Tuesday, December 30, 2014


Babel ended 2013 with a flurry of new releases that carried on into 2014. There were the high-spirited compositions and energetic surges of SPY BOY by Brass Mask, and the sprightly melodies and Afro-Cuban rhythms of TOWER CASA by Nick Smart's Trogon. Early in 2014 these were followed by Step Wide, Step Deep, Opabinia, Parallel Moments and others. It was also the year that Babel celebrated its 25th Anniversary. In an interview with Textura to mark the occasion, the Director of Babel, Oliver Weindling  gave the following short but sweet interview.

Identity: The Babel Label was started by me, Oliver Weindling, twenty years ago. I like to call it a “jazz” label, reflectingan attitude and approach that j azz can have, in terms of pushing boundaries but without necessarily being unapproachable. That frequently overlaps with London's Vortex, where I help with the programming. Only part of this will be the traditional view of “jazz.”

Distinguishing characteristics: The label primarily reflects my taste (whatever it may be at any time). If the music has individuality, creativity, commitment and personality, with something unique to offer, then that's what really thrills me.

Proudest accomplishments: Survival for twenty years and releasing 
over 120 albums. Thus helping one aspect of musicians on the scene
 in London releasing their music to the world. Jack Massarik of The
 Evening Standard said about Babel, “It brings to the public for 
twenty years music that it doesn't want to hear.” My additional 
word to that is “YET”! So all Babel releases rank more or less
 equally as my proudest accomplishments.

Currently promoting: Alexander Hawkins: Solo and Ensemble, with 
a new trio due next year; Dan Messore's new Indigo Kid;
 Woven Entity; Whahay: bassist Paul Rogers' take on Charles Mingus;
 Bourne Davis Kane (with Paul Dunmall); Sylvain Darrifourcq / Valentin
 Ceccaldi / Manu Hermia; Brassmask: Tom Challenger's brass band with 
influences of Haitian rara and Henry Threadgill. That's enough for

Future: Continuing to survive and find exciting music.

What's coming in 2015 in brief...

Good things eventually come to all who wait... there's a new album by WHAHAY (Paul Rogers, Robin Fincker and Fabien Duscombes) with it's Charles Mingus inspired theme. A live performance of the album at the Vortex Jazz Club in this December received a rave review from Richard Williams who said,  The album was terrific but the gig was a monster... Unsurprisingly , The Guardian's John Fordham described the trio as on of Jazz's best kept secrets. 
A second helping of Dan Messore's Indigo Kid with the title 'FIST FULL OF NOTES' and is due for release soon.This second album shows that Messore has really come into his own as a leader and composer. Bruno Heinen and Kristian Borring's came together for POSTCARD TO BILL. This was a project centred around compositions of the great pianist Bill Evans, recorded live at the Vortex, and arranged by the duo who took inspiration from Evans’famous duo recordings with guitarist Jim Hall. 

Releases in 2014

Babel would like to thank reviewers who chose Babel releases as part of their best of 2014. Peter Quinn, musician and music writer, who cites Emilia Martenssen's ANA and Black No 1 amongst his selection of outstanding releases for 2014, The mercurial interplay, surging counterpoint and textural 
shifts of Black Top's debut # One combines boundary-pushing improv with brilliant musicianship, while subtle arrangements, exquisitely beautiful songs and a voice of remarkable expressive depth mark out Ana, the second album from the London-based Swedish vocalist, Emilia Mårtensson.
Marlbank also chose Babel's Emilia Martenssen as #3 of his best of 20 jazz vocals for 2014. Textura  also chose ANA as #20 of its 20 top albums. 
Bird is the Worm who chose Step, Wide Steep Deep as #17 of it's 30 best albums in 2014. To be included in the top 30 releases the music had to engage - elicit a cerebral connection, evoke intrigue, show personality, be different and embrace the best qualities of creativity.  

