Interviews

The Return of Soul II Soul - Jazzie B speaks!

Friday, 04 November 2016 08:46 Charles Waring E-mailPrintPDF

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"What the f*** is this council and government doing?" asks an incredulous, angry and very impassioned JAZZIE B, who's working himself up into a righteous, tell-it-like it is, groove. The charismatic Soul II Soul main man and Grammy-winning record producer and DJ - who was awarded an OBE in 2008 and has had a statue erected in his honour - is in a combative mood and bemoaning the seemingly imminent death of club culture in the UK, especially in London, where it's estimated that over half of the capital's nightspots have shut their doors during the last eight years. It's an alarming state of affairs given that Soul II Soul emerged from the very scene that is now in terminal decline.

"This country is built on being innovative and creative," explains Jazzie, who is extremely disconcerted by the prospect that the musical world that nurtured him and gave birth to one of the UK's finest R&B collectives is close to dying. "How can they be closing down the clubs, the very scene that is helping to bring in revenue? When I was a young man there was somewhere to go where I was able to express myself. Clubs were an important platform that people like me had. If those clubs didn't exist, I wouldn't be here."

Furthermore, 53-year-old Jazzie believes that the current situation if it continues will have a profound impact on the music industry in the UK. "We're talking about a crisis," he says. "If there's nowhere for people to perform, how can we see and hear new music and new bands? Where am I going to see a new Soul II Soul?"

Indeed. Soul II Soul was a unique musical collective that began as a travelling sound system in the early '80s that eventually evolved by the end of that decade into a proper band. Nurtured in the fertile hot house of the London club scene, they went on to conquer the world with their infectious and distinctly UK take on R&B.

The band's influence has been wide and far reaching and after a long hiatus they're now back in action. With singer Caron Wheeler back on board, the aggregation return with a new double album box set in early December called 'Origins: The Roots Of Soul II Soul.' It contains performances of some of the band's most iconic songs and was recorded live at Metropolis studios in London, where it was cut straight to vinyl. It's a subject that brings a broad smile back on Jazzie's face. "I've got to say I'm really happy with the outcome," he laughs. "It's the first time that I've ever recorded live and been on the other side of the glass. Usually I'm the king of the control room but on that occasion I wasn't, so that was a bit weird. But it's pretty good."

In an exclusive interview with SJF's Charles Waring, Soul II Soul's charismatic leader talks in detail about making the new album and also reflects on his long and illustrious  career....

 

Last Updated on Monday, 21 November 2016 08:12

 

HEART TO HEART... THE LINDSEY WEBSTER INTERVIEW

Thursday, 03 November 2016 20:33 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

altOne of last year's best, proper soul albums was LINDSEY WEBSTER'S album, 'You Change'. The set was Ms Webster's sophomore long player and it won acclaim right across the soul spectrum for its stately, smooth, sophisticated take on modern soul. Lindsey has just released her third album.... another acclaimed set of tunes, 'Back To Your Heart' but despite the success of 'You Change', not too many people know too much about Lindsey Webster, so to rectify that we tracked down the lady. Of course we wanted to know all about the latest album but to get started we asked Lindsey to fill in the key biographical details......

I grew up in Woodstock, NY, and for those who are not familiar; it is a very artistic and musical town. Many of the most famous musicians we know today sought out Woodstock as a creative place to be. So, I consider myself very lucky to have grown up in such a forward thinking town with progressive parents (aka hippies). My parents had a vast collection of records. They were really into stuff like Todd Rundgren, George Harrison, Elvis Costello and a lot of other classic rock. When I stared buying my own albums, though, it was Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston and singers of that nature. I really enjoyed hearing the acrobatics of their voices and melodies. The passion and soul that they emanated took me over.

You attended LaGuardia School for the Music, Art & Performing Arts, I believe, tell us about that...

Well, as a high school student, I unfortunately didn't make a lot of time for classes if they didn't involve music. So, whenever I made it there, it was just for orchestra (I was playing Cello and wasn't singing as much at that point). My second semester there, though, I did take a voice class. About half way through that semester, we ended up moving back upstate, so although it was short lived, I had such a great time experiencing NYC and the hustle and bustle of it all. I actually still have friends who I met there, too.

Last Updated on Friday, 04 November 2016 15:06

 

A Little Night Music - MICHAEL WOLLNY talks to SJF ahead of his London Jazz Festival appearance

Thursday, 03 November 2016 08:06 Charles Waring E-mailPrintPDF

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With his long,  tousled hair and boyish demeanour, German pianist MICHAEL WOLLNY - who bears an uncanny resemblance to a young Andre Previn, perhaps (for those that can still remember the veteran German-American maestro) - looks remarkably younger than his years. He'll celebrate his thirty-ninth birthday next year but he still has the appearance of a teenager. But as we know, appearances can be deceptive and the music that Michael Wollny makes with his trio evinces a maturity that denotes  a master rather than an apprentice at work.

