The SPiKE Orchestra, led by Composers Sam Eastmond and Nikki Franklin, is a large-ensemble dedicated to their collaborative composition. They will be launching their début CD, ‘a Proper GrownUp’ at the Forge, Camden on September 13th. Drawing on a wide range of influences including John Zorn, Duke Ellington, Frank Zappa and Carl Stalling, Eastmond and Franklin meld divergent genres from jazz, rock, klezmer, cartoon and the avant-garde into a cohesive whole.
Sam and Nikki write about the SPiKE Orchestra and recording the album:
We met on a rain swept bandstand in 2011 and instantly found a shared musical connection and love of the absurd. Subsequent collaborations gave rise to the birth of The SPiKE Orchestra. We get together as frequently as possible to write the material. We found that the best compositions came from true collaborative writing, sharing ideas and working together on creating scores.
The main influence for the compositions in this first album is from conversations and experiences of ourselves and of the musicians in the SPiKE Orchestra. We use individual’s playing styles as the primary focus for each piece.
The album ‘a Proper GrownUp’. encompasses the stylistic range of The SPiKE Orchestra; the eponymous title track bringing together tongue-in-cheek accordion lines and the rock guitar of Moss Freed pitted against a Stalling-esque romp for the brass and reeds led by the clarinet wailing of Pat Bamber. Nikki really enjoys singing this track. It’s a darkly comic banter between her, Sam and the rest of the band.”
‘Did We’? In homage to Henry Mancini, is an extended work that combines tightly orchestrated sections contrasting with free improvisation. Composed in order to feature the unique voices of soloists Nick Blake (tenor sax), Pat Bamber (alto sax) and Dave Smyth (drums) the piece encompasses several genres referencing jazz, rock and grindcore on it’s way to a cocktail lounge climax.
Since completing the first album, we have been writing and rehearsing the next project ‘Mister Punch – a Comic Tragedie’. The SPiKE Orchestra will perform some excerpts from ‘Mister Punch’ at the Forge on 13th September. Based on the nineteenth century Cruickshank and Collier Punch & Judy script and a far cry from the gaudy excesses of children’s entertainment; The SPiKE Orchestra’s interpretation is a darkly comic and murderous trawl through the seedy underbelly of Victorian society.
Using this old script as source material has really focused our creative ideas. Some new additions to the band have opened up different characteristic opportunities in our writing. For the Punch project some new faces are; Pete Cater on drums, Mike Guy on accordion, Jon Gilles on reeds, Milton Mermikedes on guitar, Ben Greenslade-Stanton and Dave Eaglestone on bones, and Sam James on piano. We have also been talking with Punch Professor Glyn Edwards who is supporting the project with authentic Punch gesturing and swazzling. We will be launching a crowd-funding campaign on Friday 13th September to raise the funds for recording the ‘Mister Punch’ suite.
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‘a Proper GrownUp’ Features:
Pat Bamber, Simon Marsh, Nick Blake, Tim Chimes, Erica Clarke and Sam Glaser – reeds
Neil Morley, Sean Hollis, Jon Lewis, Joe Rodwell and Andrew Roberts – trumpet/flugelhorn
Dave Eaglestone, Aalia Selmi, Neil Martin and Al Warren – trombones
Moss Freed – guitar, Aidan Shepherd – accordion, Mat Heighway – bass, Dave Smyth – drums
Sam Eastmond – trumpet/composition
Nikki Franklin – voice/piano/composition