Category: Uncategorized

Catching Up With… Florence Anna Maunders

Florence Anna Maunders, composer and musician based in Berkshire.

Sophie Wales catches up with Florence Anna Maunders, composer and musician based in Berkshire.

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

What was your first ever encounter with jazz? 

I’m not sure for certain when I first encountered jazz, but I have some great memories as a kid of being taken to endless trad nights in village pubs across Norfolk, where I’d abandon my mother and take my coke to sit right up the front so I could see every note the clarinet player was playing. I’d talk to the musicians in the intervals or between songs, who were all fairly old guys and they must have been amazed that this kid was talking to them about Sidney Bechet and Acker Bilk.

Then I started to badger my parents for a tenor sax so I could join a “proper big band” – they got me one after years of borrowing an enormous (for a kid) baritone from the county music service. I still have a soft spot for Arty Shaw and Benny Goodman and all those great trad players.

Name a track you wish you’d written.

Oh gosh, there’s so many! I think that’s my default response to hearing a tune that I love – to wish I’d written it. If I had to pick just one though, it’d probably have to be either a blues standard like ‘Black Coffee’ (imagine how cool it’d be to have your chart in every Real Book) or something timeless and amazing like the Weather Report’s ‘Nubian Sundance’ or Herbie Hancock, ‘Butterfly’.

Who have you been listening to recently?

Nubya Garcia finally released an album last month which is (unsurprisingly) totally incredible – not just her playing, but the percussion has this beautiful kinda afro-cuban flavour which is soooo good. The opening track is this expansive odyssey of sound, it’s about 12 or 13 minutes long and it just keeps getting better and better. Also Sons of Kemet – any of Shabaka Hutching’s projects really are amazing, but the combo of him and Theon Cross on tuba is so sick.

Also a great new album by Lara Jones which is just her on sax through effects pedals and electronics – totally my jam. And I just picked up a compilation album on the Nonclassical label which features some awesomely uncategorised music.

Favourite gig you’ve ever been to and why?

OMG it’d have to be the EP release gig from Northern Contemporary Collective one freezing January night in Leeds. The gig was about 8 hours long, and featured soloists, the wonderful electronic artist Luna Pine, a 24-piece Sun Ra tribute band (complete with the costumes) and huge long extended improvisations from graphic notations and art projected onto a hanging gauze curtain.

The whole thing was in an unheated brick block somewhere on an industrial estate in Leeds. Everyone had a great time, I crashed on a sofa, and made some fantastic friends who are wonderful, beautiful people. Oh also my first gig post-coming out, so an evening to remember!

Any livestream concert recommendations?

I recently watched a stream of a completely improvised session from Cafe Oto with Charles Hayward, Evelyn Glennie and Kuljit Bhamra – a real feast of cross-genre improv. There’s also a complete recording of Frank Zappa’s legendary 1982 Barcelona concert on a certain well known streaming site which should be compulsory viewing for anyone interested in contemporary classical music, jazz, RnB or rock.

Also I’d really strongly recommend trawling through the Montreux Jazz Festival‘s back catalogue – there’s over 50 concerts to stream direct from their site, including the totally surprising festival visit of the Wu Tang Clan. Awesome.

What advice do you have for fellow musicians adjusting to the current situation, and the new normal?

I’m really lucky that I’ve been able to continue most of my teaching work online, and now starting back into face-to-face sessions. I think this is an enormously difficult time for performing musicians around the world – the gigs really are all gone at the moment, and online performances are neither attracting large paying audiences or really giving a full live music experience.

My advice is to use this time for practice, for catching up on listening, for trying new materials, and getting awesome sets ready for when music making resumes. This is a great time to build a network so when we’re back out there playing regularly, our friends and fans will be informed about the music and itching to come hear it!

Have you been working on any new material recently?

I’m always working on new material! I’ve just been accepted into a couple of composer schemes, which I can’t say too much about yet, but that’s really encouraging, and I’ve also got a small stack of commissions for various groups around the world to work through.

