Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Julie Sassoon - Land of Shadows

Julie Sassoon has recorded 2 albums on Babel. New Life (BDV2662) and Azilut! 

People sometimes wonder where she has vanished to!. In fact, she has been living for the past 4 years in Berlin, where she has hooked up into a scene including Tom Arthurs, Toby Delius, Achim Kaufmann and many other of the imaginative musicians there.  She has recently released a new album  Land of Shadows

She will also be performing some of the music at Bishopsgate Institute as part of a double bill with Enrico Pieranunzi on 15 November. (Book tickets here.)

She has sent me the following information on the album which includes a bonus CD.


"The sounds rise up from silence, from a far away place, from a different time, until they land in the present where they begin to glow. Watching Julie Sassoon play, one has the impression that the piano will consume her completely. From hidden depths she unearths the sounds, one by one, she threads them into chains, bundles them up into sound clusters, and lets them slide gently back into silence..." Bert Noglik - Berlin Jazz Festival Director

Britishpianist/composer Julie Sassoon’s recent release on the Berlin Jazzwerkstatt Label Is a live solo piano CD entitled ‘Land of Shadows’. The music explores her German-Jewish identity - a theme that has become a prominent part of her artistic work since her move from London to Berlin in 2009. RBB Kulturradio recorded and broadcasted her concert at the main synagogue in Berlin – (part of her Spring 2012 German Tour.) Performances at the Bauhaus, Dessau and the Loft in Cologne are also included on the CD. The result is a highly emotive and unique album.
Her debut solo piano album ‘New Life’ on Babel received rave reviews and was voted among the top ten favourite international albums in Jazzwise Magazine. The solo gig she shared with Oregon at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in the London Jazz Festival was described as ‘one of the most inspired pairings of the festival’ and received a 5 star Evening Standard review and a BBC radio 3 broadcast.
Julie will be returning to the London Jazz Festival on November 15th to give her first UK performance of this music - at the Bishopsgate Institute. She'll be sharing the evening with the wonderful Italian pianist Enrico Pieranunzi.
•"Sassoon’s capacity to sustain interest without resorting to licks,tricks or slickness of any kind is remarkable... music of rare beauty." Duncan Heining**** Jazzwise
• "Julie Sassoon's new album ‘Land of Shadow’ is a release which - in my opinion - more than rivals another solo piano album recorded nearly 40 years ago in Germany ... Keith Jarrett’s Cologne Concert..." Mike Gerber - UK Jazz Radio
• "Julie Sassoon, a pianist of astonishing resources, applies a concentrated beam of intelligence to everything she does ...
an earnest, brilliantly gifted player." • "a mesmeric solo performer". Mike Butler
****Jazz UK Chris Parker

Bonus DVD:

for further information contact Julie Sassoon: 0049 (0)1769 61 60 871


Friday, September 13, 2013

Tom Challenger on Brass Mask


Katan500: What led to the creation of Brass Mask?

Tom: I'd been wanting to explore a variety of different approaches to making music. Whereas before my work has been very much based around dealing with improvisation, I wanted to explore larger scale ensemble composition. I also wanted to lead a band that was portable. All my projects up to now have been reliant on PA systems and good pianos, and it seemed logical to try a new route.  Although there are 8 people in the band, it is still the most adaptable ensemble I have led. 

Katan500: And the inspiration behind Spy Boy

Tom: Spy Boy is a culmination of work and research that I have done for Brass Mask. The original inspiration was to make an album that reflected all of this work, from my studying counterpoint with Hans Koller, to my delving (albeit on this side of the Atlantic) into the songs, traditions and cultures of the Mardi Gras Indians. At first there was a few definite starting points - Henry Threadgill's 'Just the facts and pass the bucket' and Tony Malaby's Tuba Quartet for example, however, thoughout the last 18 months of writing for this projects other influences have crept in - especially the music I've been making with another project of mine - Fofoulah. 

Katan500: How did you come together as a group of musicians?

Tom: I have worked with majority of Brass Mask for over 5 years in different projects. Some of us work closely together in the Loop Collective and also in organisational capacities for gigs in and around london (Green Chimneys, The Con). I actually met Theon at a bus stop, and Nat I taught at GSMD. However, as musicians in london, you are around each other a lot.

Katan500: How did the collective process work between musicians; maybe there was also influence from the sound technicians?

