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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. Here are the Tea Breaks they (and I) have taken since 2015.

Christine Tobin - August 2016


Christine Tobin

Photograph courtesy of Brian O'Connor, Images of Jazz


Christine Tobin is one of my favourite vocalists. Born in Dublin, she has been part of the London jazz and improvisation scene since the late 1980s and during that time she has established herself not just in the UK and Ireland but internationally. She was already singing in Ireland before she became interested in jazz through hearing Joni Mitchell’s Mingus album, and decided to move to London where she Christine Tobin and Liam Nobleworked with Jean Toussaint, Jason Rebello, Alec Dankworth and Mark Taylor. Christine took a degree course at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and after graduating she formed, toured, recorded and sang with various bands. In 2008 she won the Best Vocalist Award at the BBC Jazz Awards.

2010 saw the release of her Tapestry Unravelled album based on Carole King songs in a duo with pianist Liam Noble and two years later, her album Sailing To Byzantium, with settings of the poems of W.B. Yeats was described by Jazzwise magazine as ‘an unqualified masterpiece’. The album won Christine a British Composer Award in 2012. In 2014, she was named Jazz Vocalist of the Year at the Parliamentary Jazz Awards.


Christine Tobin and Liam Noble



Here they are with with Carole King's So Far Away




A Thousand Kisses Deep


In 2014 Christine released A Thousand Kisses Deep, an outstanding album of Leonard Cohen songs of which the Irish Times said "Tobin invests these songs with their full meaning, and even finds the odd glimmer of hope where none was formerly apparent". That release was accompanied by a tour, not just of major venues, but to packed village halls in rural locations around the UK with her usual guitarist, Phil Robson and bassist Dave Whitford.


In December 2015, Christine moved to New York where she has been building up a strong following in the United States. In July, I caught up with her for a Tea Break:


Hi Christine, tea or coffee?

Coffee, please…strong. 

Milk and sugar?

A little milk, no sugar thanks.


Billie Holiday


If you could ask two past jazz musicians to join us for the tea break, who would you invite?

Billie Holiday and Rahsaan Roland Kirk


What would you ask them?

I’d ask Billie if she had been able to have more control over her own career or the artistic freedom to go in whichever musical direction she chose, where would she have gone artistically and what people would she have liked to collaborate with?

The question for Rahsaan would be the following: I read somewhere that Jimi Hendrix was a huge fan of his and that he himself admired Hendrix. They were planning a collaboration. I would like to know how he envisioned their music making together?  Christine Tobin



Hob Nob, Bourbon, Garibaldi or digestive biscuit? 

Mmmm….a Bourbon, neat please kind feller. 


Christine Tobin at Brecon Cathedral, Brecon Jazz Festival,
photograph by David Woodall


What gigs have you played recently?

I played at three North American Jazz Festivals recently; Rochester in New York, Edmonton and Vancouver in Canada, then back to NYC for a gig at Club Bonafide. I played with guitarist Phil Robson and the New York based Argentinian pianist Leo Genovese. It was our first time to play with Leo - he’s a musical tour de force and a really cool person too. 



Are you still featuring Leonard Cohen’s songs in your gigs?

Yes, I usually do at least two and occasionally I do a full programme of his songs - A Thousand Kisses Deep - which is also the name of the album I recorded of his songs back in 2014. In fact that was the concert/programme I was awarded the 'Herald Angel' for at the Edinburgh Festival back in 2013. Cohen is the biz!!


Here's Christine with Suzanne from A Thousand Kisses Deep.




What else have you got coming up? I can’t believe A Thousand Kisses Deep came out two years ago! Time for another album?

I have a gig at a jazz club in New York City called Kitano on July 27 with Phil Robson guitar, John Hebert double bass and Colin Stranahan drums. Then I have a trio gig on August 8 at the Bar Next Door in the Village with Phil Robson and the great double bass player, Harvie S.

My new album PELT will be released in late autumn. I have a UK launch gig at Soho’s Pizza Express Jazz Club, London on November 27. The songs are all original compositions. The lyrics and poems are by poet Paul Muldoon and music and arrangements by myself. 


Shai Maestro



I shall look forward to that. Let me know as soon as previews are available to share. Who else have you heard recently that we should listen out for?

I saw an amazing gig here last week at Joe’s Pub by the young pianist Shai Maestro. He is an astonishing player who writes beautiful, other-worldly music. He has incredible focus and control and chops to die for! The sound world he creates draws you into another dimension - which let’s face it ……. in these times is definitely a good thing!

Shai Maestro





Another biscuit?

Yeah, go on then, I’ll have another Bourbon! Set ‘em up Joe, oh sorry I mean Ian.

I see American Bourbon has had an impact while you have been there! Perhaps they should start putting some into these biscuits!


Christine Tobin aND dAVE wHITFORD


Christine Tobin with Dave Whitford photo by taken in Dundee
(The gig was on an amazing big old ship, I can’t remember the name of it!!)


Here is a video of Christine singing Corner Of An Eye filmed on location in Margate, Kent, UK in 2011.




[Click here for Christine Tobin's website].



Utah Teapot


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More Tea Breaks
Tracks Unwrapped
Full Focus
Jazz Remembered

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