Then there’s the jazzstep-choose-your-own-adventure online opera project, which is really exciting, and my own ongoing material for (electronically modified) clarinets and electronics – I’m working on some stuff influenced by North African music, especially the voices of women and the LGBTQ+ community there who are extremely marginalised (and in most states criminalised too)

What are your post-lockdown plans?

I don’t know. I have some pretty un-fun mental health issues so planning ahead like that isn’t really my strength, but I do have some things I really hope to do, including a trip to Amsterdam to work with Black Pencil Ensemble (postponed from April 2020) and I’m creating material for a solo (clarinet & electronics) set that I want to tour around UK venues.

There’s also some people and groups I’d love to work with as soon as we can get face-to-face in the same space.

Our next ‘Catching Up With…’ will be posted on 23rd September. Follow the series on our social media: Facebook and Twitter.

And sign up to our mailing list to get our latest Jazz South news and opportunities direct to you inbox.

Jazz South Radar Commissions – 10 Composers Announced

Jazz South Radar Commissions

We are delighted to announce an exciting and diverse line-up of ten composers from across the Jazz South region who have been selected for Jazz South Radar Commissions.

Each composer will create a new 12-15 minute piece for up to 3 performers. These will be filmed and digitally broadcast in late 2020.

A panel from the jazz industry, including representation from venues, artists, promotion and jazz journalism selected the composers based on innovation, ambition, and the artistic aspiration of each commission. Open to composers in jazz and improvisation of any career stage, there was an extensive response to the scheme with over 50 proposals for new music. The final selection represents a range of established and rising talent from across the South.

Tamsin Mendelsohn, Jazz South Manager, said:
“We created Jazz South Radar Commissions to highlight the stunning jazz composer talent that exists across the south of England outside London. The digital broadcasts enable us to profile their new commissions, as well as regional venues who programme jazz, and we are excited to share all of this with the widest audiences later in the year.”

The 10 composers are:

Olie Brice (E Sussex)
“Imaginative and adventurous” (London Jazz News) – improviser, composer, double bassist and bandleader of the Olie Brice Quintet, Olie will write a new suite for saxophone, trumpet and double bass, featuring Jason Yarde, Nicholas Malcolm and himself.

Josephine Davies (E Sussex)
Winner of the 2019 Parliamentary Jazz Awards ‘Jazz Instrumentalist of the year’, Josephine Davies is a musical artist at the forefront of the UK contemporary music scene. Josephine will write a new piece for an all-female trio, reflecting her tumultuous experiences of the past four months, strongly inspired by living by the sea and incorporating both the peacefulness and intense drama of the elements.

Alexander Hawkins (Oxfordshire)
“One of the most vividly distinctive (voices)…in modern jazz” (The Jazzmann), Oxford based composer, pianist, organist and bandleader Alexander Hawkins will explore new approaches for a ‘classic’ line-up of piano, double bass and drums.

Andrew Hayes (Bristol)
Bristol-based saxophonist and composer Andrew Hayes, alongside his bandmates in Run Logan Run, will write new music inspired by Dartmoor’s rich history of folk legend, reconnecting musicians with their local history and landscape.

Hannah Jacobs (Oxfordshire)
Co-member of Oxford’s exciting jazz, pop and electronics duo Limpet Space Race, Hannah Jacobs will explore live electronics in a jazz format, combining live electronic manipulation using a custom-built modular synth and homemade instrument array, with trombone from Tom Green and vocals and keys from Theo Laird.

John Martin (N Somerset)
“Beautiful and compelling” (Bob Mintzer), Bath-based saxophonist and composer John Martin will write a new piece for double bass, drums and tenor saxophone, building on the new sounds and concepts he’s been working on since the release of his acclaimed second album ‘Hidden Notes – Spirit of Adventure’.

Randolph Matthews (Kent)
Described as “dazzling improvisational skills, flawless and world class” (Chris Philips, Jazz FM), vocalist and composer Randolph Matthews will create a new piece telling untold stories of the lives of black sailors, charting a course in music through the often troubled waters of Britain’s maritime past and exploring the work of black sailors.

John Miles (Hampshire)
“Sophisticated composer” and “powerful saxophonist” (The Guardian), prolific music, theatre, film and television composer, John Miles will write a long form narrative piece, aimed at children, and encompassing spoken word and improvisation.

