|Mark Pringle. Photo credit: Robin French|
Mark Pringle’s new album “A Moveable Feast” willbe coming out this month. The award winning pianist is currently touring the UK before heading off to Germany. Feature by Peter Bacon:
“Mark Pringle is an exceptionally gifted pianist and composer, and a remarkable improviser. A Moveable Feast is a brilliant ensemble piece and a striking example of his writing and playing.”
You don’t get testimonials much stronger than that; it comes from the late John Taylor, one of Mark’s teachers – along with John Turville, Hans Koller, Joe Cutler and Liam Noble – during his years studying at Birmingham Conservatoire.
Mark graduated this summer and picked up the Jazz Department Performance Prize, the Dean’s Award for exceptional achievement and the Principal’s Prize for outstanding contribution to the life of the Conservatoire. He adds those to last December’s Peter Whittingham Award.
Still in the first half of his third decade, Mark has already got about a bit. He started out in Wells, Somerset, he’s been living, studying and playing in Birmingham for the last four years, with a stay in Paris along the way. This autumn he moves to Europe to continue doing all those things in Berlin, Copenhagen and Amsterdam as part of his placement on the European Jazz Masters programme.
It was the Paris sojourn that inspired the album he is releasing this month on Stoney Lane Records. A Moveable Feast finds him writing for and leading a 12-piece band which includes a string quartet along with more conventional jazz instruments.
“I was very lucky,” says Mark Pringle,” to have the opportunity to study in Paris for four months in 2013. The music is heavily inspired by my experiences there, and so inspirations behind the pieces come from a myriad of extra-musical sources.”
The music itself ranges from evocations of city hurly burly to the sudden peace of a tree-filled park, and the stylistic influences are clearly not only jazz ones but classical too. You might think that for a man of Mark’s youthful years, the Parisian inspirations would be recent ones, but no, they include Ernest Hemingway, who provided the album title as part of this highly relevant quote: “If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast”. Hemingway is also remembered in a track called The Writer. Wind back a century and the composer Olivier Messiaen’s reaction on first seeing a score by Claude Debussy was to call it “a real bombshell”. That provides the title of the opening piece on Mark’s album. (AVAILABLE ON SOUNDCLOUD)
For A Moveable Feast the musicians are all current or former Birmingham residents, among them trumpeter Percy Pursglove, alto saxophonist Chris Young, bassist James Banner (now working out of Berlin) and drummer Euan Palmer.
|A Moveable Feast being performed at the Manchester Jazz Festival
Photo credit: Phil Portus
Mark started out studying classical music but he discovered the joys of improvising at a young age.
“The first recording I remember having was a National Trust compilation CD of British trad, featuring the music of Kenny Ball, Chris Barber and Acker Bilk. Such great melodies! The obsession really took off with a Bill Evans CD (Empathy/A Simple Matter of Conviction) and Oscar Peterson’s Night Train, both purchased from Broad Street Jazz, the old jazz CD shop in Bath.”
Mark is as busy playing in clubs and halls around the land as he is recording and winning accolades. Last month he performed the music from A Moveable Feast at the Manchester Jazz Festival and also played in the Proms Extra Late Series at the Royal Albert Hall, which was recorded for BBC Radio 3 broadcast. He has been playing in the 12-piece, trio and small group formats, as well as solo. So which does he prefer?
“I like all those settings but there is something special about the openness of a trio, where you have so much freedom to take the music in different directions. That flexibility makes it creatively very exciting, especially when playing with people you have strong empathy with, which I am lucky enough to. I get a different kind of enjoyment from writing for A Moveable Feast, where I have the chance to be really creative with texture, harmony, orchestration, timbre… Although structurally it’s often more restricted than a trio, it’s sonically richer and more varied, which feels great to play in. Luckily you’re allowed to do both! “Having said that, I also can’t wait for saxophonists Joe Wright and Lluis Mather to join my trio for three London gigs in late September. They’re sure to be really exciting ones.”
A Moveable Feast is released on Stoney Lane Records.
Mark Pringle is playing the following London dates:
– 6 Sept Lume presents @ The Vortex (Large ensemble)
– 20 Sept The Green Note (Trio)
– 25 Sept South Bank Centre (Trio + Joe Wright and Lluis Mather)
– 27 Sept Omnibus, Clapham (Trio + Wright/Mather)
– 28 Sept The Oxford (Trio + Wright/Mather).
He is also playing in Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Newcastle, Oxford, Cardiff and Wells.
LINKS: Mark Pringle Music
Stoney Lane Records
Preorder link for the album