ANDY SCOTT is a British saxophonist, composer, bandleader and educator. He is a British Composer Award winner, a member of the Apollo Saxophone Quartet, and Tutor of Saxophone & Composition at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester. A professional musician for 30 years, Andy has drawn together no fewer than nine UK saxophonists plus a very strong rhythm section to record his CD ‘Ruby & All Things Purple’.
Here Andy Scott writes about the new album:
Group S is a saxophone ensemble with rhythm section. As the saxophone is such a homogenous instrument you can utilise the sopranino saxophone through to the bass saxophone and explore a huge range of combinations of sounds and colours.
This is a project blending contemporary classical and jazz worlds, classically-trained musicians with improvising musicians, binding everything together with charts that are specifically-written for specific players. It’s a challenge, but I respect the musicians so much that I just have to do it, as crazy as a nine-saxophone and four rhythm-section idea sounds!
I think that it works well because the musicians are all musically open-minded, and there’s a real music trust between everyone. For example, I knew that I could give Gwilym Simcock a few sketches for a piano solo, with some directions about the form of the piece, and then ask him to improvise around this information. Then it’s over to Gwil, and it sounds amazing of course!!
I felt the time had come to change the name of the ensemble to Group S (from SaxAssault) because the group had developed from a high energy assault on the ears in to something that explores musical styles, colours and sounds in greater detail. The name Group S was suggested Wayne Shorter, when I was lucky enough to be able to ask him what he would name a group of saxophonists (I played as part of the saxophone section when Shorter collaborated with the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra).
Group S also draws on a wide range of individual skills from the musicians involved. Some of them are outstanding readers of music whilst others work more instinctively by ear. It’s possible to write to the various strengths within the band. Gwilym has also produced some arrangements for the project and took a similar approach, talking with me about the individual backgrounds and playing strengths of the band members.
The album features Jon Hiseman and Barbara Thompson on the closing track (La Grande Image) and was recorded and mixed by Jon at their studio. I’ve collaborated with them many times over the past 15 years with the Apollo Saxophone Quartet and a strong musical friendship has developed. John Helliwell, who plays with Supertramp, also features on the piece. La Grande Image is really about respect – my respect for these three musicians, who are all inspirational figures to me.
Other highlights on the album include Salt of the Earth, featuring Jim Fieldhouse on the bass saxophone and inspired by the underground salt mines of Sandbach in Cheshire. Gwilym Simcock contributes an arrangement of the Mousse T and Tom Jones smash hit ‘Sex Bomb’ where he takes the main riff and develops it in ways beyond most of our imaginations! Gwilym also composed Serenade as a duo setting with Krzysztof Urbanski, the one saxophonist new to the ensemble for this recording.
Ruby & All Things Purple is about new music, the saxophone, a stellar rhythm section and to me doesn’t need to be catagorised in the way that many feel a need to, just listen and enjoy!
Gwilym Simock (piano – also contributing two compositions)
Laurence Cottle (bass)
Elliott Henshaw (drums)
Krzysztof Urbanski, Chris Caldwell, John Helliwell, Simon Willescroft, Rob Buckland, Jim Fieldhouse, Dave Graham, Mike Hall, Rob Cope (saxophones)
Guests: Jon Hiseman (Colosseum) and Barbara Thompson (Paraphernalia) Direction: Andy Scott
Andy Scott’s music is published by Astute Music. He is an endorsee of Selmer Paris Saxophones & Vandoren