Just over a year ago, London-based saxophonist/composer Trish Clowes released her album A View with a Room through Greenleaf Records. She recently took to Twitter to announce that Greenleaf founder Dave Douglas, the internationally acclaimed trumpeter associated with names such as Joe Lovano and Bill Frisell, would be joining her and her band, My Iris, in concert at 606 Club this month. Interview by Sebastian
LondonJazz News: How did the two of you first meet?
Trish Clowes: I recall meeting Dave at a Sound Prints gig at Ronnie’s a number of years ago.
Dave Douglas: True, I believe introduced by Linda May Han Oh.
LJN: Dave, you founded the Greenleaf record label in 2005. What is the ethos of the label, and how did the step of Trish being signed to Greenleaf happen?
DD: I listen for commitment both to the craft and conception, but also to life’s practical life realities of pushing the music forward, and staying attuned to that. I hear an elegant urgency to a lot of the music we have been able to support.
LJN: For a decade, Dave was the artistic director of the Workshop in Jazz and Creative Music at the Banff Centre in Canada. Is there a Banff connection between the two of you?
LJN: Musically speaking, who were your greatest influences, and how did they shape you?
TC: Wayne Shorter. He makes everything ok in my world. His approach to music making is my guiding light when I falter… I realise that sounds quite religious, but that’s how I feel right now.
DD: Hahaha Wayne asked of us all that we move beyond our boxes and limitations. So, beyond the brilliant harmonic, melodic, rhythmic language, there was a pervasive curiosity that carried all of us along into unknown territory. I like Stevie Wonder in that way, too. And Trish and I have never talked about it, but I’m convinced she does, too.
TC: So I Do 😉
LJN: What reflections do you have on the recent passing of Wayne Shorter?
TC: I’m going to struggle to put this into words to be honest. I don’t think we all quite understand, even though we also do sort of know, quite how profound his contribution to the world was, and is. I have been deeply affected.
DD: Wayne is still here. Every day. We won’t see him at the festivals, but countless musicians carry his reality, deeply felt.
LJN: You’ve both been recognised with numerous awards for your compositions. What do you admire about each other’s writing?
TC: Dave’s music always has such interesting corners… quirky melodies, heart-breaking harmonies, intense groove… colouring outside the lines. Simplicity/complexity… ever-evolving…
DD: Aw, thank you! With ‘A View With A Room,’ I was impressed with the authority that Trish presents as a saxophonist and as a band leader. So it’s not just solid writing that players can dig into (tho it is that), it’s also the overall vision to make it connect and keep the story straight.
LJN: Do you through-compose, or is there a virtue in keeping the written section of the music short, and making the form free?
TC: I do all sorts of different things to be honest, sometimes my music looks like lead sheets, and sometimes it’s heavily written in places, followed or preceded by very open improvised sections. It’s a constant process of discovery, reflection, learning, refining, clarification…
DD: Do I have to choose? I refuse!
LJN: What do you think the future holds for music composition given the latest developments in AI?
TC: For me personally, it’s not really something that grabs my creative attention… there is still so much amazing human music I don’t know about yet, I’m gonna stick with that for inspiration.
DD: Did you want to send me your demo created in AI? Happy to check it out! Let’s hear the music, why not!
LJN: You’ll be performing together at the 606 Club in London on 27 May. Tell us about the programme and the band. By the way, have you played together publicly before?
TC: We have not played together before – although who knows what has occurred in a different multiverse, eh Dave? Dave is guesting with my band MY IRIS, and we’re playing a bit of material from my album ‘A View with a Room’ on Dave’s Greenleaf Music. But a lot of the stuff I’ll be contributing is very new, and Dave is bringing a whole mixture of things (including a piece by Wayne Shorter that he commissioned 10 years ago), but I’ll let him elaborate on all that…
DD: Monterey Jazz Festival commissioned Wayne Shorter to write Destination Unknown for the band I co-lead with Joe Lovano, Sound Prints. No one else has ever played it. I thought it would be fun to explore this unique Wayne Shorter piece in this new context!
Trish and I have never played, but check out the episode of my podcast, A Noise From The Deep (link below) , in which I quiz Trish about her music. She makes a lot clear in that discussion. Can’t wait to get into it. Just finishing a new piece for Trish today, sure to lead us new places.
LJN: Tell us about your next recording projects and other news on the horizon!
TC: I have a few things recorded and awaiting release – a duo album with Ross Stanley, a duo album with cellist Louise McMonagle, plus a collaboration with electronician Stian Balducci as a result of the Punkt Birmingham Festival that never was – as well as an emerging plan (in my head) for what I’m going to do for the next MY IRIS recording…
DD: Greenleaf Music has several new artists with recordings this season. Looking forward to presenting the music! Festival of New Trumpet Music will celebrate Dizzy Reece(!) in September, as well as many other unique artists on the instrument. I’m writing a Woodwind Quintet for a premiere with a group in Belgium. I also have a new band called GIFTS Trio which will debut in the fall, with Rafiq Bhatia on guitar and Ian Chang on drums. Thank you!
Booking link for Dave Douglas + Trish Clowes – My Iris @ 606 Club