Tom: As far as the music goes, it's generally myself that puts everything together. The guys help when there's issues to deal with - like re-orchestration. John Blease helped with putting the percussion parts together for the album, and Alex Bonney helped sonically shape the mix of the record before mastering. We've all collaborated on a myriad of projects before, but this was yet another departure for us and offered fresh challenges, and the opportunity to come up with a fresh approach.

Katan500: If you go to this is a piece about Howard Becker can you comment on what he says about collaboration, etiquette, and jazz places.

Tom: I'm reading his pieces now... I'll formalise a response soon...

Katan500: Are there any stories about the recording process...

Tom: The recording was a 3 day process, and this is where laid the music down. The majority of it is live, we recorded with no headphone monitor mixes, and we also recorded in the same room at the fish market. I hired in a caterer for the 3 days of recording, and we enjoyed a variety of dishes, alongside some fairly anal coffee brewing practices (Nathaniel). The group immensely well away from music, and I think this helps the music - 'especially in the group improv sections. Being raucous isn't frowned upon, as is playing sensitively. 

Katan500: What about Dan's artwork and what it expresses...

Tom: Myself and dan decided on a collage format. Initially we wanted capture the motion of a moving person, however, we then fell upon the collage idea as a way of communicating vast amounts of colour, character and motion. I sourced some original photos taken by a friend who had recently travelled, and Dan then went to town on creating a really individual artwork idea. I think the end product is absolutely amazing, and he's captures the spirit of the album, the feeling within the group, and the live experience of Brass Mask really well.

Katan500: And the gig/launch on 26th at the Vortex Jazz Club....

Tom: We are going to be playing a selection of songs from the album. It's a combination of my originals and some of my arrangements of old Mardi Gras Indians songs. The show is being recorded by the BBC radio and will be broadcast in the UK and around Europe the next night.

Brass Mask will be @ the Vortex Jazz Club 26th September  

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Returning to the Vortex Jazz Club 22 Sunday September

22nd September Vortex Jazz Club 15.30
Friday 6/9/13
Today for the first time I felt Autumn had arrived as I left the house wrapped up, coming after what turned out to be a glorious summer. I had even got accustomed to wearing shorts, my pasty legs getting a little tanned - grateful for the airing and freedom. Just a few more days of warm sunshine would set me up to face the whatever winter has in store. Meanwhile, our favourite country bumpkin has been having a good summer - busy hobo-ing around the country, amongst other things complaining about the mayonnaise-ridden sandwiches and expensive booze available on trains that took him from A to B. Dan was however, given some sound advice by pal Aidan Thorne who told him to 'learn about packed lunch - it's a modern phenomenon'. Glen Manby cheekily asked, 'would you be happier if the booze was cheap?' Good point.
 To help our boy, at Babel we've created a nice packed lunch for him and thrown in some Babel brewed Moonshine to wash it down. How about this Dan?  Enjoy!                                             

Despite the trials and tribulations Dan has found some time to tell us what he has been doing and what to expect from the next installment of VFT.

 Greetings from Dan:

Well, after a summer full of Nashville style telecaster and Tarantino-esque madness with "The Bloody Ballad" up at Edinburgh Fringe all August, I've returned to the south of our fair isle. Back to the fray and excited for all the new music autumns leanings will no doubt yield. 

The next instalment of View From The Tower is a exciting one...not least because it's our first one back this season, but also we have very exciting new tunes from members old and new of this humbling line up (for me at any rate!)
Freddie Gravita will be supplying us with a super tune, and another new addition to the ever growing pad of great British composers comes from the musical mastermind of drummer/composer Dave Hamblett. We may even try a little beauty from the depths of our pianist Elliot Galvins twisted mind! And just to push the boat out cause we can...a tune from the truly wonderful Mr Joe Wright. Add that to our pad featuring tunes by Huw Warren, Gwilym Simcock, Gareth Lockrane, Iain Ballamy, Julien Siegal, Phil Robson to new a few.

The line-up for the return on 22nd September @ the Vortex Jazz Cub is:
Gareth Lockrane - flutes
Freddie Gravita - trumpet
Joe Wright - tenor sax
Elliot Galvin - piano
Dan Messore - guitar
Dave Manington - bass
Dave Hamblett - drums

So get on the ride and raise your hands and away we go! 

Dan x

Ticket information