|The Philip Clouts Quartet|
L-R: Dave Ingamells, Alex Keen, Philip Clouts, Samuel Eagles
Pianist PHILIP CLOUTS celebrates his quartet’s tenth anniversary with a 13-date tour from October 5 that begins and ends with London gigs. Rob Adams asked Clouts for the lowdown on the group and its music:
Rob Adams: How did you come to form the quartet?
Philip Clouts: Well, if we go right back to the first few years of the millennium, my main band at the time was 7-piece worldbeat jazz outfit Zubop. Zubop started to collaborate with Gambian master musicians Juldeh Camara and Njega Sohna, so the band was expanding to a 9-piece. At this time I was doing some writing and performing in a trio context as a contrastingly more intimate project, with Sean Randle from Zubop on drums, and Alex Keen on bass. After releasing a trio album, Direction South, I felt that even in this smaller outfit I was interested to add another voice, and at the time I was doing some work with saxophonist Carlos Lopez-Real from the F-IRE Collective. We had many inspiring chats about playing and composition along the way, so I was really happy when Carlos agreed to join, forming the Quartet.
RA: How would you say the quartet has developed over the past ten years?
PC:Firstly just in terms of personnel the quartet has given me the opportunity to work with many amazing musicians. Alex Keen on the bass is someone who I have worked with through most of my musical career and I love his sound-he has been in all incarnations of the band. Sean moved to Ireland before we recorded our debut CD Sennen Cove, so it features Paul Cavaciuti on drums who brought a very dynamic approach to the rhythm section. Our second CD The Hour of Pearl has Jon Desbruslais in the drum chair, another great player, with an encyclopaedic knowledge of all the different sorts of grooves I like to cover in my compositions. Then in our current line up we have David Ingamells who played on the most recent album Umoya – he’s got phenomenal technique and can go from total sensitivity to powerhouse in an instant.
Carlos had to leave the band three years ago due to increased teaching commitments on a new course he was developing at the Guildhall. Samuel Eagles stepped in and it is great to have his input on the new material. His sense of phrasing is unique, and apart from being a great jazz player he also brings his experience of playing Afrobeat on the London scene.
Musically I’d say there has always been a strong Afro-Latin thread running through my compositions, and over the years that has extended to more Middle Eastern and European folk influences as well. I’m writing some new material at the moment that we’ll be premiering on the tour, including a piece that is a different take on the blues, maybe more of a ‘desert blues’.
RA: Are there any achievements that stand out for you?
PC:It was great to play as part of the Wigmore Hall Lates series, and we’ve had a great reception at the Marsden Jazz Festival both times we’ve played there. After our first album came out we were selected by Jazz Services to be one of the first two bands on their Rural Touring Scheme, which got us travelling to a wide variety of places. I’m really happy we are currently with the Odradek record label, they have expanded from being classical specialists and we were one of the first on their jazz imprint.
RA: Is there anything you are looking forward to particularly on the forthcoming tour?
PC: One of the venues on our debut tour in 2007 was Grimsby Jazz Club and I am delighted that we‘ll be playing there as part of this one. I like the way the tour is bookended by two London dates, starting at Karamel in North London, and ending in West London at Inventions and Dimensions at the Ram Jam Club. We’ll be playing at some of our favourite venues from the past ten years like Edinburgh’s Traverse Theatre and Bridport Arts Centre; and taking in a few that are new to us like the Lescar in Sheffield and the Catstrand Arts Centre in New Galloway.
RA: What can audiences expect to hear?
PC:One of the new pieces we’ll be playing is called Praya Dubia-it is named after a fascinating deep sea creature, it is about forty metres long, has a blue glow and is made up of a colony of single celled organisms that each have specific functions. Another new one I mentioned earlier is Biram Blues -a biram is a five-stringed harp used by the Boudouma people of Eastern Niger. We’ll also be playing some pieces from our latest CD Umoya which spans a range of inspirations from Moroccan Gnawa music to Italian tarantella.
RA: What would you like them to take away from a Philip Clouts Quartet gig (aside from all the CDs you’re carting around)?
PC: Someone recently told me they found my music life-affirming, so I hope that the quartet’s melodic groove-oriented approach will have that effect on the people who come to hear us.
Rob Adams has been assisting with the preparation of this tour.
Thur 5 Oct LONDON Karamel, Wood Green
http://www.karamelrestaurant.com 020 8829 8989
8pm £10/8 adv
Wed 18 Oct GRIMSBY Jazz Club
http://www.grimsbyjazz.com 01472 873730
Thur 19 Oct DARWEN Number 39
9pm free admission
Fri 20 Oct LINCOLN Zing Café (5pm)
http://www.lpac.co.uk 01522 837600
5pm free admission
Wed 25 Oct SHEFFIELD Lescar
http://www.jazzatthelescar.com 07740 201939
Thur 26 Oct DAVENHAM Players Theatre
http://www.davenhamplayers.co.uk 01606 74502
Fri 27 Oct NEW GALLOWAY Catstrand
http://www.catstrand.com 01644 420374
Sat 28 Oct EYEMOUTH Hippodrome
http://www.eyemouthhippodrome.org 01890 750099
Sun 29 Oct GLASGOW Sounds in the Suburbs (2pm) http://www.facebook.com/soundsin.thesuburbs 07944 354459
Mon 30 Oct EDINBURGH Traverse Theatre
http://www.traverse.co.uk 0131 228 1404
Thur 9 Nov BRISTOL Future Inn
http://www.jazzatfutureinn.co.uk 0845 094 5588
Fri 10 Nov BRIDPORT Arts Centre
http://www.bridport-arts.com 01308 424204
Thur 30 Nov LONDON Ram Jam Club, Kingston
http://www.grey-horse.co.uk 020 8617 9860