INTERVIEW: Andrew Bain (Embodied Hope tour with Jon Irabagon and George Colligan + Whirlwind Recordings album)




Drummer ANDREW BAIN has a new project involving American musicians entitled "Embodied Hope". Their short but intense(!) tour is just starting. Andrew explained the background to Sebastian:

LondonJazz News: This Embodied hope tour involves American musicians - and there are connections to the time you spent studying in New York I believe? 

Andrew Bain: I first met saxophonist Jon Irabagon in September 2001 in New York. We were in the same year doing our Masters at the Manhattan School of Music. We had a musical connection then, and it has continued until now. 15 years! How time flies.

I met pianist George Colligan at the Birmingham Conservatoire, as artist-in-residence alongside Jeff Ballard, and as sideman with Jack DeJohnette. We had the opportunity to play some gigs together in 2014 and I knew I needed to build a project around him.

Michael Janisch I have known since 2007 and we have played countless shows together, including twice previously with Jon Irabagon – the latter of those meetings with Kenny Wheeler and John Taylor in London. He was my first choice to play bass on this tour.

As we have all lived in New York at one stage or another, we aim to capture some of that energy and melancholy in performance.

LJN: What is the instrumental line -up? what made you choose it?

AB: I chose each of these players for what they will bring to the music, as they are all bandleaders in their own right, and extremely versatile musicians. Part of the project is that they feedback their experience of the performances night to night and illuminate on what is working and what is not. It was important to me that they were happy to do this. As George is such a prolific blogger, I wasn’t too worried!

LJN: And can you introduce us to George Colligan and Jon Irabagon what kind of musicians are they?

AB: Looking at the drummers George Colligan has recorded with – Ralph Peterson, Billy Hart, Bill Stewart, Jack DeJohnette, Jeff Ballard … - I was excited to be part of that lineage! He has released 21 albums as a bandleader and over 100 as a sideman. He is also a very experienced educator. Most importantly his time feel is incredible and he makes the piano sing.

Jon Irabagon is probably one of the most diverse musicians in New York currently. From sideman gigs with Mostly Other People Do The Killing, to featured soloist with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, to playing bagatelles for John Zorn, and leading his own groups, he is an incredible improviser, and never fails to impress and surprise on the band stand. He links into the tradition of this music in a deep way, yet seemingly makes it new, night after night. The highest skill for a jazz musician, in my opinion.

LJN: What are these compositions? Where does the phrase "Embodied Hope" come from and what does it signify?

AB: I have written a suite of music based on the final chapter of The Fierce Urgency of Now (2013) by Fischlin, Heble & Lipsitz. The book is a study into what we can learn from the co-creative dynamics easily visible in jazz improvisation and how that can better facilitate harmonious relationships between people. Entering my second year of PhD study here at the Birmingham Conservatoire, their ideas have really resonated with me as an improviser/researcher, as I explore the modes of communication during improvisation and the challenges of writing music for improvisers.

The authors speak about the seven necessary aspects of embodied hope (listening, surprise, accompaniment, practice, responsibility, trust, and hope) and each movement is dedicated to an aspect. Personally, the idea of embodied knowledge is so incredibly important to me as a jazz improviser. The years of practice, performance, rehearsing and listening all feed into each and every performance I undertake. Hope is somewhat of a personal goal, but an optimistic viewpoint is so essential in this – or any - profession.

LJN:  And you will be making an album which - in some senses - will be your debut release?

AB: There is an album in the making! Which feels great to say. We are recording at Wincraft Studios near Cheltenham and we will document all the music. We also have a BBC Radio 3 Jazz Now recording at Herts Jazz on 6 November 2016. That is due for broadcast in December.

I self-produced an album a while ago now called Absent Folk. It featured pianist Simon Colam, bassist Rob Mullarkey, and saxophonist Pete Wareham, and I have recorded two albums with New York group Confluence – a jazz quartet I co-lead alongside Jon Irabagon, pianist Alex Smith and bassist Mark Anderson – but this new album will be the first project where I write all the music and lead the band.

LJN: There is another context I gather that it is the centrepiece of a Ph D you are doing? How far down the track are you with that?/ What is done so far and will the final part consist of??

AB: In terms of my PhD this is the second of three projects that will mark the keystones of my research. The first project Player Piano – featuring guitarist Mike Walker, pianist Gwilym Simcock, saxophonist Iain Dixon, and bassist Steve Watts – played its debut performance last October 2015 and the third installment is, as yet, undecided, but it will be based around the findings of the first two projects with an aim to finding new departure points for improvisation. Wish me luck!

The London date of the tour is at the RamJam Club in Kingston on as part of the EFG London Jazz Festival (BOOKINGS)

FULL LIST OF TOUR DATES Andrew Bain Embodied Hope Tour

2nd November – Cardiff - Dempsey’s
3rd November - Kingston Upon Thames - The Ram Jam Club
4th November – Brighton - The Verdict
5th November – London - Royal Academy Of Music (Junior Program)
6th November – Welwyn Garden City - Herts Jazz Club
7th November – London - Royal Academy Of Music (Senior Program)
8th November – Dorking - Watermill Jazz
9th November – Hull - University Of Hull/Hull Jazz Club
10th November – Cambridge - Cambridge Modern Jazz Club
12th November – Birmingham - CBSO Centre
13th November – Bristol - Jazz @ The Albert

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