PREVIEW / TRIPLE INTERVIEW: The Shape of Jazz to Come Mini-Festival, (Vortex 18-19 December)

Orphy Robinson
Publicity photo

The Shape of Jazz to Come is a two-day mini-festival taking place at the Vortex Jazz Club on 18-19 December. A high quality billing includes Meg Morley Trio, the final ever live appearance of Yana (Corey Mwamba, Dave Kane and Joshua Blakemore) and the debut of Orphy Robinson’s ‘Dub All Vision/Double Vision.’ 

This comes at a particularly emotional time for the jazz community and fans of the Vortex following the passing of the club’s founder David Mossman. AJ Dehany asked Meg Morley, Corey Mwamba and Orphy Robinson about their plans for this special festival and how it points the way for the future of the music.

Meg Morley Trio
Pubicity Photo


LJN: I really like the trio album Can’t Get Started with Richard Sadler and Emiliano Caroselli, which you debuted at the Vortex back in February. Returning after ten months, how do you and the group feel about these compositions and how have they developed in that time?

MM: Thanks, I’m glad you like it. The tunes are somewhat varied in style so we enjoy playing them, but I think the development has been about our interaction rather than the tunes themselves. After the Vortex launch we had the opportunity to not only perform the album music, but to work on other projects – for example, a British Film Institute commission for a silent film DVD release – where we discovered more about each other’s playing and how we respond to each other.

LJN: You’ll be presenting new music from your upcoming second album release in 2019—have we heard any of this music before, what can we expect, and has it been recorded yet?

MM: It hasn’t been recorded as the tunes are currently being written, but you will hear a couple on the 18th. The debut album is still fairly new so we want to play it more but I want to keep writing and moving on so the 2019 album will probably be a continuation of the first in terms of telling stories and exploring styles, yet on a slightly bigger scale: perhaps more cohesive and expansive through the development of ideas and sections; use of space etc.

LJN: There are some eclectic influences going into the group, from your interest in composing and improvising music for dance and silent film, and Emiliano Caroselli’s experience with pop, rock and Cuban music—how do you bring these together through jazz?

MM: I don’t consciously try to bring them together – it just happens as I write what I like. However I do consciously try to bring some varied, and hopefully unexpected, styles and rhythms into our charts – and I think it’s the combination of my individual writing, our different backgrounds, our collective interpretation of the charts and also our interplay which make it interesting.

LJN: And what do you foresee when you think about that challenging, audacious phrase, “the shape of jazz to come”?

MM: I think the phrase is fantastic (as is the Coleman album – even though there’s no piano!) and expresses current creative music better than the term ‘jazz’ itself does. ‘Jazz’ will always be categorised by many as a style (e.g. ‘swing’, ‘free’ or a certain harmonic language etc) and then it’s institutionalised, but for me it’s a philosophy that represents the freedom of individuals to have a voice through improvised music – no matter what the style. Perhaps ‘the shape of jazz to come’ forever represents the present moment breaking away from such categorisations…

Meg Morley Trio performs on Day 1 on December 18 BOOKINGS

Yana. L-R: Joshua Blackmore, Dave Kane, Corey Mwamba


LJN: The Vortex was the first place where you played in London as Yana with bassist Dave Kane and drummer Joshua Blackmore ten years ago. As you’re moving away from live performance after March this could be something of a special show?

CM: Very much so for us — from memory it was only our second gig (our first gig was in Stratford-upon-Avon). We didn’t have a name then. As a group, we’ve always been a “live” band, and the change in my circumstances means we won’t be doing that any more (although we will still be recording). So it will be the last chance for those in the London area to see us play. Which I think is special!

LJN: You’ve called it “open, living music”—what characterises this that we can look out for and how do you and the group achieve this? How easy or hard is it to stick to the maxim of the album title “don’t overthink it”?

CM: I think there is a sense of movement, of energy, and joy from when we three play. I couldn’t say where it is from. Partly it is about choosing the right people — and Dave and Joshua are brothers to me — and partly it is about paying attention within that moment. It isn’t something I’ve ever worried about with them.

LJN: I gather there are improvised and composed elements and we’re often unsure which is which—how do you move between these with the group and how does this flexibility affect or structure or direct what we see and hear?

CM: At the beginning there were composed elements. But we dropped them very quickly, and in fact the majority of our work is totally improvised, or at least spontaneously configured. We are told that it sounds like we’ve worked things out, but we really haven’t. I sometimes have the feeling we each have prepared things that we each make, but we never communicate to each other until the moment of making music.

LJN: And what do you foresee when you think about that challenging, audacious phrase, “the shape of jazz to come”?

CM: I quite like the idea of jazz+ as a shape — a whole dimension that constantly folds outwards and inwards. As static as some people would like to make it, it is dark, never fixed, ultimately unknowable, and irresistible.

YANA perform on Day 1 on 18 December BOOKINGS



LJN: Could you tell me about ‘Dub All Vision/Double Vision’ that you’re going to be presenting at the Vortex as a five-piece?

OR: A grouping of 4 musicians in this instance. 2 Bass Players, A piano/ keys player, Tuned percussion, Digital & Acoustic instruments. In other instances there will be two drummers and two tuned percussionists.

LJN: I heard you quote what what James Brown said to Earth Wind and Fire’s Maurice White as they were coming off stage: “That’s great fellas. Your music looked after the people’s minds, now I’ll go take care of their feet”—is this in the nature of a ‘double vision’ that hints toward an ambition to do both?

OR: The Idea behind “Dub all vision/Double Vision” two sides to every story & groove. Double vision/Dub All Vision is based in some instances on ideas & Sketches written before the concert and sent to some of the musicians, who will play them and then the other musicians who have not been sent the ideas & Sketches previously will react with improvisation in the moment. Through manipulation of digital Fx/equipment mixing as in Dub Music.

LJN: The form ‘Dub’ derives from studio techniques—how do you go about presenting these in a live context, and what’s the relationship between acoustic and electronic elements in this music?

OR: By using digital Fx, apps and techniques that are used to manipulate live Notes, Tones, Voices, Sounds & Frequencies the acoustic world of sound.

LJN: And what do you foresee when you think about that challenging, audacious phrase, “the shape of jazz to come”?

OR: I see youth meeting experience, I think of new ideas meeting seasoned musings. Creating soundscapes for a new day.

Orphy Robinson performs on Day 2 on 19 December http://www.vortexjazz.co.uk/event/the-shape-of-jazz-to-come-day-2-orphy-robinson-presents-dub-all-vision/

AJ Dehany is based in London and writes independently about music, art and stuff. ajdehany.co.uk

Day 1 – Meg Morley Trio / Yana – MORE DETAILS

Day 2 – Orphy Robinson presents ‘Dub All Vision/Double Vision’ MORE DETAILS

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