How would you describe your drumming, in terms of your influences and style.
“I have a broad range of influences but the main drummers would be Elvin Jones, Tony Williams, Paul Motian, Brian Blade and Jack DeJohnette. Having lived in London and New York for so many years, I have an equally broad spectrum of music that has influenced me too – Kenny Wheeler, John Taylor, Keith Jarrett Trio, Brian Blade Fellowship, Paul Motian Trio, Miles Davis’ first and second great quintets, and Coltrane’s classic quartet, at the top of any lists. Having studied with drummer John Riley and saxophonist Dave Liebman in New York, I am very influenced by the Vangaurd Jazz Orchestra (formally the Thad Jones. Mel Lewis Orchestra) and Dave’s own groups. I hope to emulate any of those qualities in my playing.”
Tell us about your band Embodied Hope that we’ll be seeing at The Verdict on Friday 4th November.
“Well this is my first band as a leader in quite some time, and my very first headlining a tour. I am extremely excited to be playing with these musicians and very grateful to Arts Council England and Birmingham City University for the touring support.”
“Starting with Michael Janisch, I have played in two of his own bands in the UK and Europe, and countless sideman projects with artists ranging from Patrick Cornelius to Donna Lewis. He was my first choice for this project. His energy has been essential in making the project happen!”
“I first met Jon Irabagon in 2001 at Manhattan School of Music where I completed my Masters. His influences are incredibly diverse playing everything from free jazz, to straight ahead, and I have worked with him in a band called Confluence in New York, and in a handful of projects outside this, most notably being a collaboration with Kenny Wheeler and John Taylor in London in 2011.”
“George Colligan is a master musician also, that I first worked with in December 2014. He was an artist in residence at the Birmingham Conservatoire, where I am a senior lecturer, and from the first note I knew it would not be the last. His time feel is sublime, his energy 100% and he was the perfect final member for this project.”
“We are very excited about playing The Verdict, Brighton on Friday 4th November. The first time for Irabagon and Colligan, but – I hope – not the last.”
What do you like most (and least) about playing drums?
“Playing the drums is the easy part, that I enjoy immensely. Switching from sideman to bandleader is the challenge. I have written all the music for this tour. It is a suite of music based on the seven neccesary aspects of embodied hope from a great book about improvisation and co-creation called The Fierce Urgency of Now by Daniel Fischlin, Ajay Heble and George Lipsitz. I doscovered it as part of my PhD research project at Birmingham City University into empathic improvisation. Something about the general concept really resonated with me as a practicing jazz musician. Connecting the old with the new, whilst making music with other improvising players, seemed to connect the embodied knowledge so important to the tradition of playing jazz music, and the positive outlook so necessary to keep doing what we are doing in as confused a world in which we live.”
Tell us about some of the other projects that you’re working on.
“I am currently on the road with trumpeter Andre Canniere’s Darkening Blue project with Brigitte Beraha, Tori Freestone, Ivo Neame, John Turville and Michael Janisch. We are halfway through that at the moment, and it’s great music. I have a tour late November with New York guitarist Pete McCann and saxophonist John O’Gallagher. We have a few dates in the UK, as well as concerts in Lugano and Berlin. I just mixed a trio recording with John O’Gallagher and Michael Janisch. John is living in Birmingham at the moment also completing his PhD – which is great for the city – so I am taking full advantage of that! We played at the Spotted Dog, Digbeth last May and we will be part of a recording celebrating the music of that venue and its contribution to the scene. Trombonist Richard Foote and drummer Jonathan Silk have pioneered that for the past three years, and I am more than happy to support their great work.”
Andrew Bain’s Embodied Hope perform at The Verdict, Brighton on Friday 4th November.
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