Like Previn, the Schweinfurt-born pianist took the classical route to jazz, which he discovered and was inspired by in his teens after hearing Keith Jarrett's 'The Koln Concert' album. He made his recording debut in 2005 when he joined producer Siggi Loch's German ACT label and since then hasn't looked back, releasing several acclaimed albums. Though he's recorded and performed in varied musical configurations during the last decade - for instance, his latest recording venture is a duo album called 'Tandem' with French accordionist, Vincent Peirani - his forte is playing within the piano trio format. Wollny's drummer, Eric Schaefer, has been with the pianist since the very beginning but his bassist, Christian Weber, is the newest member and the replacement for original trio member, Eva Krause, as well as the more recent stand-in, Tim Lefebvre.

The trio have rightly reaped a plethora of accolades and plaudits from the critics for their last two studio albums, 2014's 'Weltentraum' and last year's 'Nachtfahrten,' which staked Wollny's claim as one of the most exciting and imaginative young pianist and composers in jazz at the moment. Wollny, who's not averse to inserting a couple of rock and pop covers alongside original material in his set, performed at the Cheltenham Jazz Festival in 2015 and now returns to the UK with his trio to play at a venue called King's Place on Saturday 12th November as part of the EFG London Jazz Festival.

Prior to his visit to London, the pianist - who speaks impeccable English by the way - spoke to SJF's Charles Waring about his impending UK visit as well as his latest project, 'Tandem'...

Last Updated on Monday, 07 November 2016 20:36

 

Call Me 'Mr ECLECTIC' - versatile pianist/composer RANDY KLEIN talks to SJF.

Wednesday, 02 November 2016 10:38 Charles Waring E-mailPrintPDF

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RANDY KLEIN is a jazz pianist and movie composer whose name should also be a familiar one to soul music fans that avidly peruse album credits - he co-wrote 'Looking For Love' for Candi Staton (which was a 1980 hit single for the southern soul siren on Warner Bros) as well as songs for Millie Jackson (including 'This Is Where I Came In,' 'Not On Your Life,' 'Go Out And Get Some (Get It Outcha System)') and ex-Labelle member, Sarah Dash ('After Love' on the singer's 1988 album, 'You're All I Need'). He also co-wrote and co-produced the 1983 electro dance hit, 'Watch The Closing Doors,' by I.R.T. on RCA Records. Since then, Klein has gone on to become a noted composer in the field of music theatre and documentary film scores. He is also the president of Jazzheads, an independent record label devoted to improvised music.

Here, he talks to SJF's John Wisniewski about is life and music...

Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 November 2016 16:06

 

Droppin' Science - Saxophonist and MC Soweto Kinch talks maths and music...

Saturday, 22 October 2016 08:36 Charles Waring E-mailPrintPDF

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"Really, this album is about unity in the face of division," says double MOBO-winning saxophonist, MC, DJ and radio presenter, SOWETO KINCH, explaining the concept behind his latest long player, 'Nonagram.' It's the Birmingham-based jazz man's fifth album and the follow-up to 2012's  epic double CD, 'The Legend Of Mike Smith,' which, incidentally, is soon to be revived as a travelling stage show. But 'Nonagram' finds this former Oxford scholar (he studied Modern History) exploring the relationship between geometry and sound.

"Essentially, it's about the connection between numbers, music and healing," states Kinch, "and the fact that you can't see music or numbers but you get the sense that they're there. There are sonic and fundamental laws that govern how we feel: that make us on edge or at harmony or peace. That was something that I was keen to explore on this album. Also, in this age of division and polarisation based on race, class and gender, there are some really fundamental, universal truths that I think that numbers and sounds hold for us."

While the main thrust of 'Nonagram's' conceit sounds a tad abstruse, perhaps, to the layman - especially those not conversant with geometry and mathematics - you don't have to be cognizant of the theorizing behind the music to truly appreciate what Kinch is doing. Just in terms of its listening appeal, Kinch has produced a very direct, down-to-earth collection of songs where post-bop jazz improv of the highest order and socio-political, 'conscious' hip-hop intersect in an accessible yet meaningful way.

In a revealing interview with Charles Waring's SJF, the 38-year-old Mercury Music Prize-nominated musician and radio presenter of BBC Radio 3's Jazz Now programme talks in depth about 'Nonagram' and other aspects of his career...

Last Updated on Saturday, 22 October 2016 08:53

 

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