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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.

Tom Green - (Trombone) - December 2017


Tom Green



Tom Green Septet



Tom Green graduated from the Royal Academy of Music in 2013 with a first class MA degree in Jazz Trombone and Composition and almost immediately took his Septet on tour around the UK. Tom already had a degree in Physics from Cambridge where he had also spent a good deal of time playing jazz, but it was at the Academy that he acquired his 1930s King 2B Silver Tone trombone. ‘My music teacher in Cambridge rang to say it had turned up in a Cambridge music shop,’ says Tom. ‘They don’t come along very often. It is a great instrument but it has an extra counterweight to balance the heavy weight of the bell. I also have a bass trumpet – quite a rare instrument pitched an octave lower than a regular trumpet to practice valves, but I don’t use that much, I mainly use my slide trombones – the Silver Tone and another 1940s King 2B.’






Here is a video of the Tom Green Septet playing Equilibrium from their album Skyline.




In 2013, Tom was awarded the Dankworth Prize for Jazz Composition. Dame Cleo Laine has said of Tom’s work: "I’ve been involved in jazz for more than 60 years and this is some of the most exciting original new music I have heard for a long time. Tom’s writing has complexity, depth and intensity but above all a strong melodic thread ... played with fantastic energy and a true band sound". As we discover from our 'Tea Break' conversation, Tom has gone on to explore an increasing number of projects over the following four years ...


Hi Tom, tea or coffee?

Earl Grey if you've got it!


Certainly have. I have a soft spot for 'the Earl'. I don't like the Lady Grey though. Milk and sugar?

Plenty of milk please. 


It seems ages since your Septet album Skyline came out, but it was only two years ago and you don’t seem to have stopped! Of course the Brass Funkeys album is out now, but what else have you been doing?

Lots! After my Septet tour I wanted a bit of a break from that band to explore new things - I've been doing some writing for big bands including a piece called Badger Cam that won the Eddie Harvey Award last year. I wrote it during a composing residency at a fantastic place called Hawkwood College in Gloucestershire. I'm also part of Andrew Linham's Jazz Orchestra. We have just released our new album Weapons Of Mass Distraction, and I've been on tour in Switzerland and to New York with a European big band project called the Euroradio Jazz Orchestra. I've also got plenty of new material for my Septet that I will record and release at some point (watch this space) but the Brass Funkeys is taking up most of my time at the moment, as well as my label Spark! and The Brass Funkeys Rabble Rouserthe Patchwork Jazz Orchestra too.


Now that's a busy schedule! I really enjoy the Brass Funkeys album Rabble Rouser, by the way. The band has been going for a while and this is their second album. What is the idea behind the band? How did you all get together in the first place?

The band has been going almost seven years now and started while we were all students at Cambridge University. We knew each other from the university jazz orchestra, and when Rob who is usually a trumpet player saw a battered old sousaphone on eBay he decided to buy it on a whim - since we had the instrument we had to start a band! We're still using the same instrument today - it's definitely part of our sound. We've always loved New Orleans marching bands and we started off playing Just a Closer Walk, Fly Away and all those traditional tunes. Now we try to play a lot of original music composed by all the band members and that's definitely the focus of our new album.




The Brass Funkeys play Bizness.





You have been on tour with the Funkeys – how did that go?

We had a brilliant sold-out launch gig at Rich Mix in September, and since then it's been great to be able to play some public gigs around the country and reach new crowds - we do plenty of summer festivals regularly but it's quite new for us to play more alternative venues in places other than London. We've been up to Manchester, Newcastle and Leeds recently and had some really fun gigs up there and a lovely warm Northern reception. Our next gig is at Ronnie Scott's on 10th December to finish the tour off.



That will be a treat for the Ronnie's audience. Were there any memorable moments on the tour?

Driving to deepest darkest Cornwall during the height of storm 'Brian' in a van was certainly quite eventful!


Buddy Bolden





If you could ask two past jazz musicians to join the Brass Funkeys for a gig, who would you invite and why? 

I'd love to ask Buddy Bolden along - he was really the predecessor to Louis in New Orleans trumpet but there are no recordings of him at all. Wouldn't that be great to play alongside someone that nobody alive today has ever heard! Then probably Louis - who wouldn't want to play alongside him!


Buddy Bolden







Hob Nob, Custard Cream, Garibaldi or digestive biscuit?

Garibaldi please. Or one of those chocolate bourbons I can see hiding at the bottom of the tin!


Darn! I was hiding the bourbons for later, but seeing it's you ....! On top of everything else, you are running the Spark! label with drummer J J Wheeler. How has that been?

We've had three releases on the label since my Septet album, and have at least two planned for next year. The idea behind the label is to make it easy for young artists to get their music out there without giving away their creative freedom, rights or profit to the record labels, and to make it easy to get through the lengthy process of going from recording to release. Recently we've had pianists Sam Watts and Tom Millar release very different albums on Spark! - it's really gratifying to see that we're directly helping to get new music out there that might never have seen the light of day otherwise.



We've reviewed both Sam and Tom's albums, and as you say, it is great they have seen the light of day. What else is on your horizon – that is if you have time for anything else?!

The next big project is recording the mighty Patchwork Jazz Orchestra which we've got booked in for December - the band is a real collaborative effort and we'll have music by at least 8 different composers on the album which is really exciting.


Patchwork Jazz Orchestra




A video of the Patchwork Jazz Orchestra playing Tom's composition Badger Cam in May 2017.





I look forward to that. Who else have you heard recently that we should listen out for?


I've been listening to a lot of folk music recently including a couple of bands called Lau and Kan, who fuse loads of elements usually found in modern jazz with folk, including odd time signatures and non-standard song structures.






Here's a video of Kan playing Mangatakk.





I try and listen as widely as I can - I've also gone back to listening to a lot of classical music recently. I particularly love Sibelius as his music always conjures up images of landscapes to me (my personal favourite currently is a piece of his called "Pohloja's Daughter").


Listen to the Sibelius tone poem, Pohloja's Daughter.





Another biscuit - there are a few chocolate bourbons left?

Go on then...


The Brass Funkeys album Rabble Rouser is currently available - click here for our review of the album.

Click here to listen to Goblins from the Brass Funkeys' Rabble Rouser




Click here for Tom Green's website.


Tom Green



Utah Teapot


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