Andrew McCormack Writes From NY (Back At Pizza Express Dean St. 18th March)

Andrew McCormack
Photo Credit: Russ Escritt

Andrew McCormack writes about his relocation to New York, and his upcoming gigs back here Pizza Express Dean St on 18th March, preceded by Watermill in Dorking on the 14th.

Changing city, let alone country, is not an easy decision to make, especially when there’s no guarantee of what will happen once you get there. I’ve toyed with the idea of basing myself in New York for a number of years but suddenly I now have the freedom and good timing to finally jump the pond. Although this may sound like a cliché, any musician who’s serious about playing jazz should go to New York and see it for themselves. In addition I would also highly recommend spending a good chunk of time there.

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I first went in my early twenties and have made it back a few times since, but about two years ago I went for a month to do a sort of quasi practise/look at my life type sabbatical, which was something I really needed to do at that time. I was so energised and stimulated by being there, interacting and being able to hear world class music pretty much any night of the week, that I made it a plan to do it every six months and gradually came to the idea that I should be there on a more permanent basis. Things move so quickly in NY that you really have to deal with everything very intensely, which can be quite productive when practising, composing and playing.

Although a notoriously tough city, one of the more pleasant surprises has been how welcoming and accommodating some of the NY musicians have been. My “homies”, Phil Donkin and John Escreet, have been especially helpful in showing me how to organise my visa and generally find my feet. An interesting find is the number of non-American musicians you meet. One of the first guys I started playing with in New York is the great Italian drummer, Roberto Gatto, who is joining me in a special trio concert at the Vittoria Jazz Festival in Sicily this summer. So, ironically, I’m making artistic connections in Europe by being in the States!

Having based myself in NY renting an apartment in Brooklyn, it’s only confirmed what I already knew deep down…that this something that I really need to do, at least for a couple of years. London is one of the best cities in the world and is certainly a creative hotbed, with the potential to export that talent throughout the world. It’s where I’ve grown up as a person, as a musician and it’s where I have many important friends and family. I will need to be back often to continue the work I do in Europe. However, I always want to keep growing and moving forward as an artist and I was beginning to feel like I was perhaps starting to go around in circles a bit in London. Don’t get me wrong, it’s been a very happy experience and I’ve been privileged enough to earn my way doing what I love, which is playing music all over the world. The point is this; I really want to be the very best I can and I think being in New York is really going to push me to discover that.

For my London show at the Pizza Express on the 18th March, I’m lucky to have the fantastic drummer Colin Stranahan, from NYC, as a special guest in my trio. A finalist in the Drums Edition of the Thelonious Monk Competition last September, Colin is not only an incredible musician and voice, he has also become one of my good friends in my new home city and I’m thrilled he’s available to do the gig.

Upcoming gigs:

14th March 2013 – Watermill in Dorking
Andrew McCormack – Piano
Chris Hill – Bass
Enzo Zirilli – Drums

18th March 2013 – Pizza Express Soho, London
Andrew McCormack – Piano
Chris Hill – Bass
Colin Stranahan – Drums

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