On Friday the second of the Jazzlines Fellowship showcases at the CBSO Centre in Birmingham features the Lluis Mather Nonet.
Over the past year saxophonist and composer Lluis has been developing his music for a larger ensemble and his core quartet – with Holly Thomas on vocals, Dan Nicholls on piano and Euan Palmer on drums – is augmented not only by fellow tenor saxophonist Julian Siegel but also, for part of the programme, by a wind quartet of Finn Peters on flute, George Crowley on clarinet, Lucie Tibbits on oboe and Tom Corin on bassoon.
Lluis, a Birmingham Conservatoire graduate, is a familiar figure on the Birmingham jazz scene, not only leading his own bands but as a sideman in many others. In the last year he has been part of the Hans Koller Ensemble playing music composed or arranged by Mike Gibbs. The band played high profile concerts in Birmingham and London as well as at the 2013 Cheltenham Jazz Festival.
In the past his compositions often featured innovative use of the voice and poetry in jazz. A listen on Bandcamp to Offering, a preview track from his soon to be released album, The Trees, reveals a rich, atmospheric, almost classical soundscape: a wash of horns and voice against piano and cymbal punctuation forming a backdrop to a slowly arcing Mather tenor saxophone solo.
Lluis constructs his improvisations in a quiet, considered manner, his way with harmony and melody almost formal, but with an air of searching and inquiry about it. They have a muted but heartfelt emotion that can be mesmerising.
Lluis is reluctant to talk about what his music might mean or what influences him. And why should he? The music speaks for itself. But he’s much more forthcoming on discussing what being a Jazzlines Fellow over the last 12 months has meant for him.
“The Fellowship, and Tony Dudley-Evans, my mentor for the year, have given me the moral and financial support to be able to dedicate myself fully to music again. Over the year I have written between 20 and 30 compositions/studies, and will have finished an album – The Trees, with Julian, Holly, Dan and Euan – in May.
“I’m looking for a new instrument to replace my battered second-hand student Yanagisawa which I am still playing. I have had it practically since birth but never had the money to buy a better one.
“I have also been able to put this wind quintet project into motion, which I am also recording.
“Overall, I have been able to make sure I am able to keep this sustainable, and was successful in getting paid musical work which will mean I can continue working on my personal musical development more easily in the future. The latest update is that I have been accepted on to a Masters programme to study music composition from October.
“The list goes on and on… it has been a really fulfilling and liberating year, the majority of which couldn’t have happened without the support and I am really very grateful for it.”
The musical results of Lluis’s year, on the evidence of Offering, sound very exciting indeed.
- The Lluis Mather Nonet is at the CBSO Centre in Berkley Street at 8pm on Friday, tickets are £12 and there is more here.
- And you can hear Offering, from The Trees, here.