Sandy Brown Jazz

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TEA BREAK

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.

 

Adrian Cox (Clarinet and Saxophone) - July 2020

 

Adrian Cox

 

Adrian Cox was born in Cuckfield in Sussex and grew up in Burgess Hill. He started playing clarinet when he was six; by the time he was fifteen and had taken his GCSE exams, he had left home to become a professional musician, and he has been playing hundreds of shows a year ever since.

In one interview Adrian said: “I had been learning the clarinet since I was six. I had lessons from a clarinettist who lived in Burgess Hill called Jumpin’ Jack Gilbert. He was my favourite player on the British scene. He made it so exciting. He was in a navy band in the Royal Navy and he had all the theory behind the music, but he also had tremendous feel. He did a lot for a lot of young people playing jazz, and from him, I got the excitement."

“I asked him to teach me exactly how he was taught. I told him ‘I would love to play like you.’ I started with him when I was 12. I used to go and see him once a week. His lessons would be 30 minutes, but I would always have the last lesson of the week and I would stay with him for three hours!"

“He was the person who really got me going. I was doing gigs from age 12, playing pubs around Worthing, so by the time I was 15, I must have done 200 gigs."

Adrian Cox Profoundly Blue

 

Since then, Adrian has worked with a whole range of musicians, playing jazz, blues, funk and ska, but jazz has always been his main interest and his popularity and fan base have increased as time has gone on. Time Out has called him ‘London’s most charismatic reeds man’.

Adrian is also a proud ambassador of the National Jazz Archive.

In 2017 Adrian put together a show featuring the story of the life and music of his favourite jazz clarinettist - Edmond Hall. The show, ‘Profoundly Blue’ was featured on BBC 6 Music and on Clare Teal’s Radio 2 jazz programme. It went on to complete three UK tours, was invited to festivals around Europe and played in New York in July 2019. The band has produced two albums (Profoundy Blue Part 1 and Part 2) and sold over 2000 CDs.

Adrian says of Edmond Hall who died in 1967: “He worked in New Orleans and wanted to go to New York. He worked with a lot of big bands, and when he was in New York, he was playing with people like Billie Holiday. He got offered a job with the Duke Ellington Orchestra but turned it down because he wanted to play with smaller groups. He got to play with some amazing musicians. He has got an incredible sound. His sound was really unique. He can make it sound so gravelly. It was also really powerful. He had a warm sound but he was also cutting edge. He was a huge influence on me, not just the excitement but also the tone. It is something that I have not Edmond Halltried to emulate, but something that I have tried to continue in my own fashion. He was one of the greats who just sailed over the top."

 

Edmond Hall

 

Profoundly Blue is a track name from an Edmond Hall recording in 1941. We start there and the whole concert goes through his life. He wrote some incredible, original music, which I just discovered by chance. The concert is the whole story. His music and his life story. It’s a nice piece."

 

 

The Coronavirus outbreak has brought to a halt the many other gigs, tours and a recording projects Adrian had planned for 2020.

 

Adrian and I got together for a Tea Break outside in an imaginary garden, properly social-distanced, of course:

 

Hi Adrian, how are you?

I am really good thanks, missing being on tour but I think my body was ready for a little break!

 

Thank goodness the sun’s come out so put your coat on that other chair; you can leave your hat on – ah! That sounds like something from The Full Monty!

Good brass lines in that tune!!

 

Of course the late, wonderful Joe Cocker first had a hit with that Randy Newman song and there is a great video of him performing it in Dortmund when arenas had crowds. Tom Jones was ideal to sing it for the movie - and you are right about the brass lines. Sadly the only clip on YouTube is dubbed in Spanish where Gaz's son tells his dad to join the others on stage, but the song is in English.

 

 

 

 

Your cap and hat are now very much part of your identity. When did that start and where do you get them from?

When I moved up to London in 2004 , I remember TJ Johnson’s wife at the time had a really cool green trilby and it suited me, I then got in Adrian Cox shoesto wearing hats all the time. People tend to not recognise me if I don’t have one on these days so I thought I would carry it on. During lock-down, I received a message from a hat company in south London “Peckham Hatters” asking if they could gift me a few of their products, which was lovely of them. I am fortunate to have a few endorsements now including a shoe one with “Shoe Embassy” which is a real treat too. There we go, plugging already started ..... ha ha ha. But in answer to your question, I am happiest wearing a hat, I have about 30 at the moment and have got them from all over, PH, Goorin Bros, Christy’s and Lairds. 

 

That's a really cool pair of Ones and Twos, I could go for them.

