PREVIEW/ INTERVIEW: Percy Pursglove (Stoney Lane Records night, Kings Place, March 4th)

Percy Pursglove (flugelhorn and bass)
Canary Wharf Festival 2014
Photo permission pending. Credit: KM's Live Music

On Friday (4 March) Birmingham’s Stoney Lane Records presents a double bill of the Hans Koller Quartet and the Far Reaching Dreams Trio at Kings Place. One man will be in both bands but on different instruments. PERCY PURSGLOVE told Peter Bacon about two different kinds of pain…

London Jazz News: Your "Far Reaching Dreams of Mortal Souls" was a large work for a large group of instrumentalists and singers. What is the connection between that music and that of the Far Reaching Dreams Trio? Is the music the same?

Percy Pursglove: Yes, this is essentially a distillation of the choral project. As much as I'd like to take my choir everywhere with me, it turns out that it's not financially viable at the moment!

The new trio with Ivo Neame (subbed by my dear friend and source of constant inspiration Hans Koller at the Kings Place concert) and Paul Clarvis plays a reduction of some of the Far Reaching Dreams of Mortal Souls music and some of Ivo's compositions. Clarvis brings a uniqueness of interpretation like no other. I try not only to avoid writing parts for Paul, but also even suggesting grooves/feels because what he improvises will be much stronger than I could write!

Ivo (or Hans) has the tough job of playing the role of both choir and pianist in the trio. The reduction of ensemble gives the music more air without the denser chamber ensemble orchestration. And, quite simply It's so nice to have the chance to play the melodies from the project again, even without the full choral team.

LJN: Tell us a bit about the ideas behind "Far Reaching Dreams"…, both big and small.

PP: In 2014 I was honoured to have been chosen as a Jerwood Foundation/Jazzlines Fellow. The programme offers a financial buffer to give artists some time away from other commitments to focus on a particular project. However, I saw it as an opportunity to save up the cash and stage a large scale project. If not then, when else would I have the chance? The project emerged as a nine-movement work for choir and chamber ensemble of musicians from contemporary classical and jazz disciplines.

It is dedicated to a handful remarkable people who in my opinion have made a real and lasting contribution to mankind. I chose Jeanne d'Arc, Leonardo da Vinci, Nelson Mandela, Benjamin Franklin, Aung San Sui Kyi, Galileo Galilei, Anne Frank, Malala Yousafzai and Charles Darwin.

LJN: On the night you’ll be playing trumpet in your trio and bass in Hans Koller’s band - is it easy to switch from one to the other? Are there changes - mentally or otherwise - you need to make between the instruments?

PP: Actually I'll switch between instruments in the trio also. The change of instrument makes a substantial sonic shift in a small group which would otherwise be entirely lacking of bottom end. I hate to be thought of as the guy just trying to show off… My intentions are pure and musically driven!

I guess that when moving between instruments there is a slight mental shift, certainly in terms of thinking in a transposed key between the Bb trumpet and concert pitch bass, but there are inevitable physical and technical differences between the instruments: one hurts your face, while the other hurts your fingers!

This may sound a little like I'm moaning… I really do cherish the opportunity to play two instruments of such a varying nature and access the music from different dimensions. I'm very fortunate indeed.

Stoney Lane Records presents: The Hans Koller Quartet (featuring John O’Gallagher) + Percy Pursglove’s Far Reaching Dreams Trio at Kings Place Hall Two on Friday 4 March at 8pm.


 Stoney Lane Records website

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