‘Truly exciting music embracing global influences’

Posted by on Jun 13, 2015

‘Truly exciting music embracing global influences’

These were jazz pundit Alan Musson’s words describing Interplay’s International Jazz Day gig with Claude Deppa and Three Way Split. Alan has reviewed the gig in SLAP (Supporting Local Artists and Performers), the multi-arts magazine based in Worcestershire. See the whole review here, or find it on page 29 of the June issue of...

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Interview with BBC Coventry and Warwickshire

Posted by on Apr 26, 2015

Interview with BBC Coventry and Warwickshire

I did an interview earlier today about International Jazz Day with Marian McNamee on BBC Radio Coventry and Warwickshire. Here’s the link if you want to listen back. The item runs for 12 minutes and starts at 1 hour 12 minutes into the show – straight after Adele! You can still book tickets for the gig on line or by phone – see here – and also get them at the...

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International Jazz Day – Who Knew?

Posted by on Apr 11, 2015

International Jazz Day – Who Knew?

I’ve been talking to jazz musicians and promoters in the Midlands a lot recently in the build up to International Jazz Day 2015 and our concert with Claude Deppa, Interplay and Three Way Split on April 30th at the Pump Rooms, Leamington. I’m struck by how few of them have heard of IJD, let alone are preparing to play any part in it. This could be a case of good old British scepticism about anyone who sets out to blow their own trumpet. If so I think this is misplaced, and risks letting an important opportunity go unanswered. As I see it IJD is a fantastic development for jazz, a music that has been marginalised and neglected for decades. It allows us to present the case for jazz in a totally new light – with the full public endorsement of UNESCO,  a global organisation committed to the advancement of culture and education worldwide. Let’s look at this in a few headlines: Herbie Hancock, one of the most enduring and undisputed creative artists of the last 50 years, has been appointed to UNESCO as Ambassador for Intercultural Dialogue. And he is a jazz musician – one of our own. How fantastic is that! Herbie has not only succeeded in persuading UNESCO to instigate International Jazz Day (in 2011) but he has brought the resources of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz in behind it, to ensure that there is capacity to promote and coordinate IJD worldwide. Look at the Jazz Day website to see what I mean. IJD is totally inclusive. There are hundreds of events ranging from concert hall presentations to community festivals, workshops and broadcasts, many contemporary in content but also going right back to the Preservation Hall Jazz Band (in Oman!) In many places jazz is being celebrated alongside indigenous and traditional music, truly in the IJD spirit of promoting  intercultural dialogue and mutual understanding, and fostering international cooperation and communication. All this suggests to me that for at least one day a year the jazz world is setting the cultural agenda, not fighting for a place on it, and I love it. We know that jazz in the UK is under-exposed, under-resourced and poorly understood by many people and institutions. Despite that it survives, and some might say flourishes, as a music of persistence, of resistance against the homogenisation of culture, and the assertion of every individual’s right to be heard in their own way. Many people...

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Learning by listening

Posted by on Mar 7, 2015

Learning  by listening

Jazz musicians learn and develop by listening as well as by playing. It doesn’t matter which starts first in my opinion, but I know that going to hear live jazz and exploring it on record and through radio have been vital aspects in my own musical growth. It has both excited me about the possibilities for my own music and taught me invaluable lessons of approach and execution. There may be exceptions – maybe – who have pursued a solitary path with originality and inventiveness. Even so they probably need other musicians to play with in order to fulfil their creative impulses, and in jazz ‘playing with’ has to mean ‘listening to’ in my book. What brings this to mind? I was recently the guest on Alan Musson’s excellent show ‘Jazz Kaleidoscope’ (The Bridge Radio) which afforded me the opportunity to choose almost two hours of music for the show. As you would expect, I spent a considerable time trawling through my CDs to put my playlist together. With so much to choose from I had to deal sternly with myself to arrive at a list that truly justified its selection. So what criteria carried the day? In the end there were two themes: one was to do with people crossing boundaries and playing in someone else’s yard. It’s more than ‘crossover’, which for me occasionally suggests cleverness without a further musical need or justification, like riding two bicycles at once. So for example ‘Hands’, Dave Holland’s collaboration with Spanish guitarist and head of Flamenco dynasty Pepe Habichuela; Dave confides in the liner notes that it took him a couple of years to work out what he should really play! Or Roland Kirk’s treatment of ‘Say A Little Prayer’, which expands a brilliant popular song into an anthem for Martin Luther King and all the tribulations of the African-American people, regretfully as relevant today as it was in the 1960s. The other strand was about me acknowledging those who inspired me, and whose creativity and artistry helped to illuminate my path as I was finding my way. This rather large number of artists comprises many American but also many British musicians. Thinking again about Jack Bruce, (see my post ‘Jack Bruce – Recollections and Reflections’) I was thrilled to rediscover on Gilles Peterson’s ‘Impressed Vol. 1’ the marvellous ‘Dejeuner Sur L’Herbe’ by the New Jazz Orchestra. Not only is Jack Bruce on double bass, helping to hold Neil Ardley’s superb...

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New Blog launching on Interplay site

Posted by on Nov 3, 2014

We’re launching a new Blog page on this site, so that we can share things with you that arise through our involvement in music even though they may lie slightly outside the activities of the band. Its hard to predict exactly what the topics will be, but music is a field of endless fascination so there should be plenty to interest you as we develop this new thread. As ever, we will welcome your views and feedback, and hope that through this process we can get to know each other a little better. You’ll find the Blog under the ‘News’ tab on the main menu bar. Our first blog post will be with you...

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Dave Balen meets tabla master Zakir Hussain

Posted by on Jul 4, 2014

Dave Balen meets tabla master Zakir Hussain

Dave met the great tabla master (and one of his heroes)  Zakir Hussain at the Oleron Jazz Festival in France. Dave says “It was a great display of musicianship last night at the Oloron Jazz festival. Zakir was playing in duo with Oud player and vocalist Dhafer Yousef. He was very nice, I gave him a copy of our album Global as a thank you for all the pleasure his playing has given me over the years. I was embarrassed to say that I played a little tabla on one of the tracks. He joked that he played a little tabla too… I was very struck by how Zakir had integrated extra tablas, little tuned drums and percussion into his playing last night so it was very varied and interesting. Tablas plus. The technique as ever was formidable and impeccable, but his adaptability to the different musical environments ( so many) he plays in always impresses me. I mentioned that I was fortunate to meet and do a few classes with his dad the great Ustad Alla Rakha, best known I suppose for 30 years accompanying Ravi Shankar. It surprised him to meet an aging muso at a concert in Oloron who knew his dad! Alla Rakha flew the flag for the tablas in the west and taught Zakir from a very early age.  For this and all his other many achievements I and many others are eternally grateful.”    ...

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‘A distinctive group sound and philosophy’ – theJazzMann reviews Interplay at Warwick Arts Centre

Posted by on Jun 13, 2014

‘A distinctive group sound and philosophy’ – theJazzMann reviews Interplay at Warwick Arts Centre

Jazz critic Ian Mann has given a glowing report of Interplay’s recent performance at Warwick Arts Centre. He endorses the band’s musical approach and individual creativity. Read the whole review here. There aren’t many people writing about jazz like this, who invest time and effort in attending to local and regional artists as well as the big names. Those that do are much sought after, and we appreciate the care and attention of people like Ian in trying to evaluate and promote a wider interest in this great music at all levels. If you want to be sure of knowing about our future gigs please join our mailing list – just put your email address in the box at the bottom of this...

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