I’m glad to see you have brought a flask. What have you got? Tea, coffee, Hot Chocolate? - There I go with The Full Monty again! 

Well, today I have treated myself to a Chai Latte. I used to get so annoyed in a coffee shop hearing people ask for all these different types of drinks “Skinny, mocha, frappy, flat white, cold brew” etc….. that one day, I just said go on, give me a Chai Latte lets see what that's about, turns out, they are lovely!

 

 

Thanks for taking time out from preparing for your Sunday Service. That has been streaming on Facebook for a few weeks now (click here). I am always amazed about the number of people who turn up each Sunday. Not only that, but how they seem like a regular community, messaging you and each other?

Yes, it has turned out to be a great community of people who interact with each other throughout the concerts. I am overwhelmed by the amount of people each week. It really is encouraging for me and I always read back everything that has been said. It is wonderful, so many recommendations or little stories between one another. 

 

How do you decide on the topics each week? It seems to me that presents you with quite a challenge as you have to learn new numbers each time.

So everyone I am featuring on these shows I have had the pleasure of listening to over my life (lucky to have so much amazing music out there) and I get excited as soon as I think about any of them. The Barney Bigard concert was about 6 hours a day of learning new material. I love the challenge, but also, the tunes are so beautiful that they stick with you and I am lucky to have a good capacity for learning tunes. It is always easier to learn if you are massively interested in a subject! That's why I left school at 15 and went professional! I don’t recall lessons about Ed Hall or Sidney Bechet, otherwise I may have stuck around a bit longer!

 

Sidney Bechet has such a distinctive sound. There are so many musicians streaming their music from lock-down at the moment, do you think it will go on when everything settles back?

Somebody said to me they think that it will continue, I quickly pointed out that there was already lots of live streaming going on, it was just that the majority of the audience was out at work. But I do think, for the foreseeable, we are lucky to have these means of performing. I have spent a life touring around the world and it's amazing that I am able to reach out to everyone from my front room. I think we are very lucky in that respect with technology!

 

Borders Lemon Drizzle melts

 

 

 

By the way, I have bought a box of chocolate chip cookies. There is a plastic tray inside, untouched by human hand, so if I open the box  .... and slip out the tray ..... you can take them from that end if you fancy one, and I’ll take from this end. 

Fantastic!

Did you get the memo about Borders Lemon Drizzle?

 

Did I?! I queued for half an hour in my blue plastic gloves to get into Sainsbury's keeping my two metres and then danced around missing other people to the biscuits shelves. There was just one pack of Borders left! They're good too, you can take from one side .....

 

 

 

 

 

What do musicians you talk to think about how they can start playing live again? Has anyone come up with ideas?

I think many are looking into how they can play together and do concerts, everyone is of course missing playing live. Personally, I cancelled all my shows until 2021. I had a tour planned in September, but I think it is all a bit soon to do anything so I cancelled all my shows quite early on in lock-down just so I know where I stand. I think in a realistic world it will probably be outdoor concerts and probably smaller line ups, but I am of the opinion that if it is just more for the sake of doing a gig, then perhaps wait. Whilst there is a very nasty virus out there, just keep your travelling around and meetings of people to a minimum. I can see that my next step will be doing Facebook live streams with a guitarist or something like that.

 

You were fortunate in being able to release your album, Profoundly Blue, before the Coronavirus arrived. There is a great video of you playing ‘Blue Room’ at The Spice Of Life in 2018. Taking it so fast must have been a challenge – Simon Read’s fingers must have hurt from keeping it going on his bass?

I don't think I have seen that video, Simon’s got fast fingers, so he will be alright! So Profoundly Blue was a concert that I put together celebrating the music and life of the great clarinettist Edmond Hall. We made the album to accompany the concert and since its release in 2018 we have sold 3500 copies of Part 1 and 2000 of Profoundly Blue (Part 2). The album was nominated for a Parliamentary Jazz Award and it was really nice to get a nomination, and the tours were so much fun. We took the show all around Europe and also to New York where we played at Dizzy’s Club in New York (Jazz at Lincoln Center).

 

Check out the video of Blue Room.

 

 

 

 

Is it right that the album pays homage to clarinettist Edmond Hall? Why him?

Edmond Hall is my favourite of all time, he has the most amazing sound and feel and inspired so many. His playing with Teddy Wilson is some of the best ever and of course there's my favourite All Stars front line with Louis Armstrong and Trummy Young. The more I researched about him for the concert, the more I fell in love with his playing. We finished touring that show back in October 2019 but I am sure it's something we will revisit in the years to come.

