Sandy Brown Jazz

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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.


Luca Manning (Vocalist) - October 2019



Luca Manning



Luca Manning is a jazz vocalist and songwriter from Glasgow, Scotland. He turned to jazz music almost by accident after spending his childhood singing rock music and found that the more he immersed himself in the music, the more he fell in love with it. He says that originally there was never a decision that he would become a singer, but that people kept encouraging him ‘and it just happened’.

Now based in London, Luca has just completed his second year on the Jazz degree course at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. He has already played major London venues such as Pizza Express Jazz Club and Ronnie Scott’s Club; he leads his own ensembles and features as a guest with renowned singers such as Liane Carroll and Ian Shaw. He became a member of the London Vocal Project in 2018 and in the same year, became a chairholder with the National Youth Jazz Orchestra. As part of an arrangement with NYJO, Luca also in 2018, went over to San Francisco to spend a week studying at the Brubeck Institute.

Luca is inspired by a wide range of artists and musical styles, as well as being firmly rooted in jazz tradition. He has played various festivals around the U.K opening for the likes of Georgie Fame and Becca Stevens and is involved in a number of projects both as a bandleader and sideman.


Here's Luca with Irini Arabatzi, the guitar of Seth Tackaberry and a few outtakes on Avishai Cohen's It's Been So Long.




Luca won the rising star award at the 2018 Scottish Jazz Awards and is now anticipating the release of his first album, When The Sun Comes Out, which features Scottish pianist Fergus McCreadie and special guest saxophonist, Laura Macdonald. Luca has said: “I wanted this first album to be a reflection of who I currently am - in the truest sense. We recorded it live at the National Youth Jazz Orchestra of Scotland building in my home city, Glasgow. I chose to go for the more raw, live sound rather than a studio sound as it was really important to me that we capture a ‘moment’ with each take. Therefore, don’t be alarmed when you hear the odd creak of the piano stool or the passing of a car outside - it’s all in the moment!”. When The Sun Comes Out is released on 17th October.

When The Sun Comes Out is an album that will undoubtably appeal to a wide audience. It opens gently with Luca's own composition, Our Journey, but for me it is the second track, If I Knew Then, that swings open the door to some outstanding numbers that follow. At this point the symbiosis between singer and pianist becomes clear and guest Laura Macdonald's alto sax dances in too for a toe-tapping party. Betty Carter's ballad Who What Where When is a lightly sensitive rendering followed by Mean To Me, that tune I first heard way back when Noah was putting animals on the ark and they do justice to it here. Harold Arlen's When The Sun Comes Out, the title track, is a blues ballad; Luca's voice holds and bends the notes with feeling and Fergus McCreadie shows, as he did with Mean To Me, that he too can match style changes.


Here is a brief taste of Luca singing When The Sun Comes Out




Luca introduces the words for Stones Of Brodegar (the Ring of Brodgar is a Neolithic henge and stone circle in Orkney, Scotland), but this track belongs to Fergus McCreadie's improvisation, impressive throughout this album. The American songwriter Gabriel Kahane's tender, challenging, Where Are The Arms (that armed your love) is followed by Luca's Rise, an amazing track where Laura Macdonald's saxophone sounds like a second voice and Fergus blazes a piano solo. I'd have liked to hear Laura on more tracks but I guess you can only get so much into an album. On Joni Mitchell's Two Grey Rooms you can hear Joni in the way Luca approaches the song, and it will be hard for you not to be moved by the closing track, Loch Lomond, where Luca sets the tone for a piano solo that at one point made me tingle the first time I heard it. Luca's voice is clear and expressive and if you wanted an album that showcases how a vocalist can absorb different tyles - folk, swing, ballad, blues - into his voice, this is one. He deserves the attention he is receiving.

Luca has now been nominated in the 'Jazz Newcomer Of The Year' category in the 2019 Parliamentary Jazz Awards.


Luca called by for a tea break.


Hi Luca, good to see you. Tea? Coffee?

Great to be here, I love what you've done with the place! Coffee please!

I rescued the old rocking chair from a skip - I don't think you are anywhere near ready for 'old rocking chair' yet though. Milk and sugar?

