Preview: Treehouse at Kings Place

Tom Hewson writes about TREEHOUSE, appearing in The Base series at Kings Place on March 31st

Treehouse is a drumless trio consisting of Lewis Wright – vibes – Calum Gourlay – bass, and myself – piano. It has been called ‘chamber jazz’ group, which can imply something a little insipid. But what I want to take from the ‘chamber’ part is a real focus on contrast, acoustic sound and a sense of playfulness – which is where the Treehouse name comes from.

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The group came about early in 2010 at a time I was wondering how to do something a little different as my first act as bandleader. I like to think it was an act of protest at the mini-explosion of harmony-less bands that was happening at the time, although suspect the real reason was that I wanted to keep working with Lewis after our time on the Trinity Jazz course! Lewis brings a drummer’s sense of time and purpose to the group, but with the possibility of all sorts of melodic and harmonic interactions which are incredibly fun to play with as a pianist.

I asked Calum to come and play because he’s an amazing foil for some of the sparky/reactive energy that tuned percussion (including the piano) can generate. He makes sure that our roots are dug deep down into the ground, which allows the whole group to really stretch out and take the music wherever we feel like.

Things have changed over the 2 years we’ve been playing. Some of the compositional influences are still there, like the music of the Giuffre/Bley/Swallow that was in my head when the group started. More recently there have been definite shades of John Taylor (in his Messiaen-ic mood), some of the skittish melodic ideas of Frank Zappa and Aaron Goldberg, the textures of Steve Reich, bits of Dave Binney…it reads like a strange list but they’re all in there brewing away. We’ll be recording our first album in 2012 soon after the gig at Kings Place.


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