(Compilation focusing on France)
Not yet available

John Fordham  http://www.theguardian.com/music/2014/dec/11/nows-the-time-iii-focus-on-france-jazz-review

by Woven Entity

Marlbank   http://www.marlbank.net/reviews/2274-woven-entity-woven-entity-babel-recommended
Chris May  https://www.jocksandnerds.com/articles/woven-entity-cd

by Black Top

A collation of Black Top reviews

 ANA (April 2014)
by Emilia Mårtensson

John Fordham  http://www.theguardian.com/music/2014/apr/24/emilia-martensson-ana-review
Dave Kelly  http://www.theguardian.com/music/2014/apr/20/emilia-martensson-ana-review-jazz
Mark Corroto
Peter Quinn
Peter Bacon
Ian Mann
Other review links

by Alexander Hawkins Ensemble

Bird is the Worm
London Jazz News
All About Jazz (Karl Ackermann)
Adrian Pallant
All About Jazz (Phil Barnes

Alexander Hawkins

Guardian (John Fordham)
All About Jazz (Karl Ackermann)

OPABINIA (Feb 2014)
Dominic Lash Quartet

The Jazz Mann
London Jazz News
All About Jazz (John Sharpe)

Raymond MacDonald & Marilyn Crispell

Gapplegate Music Review
All About Jazz (Glenn Asitara)
Jazz Times (Scott Albin)
The List

Thank you for your support and wishing you all peace, love, prosperity and more in the coming new year.

 Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 07, 2014

News From the Tower

New Release By Woven Entity

WOVEN ENTITY are: Lascelle Gordon, Patrick Dawes, Paul May and Peter Marsh. The band began life in 2010 after percussionist, DJ and multi instrumentalist Lascelle Gordon crossed paths with fellow percussionist Patrick Dawes and with drummer Paul May at various gigs and suggested the three try playing together. Soon the trio were organically evolving a brand of freely improvised music that wasn’t afraid to groove, float or tinkle. With appearances from a regular pool of guests such as Led Bib’s Chris Williams, Snorkel keyboardist Ben Cowen, bassist Peter Marsh, trumpeter Andy Knight and saxophonist Alan Wilkinson, 

Lascelle (often known as Lascelles Lascelle) began his musical career as a DJ at London’s Wag Club in the 1980s, where his eclectic taste made him a favourite among the punters. After touring as A Certain Ratio’s DJ, he went on to form the Brand New Heavies, one of the biggest bands of the Acid Jazz movement. Leaving the band some five years later he formed Heliocentric World, scoring a hit single for Gilles Peterson’s Talkin’ Loud label before joining indie rockers and NME darlings Campag Velocet as their drummer. From there, Gordon went on to provide percussion live and in the studio for such diverse acts as Mr Scruff, The Sandals, Beth Orton and Gossip - he’s also worked extensively with producer Trevor Jackson and with Ben Cowen as 7 Hurtz, whose collaborators include Peaches. More recently Lascelle has toured with indie popsters Le Volume Courbe, supporting My Bloody Valentine on their 2013 tour, as well as forming improvising collectives Flight and Vibration Black Finger.

Patrick Dawes has been working for over two decades as a percussionist, beginning his career working alongside DJs in clubs such as the Ministry of Sound. In 1995 he began a four year stint recording and touring with The Herbaliser before joining Groove Armada as their live percussionist for the best part of a decade. As well as working alongside the likes of the legendary Richie Havens as well as co-fronting quirky jazz-popsters Patrick and Eugene and recording two albums with them, Dawes has released two albums for Tummy Touch, Circus Train and in 2013, Raising Stone, a collaborative record featuring contributions from a diverse range of talents from improvising vocalist Maggie Nicols to Acoustic Ladyland saxophonist Pete Wareham and early music specialist William Summers.

Paul May is one of the most respected drummers on the UK improvising circuit. His CV includes work with the likes of Alexander Hawkins, Tim Hodgkinson, Klaus Filip and Matthias Eick, as well as working with bassist Peter Marsh in electro-acoustic improvisers Sonnamble, Elvers (with trumpeter Ian R Watson) and Found Drowned (with guitarist James O’ Sullivan) to name just three. May has enjoyed a long working relationship with pianist Carolyn Hume which has yielded several well received albums on Leo Records and led to the formation of the quartet Fourth Page. May also plays and records regularly with bluesman Duke Garwood as well as songwriter Petra Jean Phillipson.

