Photo credit: Dave Hamblett
Alto saxophonist SAM BRAYSHER has moved from touring the perfect pair to the power of three. He talks to Peter Bacon:
LondonJazz News: The important news is that you are about to hit the road?
Sam Braysher: Yes, I have a some trio gigs coming up in March and April, which I’m really looking forward to: we’ll be playing in Hampstead, Bath, Cardiff, Bedford, Luton and Hackney (venues and dates listed below).
LJN: Let’s hear more about that – but first bring us up to speed and your recent activities.
SB: Last year I released my debut album, Golden Earrings, a duo recording with New York pianist Michael Kanan, and he came over to the UK for an eight-gig tour in September (LJN album/live review here). It was the first time I’d organised something like that and it was something of a learning curve, but it was a great experience for me personally.
It was wonderful to play with someone of Michael’s calibre for a run of consecutive gigs – that’s the sort of thing that can only help you improve as a musician – but the obvious logistical complications of bringing over a (very busy) musician from the United States meant that we were only able to get him over for a week. I felt very fortunate to have those eight gigs packed into seven days with him, but this was a relatively short run compared to the mammoth album release tours that some musicians manage to organise.
LJN: And so?
SB: With that in mind, I thought it would be nice to put together another series of gigs with my alto/double bass/drums trio, which is a line-up I’ve been building a repertoire of arrangements for over the last few years. I love the American Songbook and discovering lesser-known gems from it, so we’ll be playing songs by Richard Rodgers, Hoagy Carmichael and Walter Donaldson, but the set list also takes in tunes by jazz musicians like Dexter Gordon and Irene Kitchings, a Gershwin incidental number and a song from Mulan, the 1998 Disney film.
LJN: Is your approach to the music different with the trio?
SB: The music, whilst hopefully still retaining lots of spontaneity, is a bit more arranged compared to the duo with Michael Kanan, where we tried to approach most tunes without too much of a preconceived notion of how they might end up sounding. I am conscious of the fact that the sax-bass-drums trio, as it lacks a chordal instrument (most jazz groups traditionally contain piano or guitar), can sound a little brutal to the casual listener, so the music contains more in the way of vamps, rhythm-section hits, written bass lines and the like, for the ear to latch on to. The music and ensemble playing of Ahmad Jamal, Sonny Rollins (particularly the albumThe Sound of Sonny) and Thelonious Monk were an inspiration in this respect.
LJN: So, spill the beans: who’s in the band?
SB: I’ll be joined by fantastic, swinging rhythm sections on all the gigs. Conor Chaplin (Laura Jurd’s Dinosaur) and Josh Morrison (Stacey Kent) feature on most of them on bass and drums respectively. Tom Farmer (Empirical) and James Maddren (Kit Downes Trio) are also playing on one gig each. The Bedford gig is a different ensemble: a quartet with the excellent Chris Eldred, Simon Read and drummer and host Mark Hale. (See below for full details).
LJN: When does it all begin?
SB: Things kick off this Wednesday (7 March) at Hampstead Lounge & Jazz Club, a lovely, cosy new basement venue which is still developing its audience, so we’d particularly appreciate the support of any North-West Londoners at that one.
Sam Braysher – alto saxophone
Conor Chaplin – double bass
Josh Morrison – drums
7 March – Hampstead Lounge & Jazz Club
16 March – Burdall’s Yard, Bath Spa Live
19 March – The White Horse, Bedford (with Chris Eldred on piano, Simon Read on bass and Mark Hale on drums)
21 March – The Flute & Tankard, Cardiff (James Maddren on drums)
31 March – The Bear Club, Luton
4 April – Kansas Smitty’s, Broadway Market (Tom Farmer on double bass)
LINKS: Sam Braysher’s website