Robert Mitchell (Surrey)
Award-winning pianist, keyboard player, composer, songwriter, poet and author, Robert Mitchell will combine music and poetry in a tribute to the legendary US politician and civil rights leader John Lewis.

Rebecca Nash (Bristol)
“At the vanguard of innovative and compelling new music” (Downbeat Magazine), Bristol’s Rebecca Nash will develop an exciting collaboration with trumpeter/electronic artist Nick Walters, exploring the concept of leylines, their effect on the natural world around them and how their energy can be incorporated and developed within a musical setting.

The ten artists are delighted to begin work on their original compositions. These will be digitally broadcast in late 2020, with more details to be announced in October.

Radar Commissions is part of a wider Jazz South programme offering over £30,000 towards commission projects for artists working in jazz and improvisation in the Jazz South region, outside of London.

Catching Up With… Mermaid Chunky

Freya Tate and Moina Leahy Walker of Mermaid Chunky.

Sophie Wales catches up with Freya Tate and Moina Leahy Walker of Mermaid Chunky, based in Stroud, Gloucestershire.

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

What was your first ever encounter with jazz?

Freya: Probably through listening to Amy Winehouse, as she became famous when I was in my early teens. Then I worked my way backwards to Billie Holiday. Teenagers love cheerful music, don’t they?

Moina: Yes Freya! Riding that cheerful wave of emotion. I was definitely in the same boat though it was Corrine Bailey Rae for me. My first jazz mum. Her sound brings the nostalgia of pop and jazz together in such a wicked way. I feel she taught my 8 year old self a lot about young love and romance. Efficient lessons for the playground. Not that I would act on them, just think about them whilst sitting next to the dinner ladies.

Name a track you wish you’d written.

Moina: So I’ve never thought about this question before but my gut reaction is ‘Boy for Sale’ from the film Oliver Twist. If you don’t know the song then you will absolutely love it. It is constantly whirling around in my head and I often surprise myself breaking into song on a baron high street or at a club night, singing it very loudly in quite an amazing operatic way. Doing this does affect your chances if you’re looking to pull that night, it can go one of two ways.

Who have you been listening to recently?

Freya: NTS radio is my go to station. I whack on the dance music and do an experimental work out in my bedroom. Other than that, I’ve been listening to classical music including Bach, Ravel, Beethoven, or watching YouTube videos of the pianist Valentina Lisitsa on repeat (probably crying).

Moina: I really love this about Freya, there is a kind of warming feeling I get from her constant and committed relationship to Bach. It fills me with joy and makes me feel calm whenever I witness or hear about it, especially over lockdown.

So over the past months, I have been really into the jazz heavy soundtrack of the film ‘Queen and Slim’. It is such a masterpiece, a massive 5 stars from me. I have also become a big fan of pop chart music videos on YouTube. Like many people, I’m really needing the lift and energy that pop can give you. Doja Cat is an artist I’m completely obsessed with, she’s got amazing musical and visual prowess. I’ve also been listening to a lot of Kah-Lo and Nadia Rose, favourite track being ‘Life’s a Treat’ from the movie Shaun the Sheep 2, thoroughly recommended.

Favourite gig you’ve ever been to and why?

Freya: My favourite gig has to be seeing Kraftwerk. I remember feeling totally transported. It was a really great example of a complete audio visual experience for me. Making the audience all part of one giant generator, with a big full moon in the background. Very, very good.

Any livestream concert recommendations?

Moina: We’ve been really enjoying doing DJ sets and live performances on Deepbed Radio, which you can find on their listen again page.

What advice do you have for fellow musicians adjusting to the current situation, and the new normal?

Freya: I think lockdown has made it very hard for musicians, especially when there are very few avenues to make money now, apart from gigs. Internet radio is really on the way up and there are some really exciting scenes. It’s important to keep working within your power to accept what works and what doesn’t.

Have you been working on any new material recently?

