Camilla George Interview

camilla

Camilla is a fantastic alto player based in West London. She’s releasing her debut album Isang – pronounced E-S- A-NG (NG as in song) – on Ubuntu Music on Friday 13th January (same as my release date!!) after honing and nurturing her craft by playing with Tomorrow’s Warriors, the Nu Civilisation Orchestra and Jazz Jamaica.

A note on Isang from Camilla’s website:

“Isang is an old Effik/Ibibio word which means journey and symbolises the musical journey that the CGQ have embarked upon. Effik is the language of coastal southeastern Nigerians and is of particular significance as it is where Camilla was born. The album aims to create a fusion of African, Caribbean and American influences. It will include some music inspired by West Africa but performed in the jazz medium such as Mami Wata- a driving blues written to celebrate Mami Wata a West African spirit often taking on the form of a mermaid which is deeply rooted in the ancient tradition and mythology of West Africa.”

I caught up with Camilla this weekend ahead of her ALBUM LAUNCH at Pizza Express Dean Street on Wednesday 11th January 2017.

 

What got you into the saxophone?

I had heard a lot of saxophone when i was growing up as my Dad had an amazing vinyl collection and we used to listen to Sonny Stitt, Jackie Mclean and Cannonball together. I had my first go on a friend’s sax when I was 8 and that was it I was hooked!

 

Does your sax have a name? Mine’s called Shirley…

No! I feel left out now! I’ll have to have a think about a suitable name!

 

You can get back to me on that one then… 😉 Let’s do the saxophone thing…. what’s your set-up?!

I have a 1959 Mark VI Selmer and a Meyer 6 mouthpiece with a ligature that I got ages ago in Italy. I use Vandoren Java reeds strength 3.

 

For those new to your music, who or what has inspired you the most in your career so far?

Probably the music I heard when I was growing up which was a blend of afrobeats, calypso and jazz. Playing with Jazz Jamaica has been a massive inspiration too!

 

What’s your favourite practice accompaniment? Coffee or tea? Smoothie? Wheatgrass?… Vodka?!

You can’t beat a good cup of tea!

 

If you could have absolutely anyone – dead or alive – to a dinner party at your home, who would the invitees be?

Charlie Parker, Sonny Stitt, Coltrane, Kenny Garrett and Nelson Mandela

 

Where can we buy the album?

From Friday 13th Jan the album will be available to buy from all good record stores and online from iTunes and Amazon.

[Her label’s website: http://www.ubuntumanagementgroup.com/music-1/]

Where can we hear you live?

We are launching the album on 11th Jan at Pizza Express [as mentioned above] and then we’re going on tour- catch us at:

22nd Feb The Lescar, Sheffield

23rd Feb Matt and Phred’s, Manchester

25th Feb Zeffirelli’s, Ambleside

26th Feb Seven Arts, Leeds

27th Kenilworth Rugby Club

28th Feb, The Royal Legion, North Wales

1st March, Dempsey’s, Cardiff

2nd March, The Vortex, London

More details at: http://www.camillageorge.com/

 

Thanks Camilla!

Emulsion Kickstarter is Live!

Emulsion V is taking place on January 27th 2017 at the mac birmingham! The festival will be hosted by BBC Radio 3 presenter Fiona Talkington and features a triple bill of the Hans Koller Quartet featuring John O’Gallagher, my new band My Iris and the Emulsion Sinfonietta.

We have just launched a kickstarter to help us commission new works for the Sinfonietta by Hans Koller, Percy Pursglove and Cevanne Horrocks-Hopayian. Please take a look at the video and rewards to see if you might want to help us! https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1520638818/emulsion-v-new-music-festival-2017

2nd and final day of recording for 4th album

Yesterday we had a fantastic day recording at Curtis Schwartz’s studio, the bulk of the work is done now… Over to myself and Curtis to finish off the mixing etc. We recorded a new work by Cevanne Horrocks-Hopayian, written specially for us, supported by the PRSF. Very much looking forward to sharing the results of everyone’s hard work in due course! Here are some nice photos of everyone taken by Curtis. Cevanne came down to the studio for a few hours to have lunch with us and oversee our performance of her piece.

1st day of recording for 4th album!

