Polly Gibbons has been performing and recording in the US. She will be appearing at Butley Priory in Suffolk on 25th July. Laura Thorne asked her to explain the background:
LondonJazz News: You’ve been working with an American record label, Resonance Records. How did that come about?
Polly Gibbons: Well about two years ago, a friend Vince Williams was putting together an idea to create a Jazz and Blues TV station and asked if I would be up for being filmed as a favour and then I’d have a nice promo video for use. He took his idea to George Klabin at Resonance Records as George also films many concerts and one of the videos Vince gave him as an example was mine! George couldn’t be a part of the TV idea, but wanted to get in touch with me. He did in October 2013 and in the February 2014 I was recording an album for his ‘Rising Star’ label!
LJN: On the new album, “Many Faces of Love”, were you working with American musicians?
PG: Yes, I am working with American players on it. George booked a team of really super musicians from all over the country. I love the experience and challenge of playing with new musicians. I was slightly nervous initially, wondering how they would be, but there was an excellent vibe from them. Kevin the bass player is a big fan of British comedy and loves Alan Partridge so that sorted that out! Funnily enough, James Pearson helped me no end with preparation for the project. His gift of adaptability and his ability to read music meant I was able to run all the new material before going over. He’s an extremely generous person and encouraged me from the outset.
LJN: Tell us about the songs on the new record if you will, how were they chosen? Generally speaking, what is your favourite style of music to sing?
PG: The concept of the album came from the producer George Klabin. He’d had the idea for some time and was just waiting for the right singer. It’s a whole collection of songs about love! Ha, that hasn’t been done before! What makes it quite interesting is the idea of the album running through various stages. As in, the opening tune is Percy Mayfield’s Please Send Me Someone To Love and it finishes with ‘Love Comes and Goes which is a beautiful philosophical tune, written by the Brit Carroll Coates. George and I too-ed and fro-ed with material for some time. It has a really eclectic mix of stuff on it from the Great American Songbook to Patti Austin and Rickie Lee Jones. I find it hard to choose genres in music, my voice seems to lend itself to the jazzy, bluesy, souly side of things. And I’m happy to dabble about in those areas! I love good songs and enjoy many different grooves and ways of telling the story. I’m not sure I could choose!
LJN: Have you been gigging in America as well, tell us about your experiences there performing live. Is there a difference between American and UK audiences in your opinion?
PG: Yes I have, but I’m only just starting to get a feel for it and there’s a long way to go as it’s a whopping country! I was performing at Birdland a couple of weeks ago and they seemed more expressive than a UK audience. Happy to chuck out ‘Yeahs’ and ‘Whoops’, but that could just be a New York thing. I’m going to Oklahoma in October so I’ll have to let you know! So far so good though.
|Butley Priory House|
LJN: You are going to performing on 25 July at Butley Priory near Woodbridge Suffolk presented by 606 Club. When did you first play at the 606?
PG: When I was about 19/20 Steve gave myself and fellow singer Symeon Cosburn a shared Wednesday night to get us going and then after a couple of years I graduated to my own Sunday! Steve’s also booked me with his Latin/Souly/Funky band Samara.
LJN: You are from Framlingham, Suffolk, is that right? How were you first introduced to jazz when you were growing up, & what led to your becoming a professional singer?
PG: Indeed I am. Neither of my parents swang in the Jazz direction. It was my sister Amy who had a large vinyl collection, ranging from early 80’s hip hop to Robert Johnson, Prince etc! She was playing ‘I’m A Fool To Want You’ from Billie Holiday’s ‘Lady in Satin’ album and it grabbed me immediately. I’d never heard a spirit conveyed so rawly and freely like that. That was it really, she played me Miles Davis and I was off rooting about…. It was only shortly after I realised I could sing that I heard Billie. I’d always been interested in acting and it was my cousin who pointed out I had a nice voice after singing along to an 80’s hip hop chorus. I went to see a local jazz bassist Gill Alexander who does wonderful work, playing and educating, where I met Ian Shaw. I did a workshop with him when I was 16 and he loved my voice and offered to produce an album for me. It all seems to have just flowed from there, doors have opened and I’ve said yes!
LJN: What does the future hold for you now, what are you looking forward to next?
PG: I’ve just sung with the Liverpool Philharmonic, singing the songs of John Lennon. That was really special, I’ve never sung with an Orchestra before and it’s such an intense sound behind you – really beautiful. Hope to do some more of that! As I said earlier I’m off to the states in October and then early next year I’ll be recording another album on Resonance Records. It’s a day-to- day game, this music thing. I’m learning to try and enjoy it all! I’ll be happy to be back in Suffolk for Butley, just enjoying the peace and quiet…along with a riotous band of course….