INTERVIEW: Corrie Dick (Impossible Things CD launch at Jackdaw London 27/28 Nov)

Corrie Dick

Drummer Corrie Dick was a finalist for Young Scottish JazzMusician of the Year in 2012, and won it in 2013. He has a debut album out, "Impossible Things" on the Chaos Collective label, and an album launch over two nights 27th and 28th November at a new venue by Clapton Pond, Jackdaw London. In this email interview with Sebastian Scotney he explains the background:

LondonJazz News: You're from Glasgow. Are you from a musical family?

Corrie Dick: Yes I’d consider myself to be from a musical family, my brother Garry is a chef and played double bass (just like the Brian Blade Fellowship bassist), my Dad teaches piano and my mum is, like the rest of the Dicks, a big music fan. I value my family’s musical opinion highest.

LJN: What were your first instruments?

CD: It took me a while to settle on an instrument. I started out playing a whole bunch; trumpet, viola, piano, bass guitar, a little guitar and voice then settled on drums when I was about 15, around the same time as I started playing music more seriously. Playing all these instruments and listening to music has been very helpful to me in, hopefully, playing empathetically with others and really hearing what the musicians I’m playing with are saying.

LJN: You have been a bandleader in your own right for quite some time. What were your early projects?

CD: Yes I’ve had a lot of different bands over the years, at one point in the middle of studying at college I had 4 completely different bands - I guess that was the effect of London and being exposed to all these great styles of music. But initially I had a sextet in Glasgow featuring some great guys that are doing diverse and exciting things. The pianist Pete Johnstone was in that and he was the first one to make me excited about jazz. Also saxophonists Matthew Herd, Jonathan Chung and Ruaridh Pattison had stints with the band and a great trumpeter called Phil Cardwell.

LJN: And composing?

CD: I’ve been composing since I’ve been playing music at all, I was very lucky to have a piano in the house growing up and I’d always go and play when the room was free.

LJN: Who were the people in your cohort of students and the teachers at Trinity that left a determining influence on you?

CD: Music college was primarily great because of the community. My small year group alone was brimming with talented musicians - Conor Chaplin, Sam James, Tom Dennis, Theo Erskine, Mike Underwood, Jessica Radcliffe to name too few.

LJN: As for teachers Simon Purcell was incredibly inspiring from the start and to this day. Barak Schmool was another particularly inspiring teacher, he’d expose me to all these amazing rhythms and helped me to start dealing with rhythm in a more sophisticated way, I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface there. It was also great to have the support of Mark Lockheart, Martin Speake, Steve Watts, they are all so encouraging!

LJN: Have you wanted to open your mind to Brazilian / African percussion?

CD: Of course! I’m excited at the moment by music from a few African countries in particular - Chimerunga and Mbira music from Zimbabwe, Tsapiky/Salegy from Madagascar and traditional music of Benin, Ghana where I went to study for a few weeks, DR Congo and Mali… Me and guitarist Rob Luft are always showing each other new sounds from that continent - he’s just back from Rwanda and we’re planning a collaboration with a great Rwandan musician.

LJN: And you went to Marrakech and there is a track inspired by this – what's the story?

CD: Yes! Moroccan music too! I studied a little bit in Morocco on a couple of visits with my girlfriend Anna. They have some really beautiful instruments. I remember on our first trip visiting the Jamaa el Fna square in Marrakech and seeing several groups playing at the same time. The rhythms were unlike anything I’d ever heard before so I went back night after night trying to figure out what on earth was going on - such powerful and disorientating syncopation. Eventually I got some sort of grip on what was going on and sat in with my favourite band. They were so thrilled I could (sort of) play their music, so they invited me back to play every night until we had to leave.

LJN: Who is in the “Band of Joy” and what do they bring?

CD: Well I’m very blessed that there are 8 incredible musicians in my band. Each of them are at one with their craft and have an incredible sense of taste and space. They totally get the sentiment of my music and what I’m trying to do here, we had a really magical time recording the album.

It’s Conor Chaplin on bass, Joe Wright and George Crowley on saxes, Laura Jurd on trumpet, Alice Zawadzki on vocals and fiddle, Felix Higginbottom on percussion, Matt Robinson on piano and pocket piano and Joe Webb on Organ/Wurlitzer. Rob Luft has been filling in for anyone that can’t make it too. Oh, and everybody sings backing vocals, of course.

LJN: I heard the Little Lions band recently, how are the Band of Joy and the Little Lions related?

CD: Yeah Band of Joy is my expansion of Little Lions, although it has definitely developed into it’s own thing. I love the dynamic agility I get playing with Little Lions (Matt Robinson, Joe Webb and I) and wanted to try and maintain that feeling with a larger, more kaleidoscopic band. I also want both bands to occupy some kind of territory between singer-songwriter/jazz/euphoria/folk/solemnity, I think we got it right on the album.

LJN: I always get the sense that there is a lot of fun / mischief in the bands you're involved in - can you confirm or deny that or both ?

CD: Haha! Yeah, well it’s nice to take the piss a bit. I am aware that a lot of the music I’m involved with has a strong abstract aspect so I’m always trying to make the music welcoming so that people can get in on it no matter what their background or mood or whatever… Being mercurial is one way of doing that. Also lyrics, strong melodies and a deep and genuine belief in the music that you play help.

LJN: What would count as a success with this first album what would you hope people will get from it?

CD: Ooft. Well for me it’s already a success, I wanted a complete representation of my own musical identity where I’m at at the moment, and it actually is! I’m so grateful to all the musicians and to the great team of Finn Peters/Alex Killpartrick & co. for their understanding of the music and their genuine love for the project.

I hope people listen and get lost for a moment. There’s lots of breathing space in the music and there’s also lots of things that are important to me in music like poise (Alice Zawadzki on Six Impossible Things), reckless abandon (Joe Wright on Lock Your Heart Up), joy (Joe Webb on anything) and consideration for the bigger picture. I hope these things resonate with other people too.

LJN: Tell us about the launch

CD: I’m launching the album with two concerts over 27th (Friday) and 28th (Saturday) of November at a new venue in Clapton called Jackdaw.

There will be great support sets before the gigs

- Emilia Mårtensson/Little Lions on 27th
-  folk duo John Dipper/Dave Malkin on 28th

There are afterparties until 3am hosted by some great guys

- Rob Luft Organ trio on 27th,
- Joe Webb/Matt Robinson on 28th.

Doors open 8pm both nights.

Tickets are available for the FRIDAY and the SATURDAY on WeGotTickets, but some slightly more expensive tickets will be held back for sale on the door.
Impossible Things is available for purchase from Bandcamp

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