Peter Marsh
Marsh has often been heard alongside Paul May in recent years, forming the rhythm section for a bewildering variety of improvising bands from Clang Sayne to Fourth Page to Sonnamble among others. As well as playing a more conventional role backing singer Petra Jean Phillipson, they’ve
also worked with a huge range of improvisers from Alan Wilkinson, Martin Siewert to Klaus Filip. They also record as a duo, with a debut album (Falling More Slowly) released in 2013 on Linear Obsessional. Previously Marsh also played in avant fusion band Lob, spent time depping in The
Tiger Lillies, has played a lot of folk music (from Brittany to Macedonia) and has worked providing soundtracks to films by artists including Laura Cooper and Sami van Ingen. He has played with many improvisers including Lol Coxhill, Steve Williamson, Paul Rutherford. Robert Dick, Roger Turner and David Toop to name a few.

The new album Woven Entity is essentially a freewheeling expanded rhythm section, Woven Entity cook up a rich, strange brew of psychedelic jazz, electronic explorations, ethnological forgeries and unstoppable ritual grooves. Featuring contributions from guests Alan Wilkinson, Ben Cowen and Julie Kjaer, Woven Entity’s debut is a restless, playful and eclectic record that
 travels a long way in its 48 short minutes, cheerfully trampling genre divisions in its path. The brief ‘C358X’ opens proceedings; flurries of exotic percussion and a woozy, sourly cosmic synth skirt round each other, much like  Sun Ra crashing an Art Ensemble of Chicago session. The following ‘Me=You’morphs somewhat unexpectedly from a bracing free jazz workout for balafon, bass, drums and bongos into a deep, insistent groove that might just lure the more adventurous listener to shake a tailfeather or two. Julie Kjaer makes her first appearance on the album with some sly, bittersweet flute, steering away from the dancefloor towards darker, more uncertain territory. ‘Naked Eye’ displays May’s uncanny ability to conjure both anarchy and order from the drumkit as he, Dawes and Gordon trade phrases over a lush backdrop of loops and drones; one second he’s coaxing squeals from a cymbal, the next  he’s locked in a metronomic groove Jaki Liebezeit would be proud of. ‘This Day Will Come’ also subverts expectations, like much of this album seems to. Birdsong, bass and balafon are joined by percussive eruptions and what sounds like someone building furniture before settling into an extended coda for fizzing electronic noise and a pair of harmonicas, underpinned by the warm thrumming of Marsh’s bass, before dying away suddenly. Alan Wilkinson turns up on ‘So Black Dada’ with a short but (uncharacteristically) sweet alto solo over a shifting matrix of metals, talking drum and jaws harp that provides one of the album’s most affecting moments. Trisssh’ (dedicated to the late Trish Keenan of Broadcast) blends minimal gamelan-esque percussion, field recordings, wind-up toys and drum machine into a slo-mo avant funk brew. ‘Hola’ is powered by a brooding, episodic groove from May’s muted kit, flecked with whistles, saxophone multiphonics, sonar bleeps and duck calls.‘Earth/Crisis’ is the longest piece by some margin. Beginning with abstract scribbles and stridulations, an off- kilter, loping afro-jazz groove emerges.Kjaer delivers progressively more heated, oblique bursts of alto before the whole shebang implodes into a primitive, ritualistic throb worthy of early 80s experimentalists 23 Skidoo. Kjaer is back on flute for ‘Who’s Who’, a humid slice of poised exotica that comes on like a stoner take on Ra’s ‘Angels and Demons At Play’. Gordon’s spectral electronics hover above the proceedings, while he and Dawes decorate Marsh and May’s locked down groove with intricate percussive exchanges. It’s astonishing how they keep out of each others way yet can apparently act as one organism, negotiating tempo and dynamics on the fly with astonishing fluidity. The album ends with ‘Moors and Orandas’, a luminous, mournful piece which promises to lead somewhere rich and strange, then thinks twice about it. Something for the next journey, perhaps.Woven Entity’s music is immersive, rhythmically infectious and eclectic to the point of uncategorisablity. All gates are open.


1.  C358X
2.  Me = You
3.  Naked Eye
4.  This Day Will Come
5.  So Black Dada
6.  Hola
7.  Trissh
8.  Earth/Crisis
9.  Who’s Who
10. Moors and Orandas

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Babel selected as favourite...and other news.

