|David Lyttle (top) and Tom Harrison (bottom)
Photo Credit: Marian Bencat
Tom Harrison writes about a three-phase touring plan, starting in Ireland this September, and culminating next year with a guest star:
Lengthy jazz tours can seem a thing of the past. With rising overhead costs, ever increasing competition for funding, and cuts in grants to regional jazz societies, creating a financially viable and musically rewarding tour may look like an idea too far, one careering ever faster out of reach…
So I’m very excited to say that come this autumn, I will be undertaking the first leg of a 3-stage touring project that defies this gloomy outlook. The first of these tours will take place in September/October. I’ll be travelling to Ireland as a featured artist for 14 back-to-back performances, uniting venues large and small, both north and south of the border. Masterminding this phase of the project is Irish drum star, entrepreneur and long-time musical associate David Lyttle. Veteran of international touring projects since the age of 4, and voted Irish Jazz Musician of the Year 2010, Lyttle had already become a household name in Irish Jazz by his early twenties.
2012 saw Lyttle’s third album as leader released, signalling a change in musical direction; his acclaimed crossover album ‘Interlude’ established him internationally as a rising star producer/songwriter: “For years I’d wanted to do a project that was based on vocal-driven hip hop and soul, but with a heavy jazz influence,” Lyttle explains. Interlude reached millions through an HMV TV campaign on Channel 4 and the support of MOBO, BBC Radio 1’s ‘Introducing’, and has subsequently become a YouTube sensation.
Lyttle’s successes are not only confined to the bandstand. David’s main extra musical focus is LYTE Records, through which he promotes the work of artists large and small. 2013/14 looks bright for label-boss-Lyttle, with upcoming releases from UK-resident jazz greats Jason Rebello and Jean Toussaint.
In spite of being fearsomely busy with a rigorous schedule of promotion, recording and touring, David explained to me that he has always felt a desire to keep his jazz roots fertile; “Jazz is what made me want to be a musician. Now that I’ve dedicated time to ‘Interlude‘, and established hip hop and soul as a big part of my sound, I feel like getting back to being a jazz drummer and keeping that side of my career alive.”
Lyttle’s return to small-group jazz projects is eagerly anticipated in Ireland, and I’m very much looking forward to being featured as a part of that. Prior to the release of ‘Interlude’, David was organising regular national tours for his groups, featuring a wide variety of internationally recognised artists. I’m excited to say that I’ll be following in the footsteps of artists such as Greg Osby, Soweto Kinch, Jonathan Kreisberg and Jean Toussaint. The third member of the trio is recently arrived London-resident bassist Neil O’Loghlen (Louis Stewart), who will be making the trip back to the Emerald Isle for this project.
The focus of our autumn tour is not only musical but also holistic. We want to reach a range of audiences; prioritising performances for cognoscenti at recognised jazz clubs equally as much as giving gig-goers a chance to experience live jazz in remote rural communities. I’m excited about the challenges this project will bring – different types of performance environments, balancing artistic merit with accessibility and experiencing the different reactions to our programme of music. The sax/flute trio format is challenging but flexible, and is an instrumentation that David is well used to; “I like the openness of chordless trio. It allows plenty of breathing space and means the drummer can do a lot more without cluttering up the texture.”
Looking ahead into 2014, the overall project takes further shape. The Winter/Spring season will see the second phase of touring, with a return leg in February running in England expanding into a quartet format for a different musical approach. The culmination of the project in the Summer season is scheduled to run in late June. This sextet project will feature US trumpet ace Terrell Stafford in a week-long tour of both England and Ireland.
I’d like to thank David for inviting me over to play with his trio, and for all of his hard work organising this phase of the project. I’m looking forward to returning the favour next season and watching the project unfold in the long term.
The David Lyttle Trio feat. Tom Harrison hits the road on 21st Septmeber 2013. Follow us on Twitter for live updates @david_lyttle @tomharrisonsax, or visit our websites for further information;
Sun 22nd September, noon
BELFAST, SD Bells
Mon 23rd September, 7pm
ARMAGH, South Regional College
Tues 24th September, 9pm
CORK, Crane Lane
Wed 25th September, 8pm
WATERFORD, Phil Grimes
Thurs 26th September, 8pm
DINGLE, The Blue Zone
Fri 27th September, 8pm
GALWAY, Galway Jazz Club
Sat 28th September, 8pm
WESTPORT, The Clock Tavern
Sun 29th September, 8pm
CLIFDEN ARTS WEEK, Mullarkeys
Mon 30th September
Tues 1st Oct, 9pm
Wed 2nd October, 8pm
PORTADOWN, Millennium Court
Thurs 3rd October, 1.30pm
DERRY, North West Regional College
Thurs 3rd October, 8pm
Fri 4th October, 8pm