Saturday, 22 December 2012

Ollie Howell Quintet debut - Day1

Ollie Howell - drums
Just a few short days after Ollie Howell won the Peter Whittingham Development Award I was lucky enough to find myself at Clown Pocket's Studio with his quintet. I'd only sketched Ollie once before (Hideaway's Monday Jam) and to my embarrassment knew nothing of his tunes. As Ollie started to warm-up he explained to me why I'd been kept in the dark.
Since meeting his mentor, Quincy Jones, in 2010 his life has been punctuated with several operations, lengthy hospital stays and periods of recuperation. To my surprise he was remarkably positive about the experience -

" I found new inspiration for my compositions, and was writing in a very different way to how I previously had done. Now the compositions mean much more to me than just notes and chords. Many of the tunes that will be on the CD were actually written in my hospital bed!
The music chronicles a really life-changing point in my life, but it is also a statement about how positivity and determination can overcome anything."

Matt Robinson

Max Luthert
 It is one of the perks of an artist's job that I can attend these recording sessions and familiarise myself with the music and the musicians. Derek Nash's excellent studio is split into 3 main rooms/booths and so I worked my way through them listening and sketching. Another member of the quintet I'd never heard before was Matt Robinson. He was crammed behind Derek's Steinway which was bizarrely covered in a Zebra skin style rug. His style was laid back and understated but as the intensity increased he asserted himself on the compositions and his tongue flicked out of his mouth like a rudder in a stormy sea.
On Bass, Saxophone and Trumpet were Max Luthert, Duncan Eagles and Mark Perry who have become regular collaborators in recent years.
 In fact Mr Luthert and I are showing our first film together at the British Shorts Exhibition in Berlin (Sputnik Kino) this January.

Mark Perry
Under the dramatic studio lighting Luthert came alive as the first tune of the day, World Apart, kicked into life. I was sealed into the booth and could hear through the triple glazed glass as Mark Perry cried "I'm going to go mental at the end of my solo". And he did.

I then ventured into Eagles and Perry's lair. Perry has a perpetual twinkle in his eye and with Eagles maintained a constant double act throughout the next hour. He joked (or declared) " I play the first 8 bars of what Ollie's written and then ignore the rhythm and the chords and play whatever I want."

Duncan Eagles
 Duncan Eagles, was physically under the weather but I knew he was on top musical form when his left shoulder bucked into life like a kicking mule. A great indicater of his dedication and commitment to the music.
We then spent many hours as Derek Nash masterfully carressed the quintet recording. Day 1 resulted in 7 tunes - World apart, So close so far, Later on, They, Dear old Stockholm, Hollow Victory and Beyond.

I'll be writing up Day 2 tomorrow.


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