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


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


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


"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


SAXSTAR - DONNY McCASLIN talks about his new album, 'Beyond Now,' and his experiences of working with the late David Bowie...

Thursday, 13 October 2016 12:59 Charles Waring E-mailPrintPDF


As DONNY McCASLIN will no doubt attest, once you've played with David Bowie, your life is never going to be quite the same again. Just twelve months ago the 50-year-old Californian saxophonist and woodwind maestro (who already had eleven albums to his name) was known only to a relatively small but dedicated band of serious jazz heads but that situation changed irrevocably in early 2016 with the release of the late David Bowie's critically-acclaimed 'Blackstar,' which McCaslin featured heavily on. Consequently, the Santa Cruz horn blower found himself in the unremitting glare of the mainstream media spotlight. Of course, they were more interested in his association with the recently-departed 'Thin White Duke' but as a trade-off for their attention,  the modest and unassuming McCaslin has benefitted in that his own solo career and artistic endeavours have received a welcome jolt. As a result, he has a much larger audience eager to follow his next move. Frankly, it couldn't happen to a nicer guy. Or a more talented one.

Accomplished multi-reed man Donny McCaslin has been making albums since 1998 but it was in 2010, when he released 'Perpetual Motion' on trumpeter Dave Douglass's Greenleaf label that he began experimenting by fusing jazz improv with electronica and creating a new style for himself. It was the beginning of a sonic journey that would eventually lead him to join forces with David Bowie in 2015.

Given 'Blackstar's' phenomenal success, expectations for McCaslin's new long player, 'Beyond Now,' are understandably high, especially as it features the same rhythm section from the Bowie record.  SJF's Charles Waring recently caught up with the American saxophonist while he was on tour as a sideman for pianist Florian Weber in Germany. He talked in depth about his new album, 'Beyond Now,' and also shed light on his work with the man who gave the world Ziggy Stardust...


Last Updated on Thursday, 13 October 2016 13:26


This Girl's In Love...The RUMER interview.

Thursday, 29 September 2016 07:07 Charles Waring E-mailPrintPDF


The last time SJF spoke with RUMER, she was at her home in deepest Arkansas. This time, however, she's back in London, her old stomping ground, to promote her new album, 'This Girl's In Love: A Bacharach & David Songbook,' which is released by Warner's East West imprint on October 21st.

"I think London is the greatest city in the world," says the 37-year-old singer/songwriter. "It's nice to be back here. What strikes you when you come from Los Angeles, where I was for a while, is just the general proximity you have to other human beings every day and how many people you see going about their business. In LA everything is car-centric and from the point of view of the steering wheel of a car so you really don't see much. But in London there's really so much more to see. There's so much more culture, noise, music and life here."

Having said that, Rumer doesn't feel the need to return permanently to the UK's busiest metropolis. "I don't want to live here anymore but I still think it's the greatest city in the world," she declares. But what about the USA where she lives now? Does she feel that she's immersed herself in the American way of life?  "No, I don't think it's possible," says the singer who left the UK to set up camp in deepest Arkansas with her husband and musical director/arranger, Rob Shirakbari. "I don't think I'll ever do that. You can't really immerse yourself because to do so would mean that you would have to subscribe to activities like getting a gun. We're talking about Southern ways ...and I don't think I could ever be a Southerner."

Our conversation inevitably moves on to 'This Girl's In Love,' a collection of songs penned by the redoubtable songwriting partnership of Burt Bacharach and Hal David.  Its twelve tracks range from immortal classics such as 'Walk On By,' 'A House Is Not A Home,' and '(They Long To Be) Close To You' to less familiar B&D songs like 'Balance Of Nature' and 'One Less Bell To Answer.' The album has received the seal of approval from none other than Burt Bacharach himself, who appears on one track and is quoted as saying: "When you are gifted by an artist doing an album of your music you accept that as a compliment but then you get to hear it and it's so damn good. The lady has a golden voice and the vocals are clean and clear with great sincerity and Hal David's lyrics shine through. There are some songs I've almost forgotten about and Rumer has given them new life. I thank you for this gift Rumer, it's special."

In a conversation with SJF's Charles Waring, Rumer talks in depth about her new album and also looks beyond it to her next project...


Last Updated on Friday, 30 September 2016 08:19


Page 8 of 47



My Account

To comment on an article you must be registered and logged in.