Just milk - maybe a sugar if I'm feeling cheeky. 


So – you won the ‘Rising Star’ category at last year’s Scottish Jazz Awards and now you’ve been nominated for a Parliamentary Jazz Award for ‘Jazz Newcomer of the Year’! How does that feel?

Luca Manning Rising Star Award



Winning the Rising Star award at last year's Scottish Jazz Awards was incredible - it felt really humbling to be recognised by the Scottish Jazz scene. It's a scene that I'm so proud of and although I'm no longer living in Scotland I do my best to keep in contact with everyone and I think the awards are a testament to just how many great jazz musicians we have in Scotland.  Being nominated for a Parliamentary Jazz Award was a HUGE suprise. I'm hugely grateful to be nominated alongside two amazing young artists : Xhosa Cole and Fergus McCreadie in the Jazz Newcomer category. I'm also so happy to see Brian Kellock, Nikki Iles, Pete Churchill and the fabulous London Vocal Project all up for awards too! I can't wait to attend the ceremony and take my mum along to help me drink all the free prosecco! 

I think you'll have to share the prosecco with others - there could be trouble if you and your mum drink it all! I suppose in a way you are a 'newcomer' to many people. I’ve certainly been more aware of you over the past year. I don’t think it has been due to a formal ‘publicity  machine’ though, I think people have been picking up on your voice. Have you been aware of more publicity?



I do all of my publicity, social media and management myself so I haven't really been conscious of pushing it anymore than I usually do. I think it has happened quite naturally. I'm still a student so balancing being in college every day and trying to promote your career outside at the same time can be a bit of a struggle at times. I have been aware of my name cropping up a bit more, but I think this is maybe due to just being out there and meeting more people. I'm quite a pro-active person, I like to make things happen. I've been really lucky that some more advanced musicians and singers on the scene have been very generous and had me sit in at their gigs and introduced me to various people which always helps. 


There is some real talent at Guildhall. I really like the video you did with The Delgates - Guildhall and Academy students - Love's In Need Of Love Today.






Anita Manning



I always get the impression that the third year at college is a key one for making contacts for when you have graduated. I think you will certainly be 'known' by then. Speaking of becoming 'known', I don’t think people generally realise that you are the grandson of a ‘personality’ – the TV antiques expert Anita Manning. Is she always so enthusiastic and cheerful?

I am indeed, and unbelievably, she is! My gran is a very hardworking and energetic woman - she's very inspiring! I complain about getting in late from gigs or having to travel long distances for things, but she does far more of that than me and she does it all with a smile on her face. We talk a lot about performing and I think it's great that we have that in common. 

Have you picked up any tips from her? Do you know your Bauhaus from your Art Deco?

I can't say I have. I did used to work in her auction house on Saturdays - it was far more stressful than being a musician though ... I definitely broke a few vases in my time... !


Anita Manning





Your debut album ‘When The Sun Comes Out’ is released this month. What a great title! Are you pleased with the album? How did you approach deciding what songs include?


Luca Manning When The Sun Comes Out



Yes I'm so excited - the album will be released on October 17th 2019. Thanks! I am really pleased with the album. I did have doubts about various things and still have anxieties about how it is going to be received but I often just need to remind myself that I am really proud of the music we have made on this album, and I couldn't have asked for a better team of people to help me make it! (Fergus, Laura, Gus Stirratt - Sound Engineer, Sara Colman - Assistant Producer, Delilah Niel - Photography and Videography). Some songs I knew I wanted to record straight away - such as the title track, When The Sun Comes Out, and Fergus' Stones Of Brodgar. Others came to me relatively close to the actual recording day like Betty Carter's Who What Why Where When and even the album closer Loch Lomond which we actually never planned to do - it just happened on the day! All the songs spoke to me and expressed an emotion that I wanted to convey in the album - that's why I chose them. 





Click here for details of the album and a taste of the first track, Our Journey.


Of course your pal Fergus McCreadie plays piano on the album and Laura Macdonald guests on alto sax, but if you could ask two past jazz musicians to guest on your next recording, who would you invite?

