INTERVIEW: Huw Warren (Preview of new solo piano CD and debut of new 'Cowbois and Shepherds' Quartet, Vortex 27th May)

Huw Warren. Photo credit: Ian Mackenzie-Thurley

Pianist/composer Huw Warren lives in North Wales, and mostly teaches at the RWCMD in Cardiff. On May 27th he comes to London, bringing not one but two new/current projects to the Vortex. Sebastian interviewed him by email to find out more:

LondonJazz News: What are the stories here? First there's a not-yet-released solo piano CD...?

Huw Warren: I actually recorded a solo concert about a year ago. It was at Cardiff University and part of a Bach Festival, so I played some arrangements of Bach keyboard music (preludes from the Well-Tempered Clavier) along with my own compositions and my usual eclectic mix of Brazilian tunes, John Dowland and free impro! When I heard the recordings back, they sounded like a very good documentation of the concert but not exactly the album I was hearing in my head. Having said that, it made me quite enthusiastic about working on a solo release. My last solo record was Infinite Riches in a Little Room in 2002 on Babel; and I think for most instrumentalists a solo recording is the most personal musical statement one can make. For me, that personal angle is based on a wide range of material, and trying to find a language that dosen't necessarily sound like Jazz or Classical music.

LJN: Where did you record the album?

HW: I was lucky and managed to book some time in the same hall (The concert hall in Cardiff University, with a spectacularly good steinway!) and over 2 sessions managed to capture the recordings that make up the album. It was great to work with a young Cardiff based engineer Sam Barnes, then take the tracks to London to mix with Gerry O'Riordan. Gerry had worked previously with me on Infinite Riches, Barrel Organ, 100's of Things a Boy Can Make, Duw a Wyr and several Perfect Houseplants recordings, so he definitely knows how I like the piano to sound.

LJN: You are known for the wide range you cover stylistically. What have you chosen for this solo CD?

HW: The Album opens with a Brazilian Tune (Hermeto Pascoal's O Farol que Nos Guia) and ends with a beautiful tune by another brazilian, the briliant guitarist and song wrieter Guinga. In between are several new compositions of mine, a revisiting of the Houseplants tune EE, a composition from my Dylan Thomas centenary comission of 2015, and two pieces based on the JS Bach preludes.

LJN: When is the CD being released ?

HW: The album will be officially released in the Autumn but will be available to preorder from my website (link below) in the next month or so.

LJN: And you are launching material from the CD and playing with the (new?) quartet on the same night ?

HW: The gig is at the Vortex on may 27th. I'm playing a Solo set previewing material from the CD, and then a quartet set with a new line up. The quartet is called "Cowbois and Shepherds" (named after a tune on my 2009 Basho release - Hermeto+) and the personnel is :

Huw Warren - Piano
Mark Lockheart - Saxophone
Conor Chaplin - Bass
Corrie Dick - Drums

Its really a meeting of old and new! Obviously Mark and I go back many years from our work together as Perfect Houseplants, and various solo projects under both our names. There's a beautiful ease in his playing; and a musical familiarity that seems to be instantly there, even when we haven't played for several months. I first played last year with Conor and Corrie, and they have this incredible stylistic breadth which suits my music so well. Aside from being brilliantly talented, they approach the music with an open minded enthusiasm, which seems to be a way more important to me than any technical aspect. I'm really looking forward to see what fireworks we can collectively create.

LINK: Huw Warren's website for pre-orders of the CD

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