Heidi Vogel (The W at 91 Living Room, 8 May)

The W is Bruno Heinen’s group with Heidi Vogel(*), Gene Calderazzo and Andrea Di Biase. “We play all original music by Bruno but with total freedom of our own individual styles,” says Vogel. Bruno Heinen chose the name ‘The W’, he says, because, “like the four equal lines that make up the letter W, the four of us come together as one in performance…four individual voices coming together.” Interview with Heidi Vogel by Sebastian Scotney:

The W. Clockwise from top left: Bruno Heinen, Gene Calderazzo, Andrea de Biase, Heidi Vogel. Photo credit George Nelson

LondonJazz News: Is doing wordless vocals a constraint or does it give more freedom?

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Heidi Vogel: I feel it gives a lot of freedom. I feel like I’m part of the instrumental music, but still a vocalist expressing through the human voice. 

LJN: Do you have a written / composed melodic line from Bruno Heinen to work from or how does the process start?

HV: Yes. Exactly. I have a melodic line from Bruno. Then we express freely all as a group around that. Mainly myself and Bruno on the main melody lines. Although Andrea is often playing some melody lines too or counter melodies. We always play without written music.

LJN: I understand the three-track EP “Live at Kings Place” is the first gig you ever performed? What do you remember of it?

HV: I was super excited. A little nervous. To be on stage with such great cats. Also my first big show post covid lockdowns. Very surreal. Very honoured to be there. The space is beautiful. 

LJN: And how has the project / repertoire developed since then?

HV: Well, it develops in that it frees up as we all get to know the material more. And Bruno is constantly writing new material. So it’s expanded in both of those ways. 

LJN: You have a phenomenal expressive range; presumably there is further to go, there are more avenues to explore with this group…

HV: I definitely hope so… there is a lot more to come.

LJN: The players in the trio know each other really well, what was it like to step in?

HV: Very natural. I’ve played with them all for many years in different formats. Very close musically to all of them in different ways. 

LJN: Are there plans for a full album?

HV: Yes! We are recording in May. And there are also lots of other things to come like videos we have been recording of live sessions and some other ones of recordings. So please do look out for more of The W. And come and see us live too! 

(*) HEIDI VOGEL made her professional debut touring with Cirque du Soleil, establishing herself as a mainstay of the London and LA jazz and soul scenes. She then joined The Cinematic Orchestra (Ninja Tune) as lead vocalist, and has toured extensively with the group for over 5 years. By 2007, Vogel had toured throughout the USA, Australia, South Africa, Canada and Europe and ended the year with a sold-out concert at The Royal Albert Hall. Festival appearances include The Big Chill UK, Dubai’s Chill Out Festival (supporting Erykah Badu), North Sea Jazz, Coachella, Gilles Peterson Worldwide and Blue Note Jazz Festival.

LINKS: The W album launch is at 91 Living Room, Shoreditch, on 8 May

The W at Bruno Heinen’s website

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