Every musician dreams of having their own club, and I was delighted when we were offered a bar near Euston by the law firm HJA.
So 'club inégales' is now the home of notes inégales my band/ensemble.
Notes inégales means ‘swing it’ in French Baroque music. A note played straight is ‘égale’; a note swung is ‘inégale’. Ok, it’s a difficult name for a group, but it does help express the concept for a band where the musicians can play straight and also swing, can improvise as well as deliver tight scores, and can collaborate open-heartedly with a wide spectrum of musicians. The players are from both classical and jazz backgrounds.
Each week in club inégales the band plays, then a guest plays, then we play together, usually using my own improv. signalling system. The signals marshal the forces, and there are also part-scores, but there’s a lot of room for individual players personality and imagination. Our club regulars say the approach means every evening is fresh and unique, and that the place has a buzz.
The guests have ranged /will range from Evan Parker, extraordinary free sax improviser, through to members of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, a classical music ensemble interested in new ways of making new music. In between we've worked with master trumpeter Byron Wallen, Mira Calix, Manu Delago and Polar Bear drummer, Seb Rochford.
The approach throws up interesting questions. What is groove? Did Stravinsky groove? What's it mean to have a ‘funky’ approach to music? What are the connections between the modal pitch approaches of Indian music, Italian composer Berio and Miles Davis? Does the best music play ‘dirty’ as well as ‘refined’? Has classical music got too ‘clean’, has jazz got too ghettoised in its approach to rhythm and pitch? We like to think there are potentials for true contemporary cross-genre programming; perhaps ‘genre’ is increasingly meaningless. After a recent gig the notes drummer said, “thank God the jazz police weren’t there”. We try and avoid the jazz police, the free improvisation police, the ‘well-made composition’ police.
Personally, I’ve never liked the idea that there is one kind of music where you let your hair down, and another where you keep it up. In Zen there is the concept of ‘beginners mind’ – perhaps there’s an authentic approach to sound, rhythm and improvisation that’s fresh wherever it comes from.
clubinegales.com opens again on 10th May at Euston; it's a friendly basement bar only yards from Euston. Do join us one evening.
SCHEDULE FOR CLUB INEGALES THIRD SEASON
8pm, thursday 10 May 2012
Guest: Sura Susso, Gambian virtuoso kora player, percussionist and singer.
8pm, thursday 24 May 2012
Guest: Chris Wood, folk singer, fiddler and guitarist
8pm, thursday 7 June 2012
Guest: Olly Coates, cellist
8pm, thursday 21 June 2012
Guest: Byron Wallen.
8pm, thursday 5 July 2012
Guest: Richard Barrett, composer and keyboard improviser