Babel Label Selected As One of textura's Favourite label for 2014

At Babel we are delighted to have been chosen by the publication textura as a favourite label. textura has been around for 10 years focusing on experimental,electronic, jazz and classical music forms putting out 11 issues per year packed with reviews, interviews and articles.There is also the textura label on which three full-length recordings, Kubla Khan (2008), Esther Marie (2010), and Monuments and Ruins (2012) were released. The latter is a split work with two contrasting but connected soundworlds, one epic and memorializing and the other eerie and elegiac by Ben Chatwin and Damian Valle. The Canadian-based publication, every November selects ten labels whose output 'dazzled' and stood out from the crowd in the past year. Along side Babel the other labels chosen include: Cantaloupe, Denovali, Gruenrekorder, Hubro, Innova, Metalheadz, New Amsterdam, Populist, Schole and Western Vinyl. This time textura seem to have chosen eleven.There is a short but sweet revealing interview with Babel's capo Oliver Weindling reproduced below organized around the themes of Label identity, distinguishing characteristics, proudest accomplishments, currently promoting and the future.

 Identity: The Babel Label was started by me, Oliver Weindling, twenty years ago. I like to call it a “jazz” label, reflectingan attitude and approach that j azz can have, in terms of pushing boundaries but without necessarily being unapproachable. That frequently overlaps with London's Vortex, where I help with the programming. Only part of this will be the traditional view of “jazz.”

Distinguishing characteristics: The label primarily reflects my taste (whatever it may be at any time). If the music has individuality, creativity, commitment and personality, with something unique to offer, then that's what really thrills me.

Proudest accomplishments: Survival for twenty years and releasing
over 120 albums. Thus helping one aspect of musicians on the scene
 in London releasing their music to the world. Jack Massarik of The
 Evening Standard said about Babel, “It brings to the public for
twenty years music that it doesn't want to hear.” My additional
word to that is “YET”! So all Babel releases rank more or less
 equally as my proudest accomplishments.

Currently promoting: Alexander Hawkins: Solo and Ensemble, with
a new trio due next year; Dan Messore's new Indigo Kid;
 Woven Entity; Whahay: bassist Paul Rogers' take on Charles Mingus;
 Bourne Davis Kane (with Paul Dunmall); Sylvain Darrifourcq / Valentin
 Ceccaldi / Manu Hermia; Brassmask: Tom Challenger's brass band with
influences of Haitian rara and Henry Threadgill. That's enough for

Future: Continuing to survive and find exciting music.

Recent  Babel ReleaseWoven Entity by Woven Entity 
 Woven Entity is Lascelles Lascelle (percussion), Patrick Dawes( percussion), Paul Barkingside(drums) and Peter Marsh (bass). Expect improvised and semi-improvised spiritual grooves skirting the boundaries of astral jazz, free improv, krautrock and lo-fi electronica. The band operates as a floating collective along side various guests including saxophonists Julie Kjaer, Chris Williams (Led Bib), Alan Wilkinson, Andy Knight, Ben Cowen and others.

Coming to the Vortex Jazz Club: Whahay 13/Nov/2014
Info:  http://www.vortexjazz.co.uk/event/whahay/
Whahay is Paul Rogers (hybrid 7 stringed double bass), Robin Fincker (saxophone, clarinet) and Fabien Duscombs (drums). Their latest offering is a tribute to Charles Mingus' compositions which are revered but at the same time given a 'European free Jazz' treatment. There is also a solo set from another Babel artist James Allsopp on tenor saxophone.

Check out Babel on Bandcamp 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Match & Fuse festival

A three day festival across three venues in East London: showcasing an exhilarating diversity of new music across a multitude of genres
- M&F LONDON 2014 will feature  premieres of new works from Elliot Galvin, Shabaka Hutchings, James Allsopp, Rebecca Sneddon & Lunch Money 
- M&F LONDON 2014 will be broadcast live online to the world through Screensaverlive.tv on October 3
- M&F LONDON 2014 will feature some of the UK and Europe’s most exciting acts, breaking genre barriers, challenging convention and producing innovative live sounds including: 
Lazy Habits, The Comet Is Coming, Pixel, Lana Trio w/ John Butcher, Snorkel, The Physics House Band, Bellatrix and many more.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Gaume Jazz Festival, 2014. Photos

 My full review of the festival for Londonjazz is here. Here are some photos and a short review of the Grappe D'Or in Torgny

