Télémaque are a trio of improvisers, made up of Joe McPhee, John Pope, and Paul Hession. Their debut recording, The King’s Hall Concert, has just been released in April 2020, but it’s actually a live recording from Newcastle Festival of Jazz and Improvised Music back in 2018. The trio performed their set in 2018 to a real live audience, yet only now is it being released to the wider public - and it’s an intense listen. Featuring McPhee on sax and trumpet, Pope on double bass and Hession on drums, the trio freely improvise together on two lengthy A and B sides. The free improvisation may be challenging for many listeners, yet the ideas displayed are stimulating and take the listener along on the trio’s journey. There are moments of tentative and quiet playing contrasted by big, climactic builds which create senses of tension and resolve. If you love improvised and live music, this is definitely the exploration for you.
Back in 2019, jazz pianist and composer Jacky Naylor was commissioned by Lancaster Jazz Festival to write a new suite of music. Naylor wanted to write about the wool and textile mills which he grew up with and explore the history of many Northern families. ‘The Industrial Suite’ then premiered at the Festival in 2019 - and now, these five compositions have been recorded to be shared with us again in 2021. ‘The Industrial Suite’ is a beautifully crafted set of works which tell the story of industrial growth and decline in the North of England through tight ensemble playing, interesting solos, and sensitive musicality across the board. This set of compositions are a really beautiful listen, featuring moments which challenge you, moments which comfort you, and moments which give you goosebumps. Naylor has composed pieces with a profound, underlying meaning, which are accessible and tasteful - it’s truly inspiring. Prepare to be blown away by this album.
Power Out, a new project headed by Sarah Heneghan, is a ‘mish-mash of drum machines, bassline sequencers, and live drums’, proclaiming itself to be focused on grooves, loops, and creating energy and atmosphere through rhythm. Power Out is set to release a new EP in March, and we were given the chance to take an exclusive look at the first single, ‘Heckler’.
This new project is so exciting because it focuses entirely on rhythm, and in particular, the live and improvised elements of rhythm which are so essential to jazz music and to festivals more widely. Power Out’s audience can expect tracks which are categorised as IDM (intelligent dance music), experimental, or improvised jazz - yet this music is for anyone who enjoys movement. It was a pleasure to get an exclusive listen to Heneghan’s project, and to feel the energy and intentions of her work before it’s released to the public.
We caught up with Sarah Heneghan during the release of her new single 'Heckler', the first release from her solo project Power Out, and chatted about her creative process and being a female percussionist.
What is your creative process? It must be interesting working solely with rhythm during the creation of music.
My creative process for this is a whole bunch of things:
- Finding a drum groove I like, and then seeing how it can interact with a DM groove, and then what kind of structure I can create with those musical building blocks.
- A motif or phrase. Develop.
- Coming up with a title I like and then thinking about what sound that conjures up. I’m a fan of needlessly long song titles that sound like they’re conveying something profound, but really it just sounds cool.
- Weird sounds on my trigger drum - these can be samples of anything, like running water, or a thunder clap, not just percussive sounds.
- Learning other styles of music in my personal practice. My music for Power Out has lots of different stylistic influences.
Rafe’s Dilemma are a quartet best known for their storytelling, and for the eclectic mixture of influences which can be heard in their album, Rafe’s Dilemma. Featuring Jamil Sheriff on keys, Nel Begley on vocals, Katie Patterson on drums, and Pete Turner on bass, the group originally formed as a commission for Bolton Worktown festival. Rafe’s Dilemma released their self-titled album which narrated the story of ‘a family on the edge’ through spoken word, improvisation, and a range of soundscapes. Therefore, their new release ‘Give In’ is an unexpected yet welcome addition to their previous works, as it explores their own personal musical storytelling for the first time. Whilst their album Rafe’s Dilemma features a wide range of generic influences, including jazz, rock, electronic music, spoken word, and more, ‘Give In’ offers a new sound from the quartet. It’s a moving piece which immediately allows the audience to connect with the band through its harmonic qualities, its emotional lyrics, and its laidback groove.
Run Logan Run, an experimental saxophone and drums duo, are hosting a series of livestream gigs with other northern jazz musicians in the next few months. In the first installment of the Ankh Sanctuary series, Run Logan Run performed alongside pianist Matthew Bourne (Leaf Label) and bassist Riaan Vosloo (Nostalgia 77). Bourne is known for his improvisation and unpredictable experimentalism, whilst Vosloo is known for his eclectic influences; in collaboration with Run Logan Run, the musical ideas being created and invented on Sunday evening were electric.
The first episode of Ulita’s micro-commission ‘The Secret Elevator’ was recently released, featuring beautiful storytelling in the form of poetry, song, piano accompaniment and visual art. Ulita consists of a creative trio: poetry and vocals from Nishla Smith, piano and arrangements from Tom Harris, and visual art and video editing from Luca Shaw. Although this combination may at first seem unusual, the way in which this combination of different art forms compliment one another, and create new meaning and interpretation through collaboration, is truly inspiring.
We are so excited to bring you the very first in our series of micro-commissions - short, original compositions for the digital era.
The first commission is The Secret Elevator by Ulita, who are lead writer and composer Nishla Smith, composer and musical director Tom Harris, and visual artist and designerLuca Shaw.
Find out more and watch the video.
We caught up with John during the release of the John Pope Quintet's debut album, and chatted about his process, working with the other musicians in the band and memories of Lancaster Jazz Festival.
Wow! 'Mixed With Glass' is an epic piece of work! Could you tell us a bit about the compositions and how the album developed?
The tunes on this record are all pieces I wrote specifically for this band. Some I wrote in a big batch quite early on, and others have drifted in over the years we’ve been playing together. A couple (‘Ing’, ‘Misha’) are tributes to specific musicians, and others are more emotionally driven. When we play live we usually include some cover tunes as well, but for this first album I wanted to keep it all original. I suppose til now I’ve mostly been known as a side person in bands, or as a total improviser, so it was important to me to make a statement as a composer; I do this to! And also it means I have to write another new batch now...
Leeds-based band Slow Loris have just released a new EP on New Year’s Day, 2021 - Sounds Hoof is definitely a powerful and intense first listen for the new year. Mixing influences from rock, electronic music, jazz and even metal, this EP falls under the ‘alternative’ category; it’s precisely this alternative and experimental approach which gives the EP its emotional intensity and unique musical interest. The band’s name Slow Loris is explained on their Bandcamp - ‘Slow Loris is a small nocturnal mammal, he has a toxic bite, a rare trait among mammals’. The band have chosen a name which reflects their sound: music with a fascinating dark intensity, and a piercing and unexpected bite. As a guitar-heavy band, Slow Loris challenge the expectations of rock and guitar-based music through their irregular time signatures, chromatic electronic elements, and complicated grooves - Sounds Hoof has a lot to offer.