Tell us about your Tetra project and the new album.
“I met Kit Downes and James Maddren through a bass player called Euan Burton, we did some gigs together in Scotland, I was surprised that they knew some of my tunes. Sam Lasserson, I found after a bit of research after getting some recommendations of younger bass players I didn't know. I love this band, it seems that anything is possible with these guys, and they are so positive about playing and giving with their talents. We've been doing quite a lot of playing over the last 3 years and after one of the tours we recorded this music. Originally it was conceived as a long suite with improvised interludes, we now play the music as stand-alone pieces. Recently the band has done several gigs as a septet with the addition of another sax player, trombone and trumpet.”
How have you found the recent Loose Tubes reunions?
“I'm afraid I was one of the members who had reservations about the reunion, But when it looked like it was going to happen I felt, its like a family wedding, you have to be there! But I had a great time seeing, hearing and playing with the band again, I think it was a success and I enjoyed myself.”
Tell us a bit about how you go about composing music.
“I've composed in various ways, with and without instruments. I would say my favourite way is with a good piano, and if I am writing for a large project such as a big band, then I need to have a computer too to sort of 'demo' the arrangement. It’s very handy to press a button and get a rough idea of how it will all sound, it helps me to be objective about the composition which I think is very important. My piano playing is a bit limited so computers allow me to compose things I can't play, if I am after a certain sort of melodic line then I'll use a sax to compose.”
“Recently I started writing classical saxophone etudes, I think i'm up the number 4, just with the saxophone which was a lot of fun, and I would say that playing 'your' instrument and writing for that instrument certainly speeds up the process and makes it all feel very comfortable.”
“I would also say that I write slowly, which is a bit surprising as I feel composition is so similar to improvisation, but the time frame difference (improvisation being in the moment – instantaneous) allows me to consider all possibilities.”
What advice can you give to up and coming composers and arrangers?
“That's a tough one. It really depends on where the composer is. If they are starting up I'd say have fun, don't take everything too seriously (especially themselves). But I think if they have decided to dedicate themselves to being a writer, they have to work very hard, study a lot, be honest (especially with and about themselves). Being objective about their own music is hugely important, most composers aren't, and it really helps to iron out problems.”
“Very few jazz musicians are just composers and arrangers, most are performers too, almost everyone writes their own music these days, so being a writer and not a performer is extra difficult.”
What plans do you have for the future?
“I have this 2 week tour coming up. Trips to Germany, Ireland and Copenhagen are coming up in the next month. I have to finish a set of arrangements of Phronesis music for a concert at the London Jazz festival with the Frankfurt Radio big Band. And I have just relocated to Austria and started a teaching position there.”
“Oh dear, I think I am busier than I thought.”
For more information:
Julian Argüelles’ Tetra appear at JazzHastings on Tuesday 3rd Nov. and at The Verdict, Brighton on Friday 6th Nov. 2015