Antoine Pierre

Enrico Pieranunzi:

Leila Martial's Baa Box 
(in the rain!):

Manu Hermia, Majjid Bekas, Khalid Khouen

Mik Mâäk (and Guillaume Orti):

Big Nowhere Big Band:

La Grappe D'Or at Torgny:

In addition to the jazz festival, the area around Gaume in the Ardennes is home to a great holiday area, including the meandering Sémois river. In the South of the area, there is the sole wine-growing region of Belgium in Torgny. Seems like a surprise to link wine and Belgium, but surely there's no real shock. Couldn't we have said the same for a long time about wine and England? And certainly the area there is about the same latitude as Luxembourg, where the white wines are renowned.

Anyway, there is also great food there. And we spent a Sunday lunch at the Grappe D'Or, a one-star rated Michelin restaurant. We took the full 7 course menu to really be able to appreciate what the place is about. Just like jazz, there is plenty of risk taking. Particularly notable was the ability to mix more oriental flavours, such as the raw fish with local herbs and vegetables (mainly from the restaurant's own garden). The most surprising and successful was the mix of raspberries and wasabi for the dessert (the last photo here).

Thursday, July 24, 2014

On the Sofa #4 with Orphy Robinson

On the Sofa with Orphy Robinson

"For me a “Nightingale did not sing in Berkeley Square” but possibly in somewhere more relevant to me like Gillett Square..."

With the release of Black Top #1 14  July 2014 I thought it was time to get Orphy on the sofa to get his views on football, cricket and the long orange thing he's waving around in a photograph in his Wikipedia entry. If you don't believe me take a look for yourself. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orphy_Robinson

Orphy Robinson was born in London he has been a major figure in UK and international jazz since the 1980s, releasing two critically acclaimed solo albums on the Blue Note label and playing with a host of major artists including Don Cherry, David Murray, Henry Threadgill, Courtney Pine, Jazz Warriors and Andy Shepherd. His approach is eclectic as it crosses a variety of musical forms including jazz, free jazz, free improvisation, jazz fusion, and funk music. Black Top #1 his latest album on Babel is a collaboration with the pianist Pat Thomas and saxophonist Steve Williamson  Available here  Together they form a sound shape-shifting unit exploring the intersection between live instruments and lo-fi technology.

KATAN500: Favourite colour
KATAN500:  Jazz is in 150 characters.
ORPHY: "Jas" its original name was derived from the Bordellos. However it became a name given to the music described by Duke Ellington as Negro folk music. It’s a catch all title for many different sounds, not all good...
KATAN500: That's 173 characters but since it's you I'll let you off. Football or cricket
ORPHY: Cricket.
KATAN500: Do you remember the Norman Tebbit test
KATAN500: I guess you're going to be tactful... How do you relax?
ORPHY: Roller Skate 
KATAN500: I'm assuming that's roller and not ice  à la Torville and Dean... Town or country?
ORPHY: Country
KATAN500: Car or Bike?
ORPHY:  Bike
KATAN500: Cats or Dogs 
ORPHY: Both. Um...no preference.
KATAN500: Tell me something about yourself that most people don't know...
ORPHY:  Ha, No idea. What could that be?
KATAN500: You ready?
ORPHY: Fire...

KATAN500: So how did you start?
ORPHY: It was the local youth orchestra in Hackney where I learned to play Trumpet, drums and Tuned percussion. Ultimately settling on Tuned percussion because I found playing it fun and interesting.
KATAN500: Are you from a musical family?