Yesterday we travelled to the wonderful residential studio of Curtis Schwartz where we recorded material for my 4th album… Another date is in the diary for later in the Summer when we will be recording a commission written for us by Cevanne Horrocks-Hopayian (& supported by the PRS for Music Foundation)…

Rehearsals and docu-video with ‘My Iris’

It’s been an exciting week for my new project ‘My Iris’ (with Chris Montague, Ross Stanley & James Maddren)… We’ve just been filming for a docu-video (thanks to Pete Cant, Alex Eisenberg and Alex Killpartrick for directing, filming and sound) and rehearsing for our recording over the summer (album to be released in early 2017).

Video to follow soon so watch this space…!

Dannie Price took some photos of the activities…

My Iris + Pete Cant play at BBC Radio 3 Sounds of Shakespeare

On Saturday Trish took ‘My Iris’ (with Ross Stanley & Chris Montague) plus special guest writer/director Pete Cant to Stratford-Upon-Avon to take part in BBC Radio 3’s Sounds of Shakespeare weekend… Saturday 23rd April 2016 was 400 years since the playwright’s death…You can listen to the broadcast here.

There are two new tunes, written to evoke the multifaceted ‘Iris’ – a Greek mythological character who pops up frequently in the works of Shakespeare. And there was an improvised ‘storm’ featuring Pete.

Here are some photos courtesy of BBC Radio 3:

Joe Wright

Joe Wright is a true individual. Saxophonist is merely the beginning of how one would describe his activities and contribution to music and art! We met through the jazz scene in London and have had many conversations, shared listening experiences (both big ‘Food’ fans) and more recently some playing. Joe is launching his EP ‘Yarrow’ tomorrow night at the Red Door Gallery in Greenwich – an event I look forward to immensely!! – more details below.

Where shall we start Joe? Can you introduce us to your Soprano Sax, what’s his/her name? Any curious features?

Hah! Sadly the poor thing doesn’t have a name, perhaps I ought to have given it one by now. It’s quite an ugly saxophone, with a weird matte gold colour body and shiny gold keys (I’m not a fan). The saxophone also has a silly detachable bell that Borgani put on their saxophones. I came to it on a long search for a soprano I liked. Having tried everything else in the shop I thought I’d give it a go just in case, and I loved the sound and feel of it. I’ve been playing it for years now, and thankfully that strange matte lacquer is starting to wear off.

 

When/how/why did you choose solo soprano for this new EP, Yarrow? When did this musical journey start for you?

Recording my first solo EP was a big learning process, and made me think a lot about my approach to the saxophone. Since releasing it last spring I have been thinking that it would be a good thing to do again, possibly making small recordings on a semi-regular basis. It’s also a lot easier to have an ongoing recording project when you only have yourself to worry about.

I knew I would be staying on a narrow boat for some time as part of a tour in the autumn. Being away from London and my regular collaborators, I thought this would be a good time to focus on a new recording. Choosing the soprano was a practical consideration really, those boats are pretty small!

 

Oooo, a small boat – canal boat? What were you up to? I’m intrigued!

I was on tour with Under Foot, a movement/music show that I worked on last year. We were working in a children’s theatre and a special school in Bath for a couple of weeks and a friend of a friend had kindly lent us his narrow boat as accommodation. The shows were going on during the day, and in the evenings I was at the boat with no internet, dodgy phone signal and nobody to hang out with. It was good to have a project to keep me busy!

 

Is there any music that has particularly influenced or interested you in the creation of this EP (or the path to creating it)?

The EP has largely been created out of the desire to explore the possibilities of my instrument, and become a better improviser.

 I have been attending Eddie Prévost’s workshop for the last few months. I have found the searching nature of the workshop really liberating, and have been greatly inspired by the musicians attending it. The regular workshop concerts at I’klectik, gigs at the Hundred Years Gallery and recordings on Matchless and Earshots! are good places to hear them play. Listening, talking and playing with people at the workshop as made me re-assess a lot of what I think about improvising. I wanted some of this process to be reflected in the music I planned to record that autumn.

Alongside the workshop I have been playing regularly with Tom Taylor and James Opstad in the trio, duck-rabbit. Our music has shifted towards a much more textural aesthetic. I felt that my ability to play quietly with more unpitched material in this group was greatly lacking. Recording in the evenings, isolated and needing to keep volume at a minimum was an ideal limitation for exploring such sounds.

