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The monthly Tea Break is a series of short, fun items in What's New Magazine
that also gives jazz musicians an opportunity to update us with what they are doing.
Trish Clowes - March 2017
Photograph by Curtis Schwartz.
Trish Clowes started playing piano when she was four, often making up her own tunes as she went along. Over time, her love of playing and composing developed an affinity with the saxophone and a place at London’s Royal Academy of Music. In 2015 she won a BASCA British Composer Award; she has appeared on television as part of BBC Proms Extra as well as making radio broadcasts, and she has released four albums; we recently reviewed her latest excellent album, My Iris (click here for the review). My Iris, named after Trish's grandmother, is the saxophonist's fourth album
In May 2012, with funding from the PRS for Music Foundation, Trish curated her first Emulsion festival featuring ECM artist Iain Ballamy. The event has been successful to the point where it has resulted in four subsequent festivals and has grown to travel beyond London where Trish is now based. Emulsion is a cross-genre music festival offering a platform for contemporary composition and improvisation. Emulsion V recently concluded Trish’s My Iris tour at the Midland Arts Centre in Birmingham, and featured special commissions for the Emulsion Sinfonietta from Hans Koller, Percy Pursglove, Joe Cutler and Cevanne Horrocks-Hopayian and was hosted by BBC Radio 3 presenter Fiona Talkington.
The Trish Clowes Quartet:
Chris Montague (guitar), Trish Clowes (saxophone), James Maddren (drums) and Ross Stanley (piano and Hammond organ).
Photograph by Dannie Price
Trish has been commissioned by BBC Radio 3 to compose a new piece for the BBC Concert Orchestra and this will be performed as part of a family concert later in 2017. Other ongoing projects include the GLOW Quartet with pianist Gareth Williams and Under Your Wing, a song-based project with vocalist Norma Winstone and guitarist Mike Walker (The Impossible Gentlemen).
Trish Clowes has recently been appointed at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama as a professor of jazz saxophone and improvisation.
I managed to catch Trish for a tea break.
Hi Trish, tea or coffee?
Ooo coffee please...
Milk and sugar?
Neither for me thanks.
I have noticed that some people are not sure how to pronounce your name 'Clowes', whether the 'ow' is like in 'Now's The Time' or whether it should be pronounced 'Close' as in 'Close the first set' .....?
Well, although both of those would be logical assumptions, it's actually pronounced 'Clues' - way to remember, "Give us a clue..."
You have been getting some great reviews for your album My Iris. Is it
very different to your last album, Pocket Compass?
In some ways yes, some ways no. There are the obvious personnel differences... And it has been such a great experience bringing on board Cevanne Horrocks-Hopayian, currently composer in residence with the London Symphony Orchestra, to write a piece for us. There are lots of new things on this record for me... and it feels like the start of something, not just a standalone recording. Chris, Ross and I spent a long time developing the material as a trio before adding James at the beginning of last year ... and so we really played around with roles in the band, textures etc. So when James joined us it was interesting to see what spaces he would occupy ... it changes things for everyone having a slightly unusual line-up.
[Click the picture of the album cover above for some extracts from the album].
[Here is an introductory video to My Iris].
How did the tour go? Were there any memorable gigs or happenings?
Memorable happenings ... yes, for sure ...! Perhaps I can't mention all of them here ... ha ha! But musically, there were so many special moments - I was so excited to play every night, to see/hear what might happen ... I also twisted my ankle pretty badly, just before our Shrewsbury gig (2nd gig of the tour). James had to get frozen peas for me which stayed on my foot for the whole London-Shrewsbury journey ... I spent much of the tour hobbling around with an ankle that changed colour daily!! Bruise is still there ... Ouch.
photograph by Curtis Schwartz
[Here is a video of Trish's Quintet playing On / Off at Pizza Express in 2015. In this video,
Gwilym Simcock is at the piano and Calum Gourlay is the bass player].
If you could ask two past jazz musicians to join us for the tea break, who would you invite?
Duke Ellington and Mary Lou Williams.
What would you ask them?
Well, I'd like to hear them just talk to each other really... But I guess, with Duke, he had such a vision for his music and musicians from the outset and throughout his life ... And Mary Lou ... wow, her influence on the musicians around her, her playing and compositions, the successes other musicians achieved because of the directions she pushed them in ... talk about breaking glass ceilings ... I mean ... with people like that, you let them dictate the direction of conversation!!
Mary Lou Williams
[Listen to Mary Lou Williams playing It Ain't Necessarily So from her album Black Christ Of The Andes]
Hob Nob, Bourbon, Garibaldi or digestive biscuit?
Unfortunately I can't eat any of those as I have annoying food intolerances (real ones) but I can eat those soft Italian Amaretti biscuits, so next time I'll bring those along!!
What is happening with Emulsion?
Now there's a question! Exciting times actually, we just had the 5th edition in Birmingham and the combination of personalities on this last one was brilliant - there was a lot of empathy on the stage.
I now have a partner in crime to help me run Emulsion, saxophonist Tom Harrison... and new music specialist/radio presenter Fiona Talkington is also part of the team in an advisory capacity (and she hosted the event in Birmingham) ... so I finally have the support I need to sustain it longterm. It takes a lot out of me, but I found this last edition extremely energising ... So we're already plotting and dreaming for the next one.
[Click here for more about Emulsion]
Photograph by Dannie Price
What else have you got coming up this year?
More playing with pianist Gareth Williams and our band GLOW, more writing and dates for My Iris (playing at the Sage on April 2nd for the Gateshead International Jazz Festival) and I also have a new commission for the BBC Concert Orchestra. There are a few other things bubbling away too...
[A video conversation between Gareth Williams and Trish about their music].
Who have you heard recently that we should listen out for?
In the UK, pianist Ashley Henry, bassist Daniel Casimir, saxophonists Meilana Gillard, Helena Kay and Camilla George (who has just brought out her debut album, I think your readers are already familiar with her work), trumpeter Freddie Gavita (who is also about to bring out his debut record).
[Here's a video of Ashley Henry playing Herbie Hancock's Chan's Song].
[Click here for our review of Camilla George's album Isang]
From across the pond, if you're not aware of Ambrose Akinmusire's Quartet yet, with Sam Harris, Harish Raghavan and Justin Brown, they all totally blew me away when I heard them live recently. They are playing in London in July at Ronnie Scotts I think.
[Here's a video of the Trish Clowes Quintet playing A Cat Called Behemoth at the Pizza Express in 2015].
I think I better switch to Peppermint tea...
[Click here for Trish's website]
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