PREVIEW / INTERVIEW: Elliot Galvin Trio with Harald Lassen (Match&Fuse, Vortex, 2nd October)

Norwegian saxphonist Harald Lassen (from

European Young Jazz Musician of the Year pianist Elliot Galvin talked to Rachel Maby about his latest commission for the Match&Fuse festival for his trio and Norwegian saxophonist, Harald Lassen:

Rachel Maby: How will Harald Lassen’s playing add into the mix of the trio?

Elliot Galvin: In my trio I will always try keep it as stylistically open as possible. In this piece I’m trying to keep it as open to improvisation as possible, which I try and do anyway with the trio. I write only what needs to be written and leave as much space as possible for the improvisation, because they’re all great improvisers.

RM: How do you compose?

EG: I generally write quite a lot and then strip it away. I started this composition with minimalistic and motivic material…I really like to have a very clear idea of the players’ sound in mind, so I’m trying to come up with an idea of what I think of Lassen’s playing, which I’ll put together with the rest of the trio.

RM: So you were thinking about Lassen’s playing as you were writing?

EG: Yes. The trio has a chaotic bent to it, and his playing is a bit more poised and lyrical, but I think that’s quite an interesting thing to add into the mix. I think it’s really interesting when you put two opposites together and see how they rub off against each other.

RM: You’ve just finished your Masters in classical composition at Trinity Laban, having completed your undergraduate there in jazz piano performance? How do you make these two sides co-exist?

EG: Before I started on my undergraduate I had a bit of a crisis in confidence on whether I should go and study composition or jazz, because I thought of them as two separate things. But I think the more I’ve done both things and the more I listen as broadly as possible to people who do both, I realise they’re not so different. Everything is just sound at the end of the day. When you clash composed material with elements of improvisation - as opposed to trying to merge the two - a third musical degree emerges. That’s what I find truly interesting.

RM: You profess the importance in exploring the realm of notated improvisation in your compositions. Can you explain that a bit?

EG: I think strong thematic material with a clear identity generally yields good results. It provides something strong for improvisers to bounce off against, which I know from personal experience. Even when you have a bar that’s freely improvised, if it comes from a strong idea it generally means that it creates interesting results. Equally effective are aleatoric techniques from classical composers, such as a chord chart or a motivic cell that is improvised around.

Galvin’s piece will be premièred on 2nd October at the Vortex alongside Norwegian bands Pixel, SynKoko and Schnellermeier. 


LINKS: Elliot Galvin Jan '14 podcast interview

Interview about the Margate Dreamland Installation
Review: CD / Album Launch

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