 

Perhaps tell me a bit more about Duck-Rabbit… How did the 3 of you start playing together? Do you set objectives (musical or other) for yourselves or do you let your minds wander and see what you come up with? Any recordings out there?

The group came about by chance, James had invited me to join in with a play he had organised with Tom. We were all getting into playing free improv at the time. That was a couple of years ago now. As soon as we had played, we all agreed that we should continue playing as a group. From then we have been playing every week. Our aim is to be able to improvise with our instruments and electronics, and have a band that could transition between acoustic and electronic worlds within the same improvisation. We had kept the electronic and acoustic sides of the band separate until the beginning of last year. It was too much to try and learn about everything all at once. We have always just played when we’re rehearsing, but we also talk about improvising, go to gigs and listen to music a lot as a group. Much of our development has sprung from this shared experience as well as the playing. We have a few EP’s out now. Part IV of our electronic series Scattered Voices, has just come out, using sounds recorded at a working grain mill. Our first electroacoustic EP, Accretion, is also on our bandcamp, along with some videos from the recording.

 

Who are your heroes (musical or other)?

As someone who came to improv from playing Jazz, many are the usual suspects. John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman come instantly to mind. But I feel really lucky to be living in the UK, with its rich heritage of improvising musicians. John Edwards, for instance, never ceases to amaze me with his musicality, and creative use of his instrument. I really admire the sheer energy and commitment he brings to every gig (or at least the many I have seen), something which I will always aspire to do as a musician.

I have visited many special schools over the last few years. In these visits I have been lucky to work with some of the most energetic, caring and kind people I have ever met. Outside of music, these people have been some of my biggest role models.

 

What would be your definition of “noise”?

That’s a tricky one! I’d probably need some context to give a more meaningful answer.

As a saxophonist I am interested in ‘noises’ which are outside of the expected sound-pallete of my instrument. This could be outside of my own expectations too. ‘Noisy’ sounds in music, or sounds which defy usual musical expectations often force me to hear music differently, exciting the visual imagination and heightening a sense of what’s happening in the moment. At least, that’s what happens when things go well. If I’m trying to avoid emphasising pitch over the course of an improvisation, I often also think of ‘noisiness’ as a measure of how unpitched a sound might be.

 

Have there been any pivotal moments in your life (meeting people, decisions, anything really) that have led to where you are/what you do today?

That’s a tough one to answer really. I still do quite a range of things, but I wouldn’t say my own work comes as the result of a handful of moments. Lots of small things have a small impact which accumulate over time. I’ve always wanted to try and find my own way to play, and to feel like I’m really improvising. It’s not something I feel I’ve managed yet but I’m very slowly getting closer. It’s hard to pin down individual moments, but my lessons with Iain Ballamy, James Allsopp and Julian Siegel, my time working with Oily Cart and duck-rabbit, and attending Eddie Prévost’s workshops have all been really significant in making me think differently about what I do.

 

I know you are a keen inventor and adapter of instruments… Last time we saw each you were playing a curtain pole! How’s all that going?!

I don’t really know yet. I had gotten into a bit of a rut with my saxophone playing (again!), and decided to make things that would fit my mouthpiece but force me to play differently. The curtain pole was just the first of many monstrosities. I have since made some more out of various plumbing materials from the local DIY shop, in various shapes and sizes. I’m trying to see if I can intuitively learn a bit more about where instabilities come from with reed instruments, and perhaps bring some of that back to the saxophone. Though I have to admit it was also a nice excuse to play with the new drill I had bought.

 

Now… jazz hats – would you wear one?

Emm, no. I think you have to be quite a special person to pull of a jazz hat. Perhaps one day I’ll develop the visual panache of Joe Lovano, but I doubt it.

 

It’s been wonderful to chat Joe… thanks so much for your time!

