PREVIEW/ INTERVIEW: Phil Robson (The Cut-Off Point Album Launch, Vortex June 6th)

Guitarist Phil Robson and his organ trio with Ross Stanley, and drummer Gene Calderazzo, will be launching their album “The Cut-Off Point” (Whirlwind) at the Vortex this Saturday June 6th). He explained some of the background to Sebastian:

LondonJazz News: The organ trio is such a strong tradition. Who are the guitarists who have worked within it that you admire the most?

Phil Robson: There are so many & I can’t think of any that I don’t admire, but in terms of the ones who have most influenced me I would have to say Pat Martino & also the Tony Williams’ ‘Lifetime’ band featuring John McLaughlin is a big influence as an overall group concept. Of course I also love Wes Montgomery, George Benson, Grant Green & all the giants of the tradition including Peter Bernstein in the current era.

LJN: Is this the first organ trio with you as leader?

PR: Yes it is. When I was still in my teens & first turned professional, I was very lucky to do some gigs with Big Jon Patton & Charles Earland which was a great baptism of fire. I’ve always wanted to put an organ trio together myself, but waited until I felt I’d got to a stage where I could play like myself & hopefully bring something personal to the tradition without trying to reinvent the wheel.

LJN: You have worked with Gene in Partisans for many years. Had you worked much with Ross Stanley before this?

PR: I have worked with Gene for years, in Partisans & other projects such as ‘6 strings & the Beat’, but I feel he brings a very different side of himself to this band. I hadn’t really worked much at all with Ross before this but I had long since been an admirer and had been waiting for an opportunity to play with him, either as a pianist or organist, so this provided the perfect vehicle.

LJN: How did your trio’s repertoire evolve? I remember that with the Immeasurable Code band, you had a fixed set of tunes in advance…

PR: Yes I did that with ‘Code’ but I often alter material after I have heard the way people interpret it. I wrote in a very different way for this band in that I added tunes as we went along on the road & in between gigs. I started off with a couple of original tunes that hadn’t been played or recorded & got the initial gig sets together with a mixture of my old tunes & tunes by people like Dave Holland, Larry Goldings etc plus the odd standard & a lot of improv. As the gigs progressed, I gradually replaced the non originals one by one, based on areas, grooves etc I was hearing the band go into naturally during the improvisation.

LJN: How has the method of working where you develop the repertoire as you tour affected the type of composition

PR: It was certainly a fun way to write & I hope to continue in this way for this band. It’s hard for me to say how it affected the compositions but I guess they’re fairly concise & to the point & written with the band members in mind & I think there is a strong harmonic thread throughout.

LJN: The album is named after your composition “The Cut-Off Point”. What effect are you aiming for in that tune?

PR: I see that tune as a beginning point, and not a set framework. There is fairly minimal written material in that piece but the improvisation & shape of it is absolutely different every time we play it. I was & still am curious about how far we as a group, and the audience, can go with that kind of sonic territory & energy. In that respect, ‘The Cut Off Point’ was really a question to myself. At the heart of all my music, I wish to have warmth as the common ingredient, but it is good to push personal boundaries & intend to continue to do that.


June 5th Cambridge Modern Jazz
June 6th Vortex London N16 – album launch
June 7th Herts Jazz Welwyn Garden City
July 12th Swanage Festival 

LINK: The Cut-Off Point/ Phil Robson at Whirlwind Recordings

Categories: miscellaneous

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