Flautist GARETH LOCKRANE, one of the busiest players and educators on the UK scene will be bringing his big band back to Ronnie Scotts on March 22nd. Sebastian asked him about it:
LondonJazz News: Gareth it’s been quite a while since your Big Band was last at Ronnie Scott’s…
Gareth Lockrane: Yes. we last played there in 2010 and it was a fantastic night for me and the group.
LJN: And Ronnies is special?
GL: Ronnie’s still has a certain magic for me; I was lucky enough to catch the mid 90’s era when I first moved to London and to see my idols there like Joe Zawinul, Steve Grossman, Elvin Jones, Betty Carter, Cedar Walton, Billy Higgins and the Brecker Brothers up close every night for a week was truly thrilling and the stage would take on this “hallowed ground” aura after one of their sets.
LJN: Your big band has always had quite a celebratory feel. Where does that come from?
GL: Part of what makes a big band fun is the combination of individual soloists and partnerships within the band, all combining with a healthy team spirit to make something that at its best can be expansive, epic, and intimate at the same time. I do love to feature solo passages and duo & trio combinations within the band to provide some breathing space between the more lavish moments in the compositions.
LJN: What music will you be playing?
GL: There’ll be a mix of influences in the set for anyone who hasn’t heard the band before; it’s all my tunes with shades of contemporary jazz, film music, funk, soul, hard bop, New Orleans, probably a hint of the influence of Herbie Hancock, Thad Jones, Mike Gibbs, John Scofield, Gil Evans and my old friend the late, great Bheki Mseleku amongst many, many others. I’ve gone through many different phases and influences in my writing and I hope it’s just developed fairly naturally.
I do have a taste for fairly extreme stylistic changes in my big band sets and alongside the more cerebral moments you’ll hear what I refer to as my “Mexican Wave” groove tunes! I haven’t actually achieved a Mexican wave yet on a big band gig, maybe this could be the night.
LJN: And the line-up for the 22nd?
GL: Julian Siegel (tenor) and Phil Robson (guitar) on board, astonishing musicians who can adapt to anything; everybody’s favourite collaborator Ross Stanley (keyboards) fresh from his triumph last weekend on the Andrew Marr show; a double-threat lead trumpet team of Andy Greenwood and Tom Walsh; a truly-world class trombone section of Mark Nightingale, Trevor Mires, Barnaby Dickinson and Lewis Edney on bass trombone and tuba (the idea of the band was originally hatched 15 years ago with Lewis on a whisky-sodden plane journey!).
LJN: And the trumpets?
GL: my old friend Steve Fishwick on trumpet has always been one of the most natural improvisers I know but somehow manages to get stronger and even more resourceful as a player every time I hear him (his new New York recorded sextet album is particularly killing, I particularly like all of it) and also Robbie Robson who originally played in my septet and has always been one of my favourite creative players on the scene.
LJN: And the saxes?
GL: Sam Mayne and James Gardiner-Bateman, two very different players who work brilliantly well together; the incredible Graeme Blevins on tenor sax who is one of the most versatile musicians I’ve met and improvises with an immense force and incredible flow of ideas. Richard Shepherd on baritone and bass clarinet, who has brought a bit of barmy energy to the whole thing – I can just randomly point to him to solo on anything and he’s up for it! (He has some otherworldly memory skills I think, I don’t know, you’ll have to ask him.)
LJN: And the rest of the engine room?
GL: Also in the rhythm section we have Ryan Trebilcock on bass who’s been a lynchpin of the band for a long time now, a fantastic musician comfortable on acoustic and electric basses who relishes a challenge, and the fabulous Tristan Maillot on drums who did our very first gig back in 2008 and around whom many of my arrangements were crafted. Tris and I have spent many a long car journey poring over bootleg recordings of the band, trying to refine the whole thing.
LJN: Please can I start a rumour that there is going to be a CD of the Big Band?
GL: At some point soon I’ll record it! People keep asking me when I’ll do it so it’s nice to know there’s some interest out there. I have to admit organizing something of that scale has been a tall order recently with two small children at home but I’m going to do it in 2015 somehow. Watch this space…
LINKS: Gareth Lockrane Big Band at Ronnie Scott’s 22nd March
Interview with Gareth Lockrane by Xantoné Blacq from May 2014
Gareth Lockrane previews a 2012 Big band gig
Review from the 2010 London Jazz Festival
Review from September 2009
Review of the band’s second ever gig in March 2009