Now, if you’re free tomorrow night (21st January 2016) this is where you should be in time for 8.30pm:

YarrowLaunch

Red Door Gallery, 10 Turnpin Lane, Greenwich SE10 9JA

Featuring: Joe Wright Solo + Dan Peter Sundland Solo

 

Joe has a fantastic page on his website dedicated to ‘Yarrow’ with loads of fascinating info about the music and his processes: http://www.joewrightmusic.co.uk/Yarrow.html

Here is bandcamp where you can obtain this fabulous music: https://joewrightmusic.bandcamp.com/album/yarrow

And here are a few more websites about Joe’s other projects:

duck-rabbit: www.duck-rabbit.co.uk

Scattered Voices IV: https://duck-rabbit.bandcamp.com/album/scattered-voices-part-iv

Accretion: https://duck-rabbit.bandcamp.com/album/accretion

Under Foot: http://www.aboutnowish.com

An important article from Iran’s Blogfather

A friend of mine, Alex Fiennes, recently brought this Guardian article to my attention, written by Hossein Derakhshan. In support of his view of social media, I am sharing it here, on my own website, accompanied with a hyperlink to his blog. One of my favourite sentences in his piece is this:

“Ironically enough, states that cooperate with Facebook and Twitter know much more about their citizens than those, like Iran, where the state has a tight grip on the internet but does not have legal access to social media companies.”

Trish wins BASCA British Composer Award!

Very chuffed to have won the Contemporary Jazz category at the BASCA British Composer Awards 2015 on Wednesday (with my work “The Fox, the Parakeet & the Chestnut”). There’s a BBC Radio 3 broadcast of the highlights of the ceremony on Saturday and here are a few photos…

(various photographers, official photos by Mark Allan)

And here is the press release from Basho Music HQ (minus the nice photos and logos…):

TRISH CLOWES WINS BEST JAZZ COMPOSITION AT BASCA BRITISH COMPOSER AWARDS

Basho is delighted to announce that Trish Clowes has won a BASCA British Composer Award 2016 in the Contemporary Jazz Composition category. With the field also including high profile, established composers Django Bates and Mike Williams, this win is a tremendous achievement. Trish won for The Fox, The Parakeet and The Chestnut, a BBC commission for Trish’s quintet and the BBC Concert Orchestra, performed at the Queen Elizabeth Hall during the 2014 EFG London Jazz Festival.

Created by BASCA (British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors), the British Composer Awards exist to promote the art of composition and to bring contemporary music to a wider audience. The awards are unique in making contemporary classical and jazz their core focus. In honouring Trish Clowes, this year’s awards have recognised an artist who works in a distinctive space between the two genres. Presenting the award to Trish at the BFI Southbank, Sarah Mohr-Pietsch suggested Clowes’ star was ‘no longer rising’ but now ‘firmly in the firmament’.

Here are some words from Trish on the composition:

The Fox, the Parakeet and the Chestnut is the musical fable of a little fox that, after naughtily littering Blythe Hill Fields, makes amends by helping a little Parakeet to learn to fly, and then the two of them tidy the park. The wise old Chestnut tree provides wisdom and guidance throughout their tale. I wanted to dedicate this new work to Blythe Hill Fields because it is my place of solace, a short walk from my South East London home.

Once again, the percussion section features strongly. To develop the sounds I was using in the percussion section, I did a lot of listening to Edgard Varese’s famous piece Ionisation, written for thirteen percussionists. Other pieces that have caught my ear whilst developing this piece include John Adams’ piece John’s Book of Alleged Dances, written for string quartet and recorded prepared piano, Shostakovich’s Fifteenth Symphony and Lutoslawski’s Concerto for Orchestra.

I was interested in the idea of a musical fable when I examined more of what ‘fable’ means, a story that includes characters that are personified animals or inanimate objects. As I was developing a title that captured the scene of Blythe Hill Fields it occurred to me that I could create a fable of three characters from the hill. With the sound of bows on the bridges of the string instruments, the second movement aims to create a sense of the wind whispering in the Horse Chestnut trees, handing out tacet wisdom to anyone walking nearby. The main melody of the third movement aims to capture the parakeet flying and the quirkier first movement hopefully encapsulates the mischievous, playful character of the fox.’

The prestigious award caps a remarkable year for the saxophonist and composer, in which she has collaborated with the Heath Quartet, performed with pianist Michael Wollny at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in a tribute to the late John Taylor and developed work with her new trio with pianist Ross Stanley and guitarist Chris Montague.

For further press enquiries, bookings or interview requests please contact Christine Allen bashomusic@btinternet.com 020 7724 2389 or 07771 932 957 or Dan Paton bashopress@btinternet.com 07977 279 714

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