Trumpeter/composer Ryan Quigley, born in Derry in Northern Ireland, is a pivotal figure in Scottish jazz, but also plays in a wide range of other contexts. He releases his new album “What Doesn’t Kill You” on Whirlwind Recordings on 9th September, launching a UK tour at Pizza Express Dean Street on 5th September and touring the UK with a quintet including US musicians Geoffrey Keezer and Clarence Penn until September 13th. He here explains the background to his first album as leader in eight years. This feature also has a premiere of the album video, launched today:
I recorded my debut record, Laphroag-Ian Slip, in 2008. That album did much to help propel me on to a different level, not only in the jazz world, but the music world in general – but I didn’t imagine it would take me eight years to release my second record. There are many reasons for this, some professional and some personal.
Soon after my debut, I joined and subsequently toured with and wrote for Brass Jaw for a number of years, heavily collaborating on three albums. During this time, I also became more and more involved in the session music scene, which I love doing; and I’ve been so lucky to have worked for some amazing people, including world tours with George Michael and Robbie Williams.
In a flash, a number of years have passed, and I felt the pressing need to write my own music again. So I put a new quintet together with Paul Booth on sax, Steve Hamilton on piano (who was also on the 2008 album), Michael Janisch on bass and the great Clarence Penn on drums (who is a hero of mine and one of the greatest drummers on the planet). These musicians are amongst my favourite improvisers and I feel lucky that I got to record with them in the middle of a tour that we put together in summer 2014.
Steve Hamilton wasn’t available for the upcoming tour, so I had to think long and hard about who could replace the unreplaceable. One name kept coming up in my thought process… Geoffrey Keezer. I had worked with him many years ago and loved his playing and music, and thankfully he agreed to do the tour. Geoffrey is without doubt one of the most important pianists of the last twenty years, and he emits an energy through his instrument that is unlike any pianist I’ve heard.
What Doesn’t Kill You is the title of the new record. The reason behind the title is what I believe about the famous saying: ‘I don’t believe that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’. In fact, I believe that what doesn’t kill you makes you weaker or makes you, at best, more experienced. A lot has happened since that debut record – some great things and some tragedy, as everyone experiences in life. All of the experiences, good and bad, have left their mark in some way. The good have given me strength, for sure, but the bad things certainly haven’t made me stronger.
One thing is for certain – when I get to play original music and create with some of the world’s great musicians, it’s an honour, it’s humbling and it’s something that gives me strength and a belief in myself that can always be drawn upon. I’m looking forward to kicking off our British Isles tour with this incredible band on the 5th of September at Pizza Express in London, and hope to see both new and familiar faces as we launch my new album.