversity in terms of sounds, structures, and choice of repertoire. The way Sidsel handles text and uses her voice to create different textures and sounds has been another huge influence on me.

You can find Emilia’s music on her website and bandcamp page. This is our final piece in the Stay at Home Soundtrack series. We hope you have enjoyed it – please do sign up to our mailing list and keep an eye out on social media to hear all about what we’ve got planned next.