Appearances at SoundCellar –

THE IVO NEAME QUINTET – Sun 7th June 2015
DAVE MANINGTON’S RIFF RAFF – Thurs 15th May 2014   
THE IVO NEAME QUINTET – Thurs 10th April 2014

Question 1 – What made you want to become a musician?

I was going on music courses – (jazz courses and orchestral courses) when I was a kid and I started to meet people there who were serious about doing music full time. I think it was meeting all these musicians there that made me start thinking about doing it as a “career”. 🙂

Question 2 – What was your practice routine when you decided to get serious about playing jazz?

Mainly transcribing stuff and practising classical piano pieces. that interspersed with regular coffee consumption. I didn’t hunker down till after I left music college unfortunately because I was quite unfocused while i was at college.

Question 3 – What advice can you give to other musicians to get the most from their practice routine?

Be conscious of what you’re working on and why you’re working on it. Just have a bit of structure. A lot of people sit around and practise stuff they can play already. They don’t actively develop their knowledge or ability or try and learn new language/techniques.

Question 4 – Can you recommend some books that helped you with your studies?

Not really. I think listening to records and learning from them directly is the best way to improve. Then you acquire your own understanding of the music rather than someone else’s method. That’s not to say books aren’t useful as a reference. I’ve got books by Olivier Messaien – techniques of my musical language and the Slonimsky scale thesaurus and some scores – Gil Evans and some classical scores – they’re all really useful for developing harmonic and melodic knowledge. I think those are really interesting for composition and that’s so tied in with improvising.But I think rhythmic stuff is best learnt by rote – like the way music is taught in India and West Africa for example. Or the way jazz has been “taught” – handed down by masters. Other people’s transcriptions of great solos are good but best of all your own transcriptions. Memorising solos is important aswell. That way you get inside the phrasing and you can start to appreciate the nuances of the articulation that characterise the great jazz masters. Think about Bird or Coltrane or latterly Lovano – yes the notes are important but it’s the way that they play them and turn the musical information into something approaching speech. That’s when I think musicians have developed their “voice”. I think that’s why saxophone became such an important instrument in jazz. also playing regularly with different people – I’ve learnt so much from friends and playing their music and talking about it or finding out about their learning processes.

Question 5 – Which recording, either as a leader or a sideman, do you think is the best example of your playing?

Probably the Phronesis “Alive” record.

Question 6 – Do you have a standard procedure for your compositional process?

no, but all I know it takes lots of time for me! 

Ideas seem to come when you’re least expecting them.
Sometimes when you sit down to write in a disciplined, methodical way you don’t get anything interesting. So I think having the wherewithal to capture your best ideas as and when they come is a good idea. 

Question 7 – What qualities do you look for in your collaborators?

I suppose mainly it’s having a distinctive personality musically. People who sound like themselves….that’s when jazz becomes interesting….  

Question 8 – Name some of your favourite standards and tell me why you like them.

It depends what you mean by standards – such a hard one. I sometimes sit down at home and play “American songbook” standards and then I think, jesus that was boring!! Contradicting myself in terms of what i said about practice routines earlier but it’s a good example how i would be better off if I was more conscious of what I spent my time on. I like to consider tunes by jazz composers Monk, Wayne Shorter, ornette coleman, kenny wheeler, john taylor,bill frisell

iain ballamy, django bates e.g. as “standards”. Those show tunes are so old now. There are some great melodies in there. But I never went and saw Kiss me Kate or Showboat and I’m not going to start playing Andrew Lloyd Webber tunes on gigs!

Question 9 – What are some of your desert island discs?

crescent – john coltrane

life as we know it – buckley/batchelor

porgy and bess – miles davis

insight – john taylor

sweet rain – stan getz

Question 10 – What music are you listening to at the moment?

