During my time as Concert Promotions and Marketing intern at Turner Sims (if you’re in the Southampton area, make sure to check out their concert series!) I got to interview a lot of great artists. You can check out my interviews and reviews on the Turner Sims blog, as well as here on The Rosie Word.
I will be uploading interviews in a series called “Musical Chats with…”, so stay tuned for more interviews with great artists!
I got the chance to interview jazz saxophonist and composer Mark Lockheart ahead of his appearance at Turner Sims back in October. Mark and his band performed a reduced version of his new major jazz/orchestral work titled Days On Earth for jazz sextet and 30-piece orchestra. Make sure to check it out here.
I chatted to Mark about his inspirations and influences, as well as his composition style!
RS: How would you describe Days on Earth for audience members who haven’t heard it before?
ML: Days On Earth is a suite of music combining jazz and classical techniques. This performance is a very different version of the music recorded on the CD which came out in Jan 2019. The 36 -piece line-up on the recording is reduced here to 8 instrumentalists and although keeping the essence of the recording is probably more fluid and open musically.
RS: It definitely comes across as very fluid – there are many eclectic influences brought together. What were some of your main influences and inspiration for this work in particular?
ML: I wanted to follow my instinct when writing this music and not worry what style or genre it was heading. As a result I think there’s lots of varied inspirations from all kinds of places from composers like Gil Evans, Stravinsky and Bacharach to the music I played in Polar Bear and Perfect Houseplants for so many years. Obviously it’s jazz but also there are many contemporary classical techniques in there along with folk and world influences too.
RS: The Times commented that it is the ‘strength of melodies that marks [Days on Earth] out from the mass of Brit Jazz.’ Do you tend to gravitate towards melody first when you are writing your music?
ML: I probably do gravitate towards melody quite strongly with this project but the grooves and rhythms that Seb and Tom provide are really important. I also spent along time experimenting with orchestration to get the most effective combinations of textures and moods with the instruments I had at my disposal , that was really fun and a big learning curve for me.
RS: You’re collaborating with a fantastic group of musicians for this project. How did these collaborations come about?
ML: All the musicians involved in this project are special collaborators on many projects not just mine over the years. Seb and Tom were my partners in Polar Bear and throughout the 13 years together we got used to each other’s playing and approaches. I worked also with Liam Noble a lot on my own music in the last 10 years and it feels like he has a great understanding for the way I approach things. The front line instruments too are either old or new friends and they all have their own very distinct voices which is important to me.
RS: And finally, what would your dream day off be?
ML: Probably to not have to think about either practising or composing for a day or two, maybe a trip and walk in the country somewhere nice with a curry at the end!
RS: Sounds perfect! Thank you very much for your time, Mark.