Oh that's very difficult! I'd ask vocalist, Mark Murphy if he would duet with me as I think he would be loads of fun to sing with! And then maybe someone completely different, like Kenny Wheeler, as I adore his sound and improvising ... or maybe playing duo with Bill Evans ... this is really hard!


Interesting choices - What would you ask them during your tea breaks?

I'd ask Mark Murphy so many questions ... too many to list ... I'm not sure Kenny was much of a talker so maybe I'd have to hang with Bill Evans ... maybe we wouldn't talk ... we'd just play!?

Tunny Tea Cake



I’m forgetting my manners. There are some biscuits in the tin - Hob Nob, Bourbon, Garibaldi – or I remember drummer Alyn Cosker telling me a deep fried Tunnocks teacake is big in Scotland ......?

Hahahaha - I have to confess I've never actually tried one, sounds delicious though! I'll take a Hob Nob though - love 'em!


Deep Fried Tunnocks Tea Cake





You are London based now, but you seem to be going back to Scotland for gigs quite regularly. The scene in Scotland has been thriving in recent years – you have talked about the club that Cheryl Chadha opened at Duke’s Bar that became really well attended – Jazz clubs are not always well supported by young people, what do you think it was that got so many young people to go along? 

Yeah, I think although I'm in London now, it has always been important to me to remain in touch with the Scottish scene because I love it so much. Duke's was a special place - I have so many fond memories of playing there and it's where lots of us started out - myself along with drummer Tom Potter and saxophonist Matt Carmichael. I'm not sure what it was that made it so well supported ... I think having a jazz course at the RCS in Glasgow means that the scene has a younger crowd who are playing the music. So as a young person, it's cool to see other young people playing music that you can get into, and a lot of the younger bands are making music that appeals to younger crowds that infuses jazz with other musical styles - Corto.alto, AKU, DJ Rebecca Vasmant etc. 


Blue Arrow Jazz Club



Of course, Cheryl went on to open the Blue Arrow Jazz Club and that has become a focus for jazz in Glasgow. I’ve not been there but it looks like a very relaxed, intimate venue?

Yes. The Blue Arrow is actually under new management now, but it is still going strong and its a club that many London bands travel up to play as part of their tour. It is a lovely intimate venue - a real 'jazz club' vibe - great cocktails too! I would love it if they got a real piano, that would really make it I think!


Blue Arrow Jazz Club, Glasgow





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

Matt Carmichael is a saxophonist who writes beautiful music and has a band full of amazing players - Fergus McCreadie, Ali Watson and Tom Potter - the way they play together is incredible. They are playing Ronnie's soon I think!


Here's a video of Matt Carmichael's Quartet playing Safari.






Other names to look out for - Corto.alto, who I have already mentioned; listen to Smith and Safir's new album; Treeclimbers and Emilia Martensson's new record!


You’ve got a load of gigs coming up in October – is there one you are particularly looking forward to?

Yes, October seems really busy! It is too hard to pick one - but a few highlights are playing with Fergus and Laura in Edinburgh on the 19th October as part of a big Scottish Jazz Weekend and also supporting Folk singer/songwriter Finn Anderson on the 20th October in London at the Lexington. Two very different gigs - only a day apart!






Which other bands are you working with at the moment.

Threebop are returning to London for a gig at The Pheasantry on 8th October which I am really excited about. This band is like a little family and as Rosie is living in New York at the moment we don't always have the luxury of playing together so when she is back the gig's always feel like a little reunion!


Threebop (Ella Hohnen-Ford, Rosina Bullen and Luca Manning)






Your album launch is on 18th November at The Pheasantry in Chelsea. I hope that goes well. 

Yes, can't wait! So thrilled to be part of this year's London Jazz Festival and I know it's going to be a special one! 


And then in December we shall find out about the Parliamentary Jazz Awards! I'll be keeping my fingers crossed. Can you manage another biscuit?



Tell you what. I'll put the kettle on again and get the biscuits out while you and Alan Benzie play I Should Care.




Luca Manning


Click here for Luca's website, gigs and contact details


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