We interviewed singer Fini Bearman in advance of her appearance in The Base series at Kings Place on Saturday June 16th:
LondonJazz – Fini, tell us about the Kings Place gig on June 16th
Fini Beaman It will be the debut performance of a new project I have been working on, ‘Porgy and Bess revisited’. It’s a set of songs from the well-known Gershwin/Gershwin opera. After discovering the Miles Davis/ Gil Evans album a few years ago, I knew I wanted to do a similar project myself, reworking the songs to play with my own band. Together with guitarist Matt Calvert we’ve created new arrangements of these songs (I Loves You Porgy, It Ain’t Necessarily So, Bess, You is My Woman, etc), calling on the Miles album for inspiration, as well as some less obvious musical connections, like Jimi Hendrix, Robert Plant and Radiohead. Calling on this variety of sounds, the music we have developed has elements of Blues, Roots and Rock, as well as Jazz, so I think it sounds pretty fresh and pretty different… in a good way!
LJ – Who are the other musicians?
FB – Joining Matt and me are the drummer John Blease, piano player Ross Stanley, and bass player John Cox. These guys are all incredible musicians, so its a bit of a dream team for me, really.
LJ – What’s been happening since the album ‘Step Up’?
FB – After the album launch in September, I had my first UK tour with my quartet (thanks to support from Jazz Services), and it was great getting to gig the same music with the same people, night after night- it really helps you to develop as a band, and the music grows and changes, too.
LJ – And what’s happening next?
FB – Now I am starting to plan our next tour for summer 2013, and this time I want to sort out some dates on the continent too. In other news, I am literally just about to go into the studio with Kenny Wheeler and Norma Winstone, to sing with the London Vocal Project. We will be recording a whole suite of previously unrecorded songs called the ‘Mirror Suite‘, and its going to be coming out on Edition Records. This is a pretty exciting project to be involved with.
LJ What kind of music have you been getting into or listening to?
FB – I’m a massive Wayne Shorter fan, and at the moment it’s Alegria which is Wayne’s quartet plus extra people like Brad Mehldau and Chris Potter. Amazing writing and arranging on that album. I have also been checking out London based band Dice Factory’s debut album. The band features pianist George Fogel, saxophonist Tom Challenger, bassist Tom Farmer, and drummer Jon Scott. They are playing some pretty challenging original music, and the great thing is that they manage to do that in a really humane, personable and totally engaging way.
LJ – What are your musical discoveries of the past few months?
FB – I recently discovered this exciting new electronic/soul collaboration by singer Vula Malinga and guitarist Ben Jones, called DivaGeek, which is wicked. I have also been delving into Stevie Wonders back catalogue! He has written so, so many songs, its unreal.
LJ – Do you miss living in Berlin?
FB – I miss all the space- literally speaking, and also creatively. There are so many different things going in the city, and that gives it a very exciting vibe, and a feeling of constantly evolving.
LJ – What else is going on?
FB – I am getting together a new band, concentrating more on songwriting, rather than tune writing with improvisation in mind. This will be from a more folky angle, whilst still having some jazz influences. I have also been thinking about getting a large ensemble together for the last 4 years or so, and I really should get on with that at some point…. Maybe a Maria Schneider/Guillermo Klein sort of vibe thing?
LJ – Away from music what are you enjoying?
Fini Bearman – Um, I’m doing a half marathon for charity in October!
LondonJazz – Good luck for that, and for Kings Place on June 16th, and thanks for the interview.