ORPHY: My parents and family listened to music from Jamaica primarily, but also introduced me to a wide selection of music from around the world. It's probably why I’ve always been open minded and eclectic. My Father was friends with a famous Jamaican trombone player named Don Drummond.
KATAN500: Was there a defining moment when you decided to become a musician?
ORPHY: Well, there was a music competition at Alexandra Palace... I wasn't a participant...I was watching, but I vowed to come back the next time and win best soloist category, and I did!
KATAN500: Was there a prize...have you still got it?
ORPHY: No idea where that stuff is now. I once went a whole year winning every competition in the country. You can imagine, that would be a lot of trophies... I’m sure I would have thrown out most of that or given them to family through my various moves over the years. It’s enough for me to know that I had that grounding and did well in those early years rather than live in the past carrying around too much nostalgia...
KATAN500:  OK. You've fessed up to being ‘polygamous’ with your instruments, do you have a fav instrument that you like to spend more time with? 
ORPHY: My marimba.
KATAN500: Do you give your instruments names? 
ORPHY: No...
KATAN500: Orphy meet Zaboca [my laptop] Zaboca meet Orphy...
KATAN500: Growing up what influences played on you?
ORPHY: Influences... growing up in the UK in Hackney at that time it was Jamaican music, Funk... family and friends were important. I learned to play football and cricket to a good standard.The music I grew up with still appears in my own music at various times. Musicians such as Bobby Hutcherson for the vibraphone, Walt Dickerson and Roy Ayers were influences again for vibes. My own style is eclectic crossing various styles, and I use many different instruments.
KATAN500: Who do you admire (alive)?
ORPHY: Stevland Hardaway Judkins that's Stevie Wonder to you and me...he's a prolific song writer and musician...
KATAN500: Your Wikipedia entry says that you were discovered while playing with Courtney Pine and Jazz Warriors. Tell me how you came to be involved with them.
ORPHY: No. I was first "discovered" if that is the word, by the Press in my Brit Funk band days in 1981, my band was called Savanna we had two number One hits in the R & B charts and sold records internationally. I'm still well-known in that particular genre and play in various high profile bands from that genre every year. Funnily, when I went to Japan with Courtney Pine in the 1986 the media wanted to know about Savanna more than any of the music I was playing with Courtney...[KATAN500: did that annoy him?] No why would it? They were interviews with me. I was invited to join The Jazz Warriors in 1985 by Courtney who knew about me from funk session work and the Pop charts. I had a lot of fun in the Warriors and grew considerably as a musician during that period.
KATAN500: Is "Jazz" dead? 
ORPHY: "Jazz" is just a word for marketing purposes. However the music continues to grow and change...I’ve no idea what is commonly understood by the word as it means all sorts of things to all kinds of people. If there was a commonality in the meaning... there wouldn’t be different interpretations of the word. I prefer improvised music, Free, Avant-garde... I don’t follow the jazz media, or play in those particular styles that followers of "jazz" expect and relate to. To me music will always grow and change as we all know, it's if the audience comes along with those changes, and the new music catches the imagination of the musicians, which dictate if those shifts are successful or not in a commercial sense.
KATAN500: "Black British Jazz" What's that? A tradition? The colour of the musician? Routes? 
ORPHY: "Black Jazz"? I suppose that could be music played by musicians who are black and might have different emphasis either in rhythmic, melodic or harmonic senses. History or tradition are obviously important aspects of the music called "Jazz" that some musicians hold on to for different reasons. Fortunately that’s not the same for all of us. I prefer to move forward with a healthy respect for the past but not to linger there. Creating something from my own experiences appeals to me more. I understand that some musicians and critics prefer to stay rooted in particular periods of the music’s development in the last century, and I respect that ...even wish them well. I prefer to own and name my own music. For me a “Nightingale did not sing in Berkeley Square” but possibly in somewhere more relevant to me like Gillett Square. If the music you're playing is called Jazz then that’s what it's called. I wouldn’t go on stage and announce I’m going to play any particular colour of jazz, in the same way if I was going to play so-called Classical music I wouldn’t give that a colour either.

KATAN500: How do black "jazz musicians" fit into the contemporary UK scene: Do they have the same opportunities?
ORPHY: Musicians who happen to be Black do have a glass ceiling in employment in music education, we tend to be employed in community projects more than anything else. The odd part-time opportunity might come up once in a while in a dedicated music college, but it’s really outside of that area that we are employed. So we mostly work in community based projects, schools... I have been fortunate to have had some success in those areas with students winning big competitions internationally or going on to be successful in the commercial field, as well as being nominated for a top teaching award myself.
KATAN500: Do you think there is a perception that 'black audiences' are not interested in Improv / Free/ Avant-garde jazz etc? 
ORPHY: If you counted on being able to sustain a career, counting on your core audience to be black in the UK, you would be seriously deluded and very quickly starve! You just have to concentrate on getting audiences to come and listen to you and then they spread the word to their friends from whatever ethnic background they might be. Create honest music and it will find its own audience. As I said previously I don’t promote the music I create as "jazz" so I don’t lose sleep over the words or connotations. Many times people come along to a gig and say to you afterwards that they really enjoyed the music and didn’t really know what to expect, but that they might not know how to describe the music to others! Some of my ex-students come along to gigs all the time and they are mostly the ones who I didn’t teach anything that could be termed "jazz", I taught them more about opening the door to music appreciation. 
KATAN500: Which piece of your work are you particularly proud of and why?
ORPHY: I’m particularly proud of my first ever album on Blue Note Records,  When Tomorrow Comes because I was able to tour for a couple of years internationally through its success. I still meet people who are complimentary about the album and tell me what they got from the music. I was lucky to record two albums and two EPs there and had many fantastic opportunities