Moina: Ahh yes we have, lots of stuff up our sleeves. We are going over to Margate soon to do a music residency at PRAH, both very excited to strap some new tracks down by the sea. Also our first ever single ‘Gemini Girls‘ is coming out on the 18th of September! And last but not least, we’d like to announce that our debut album ‘VEST’ is launching on the 6th November 2020!

Freya: I’ve also been learning the trumpet.

What are your post-lockdown plans? 

Moina: A Mermaid Chunky real life gig is coming up on the 24th September at MOT Unit 18, South London. It’s going to be intimate as there are only 50 tickets on offer and an amazing line up featuring Phil Mfu and Susumu Mukai (from NAVO /vanishing twin) as well as a bespoke performance from Kenichi Isawa. We are both very excited to climb back into the real world as we really love it a lot.

Our next ‘Catching Up With…’ will be posted on 16th September. Follow the series on our social media: Facebook and Twitter.

And sign up to our mailing list to get our latest Jazz South news and opportunities direct to you inbox.

Catching Up With… Mark Cherrie

Catching Up With… Victoria Klewin

Vocalist and songwriter Victoria Klewin.

Sophie Wales catches up with vocalist and songwriter Victoria Klewin, based in Bristol.

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

What was your first ever encounter with jazz?

It was probably through watching old musicals. Many of the jazz standards from the Great American Songbook were originally from musicals. When I was a kid, sitting me down in front of anything with singing and dancing was a guaranteed way to keep me entertained (but not necessarily quiet!) for a while, so my parents did it quite a lot! My Dad in particular has always exposed me to a wide range of music, both live gigs/concerts, and at home.

I was also lucky enough to live next door to a pub that had a jazz club when I was in my teens. That’s where I started singing jazz properly. The landlord set me up with the house trio when I was about 14, and I was hooked!

Name a track you wish you’d written. 

For the royalties, I’d have to say ‘Yesterday’, The Beatles! But for the artistry and lyrics, ‘Buckets of Rain’ by Bob Dylan; Erroll Garner’s ‘Misty’ for the beautifully constructed melody and harmony. Ooops, sorry that’s three!

Who have you been listening to recently?

I was listening to music pretty much constantly during lockdown, revisiting old favourites, and finding new ones. I’m into a lot of different genres really, but jazz-wise I am utterly in love with American singer, Veronica Swift. She is just phenomenal! Her tone and feel is just so authentic, she’s really got jazz in her bones and sings with wonderful humour and conviction. I couldn’t believe it when I found out she was contemporary.

I also love Laura Mvula, Melody Gardot, and Lianne La Havas – as a songwriter I find these three particularly inspiring to listen to and I love the production and orchestration of their records. I am always cycling back through the discographies of the jazz greats too, there’s always something new to find. Artists like Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Nancy Wilson, Blossom Dearie, Mel Torme, Nat King Cole and Sarah Vaughan are pretty constant companions!

Favourite gig you’ve ever been to and why?

So not jazz, but I saw IDLES at a festival while on tour in the Netherlands. Such a powerful live band, with important things to say… and they’re Bristol boys too! Also, Lake Street Dive who are an American band with great songs, vocal harmonies and a lead singer (Rachel Price) has the most insane voice and technical ability.

Any livestream concert recommendations?

Jon Cleary has been doing a sterling job with his Quarantini Happy Hour gigs and live piano lessons. I love him so much. I’ve also really enjoyed the live streams from Ronnie Scott’s. It wasn’t live, but I did an online session for Brecon Jazz Festival. They did a great job of adjusting to the situation and putting the whole festival online. I did a set of tunes from my Blossom Dearie project with Denny Ilett on guitar and Chris Jones on bass. Do check it out and support Brecon Jazz as they do an amazing job for jazz in the UK.

What advice do you have for fellow musicians adjusting to the current situation, and the new normal?

Oh God. I really don’t feel I’m in a position to advise anyone about anything! It’s been so so tough for all of us. I’ve got through it by trying to focus on the positives and work with what I do have rather than pining over what I don’t. I’ve been relatively time-rich because of having no work, so I’ve tried to utilise that time to learn new things and invest in my technique and promotional materials.

