606 CLUB INTERVIEW: IVO NEAME
ESCAPE HATCH featuring IVO NEAME, ANDREA DI BIASE, DAVE HAMBLETT with special guest KENNY WHEELER
1. Tell us about the Escape Hatch project and how you came to be working with Dave Hamblett & Andrea Di Biase.
3. Kenny plays in a number of different groups and settings. How is this particular combination of players and material distinctive? How does your playing in this context differ stylistically from say your role in the group Phronesis or your own bands?
I suppose the key thing in a band is the people who are coming with the material. I like it when everyone contributes to the writing - it feels more democratic. Dave, Andrea and I have been playing for a while now and we have a good symbiosis. I try and play the same way in this context as in any other. Keeping it fresh, stretching the material and finding different ways to weave in and around the compositions. At times very hectic, at others serene. I think that's the great thing about it - you surrender yourself to the moment.
4. Kenny Wheeler recently celebrated his 83rd birthday. When he started out in the early 1950's, jazz was in its golden age, with legends such as Miles, Coltrane and Monk leading the creative charge. How do you think jazz music has changed since then, both in terms of sound and its cultural relevance? Is it in decline, or just in a process of ongoing reinvention?
Jazz is still alive, I'm glad to say. Lots of people just don't like it and they don't want to change their minds about that. You can't start evangelising to people and get them to change the habits of a lifetime. If you wanted to start getting the people who don't like jazz to like jazz you would probably have to have a world revolution or something like that...We just need another word for the kind of music that people play today. The word Jazz has too many connotations and they can be good or bad depending on who you are.
5. Following on from that, some of the more interesting artists in the jazz world coming up today have embraced a diverse set of influences, artists including Vijay Iyer, Taylor Eigsti, Ambrose Akinmusire, Nicholas Payton, Esperanza Spalding etc. Who do you listen to these days, who do you admire?
There's so many great bands and musicians - where do you start? Just off the top of my head - Claudia Quintet, David Binney, Keith Jarrett, Farmers Market, Bill Frisell, Mats Eilertsen, Bobo Stenson, tons of British jazz - Django Bates, John Taylor, Julian Arguelles, Chris Batchelor. People like Glenn Gould, Stevie Wonder, A Tribe Called Quest, The Beach Boys, Paul Simon, Led Zeppelin - all sorts really.
6. Back in the day, it was a tradition in jazz for young players to get their start coming up in established bands. Now a young musician is just as or more likely to attend a top notch prestigious music college. What are the pluses and/or minuses to the music college model in your opinion? What have you learned directly from older players, say a Kenny Wheeler or someone like him or her, when you’ve had the opportunity to play with them that you might not have discovered otherwise?
I would say it's a shame that it doesn't work in the apprenticeship way, which is the way it used to work in the old days of jazz. The good thing about music college is that you can meet a lot of like-minded, talented people who are the same age as you and hopefully you can form a band and start playing around. The negative side is the sheer numbers - there are many people coming out of jazz courses sounding great, but unfortunately there just aren't enough places to play regularly. It's just supply massively outstripping demand.
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