KATAN500: You’ve said elsewhere that too many cabaret singers shelter under the umbrella of jazz – do you see this as a quality issue? Why do you think new people are not being picked up by promoters – do they operate under the logic that people will only be interested in the familiar...
ORPHY: I would put that down to lazy short-sightedness by promoters who tend to hold back quite a lot of the real talented jazz artists who are struggling to find decent places to play, they do this by going for a kind of faux supper club look and an ever-revolving conveyor belt of yet more Billie Holliday / Ella fitzgerald sounding clones, with Charlie Parker bebop type lines thrown around from an endless line of talented but unimaginative saxophone players... and while we're at it let's also pretend it’s the 1950s again. Add to that, the "promoters" that have no balls and what you have is a really uninspiring pool of what I call "demoters" not promoters!
KATAN500:  As a young Black musician who were your role models?

ORPHY: Ray Carless and Claude Deppa. Ray is one of the nicest people out there and made the same jump from playing in jazz funk and reggae bands as myself. He's still inspiring others and has always been hard working promoting his gigs and setting up teaching opportunities in the local community. Claude helped me, gave me records and inspired me to practice at various important times, and had always said at the beginning that I would be a jazz musician one day... finally meeting up at yet another influential moment for me but this time on a Jazz platform with the Warriors in the 80s, after a period when I had taken up saxophone and was studying with various Teachers at the City Lit in Holborn that included the recently departed Kathy Stobart - a beautiful spirit and really encouraging at the time. 

KATAN500: Do you think that American jazz musicians today still carry far greater clout than our home grown ones. If we take Coltrane he was American, take Joe Harriott he was from he colonies but British at the same time, therefore rejected by much of the jazz establishment...
ORPHY: Depends where in the world you are, what the promoters in that particular area thinks will sell the best for them, and the audience they have cultivated locally... and of course what they have been exposed to. However, in the Improv/Free/Avant-garde world musicians from Europe are well respected worldwide and the European circuit provides many exciting and interesting festivals, venues and situations etc. On the rejection of Harriot by the Jazz establishment, he was awarded five stars in Downbeat Magazine and could have built a very different career by all accounts had he not had an aversion to aeroplanes or travel per se! There might well have been some in the jazz establishment who didn’t take to his new music but that’s always going to be the case. Maybe some journalists will be scared to admit that they haven’t got a clue what’s going on in the music of a particular musician and that can also depend on personal preference or musical knowledge of harmony etc. Or as someone recently said at a gig when commenting on an album review, if you admit you haven’t got a clue about what’s happening the reader might think ‘then why have you got the job as reviewer? Give it to someone who does know what’s going on'!  So the alternative response might be to ignore or denigrate the music/artists in order to save your own rep! He might have a point!

KATAN500: So what’s your take on Joe Harriott?
ORPHY:  Joe was of course an inspiration for myself and some of my contemporaries, he was the first to experiment with free form music or a freer type of jazz predating Ornette Coleman's experiments in the late 1950s. He alongside Michael Garrick and their Indo Jazz fusion albums do some of the very first, if not the first album fusing Jazz and Indian music with that kind of "world music" sensibility.  In the 1980s the Jazz Warriors did a memorable tour based on Joe’s music. Before that tour, when touring with Courtney, I also remember him playing to the band a cassette tape with some of Harriott’s music that completely blew my mind at the time because he was someone that I was not aware of before that so hearing about the Jamaican background and the whole Alpha Boys school background in Jamaica resonated with my own background. Whenever I have listened to Steve Williamson on Alto Sax in the past I can make a valid connection between the way that his phrasing might evoke echo’s of Joe’s Style. However Steve’s playing is all about his own extensive harmonic studies with a healthy respect for the past. I was once stopped outside Ronnie Scott’s by a guy who said “Joe Harriott always predicted that a generation was coming up who would put up with no shit, and be good musicians. He would have definitely enjoyed playing music with you guys”.
KATAN500: What was your last tour and who was it with? 

