The Mike Fletcher Trio – Mike on saxophones and flute, Olie Brice on double bass and Jeff Williams on drums – have been on tour round some of Europe’s finest concert halls over the past months. It’s all part of Mike’s year as a European Concert Halls Organisation (ECHO) Rising Star.
They have played in London, Baden-Baden, Hamburg, Barcelona, Budapest, Dortmund, Stockholm and Brussels so far, and on Wednesday next week – 13 May – they come home to perform in Birmingham Town Hall before their last date in Lisbon.
I asked Mike what he has learnt on his travels?
“One of the things I’ve discovered by playing in concert halls rather than the pubs and clubs that are my usual fare is the potential for interacting with the natural sound of the room.
“A typical 1,000 seat hall has an acoustic created specifically to enhance the natural sound of an instrument – so much so that in some of the halls we’ve played in I’ve felt like the sound was actually being lifted out of my sax rather than me having to push it out.
“This has affected the way we play as a trio. Especially in the most recent performances, I have noticed a collective sensitivity to the nuances in our sound has influenced and guided the way the improvisations unfold, which has given us a broader palette to play with.”
And with that opportunity to play so many concerts around the Continent is that the band has built up a “hinterland”, as Mike explains:
“Something I am especially interested in at the moment is the way that, as a group, we can draw on all of our previous performances of a piece when performing. Having played together with such relative frequency over the last few months this has become even more evident. Therefore, when we play we are simultaneously responding to the music as it occurs in real time, the situation we find ourselves in – i.e. the room, audience, etc – and the experiential history of performance.”
So what will we hear next Wednesday?
“In addition to the evolution of the previous material, I have also been writing a new piece inspired by each of the venues we have visited, so the set list is gradually changing and evolving too.
“The sum total of all of this is that anyone familiar with the record – and who has heard the trio previously – will find a lot of new things in our performances of the older pieces, as well as much new material.”
So even if you heard the band at the CBSO Centre in February, near the start of all these new experiences happened, you are probably in for a surprise or two. And that’s what jazz should be all about, isn’t it?
- The Mike Fletcher Trio plays Birmingham Town Hall at 7.30pm on Wednesday 13 May. For more details and to book your tickets for this Jazzlines concert, go here.
- Their CBSO set is reviewed here, and the band’s debut release, Vuelta, on Stoney Lane Records, is reviewed here.
And in the meantime here is an excellent video from that February CBSO Centre concert: