From ’Tibetan Dixie’ to ‘Papa Carlo’, from ‘Night Music’ to ‘Then This’, a major focus in my compositions has always been the creation of a space, where all ensemble members can freely contribute to the evolving music.
This is especially evident in works where improvisation is a core element. Here I see myself as the facilitator of a musical roadmap, where detours and excursions are highly desired.
Tone and mood are set by the thematic material, which can be quirky, melancholic or rhythmically driven. A playful engagement with traditional musical language - not just jazz - adds an element of lightness, without turning into farce. We smile with the music not laugh at the music.
No matter what the stylistic setting may be, the melody is always at the heart of my writing - possibly a little unexpected from a drummer-composer.
Improvisation is based on trust and listening. When performing with virtuosos such as Mirko Guerrini, Tony Hicks and Stephen Magnusson, passages of individual brilliance are ‘inevitable’, but they are always in balance with the music of the ensemble, which is paramount.
The musical connections between the four members of ‘Then This’ reach back a long time - I first worked with Stephen and Tony in the early 1990s and started playing intensively with Mirko in 2013.
When performing with musicians of this calibre I feel, no matter what I do, it will be alright. Everyone plays for everyone and we all play for the music.