Still buzzing from the Diáspora gig at M+P's on Thursday. It definitely had a different energy about it this time! In a positive way! It was especially good to play the new originals for the first time. Conundrum is a crazy funk problem which goes around in circles. Sign of Love is uplifting and drenched in sunlight. Superstarlight is altogether different. And probably the longest rendition of Moondance ever! Currently working on some new Timba style compositions plus in May you'll get to hear James' song Emigra. Thanks SO MUCH to everyone for coming down and supporting, It was a real pleasure to play for you all! great vibe, great atmosphere and dancing. Looking forward to more of what 2012 has to offer... Stay tuned!
"Great vibe. Great atmosphere. Great dancing. Matt & Phred's Jazz Club was bumping and grinding on Thursday night... where were YOU???
We all agreed that there was a different energy about the band on Thursday night. In a positive way! Perhaps because we premiered 4 new original compositions, and for the 1st time played a set that was 2/3 originals and 1/3 covers... Diáspora is sounding less like a 'salsa band' and more like a 'band' - it is forming its own identity... Still brilliant on playing traditional and contemporary salsa and Latin jazz, nonetheless, Diáspora is taking the music in a more rootsy, original direction.
How to describe our sound? I'm not so sure... I guess that your average music aficionado will not take immediately to the term 'fusion' and perhaps it is easier to apply hooks such as 'Latin' and 'salsa' to understand where we are coming from... But at the same time, these will instantly strike up comparisons and conventions against which we do not want to be critiqued.
Diáspora is effectively a fun, colourful band that play groovy, funky rhythms and jazzy chords, with catchy soulful melodies and refrains. We play music to make people happy, to make people dance, and to make people feel TRANSPORTED. Yes there are open repeated sections upon which we can unleash the dragon, but there are also transition moments which move the music into another realm!
The music of Diáspora could be essentially a dialogue between Ango-American pop and Afro-Latin rhythms. But it is more than that. We try to encourage a cosmopolitan mix, not only with the musicians who we work with, but in the collision of influences itself. We like to sprinkle in sounds from other destinations from which we've borrowed, but we never like to tell you where these destinations are - we would rather leave that to your imagination!
It's all about creating the sounds and sensations that we and you want to hear and feel, and then fusing it in the sparking dialogues between structure and improvisation...
A bit about the new songs themselves...
Conundrum is a crazy funk problem that goes around in circles. The [C] section of this song is adapted from a composition that I wrote when I was 17 called 'Number 2' which I played with Downfield Jazz Ensemble ('Jazz Cats') during my school days. The [A] and [B] sections came about when I was walking up and down the stairs in my student halls in Fallowfield, Manchester, when I was 22. The [D] section was done in 2010 when I first wrote Conundrum (but it was never performed). I basically put all 4 sections together to create the problem which is why it sounds like 4 completely different compositions in 1.
Lullaby (In Dying Light) was written in half an hour on a beautiful winter sunday, when I should have been out running in the park! It was written late afternoon, while it was getting dark (hence, In Dying Light). Alyss wrote the lyrics which fit the song perfectly!
Superstarlight was originally written when I was around 14 / 15. I was listening to a lot of European / American rock music around that time, which is why the song has a definite rock / pop sound to it, especially with the piano figure in the intro / break sections. I reworked this song in the summer of 2010, but I did not think that it was suitable for Diáspora at the time because of its bittersweet nature. But we decided to risk it, and actually it works great because all the rest of our songs are so happy and upbeat anyway that it makes a nice change to have something that is a bit more mellowed out.
Sign of Love was written in on 30 April last year (2011), the night before that crazy 3-hour 11-piece band gig that we played at Matt & Phred's. We had just been rehearsing the brass section, and I was just playing around on the piano amidst a flat littered with chairs and coffee cups when this song just came to me! 15 minutes later, I had it all scribbled out. I've still got the scribbled mess, but you won't be able to read it! The montuno and breaks sections came later."
The gig featured Alyss Rose (vocals), Rory Duffy (alto saxophone, flute), Andy Stamatakis-Brown (piano), Will McGee (bass), Jack McCarthy (drums) and Arturo Aranguen (congas).
