Kit Downes has said: “Dom has a unique and personal approach to improvising that is subtle and detailed – his skills as a composer and improviser are a rare treat and should be heard live whenever possible” Wakefield-born violinist/composer Dominic Ingham’s first album “Role Models” caught the ear for its probing, atmospheric, melodic and folk-inspired compositions. He currently on an eleven-date tour with the new repertoire he has written for a (mostly) new quintet with Jonny Mansfield (vibes), Miles Mindlin (guitar), Will Sach (bass), and Jay Davis (drums). Interview by Sebastian.
LondonJazz News: What was it that drew you to the violin?
Dominic Ingham: When I was about five, my parents took me to a folk gig and there were loads of the violins playing – massive sound. After the gig I said ‘I want to learn to play the violin’ and the rest is history. I did get to a point when I was about 16/17 and pretty good at my instrument, where I decided I wanted to play jazz – this was frustrating as I wished I’d have trained on saxophone or trumpet instead of the fiddle.
I gave it a shot though – the idea was to transfer a sound I had in my head onto the violin. It was tricky at first as most of the time I didn’t like what was coming out (some of it made me want to cringe actually) but gradually I started to figure out stuff that sounded good and then integrated this into my playing.
LJN: Do you think listeners find emotion in your music?
DI: I hope that they would. That’s not something I really think about though. I write tunes that I like and they’re then transformed by the musicians that play them – a process that always fascinates me. Sometimes a tune can open up into something that’s completely different from how I had envisaged – these are often my favourite moments on gigs.
LJN: I notice that there are a lot of young people / your contemporaries at your gigs, at least from what is out there on video… you seem to catch the vibe of your contemporaries… do you feel that?
DI: Yeah! I love making music with my friends. It’s a really joyous process, from writing to rehearsing to driving around the country playing gigs – it’s a dream. Jonny Mansfield (vibes) and Will Sach (bass) are joining me on this tour; we’ve been developing a shared musical language since at least the start of music college so playing together feels like second nature.
LJN: You are teaching classical string players to improvise? Is it different with every player or do you have keys on your key-ring to unlock that kind of creativity?
DI: Yes I’m teaching classical string players to improvise! So the idea isn’t necessarily that these kids will go on to be improvisers, it’s more that improvising can be used as a tool to help them develop their skills as musicians as well as developing their already unique relationship with music.
LJN: Is there a theme to the new work you have written for this tour?
DI: Within the new work, I’ve written quite a few tunes in collaboration with other members of the band. This has been a really interesting process as each tune reflects the personalities of the musicians writing them. It’s also cool to see the role of each musician change when playing their own tune. I’m glad we did this, because right now the band sounds better than ever and I feel everyone is really invested in the music.
LJN: You sometimes talk about shyness. How does that and being a performer fit together?
DI: Despite having lots of performance opportunities when I was younger, I struggled to overcome nerves when performing classical music but when I started to play jazz / improvised music I felt more at ease and was happier to be on stage. I guess I felt more comfortable expressing myself in this music, so communicating with the audience and musicians onstage was much easier.
LJN: Who’s the longest-standing musical partner in this band and how did you get to know him?
DI: Jonny Mansfield and I met when we were 16 at Chetham’s School of Music. We were both playing jazz on ‘unusual’ instruments so I guess we bonded over that and ended up playing quite a lot together. Since then we’ve always been apart of each others projects – I can’t imagine not having him in the band as he understands my musical intentions greater than anyone else.
LJN: And the others?
DI: I met Will when we were both starting music college – I was addicted to his sound and have been playing with him ever since. I feel like a lot of us have made a friend or two that we didn’t know pre pandemic but are now are really close – Miles is one of those friends! We have a very similar taste in music so performing together is really exciting. I also met Jay during the pandemic and was drawn to the freedom he has on the drums – super fun to interact with!
LJN: Will there be an album from this project?
DI: I have an upcoming EP entitled “Letters” that features the music from this tour. Each track on the EP will be filmed live in the space we record (remotely). I’m very much looking forward to sharing this new music with the world – both audibly and visually!
REMAINING TOUR DATES: