Sandy Brown Jazz

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Jazz As Art

The Calum Gourlay Quartet

Emotional Trombone


When you listen to music, you sometimes conjure images in your mind. Our Jazz As Art series invites you to listen to a piece of jazz and as it plays, scroll down the page and see which of the pieces of art I have chosen comes closest to the pictures in your mind. Hopefully, this will introduce you to recordings and art works you might not have spent time with before.


Calum Gourlay

Calum Gourlay's Quartet album New Ears has an unusual but very effect line-up with Calum (double bass), Helena Kay (tenor saxophone); Kieran McLeod (trombone) and James Maddren (drums). Calum and James go way back. They were at the Royal Academy of Music together with pianist Kit Downes and as a Trio they made a significant impression on the UK jazz scene when they graduated. Since then, each of them has gone on to be very much in demand individually and with various projects. Calum plays regularly with other bands and has also been leading a big band residency at The Vortex Jazz Club in Dalston, London - highly recommended when gigs start up again.

Helena Kay and Kieran McLeod have also made waves in the UK jazz community. Helena is currently based in New York. She grew up in Scotland, went to the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London and has played with countless bands in the UK. Amongst her various awards she received the Peter Whittingham Jazz Award in 2017 which she used to record and release her debut album Moon Palace. She recorded the album with her band KIM trio, featuring David Ingamells on drums and Ferg Ireland on double bass.

Like Calum and Helena, Kieran McLeod is also from Scotland, he is a winner of the Don Lusher Trombone Award, and like Calum and James he is a graduate of the Royal Academy of Music and busy with various bands. Their substantial talents are brought together well in New Ears; the album was released on the Ubuntu label in December 2019. The cover artwork for the album is by Calum who has been inspired by the paintings of Gina Southgate, one of whose pictures is included below. Gina is a painter of live music, much of which is captured at London jazz clubs.



Calum Gourlay Quartet

I have just chosen one track from the album for this month's Jazz As Art, but the whole album is worth hearing.

The album opens at a good pace with Be Minor introducing us to the particular sound of the Quartet. Here is the first of a number of engaging solos by Calum beautifully worked beneath it by James Maddren’s drums. Blue Fugates (referring to the Blue People of Kentucky who had a genetic trait leading to the disease methemoglobinemia, which gave them blue-tinged skin), swings out a really catchy number from trombone and sax and bringing a reminder of the big band setting in which all of these musicians have played.

The title track, New Ears, features a fine solo from Helena Kay; Solstice is a slow step paced by Calum’s bass, and I am appreciating by now the album’s skilful mixing by Alex Bonney. Ro is another really catchy tune reminiscent of a Prayer Meeting with the saxophone and a great trombone solo taking the lead voices. Trinity is the longest track at just over eight minutes; James Maddren’s drums are lifted here to set a pace and the track allows plenty of room for the trombone and sax to go travelling. The character of the Quartet is distinctive and appealing. Click on the links above later to see what I mean.

(Click here for where to buy or download the album).



There are several tracks on the album that I would gladly have chosen for this article, but in the end I have picked the sixth track Emotional Trombone. It is one of those tracks that stay in your mind when you have played it a few times and it provides a challenge for readers to imagine which emotion or emotions are referred to here. Like the art work below, I guess it depends upon your personal interpretation.


Play the tune and scroll slowly down through the pictures I have chosen to go with the music (I think this only works if you spend time with each painting) and you might need to play it twice. See what you think.







Verna Hart


Verna Hart Double Bass






Susan Carson


Susan Carson painting







Bruce Gray


Bruce Gray painting







Wassily Kandinsky


Kandinsky circles painting






Sharon Kennedy


Sharon Kennedy Slow Dancing







Debra Hurd


Debra Hurd Sax Bass and Drums






Martin Racko


Martin Racko painting






Arjun Das


Arjun Das painting








Rémi LaBarre


Remi LaBarre painting







Ruth Palmer


Ruth Palmer Tall Order








Gina Southgate


Gina Southgate painting








Jo Toye


Jo Toye painting








Joel Armstrong


Joel Armstrong Trombone







Bernard Buffet


Bernard Buffet Clown









Courtney Cain


Courtney Cain painting








Roy Lichtenstein


Roy Lichtenstein painting









Philip Gaida


Philip Gaida double bass







Ladeen Taylor


Ladeen Taylor painting







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Other pages you might find of interest :

More Jazz As Art
Video Juke Box
Tracks Unwrapped
Name That Tune

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