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Full Focus

Dave Manington's Riff Raff

The Iliad

from the album Challenger Deep


'Full Focus' is a series where musicians and others discuss a jazz track or tracks in detail. The idea is that you are able to listen to the track that is discussed as you read about it. If you have a track on an album that you have released you might like to share the ideas behind it and talk about how it developed - if so please contact us.

Bass player Dave Manington is one of the founders of the Loop Collective, the e17 Jazz Collective. He has composed for and led his own septet, trios, and quartet, whilst also contributing music to many other people’s albums. His acclaimed debut quartet album Headrush was released on Loop Records in 2008 and his band Riff Raff released the successful album Hullabaloo in 2013. We featured the track Agile in an earlier Full Focus article. Challenger Deep was released in May 2018.

Riff Raff is a dynamic ensemble of young musicians featuring vocalist Brigitte Beraha (Bablefish, Kenny Wheeler.), pianist Ivo Neame (Phronesis) who also contributes occasional accordion, saxophonist Tomas Challenger (Brass Mask, Outhouse, Red Snapper), guitarist Rob Updegraff (Ronnie Scott’s All Stars, Zigaboo Modeliste) and drummer Tim Giles (Iain Ballamy, Kenny Wheeler, Art Farmer).


Dave talks about the track The Iliad from Challenger Deep.



Dave Manington


Challenger Deep, Riff Raff’s latest album, is the follow up to our 2013 debut Hullabaloo and features nine of my original compositions. As my third album as a leader, I feel it's the ultimate expression of my music. Although it is shaped and led by my compositions, there is plenty of freedom to explore, and the band now plays so well as a unit after over five years together that we can push each other to the limits of our energy and creative powers.

Challenger Deep is the deepest ocean trench in the world, nearly 11km down at the bottom of the Pacific ocean.


Play the track:




The Iliad is a bit of an epic, written in several contrasting sections. I would have named it The Odyssey but Spinal Tap already used the name "Jazz Odyssey", as did several dodgy 1980s jazz albums I used to own! I like to take the listener on a journey, to tell a musical story, Rob Updegraffrather than repeating too much material.

For this tune I really threw everything at it that I was practising and working on at the time. There are probably three main sections.

The tune began life when I came up with the bass groove in 5/4 as seen in the 'A' section below. After messing around with it for a while I extended it so you can feel it in the original bar groupings (5/5/5/6/5/5/5/6/extra 3/8) - or in dotted crotchets as in the 'B' section below. So you hear the melody over both 'feels' with the drums/rhythm section changing underneath. This has the effect of making the music seem to relax and spread out as it hits the 'B' section. I like a polyrhythmic element and have used it regularly as a compositional tool.

There is a brilliant guitar solo from Rob Updegraff at 'C' which is partly in the dotted crotchet pulse and partly in the original bar groupings. After a few attempts the band decided they’d prefer to see it written as below, with the chord movements crossing the 12/8 barlines rather than seeing each rhythmic grouping, as the rhythm section is playing a strong 12/8 feel. This is the trickiest section to play, I’ve tried feeling it in both ways and I’m still not sure which is easier!


Rob Updegraff


The tune morphs again at 'D' as the dotted crotchet pulse becomes the 5 in a 5-over-4 groove, creating a new polyrhythm. This is essentially a slow 4-in-a bar pulse coming in underneath the old Ivo Neamepulse. Again this creates a subtle slowing down and spreading out of the underlying pulse, whilst the texture of the rest of the band seems to be getting more frenetic.


The whole 'D' section is in 3 bar sections for a fantastic Rhodes solo from Ivo Neame.

Ivo Neame


Later there’s new melodic material over this section, before the music returns to the original 'A' section feel. The melody appears again as before, then with a slightly bebop variation. Essentially it’s a through-composed piece which is my preferred way of writing rather than to repeat myself.

Finally, I added a thrashy coda at the end (section 'E') - a separate bass riff that I'd come up with. Sometimes it's nice to go for a surprise ending ....!




Dave Maningtons The Iliad



Dave Maningtons Riff Raff


Dave Manington's Riff Raff


The Challenger Deep album was released on 11th May 2018. Click here for details and to sample the album.

Dave Manington's Riff Raff were touring during May and will be playing at The Soundcellar, Poole, Dorset on 14th June 2018.

Click here for Dave's website.


© Sandy Brown Jazz 2018

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Visit some of our other Full Focus pages:

Alan Benzie Trio - Sunken Ruins
Henry Spencer- The Reasons Don't Change
Sam Braysher - Braysher On Bird
Sam Braysher on Rodgers and Hart
Tori Freestone - My Lagan Love / In The Chophouse
Alastair Penman - Sandbox

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