ORPHY: Recent touring has been with Nigel Kennedy the classical violinist. I have been working with him for about four years on various tours playing music by Bach, Vivaldi, Ellington, Hendrix and many more... I'll be recording a new album later this year with him. 
KATAN500: How did you get together with Pat Thomas and Steve Williamson?  
ORPHY: I met Pat  while we were touring with Lawrence Butch Morris and the LMC on the London Skyscraper tour in the late 1990s. We got on well and then and continued working on quite a lot of my own projects and in a lot of different bands ever since. He is a unique individual and player, who's extremely creative as you can see with the great reputation he has internationally. Steve was a natural partner in our endeavour to play the style of music we call Archiac Nubian Stepdub. Steve is a fantastic and special musician, really inspiring and constantly challenging and taking his music forward. His reputation as you can see is well earned. The rapport between the three of us on the album [Black Top #1] and whenever we perform is always a joy, it's why the music we create always feels so special.
KATAN500: Tell me about Black Top...

ORPHY: Black Top is a group put together by myself and Pat Thomas with featured guests for each concert or recording, The idea was to create original music through the use of music from the black experience and technology. The name came about through a misunderstanding when Pat went to say he had created something on his “laptop” but said “Black Top” instead. [KATAN500: ...there're probably people out there thinking it was deep and meaningful...]. We tend to adopt a more avant-garde approach to sound, notes and tones looking for inspiration in the Chicago based Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians approach to improvised music...
KATAN900: I was wondering if the actual process of making the music is as important as the sound. It’s not just the technical skills - though obviously that is a very important part – it’s the relationships between the musicians, and individual musician’s relationship with their instruments and then the creative relationships within the group...
ORPHY: Yes. Every little part of the music-making process is very important but external things are just as important, like hanging out, eating together, talking, its all a part of the over all composition.
KATAN500: What projects have you got on at the moment? You know I've got to ask you about Broken Blossoms...
ORPHY:  There's Jazz Warriors Nexus...and Broken Blossoms. I lead alongside
Cleveland Watkiss the Jazz Warriors International - an organisation that doesn’t only play concerts, but is also involved in event promotions...education. We have a successful monthly event called Nexus - “One World Music”. That we put on at the iconic St Georges Bloomsbury, where we programme musicians who are better known in the Classical and world music areas. We work closely with Newham music hub and a new initiative called the Newham Youth Dub Orchestra taking in students across the borough in early stages of their musical development. I still lead music education projects at the Hackney Empire. I have been there eleven years now. Broken Blossom is one of a number of commissions I have on the go this year, A visually stunning silent movie from early last century written by the infamous D.W. Griffiths of “The Birth of a nation” fame... I've put together a quintet consisting of Byron Wallen, Corey Mwamba, Emi Watanabi and Beibei Wang for the project... Other stuff, I'm producing and musically directing some more commercial projects that will be launched next year. Watch this space.
KATAN900:   If you weren’t a musician what would you be?
ORPHY: A barrister or teacher...
KATAN500: One more thing Orphy what is that long orange thing that you're waving around...
ORPHY: What orange thing is that?
KATAN900: Thank you for being a good sofa sport...

Broken Blossoms

The Vortex Jazz Club with Hackney Co-operative Developments/Gillett Square and Reel Islington present, D. W. Griffith’s 1919 silent masterpiece Broken Blossoms with music scored and performed by Orphy Robinson, with Byron Wallen, Corey Mwamba and Emi Watanabi and Beibei Wang. The event is subject to sufficient funds being raised.There is a crowd funding campaign with a reward incentive for supporters. Please check it out  www.gillettsquare.org.uk

Film and music screening 13 September 2014
Gillett Square, Dalston, N16 8AZ
Time: 8pm. Admission: Free