INTERVIEW: Christian Garrick (Butterfly’s Wing new album and Mar/Apr tour dates)

Studio Montage of Butterfly’s Wing
Clockwise from top left:
David Gordon, Jacqui Dankworth, Chris Garrick, Ben Davis

The quartet Butterfly’s Wing consists of vocalist Jacqui Dankworth, pianist David Gordon, violinist Christian Garrick and cellist Ben Davis. Christian Garrick explains the background to their new album and a short tour. Interview by Sebastian: 

LondonJazz News: Butterfly’s Wing – it’s now a quartet but it started as a duo?

Christian Garrick: The group is essentially all about David’s music and Jacqui’s voice with lyrics from them both, and various other sources, enhanced by the strings of Ben Davis and me.

LJN: And where does the name of the band come from?

CG: Butterfly’s Wing is the title of one of David’s lyrics from the album.

LJN: What characteristics of David Gordon as composer does it bring to the fore?

CG: David writes in such subtle degrees anyway but his mellifluous stylings are perfectly situated in BW. Somehow the soundscape here ideally suits his arc.

LJN: What kinds of topics do the songs deal with?

CG: There are songs about friendly bears, about love and new departures, about loss and leaving, as well as a trio of intriguing ‘nonsense’ poems… and an instrumental – or wordless – tune for good measure.

LJN: And there is a song by Charlie Wood too?

CG: Charlie contributed a wonderful catchy piece, Just A Song, which is a very nice choice for radio-play.

LJN:  Jacqui is also an actress – does she speak as well as sing?

CG: There is a little spoken stuff in The Knee, one of the three nonsense poems, in German.

LJN:  You are listed in the blurb as a neolin player. Uh?

CG: Neolin is a hybrid violin-viola developed by bonkers French luthier Bodo Vosshenrich. The neolin is just the thing for a violin player desiring to sound those plummy low viola tones without undergoing arm extension surgery.

LJN: Have you worked a lot with Ben Davis?

CG: Ben and I first played together in 1993 in Julian Joseph’s supergroup “Shape Of Things To Come”. More recently we played some concerts together in his trailblazing band Basquiat Strings.

LJN:  You recorded an album which is being released to coincide with the tour (or possibly the other way round…) When and where was it recorded?

CG: As David summarises in his liner note (below) it has been a slow-burning project to say the least – beginning recording in 2014 and releasing in 2018 – and the group’s genesis being 2001, the material certainly has had plenty of time to evolve and to mature. All resulting in an intensely satisfying and polished performance on this album. We made it at Ralph Salmin’s place, The Bunker, a fantastic wee studio in the country perfect for chamber projects such as this. I’ve done other things there, with Martin Taylor and with my own band “Spirit Of Stephane”.

LJN: And Ralph Salmins is… on the album but won’t join you on tour?

CG: Ralph isn’t a member of the group. We were in the middle of recording Charlie’s piece Just A Song when a collective urge to add percussion to this particular cut led directly to the studio boss volunteering gamely! A nice turn of events but, no, the tour will be the quartet only, no percussion.

LJN: The London date is Blackheath… why there?

CG: They wanted to do it! We love the great hall there and can’t wait to hear the group in that magnificent space.

LJN: And 8 March has resonances for you… will there be cake?

CG: What a cool way to celebrate – yes hopefully – butterfly cakes of course!

LJN: What are your other main bands/ projects at the moment?

CG: Spirit Of Stephane is getting busier. Budapest Café Orchestra does about 70 shows a year and, over in Finland, we’re having a blast with Tango Alakulo.

NOTE: David Gordon’s sleeve-note for Butterfly’s Wing:

Many musical projects can be a bit slow-burn but in all the things I’ve been involved in, the Butterfly Wing project takes the biscuit.

Arising naturally from the work Jacqui and I were starting to do together as a duo, the group performed for the first time in 2002 at London’s South Bank Centre. Jacqui and I had both had the idea of augmenting our duo with string instruments and, in the spirit of democracy, we nominated one string-player each, not knowing they already had a shared history, having played together in pianist Julian Joseph’s supergroup some years earlier. They also happened to be the country’s leading jazz string players and a dream band was born.

For eight years after this it remained only a dream and not till our next outing in 2010 did the project start to fulfil its obvious potential. Inspired by the sound and feel of Jacqui’s unparalleled vocal delivery I found myself writing songs to her lyrics, to nonsense poetry, even to my own lyrics, and often with a multilingual strand. On this album French and German appear amongst the mostly English words, but there’s a lot more going on behind the scenes.

Above all, the mysterious, infinitely flexible sound of the group gives an extraordinary – perhaps unique – palette to compose for: anything from a forest of whispers to a small orchestra to grooves so deep you’d never know that a rhythm section wasn’t there. With this recording, made in the most acoustic way – essentially in one room – the dream was finally realised.


7 Mar Apex, Bury St Edmunds,
8 Mar Blackheath Concert Halls (album launch)
9 Mar  Wiltshire Music Centre Bradford-on-Avon
13 Apr Norden Farm Arts Centre, Maidenhead
14 Apr Ugland Auditorium, Stowe School, Buckingham

LINKS: Butterfly’s Wing at Christian Garrick’s website 

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