Loz Speyer writes:
I’ve just put out a new limited edition CD called “Infinity Sea Rockets” by my group Inner Space Music. The album is overshadowed by the death of Graham Fox, but the music still stands – a joyful sound – and is dedicated to his memory.
Tracks 5-7 on the album were recorded live at the Vortex in Dec 2010. I think it was our first proper gig with both Rachel Musson and Chris Biscoe – the band had always been a quartet, though Rachel had depped several times for Chris. Two tunes were completely new to us and arranged to feature the new three horn front line. We were excited about the sound we’d started to find as a quintet, and especially with two such great and individual saxophonists. Not to mention the bass and drums team of Olie Brice and Graham Fox…
Tracks 1-4 were recorded at my place three months later, on the same 8-track hard-disc recorder as the gig. The plan was just to document where we’d got to at this point and to work towards a studio recording. In the event though we were stopped in our tracks right there – on the day it soon became apparent that Graham was not at all his usual cheerful self, he seemed very withdrawn and tense, and didn’t want to talk. Respecting that we got on with playing and recording, though the atmosphere was not easy. The very next day in the evening, Graham ended his own life.
We felt the shock and sorrow all the more acutely for the proximity to our session. While not being long standing or close friends, the connections between us and Graham as musicians were strong, all the more so in this intensely interactive music, and had been developing for a few years. It remains hard to reconcile the loss. We can only hope that in some way he, his spirit, found peace.
As for the music, at first it seemed impossible that what we had recorded under such circumstances could be worth listening to. But the clarity and power of Graham’s drumming that day is remarkable, as ever – and in a strange way the band is honoured that he chose to make this his final performance. It is an honour I would never ever have wished for, but there we are…
Soon after the event his partner said to me that Graham had loved playing with Inner Space Music and found tremendous freedom in it. To be sure, Graham loved all kinds of music and was involved in a great many bands – hundreds of musicians came to his funeral, and many had ongoing projects with him: well, this was our one.
It seemed important to make the best possible mix of the recording and to make it available. So I took the tracks to Alex Bonney for mixing and mastering, and this is the result. It feels strange now to be presenting an album of such joyful music in memory of such a deeply upsetting event, and one that can be so difficult to talk or even hear about.
But I am intrigued that the music can stand up so joyfully in the face of all that was going on. How is that possible? – and that he was able to play it at all in such a state of mind. But what state of mind? We do not and cannot know.
So here we are playing with time, and specifically swing time, balancing freedom and discipline – in the footsteps of Ellington, Monk, Mingus, Ornette, Steve Lacy – well yes, the whole jazz lineage been playing that particular balancing act, and this is our own small contribution.
Each tune sets its own parameters:
Rocket Science builds boogie-like lines on two related tempos to propel us into a free improvisational approach to modulations of time, held together by a strongly blues-rooted pulse and key centre…
From A to B to Infinity sets out with a high energy freejazz A section, countered by a surprising rhythmic change into a slower 6/8 B section, and back again, with free-flowing solos based on one, then the other, and then a bit of both.
Deep Sea Spirit starts on a basis of no time and a quietly brewing storm on bass, drums and alto clarinet, and then slings over it a haunting ballad on soprano sax supported by flugelhorn, in 6-time…
…but it’s hard to get from a verbal description, better just to check out the CD… and now videos, filmed last month live at the Vortex (once again – thank you Vortex), in which we are joined by the wonderful Simon Roth who since last summer has fulfilled the drum role just right from the word GO!
I leave you with the poem that appears on the CD cover as a dedication to Graham:
“A life cut so short – and yet
there are pieces of eternity
that you found and carefully placed
with fast and accurate hands
in the infinitesimal space
within the subdivisions
between one beat
and the next
are still here finding them”
Loz Speyer – May 2013
“Infinity Sea Rockets” is the fourth CD on Loz Speyer’s own label Spherical Records. It’s a full length album in slim card covers, elegant and simple, available for £7 at gigs, in person or on www.jazzcds.co.uk
For videos of the current band start HERE