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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.

Corey Mwamba (Vibraphone) - September 2016


Corey Mwamba


Corey Mwamba is one of the U.K.’s most talented jazz vibraphone players. Born in Derby in 1976, he took lessons on a Yamaha organ when he was about eleven years old. “But I wasn’t all that interested in music,” says Corey. “My folks were into George Benson, Nat King Cole, Bing Crosby and Louis Armstrong, but in the foolishness of youth, I wasn’t. In fact, I didn’t own any music until I reached sixteen when my first tape was an Otis Redding compilation. I got into jazz by the radio when I was trying to pick up a short-wave radio station while I was studying for my French exam. I had never heard anything like it! The broadcast was in French but I picked up on the name Jessica Williams. Anyway, I got hooked.”

As well as being in demand as a vibes player, Corey has been (and is) involved with a wealth of projects including Orrery - "Using the model of the orrery itself I created and devised new work to represent some of the ideas that shaped our thinking about astronomy and astrology around the time of the Enlightenment" and New Dark Art, a project exploring and demonstrating the ways in which improvisation, notation and conducting practices used in medieval music can inform and extend practice in composing for creative musicians. He also leads Out Front! A Derby-based music development organisation for the Midlands (click here to see Corey's various projects). In October, Corey will be going to Birmingham City University to study for a PhD degree so I caught up with him for a tea break while he still has a moment.


Hi Corey, tea or coffee?

Hmm. This time of day? Tea, please.

Milk and sugar?

Milk; one sugar, thank you.

Walt Dickerson


If you could ask two past jazz musicians to join us for the tea break, who would you invite?
At the moment, I'd raise Walt Dickerson and Herbie Fields.


Walt Dickerson

What would you ask them?

I'd ask Walt Dickerson just to talk! Although I would ask him to describe his voice on the vibraphone.




[Listen to Walt Dickerson playing The Cry from the album This Is Walt Dickerson]







Herbie Fields


I'd ask Herbie Fields about his influences and where he thought music was going to go at the time when he was playing with Benny Harris - if you listen to Fields around that time, he's making Dolphy-like intervallic leaps on the sax, before the advent of bebop. I find that kind of thing really interesting.


Herbie Fields

Hob Nob, Bourbon, Garibaldi or digestive biscuit?



What have you been doing recently?

In August, I did a gig/recording with Dave Kane and Joshua Blackmore in Derby for a record on Two Rivers that's coming out next year. I've been writing a piece for twelve great musicians that was commissioned by Jazz North-East; actually forcing myself to use standard Western notation for a change! Also thinking about sound on the vibes (hence summoning Dickerson) and reading up on phonetics. I have been working with the sound artist Gawain Hewitt, playing at Contrapop Festival in Ramsgate with the organist and composer Lauren Redhead and with Black Top in Derby.


[Here's a video of Corey with Dave Kane and Joshua Blackmore from 2013]



On the admin side, I run a jazz organisation called Out Front! and we've reached a halfway point; so we're evaluating what's happened so far, and how we can improve. I'm also trying to write up the health/well-being benefits of earlier start times for musicians. I've also made some headway formulating ideas for local artist development for Derby Jazz: I was made "artistic director" (i.e. programmer) in April.


[Tony Kofi talks about his music at Derby Jazz in this video before a gig including Corey Mwamba]



Corey Mwamba


What have you got coming up in the next few months?

I'm playing with Andy Champion and Ntshuks Bonga in Newcastle at the beginning of September, which is when the Derby Jazz season starts. Totally unrelated to either Derby Jazz or Out Front!, I've organised Chicagoan flautist Nicole Mitchell to come to Derby and play in a duo with Mark Sanders in the middle of September. I've got Sloth Racket (with Cath Roberts) at the end of September; and then I start my PhD at Birmingham City University in October.

Out Front! has "The Week" (of gigs) at the end of October; and then in the first week of November there seems to be nothing happening at all. But in the third week, Out Front! has Maggie Nichols, Joelle Leandre and Irene Schweitzer.


Who else have you heard recently that we should listen out for?

I'll just mention three: Johnny Hunter, Inclusion Principle, George Crowley's Can of Worms.

[Ed: See our review of Johnny Hunter's album While We Still Can] [Click here for the video introduction to George Crowley's Can Of Worms]

Another biscuit?

That would be lovely!


Utah Teapot


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More Tea Breaks
Tracks Unwrapped
Full Focus
Jazz Remembered

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