Our friend Grevel Lindop (www.grevel.co.uk) popped by and he said "Great gig last night at Matt and Phred's - so much energy! Keep it going and let's have another gig soon with the whole band! ¡Hay na' ma'!" and we also met M&P new salsa teacher Jordan Toderov.
The band is currently working on 3 timba style compositions (Creeping, Follow Me and Reggae-Reggae-Reggaeton provisional titles) plus in May, you'll get to hear James' song Emigra ("Without your visa you are nothing and no one / they use and abuse you like a dog on the run").
Thanks SO MUCH to everyone for coming down and supporting, it was a real pleasure to play for you all! Looking forward to more of what 2012 has to offer. Stay tuned!
PS - happy April :-)
Great gig last night at Matt and Phred's - so much energy! Keep it going and let's have another gig soon with the whole band! ¡Hay na' ma'!
Just updating you with my latest news...
Diáspora (www.diasporamusic.co.uk) remains my main concentration, as ever. Since Christmas, we have been joined by 2 fabulous new vocalists, Roberta Ana De Francia from Italy and Zee Filho from Brazil. I have been working with them on some new material which we will be performing at venues in London soon!
March 29 will mark the band's 3rd year, and what better way to celebrate than with a long awaited return to Matt & Phred's Jazz Club in Manchester, where we will be premiering 4 new songs ('Conundrum', 'Lullaby', 'Superstarlight' and 'Sign of Love') as well as our funkyfied new arrangement of the jazz classic 'Moondance' with the 6-piece band. This gig will feature the imitable Alyss Rose on vocals, with keys master Andy Stamatakis-Brown, our very own Latin American import Will McGee on bass, and 2 new percussionists Jack McCarthy (kit, timbales) and Venezuelan conguero Arturo Aranguen (congas) - all musicians who I have had the pleasure of playing with in the past, and look forward to playing with at Matt & Phred's.
As always, I'm still working on some writing, whenever I get the time and space (usually during the weekends!)... There are three new salsa compositions in the pipeline, one of them will be entitled 'Reggae-Reggae-Reggaeton'. The other two ('Follow Me' and 'Creeping') are both timba style compositions in 3-2 clave, which will be great fun to play!
In May, the Diáspora 11-piece band will be playing at St Mary's Church, Prestwich (still awaiting confirmation - sign up to the mailing list at www.diasporamusic.co.uk). This gig will feature Alyss Rose and James Vielma on vocals, Misha Gray on piano, Will McGee on bass, Jack McCarthy, Frank Mata and Rosemary Toll on percussion, Olly Syrus on tenor saxophone, Mark Harrison on trumpet and myself on alto saxophone, flute and backing vocals. For advanced, cheaper tickets (£7.50 I think) EMAIL firstname.lastname@example.org or PHONE 07980092311. For this price, you get 2 sets of wonderful salsa, samba, jazz, funk, pop, reggaeton and dancing brought to you by an 11-PIECE Latin funk salsa orquesta!
With Alyss Rose from Diáspora, I have been playing flute with the newly expanded Beleza (www.myspace.com/belezamanchester) Brazilian with a tinge of Manchester Bossa Nova band, with Julian Harris on guitar, Justin Shearn on piano, Holly Prest on cajon and Nicki Dupuy on bass. We have been working on some original material written by Alyss and Julian. My favourites have to be the uplifting 'Miracles' and the beautiful 'Bless the Moment'. Our first gig will be on Saturday March 31 at Chorlton Green Arts Festival. Make sure that you sign up to Alyss' website (www.alyssrose.co.uk) for more information on this developing project.
With smaller ensembles, I have been working with Italian guitarist Giovanni Capiocco, who you are probably familiar with from the Dalston Gypsy Jazz trio (www.facebook.com/DalstonTrio), on some Bossa Nova, acoustic Latin and jazz repertoire which we will be taking to some London venues very soon!
In London, I have also been playing piano with the absolutely fabulous charismatic jazz/cabaret vocalist Claire Benjamin, with whom I have also been recording some demo material, and we will be working on some arrangements of jazz classics and theatrical original material in due course!
As ever, I have also been busy with private bookings for the jazz quartet and Latin trio. The quintet gig at Cloud 23 Bar, Hilton Hotel, with KLM Airways and Air France, went down a treat! So there you have it, a roundup of my latest happenings. And there will be more dates to get into your diaries, so stay tuned...
RED & BLACK MUSIC