Jazz on a Summer’s Night

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The Will Barnes Quartet will play in Soho, the historic heart of London’s Jazz scene, during their UK tour.

Will Barnes (guitar) is joined by James Batten (drums), Jack Gonsalez (piano) and Clovis Phillips (bass) – a tight collective of experienced jazz instrumentalists from rural Wales. Presenting songs from their acclaimed debut album, ‘Source of the Severn’, an exploration of the rugged landscape of Mid Wales and the Marches. Expect music that reflects the rural isolation of their home with roots that penetrate bebop, post-bop and contemporary jazz. Original compositions are punctuated by inventive reworkings of pop, rock and jazz standards for an eclectic evening of improvised music.

A consummate guitarist, Will’s technical brilliance is matched with an innate and versatile musicality. At home with reggae collectives, gypsy jazz virtuosos or heavy metal riff merchants, Will’s playing always shines with its formidable prowess yet deft touch, and his infectious ability to whip up a fervour. He can effortlessly and delicately put his hand to the most technical solo guitar pieces, or rip it up with super-funky soul inspired groove. His versatility and virtuosity combine to produce solos with unpredictable excitement, as he draws from his rich palate of influences.

Three albums that have influenced Will’s playing include:

Night Train, Oscar Peterson Trio (1963) 

Jim Hall & Pat Metheny, Jim Hall and Pat Metheny (1999) 

Midnight Blue, Kenny Burrell (1963) 

Clovis Phillips is a player who displays a deep understanding of harmony, rhythm, and melody. A congruous player with a knack for delivering exactly what is required. However, don’t be fooled into thinking taste is all that’s on offer, he has the chops to stand toe-to-toe with the most accomplished of soloists. Having started out on cello 26 years ago at just 6 years old, an early education sitting in on folk sessions and learning Beatles records note for note developed a keen ear that would later see him through an MA in Music at Goldsmiths. As well as jazz bass, Clovis is a multi-instrumentalist and producer who runs a successful studio in Mid Wales and has worked with the likes of Jeb Loy Nichols, Michael Weston King, Gail Davies and Jerry deCicca. 

His eclectic influences range from Ry Cooder and The Mighty Sparrow to Miles Davis and beyond. If you don’t believe me, check out his top jazz inspired LP picks below: 

Ella and Louis, Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong (1956) 

Getz/Gilberto, João Gilberto and Stan Getz (1964) 

Manzanita, Tony Rice (1979)

With a family background in classical music and 12 years studying piano, at just 21 years old Jack Gonsalez can already boast performances in the UK and overseas including the Brisbane Jazz Club, Australia. This is testament to the young man’s impressive sense of musicality, harmony and feel. Jack states influences as Oscar Peterson, Herbie Hancock and Red Garland which speaks volumes when you consider this is a player who pays homage to the swing and feel of the original masters but with a harmonic leaning that keeps his sound fresh and modern. Get to know Jack a little better by listening to three of his favourite jazz records:

Head Hunters, Herbie Hancock (1973) 

We Live Here, Pat Metheny Group (1995) 

Buddy DeFranco and Oscar Peterson Play George Gershwin (1954) 

James is a musician originally from Newport (South Wales) but now residing in the heart of the Welsh marches. Growing up surrounded by an eclectic mix of musical and artistic influences from his parents, it wasn’t long before the urge to create took hold. Despite his first instrument being the piano, James soon picked up a pair of sticks and at the age of 10 his journey into jazz drumming began. He’s a sought-after session musician who has performed with a cleft of successful bands, ranging in styles from dub reggae to big-band, and just about everything in-between. His energetic style breathes fire into arrangements with a raft of explosive chops juxtaposed against moments of sparse minimalism. He certainly has the talent to impress and the maturity to deliver only when the time is right. 

It was whilst playing on a session produced by Will that the two of them first met and although in position as pianist/vocalist at the time, James’ adamant claims of being more of a jazz drummer than a pianist resonated with Will. The two crossed paths again after an initiation from Clovis who had worked with James in various live settings. 

Some of James’s broad range of musical influences include the highly rhythmic works of GoGo Penguin, Snarky Puppy, and Shubh Saran. Find yourself a strong coffee, a dark room and have a listen to some of James’ favourite albums:  

What Kinda Music, Tom Misch (2020) 

Mockroot, Tigran Hamasyan (2015) 

From Gagarin’s Point of View, Esbjörn Svensson Trio (1999)

Pizza Express, 10 Dean Street, Soho, W1D 3RW. July 21st, 6.30 – 11pm.


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