Annie Lightly Interview
Tell us about your new album. How did it come about?
“The album seemed to come out of nowhere, complete with track list. I could even ‘hear’ the musicians who would be involved. (Thank goodness they agreed to play on it.)”
“I’m struggling to answer the question without saying something about my life. Both my father, a violinist, and mother, a cellist, were gifted musicians. My dad died when he was thirty. I was three. The battles to survive, the pain and joy that accompanied music, were present in the family long before I was born.”
“I have a few childhood memories of precious time spent with my Grandma Rosie, who was quite a pianist. We worked our way through folk songs from around the world, blues, hymns, sea shanties, gospel, the American Songbook, improvising together and generally taking refuge in music. I managed, though, to lurch through life for years, never feeling entitled to play, but unable to let music go.”
“Things took a turn in the 1980s when I found the Brighton Jazz Co op. That led to Geoff Simkins’ Saturday Jazz Course and, more recently, Mark Bassey’s Ropetackle Jazz workshop. Unhelpful self-doubts were becoming irrelevant. I couldn’t have had two better teachers, and all I wanted was to get stuck in, enjoy the ‘band’ experience, and learn.”
“Just over two years ago, the idea to make a record surfaced while I was having a lesson with Mark. His interest and encouragement spurred me on and I can’t thank him enough! I’d no experience of making a record, let alone a double album, but never doubted it would happen. Also I had around me a bunch of experienced, creative and lovely people, all contributing to the project.”
How did you go about choosing the tunes?
“I’d been writing lyrics to ‘workshop’ tunes and wanted to include material that was not part of standard vocal repertoire. I wanted pieces that the other musicians would enjoy and to make an album with a strong instrumental presence.”
“My song, Concorde, started life at the Ropetackle w/s and I’m grateful to Mark for People Watching People. I’d sung How Can I Keep From Singing with a small acapella group on a Holocaust Memorial Day and Terry Pack and Tom Phelan created a marvellous arrangement of this traditional hymn. I couldn’t resist including a version of Bye Bye Blackbird complete with two original verses. I could go on … these are just a few of the eighteen songs we recorded.”
Tell us about the musicians that you have on the album.
“I wanted to bring together musicians who enjoyed playing together – especially the rhythm section: Tom Phelan (piano and fender rhodes), Milo Fell (percussion and drums) and Terry Pack (bass). The other players were Geoff Simkins (alto sax), Mark Bassey (trombone), Jack Kendon (trumpet and flugel), James McMillan (trumpet, flugel and tenor horn) and Greg Heath (tenor sax, alto sax and flute). I haven’t words to express my joy every time I listen to their wonderful music. We were fortunate to record at two beautiful locations, The Retreat Studio in Ovingdean in 2015 and Quiet Money Studios, Hastings in 2016.”
How can people get a copy of your album?
“It is available in CD format, either directly from me or by post. You can email: firstname.lastname@example.org. The cost is £15 for the double album. A third of proceeds of sales will be donated to Winston’s Wish: www.winstonswish.org.uk.”