 

Which tune by Edmond should we listen to and if by magic he were to turn up today, what would you ask him?

Edmond Hall wrote some fantastic tunes, and the tune Neighbors is just beautiful. It was recorded on an album called Rumpus On Rampart Street. It also featured his brother Herb Hall, and Omer Simeon playing some lovely backing to Ed. If he was here now, I would ask him what reeds was he using and was Benny Goodman actually his favourite clarinettist?

 

Listen to Neighbors.

 

 

 

That's a really nice tune by Edmond Hall, I think it was his own composition. I remember seeing you in Bath with Kansas Smitty’s House Band a couple of years ago. How long were you with them?

Actually, I left Kansas Smitty's at the end part of 2018, but I still see all the guys (well not at the moment of course!). I had a great two years playing shows with them but I spend a lot of time on the road touring with my own band and Bad Manners so I was not really about for when they had shows. It made sense that someone else took the spot, plus the music is on a,  different route to what I play so that was another factor. I don't feel like it's something you really leave and I always jump in on anything if Giacomo asks. He remains one of my favourite people to make music with, it just makes it more special when it happens. They are doing lots throughout lock-down every day at 5pm so it's worth checking out their You Tube channel.

 

You were obviously having fun with them in 2018 in this video of every clarinettist's dream - High Society

 

 

 

 

Kansas Smitty’s has been a popular venue, what do you think their secret is? A big worry is about venues, and whether many of them will close down?

Kansas Smitty's is a very special venue as it is always full of music lovers and creative people who want to be there! Not just there to be seen. I think every part of the venue is thought out from the piano to the light fittings, plus their cocktails are killer I have been told (being sober for six years I couldn’t possibly tell you!).

 

 

What’s this I hear about The Hour Off?Adrian Cox The Hour Off

 

So in 2019, my quartet was very busy playing around 25 shows per month all around Europe. We went into the recording studio to finish my record Now Is Spring and we had 4 days in the studio and we were writing the album as well as recording, so it  was very full on. I think we had driven 22 hours from Denmark to London and then went in the Studio four days straight and then straight back out to Sweden the next day!! During the session , I looked at the band and said shall we just have an hour off? ... and of course what did we want to do in the hour off? .... just have a play! So we sat down and just played some great standards to let off steam. Of course, I got the engineer to just press 'record' and what we ended up with was 10 tracks of a band that was having a good time and a break from all the music we had been hammering for the the last 2 years!! As soon as lock-down happened, I looked at what I could release and suddenly remembered this. People have really been enjoying it and the comments on how tight the band is and how we play “together” are so nice!

People can find out about the album here. I like the track Just You, Just Me - it comes over as though you were having a good break and Joe sets you off at quite a pace - which he has to handle when he gets to his solo - he nails it!

 

Listen to Just You, Just Me.

 

 

 

I guess the lock-down has given you a bit of time to write and plan. What are you looking forward to?

I always have plans as to what I am doing next and look at life as little  5 year plans. I did that in the early days (for the record, I am looking forward to being 40!) so my next recording is in the making and I am delighted to be working with an amazing arranger/composer Philip Maniez who is arranging some of my music for a string quartet. The plan is to then record an album with the quartet + strings and then tour this in the fall of 2021. The more I have been checking out the music of the clarinettists featured in my life, the more I find inspiration to do these things, it is wonderful discovering all this new music. I know that 2021 will be a busy year as I had so many shows cancelled in the last 12 weeks alone (75 shows) including tours of South America/America with Bad Manners which I am looking forward to doing when we can. I love it out there and I hope to take my quartet out there too.

 

WelI, we must have had more than The Hour Off already, more like a lunch break than a tea break! Thanks for stopping by, Adrian, good to see you, take the rest of the Borders Lemon Drizzle for the trip home and of course we’ll tune in to the next Sunday Service. In the meanwhile, can you suggest someone else who has been in lock down for me to wrap my ears around?

Thanks for having me round, I really suggest checking out my friend Evan Christopher (my fave clarinettist around today) and his “Art of the Duo” sessions in New Orleans on a Sunday night,  plus another friend out there Seva Venet (guitar/banjo) he does various sessions in the week.

 

How about this? Evan and David Torkanowsky made this self-isolated video of Sidney Bechet's Blues In The Air in May, and I think it really works well:

 

 

 

 

Sounds good to me. Great to catch up and thank you for the biscuits!!

See you Sunday! 

 

Adrian Cox

 

Click here for Adrian Cox's website


Click here for Adrian's Sunday Service

 

Utah Teapot

 

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