I’ve been listening to some ornette coleman albums – free jazz, change of the century, 

jaki byard – hi-fly

formic by the hungry ants

open letter by loose tubes on vinyl – amazing!

sweetnighter weather report

WIlliam Walton symphony

Question 11 – What motivates you to focus on creative music?

the desire to do something new and personal – I don’t want to make music that sounds like a load of music that’s been made already.

Question 12 – Tell me about some of the most memorable gigs you’ve played?

i love the outdoor festival gigs in towns in europe. i was playing in graz, austria recently with marius neset and it was such a beautiful setting. we had some great phronesis gigs this summer too – molde and vancouver in particular were fantastic…

Question 13 – Tell me about some of the most memorable gigs you’ve been to?

zawinul syndicate, ronnie scott’s. in the 90’s. in the good old days at ronnie’s. i never saw a jazz group playing with so much energy! I remember I was buzzing for hours after – it killed me!

Question 14 – Tell me about your current equipment set up?

in terms of pianos i don’t get much choice! i had the springs tightened on my piano recently which makes it a bit harder to play. Previously i would be practising on my upright at home and then i would get to play on a 9ft steinway at a gig and the actions on those pianos are significantly different to uprights. I wanted to be prepared for that so I had it changed. I would love to have a steinway d in my house but i don’t have the money,space or a compassionate enough neighbour!…. my yamaha p-121 silent will do for the present.

Question 15 – Tell me about some musicians you think people should check out?

stan sulzmann, steve buckley, chris batchelor, huw warren, barak schmool, django bates, john taylor, iain ballamy, julian siegel, liam noble, phil robson, julian arguelles, christine tobin – all the great uk musicians not to mention the swarms of younger uk musicians like jim hart, mick coady, dave smith, dave manington, andrea di biase, laura jurd, tom farmer(empirical), chris montague, hannes riepler (well he’s austrian but he lives here), tom challenger, dave hamblett, kit downes, james allsopp, robin mullarkey, matt calvert, finn peters, josh arcoleo the list goes on and on. Basically the tons and tons of great british jazz that no-one in the mainstream press is writing about for whatever reason, maybe there isn’t the space in the papers. I mean this has always been a big problem, the lack of jazz media coverage – some people can’t even get reviews in broadsheets because there are so many albums coming out. It would be great if there was some opportunity to get newspapers to give jazz some more coverage….i think sites like the london jazz site that seb scotney is running is great – it covers lots of different musicians and is pretty unbiased in that respect.

I think it would be great if we could get away from this “star” culture that exists in mainstream media. Building up this guy cos he’s a star. It’s so backward! It’s like some hangover from some Christian way of thinking – like people in the media want to find a new jesus – a saviour of some kind.

Question 16 – What’s your favourite cultural pursuit other than music?

reading, film, speaking foreign languages

Question 17 – What do you think of the state of jazz in the UK?

loads of talent but a relatively small audience given the population of the UK. we’re way behind the rest of europe.

Question 18 – Have you got any tips for jazz promoters? 

use the social media to increase audiences and apply for funding for the clubs. people are doing that anyway.

having said that it’s amazing how some jazz promoters tell me they’re proud that they do what they do without funding. 

also would be good if they actually let the young people into the gigs! I did a gig in the midlands recently and two young women came in. Everyone else was in their 70’s. The promoter kicked the women out because they were cat-calling after solos.. It would be great if younger people could go to jazz venues around the country and not feel like they were encroaching on a old people’s conference or something like that which is how it probably feels to younger people who want to go to local jazz gigs.

Question 19 – What was the last thing you heard that got you excited?

i was playing at the match and fuse festival recently at the vortex with kairos quartet and there were some bands from norway and different places – a band called actuum and laura jurd quartet. it was really great music – good crowds, a mixed demographic.generally a great environment. Dave morecroft of World Service Project was organising it – he seems to be very on the case with this sort of thing.

Question 20 – Have you got anything you’d like to promote? 

i’ll be recording a new album this year which will be coming out in 2015 so check that out and previous ones I’ve done!