Don’t give up hope. As hopeless as it may feel and as much as the music and arts industry is suffering, music itself and art will always survive. People value the arts. Music brings immediate joy, solace and distraction to people, and that’s vital, especially now. You do matter!

I’d also say, as we emerge from this crisis, be even more wary of people offering sub-standard fees and trying to take advantage of your work. Just because you haven’t gigged for ages, don’t accept ridiculous fees, because you are doing yourself and other musicians a disservice and perpetuating the problem. We need to stand together. This may even be the perfect opportunity to collectively reset our standards in that sense…

Have you been working on any new material recently?

Yes! I’ve been in the studio working on some of my unreleased originals which I am hoping to continue with and release, as soon as finances allow. There is years worth of material waiting to see the light of day! My last release was in 2016, so I’ve developed a lot since then and really focused in stylistically on jazz.

What are your post-lockdown plans?

Just to get myself back on my feet really. I need to find somewhere to live, get the diary filled up, and SING; I certainly won’t take a full diary for granted ever again. I also need to record and release a new album of my own. I’ve spent much of the last few years touring as a session musician and writing for other artists, so now it’s time for my own work…it’s long overdue.

Our next ‘Catching Up With…’ will be posted on 2nd September. Follow the series on our social media: Facebook and Twitter.

And sign up to our mailing list to get our latest Jazz South news and opportunities direct to you inbox.

The Cinematic Live Weekender

The Cinematic Live Weekender image

We are delighted to announce The Cinematic Live Weekender, from Thursday 3 – Sunday 6 September, a weekend of live stream broadcasts from some of the South East’s brightest and best jazz musicians, supported by Jazz South.

We are teaming up with Brighton’s New Generation Jazz to present an exciting virtual festival weekend of livestream broadcasts and interative Q&A sessions.

The raw power of Barnacles’ urban take on the drums n’ brass; the heartfelt sincerity of Abi Flynn’s jazz -inflected nu soul, Howe3’s urgent, contemporary gospel funk; and the carnivalesque, genre-crossing theatrics of Mark Edwards’ Cloggz Ensemble will all combine to create a memorable weekend of unforgettable talent.

Each artist will perform a 40-minute set of original material shot in stunning HD quality in a specially created studio in Shoreham’s Ropetackle Arts Centre, and streamed via New Generation Jazz’s Facebook and YouTube live channels.

The artists will be available for a live interactive Q&A session after each performance.

The Cinematic Live Weekender Schedule:

Thursday 3 September, 6pm: Barnacles
Friday 4 September, 6pm: Abi Flynn
Saturday 5 September, 6pm: Howes3
Sunday 6 September, 6pm: Cloggz

Tune in via New Generation Jazz’s Facebook or YouTube channels.

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 fist 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.

We Are Recruiting – Jazz South Evaluator

We are looking for a brilliant evaluation consultant to work with us on a freelance contract.

Jazz South is a three-year development programme (March 2018-March 2021) being delivered by Turner Sims Southampton, the concert hall and live music-producing organisation at the University of Southampton.

We are seeking an evaluator (or small team) to work with the Jazz South team to look at the extent to which the programme has achieved its objectives and to analyse and document the lessons learned. We will use the evaluation to help determine what happens next and to report back to Arts Council England, which has been supporting the programme with a grant from its Ambition for Excellence fund.

The evaluator of this programme will need to have:

  • Evaluated a substantial project or programme funded by a national Arts Council, Lottery distributor or grant-making trust.
  • Enough knowledge of the jazz sector to make musicians and promoters feel they are speaking with someone who understands their working lives and can discuss it with them.
  • Produced thoroughly researched, clearly written, informative reports from which the stakeholders in the evaluation can learn.
  • Sufficient time to meet the timetable, which is not negotiable.
  • The contact details of two previous evaluation clients with whom we might speak.

For full details on how to apply, download the full brief here.

Please contact Tamsin Mendelsohn for a full application pack and to ask any questions.

The deadline for emailed responses to the brief is 9am on Monday 24 August 2020.

Interviews will take place by video call the week beginning Monday 07 September.

The fee including expenses and VAT is £7,500.

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