Andrew Bain is a well-known drummer and teacher. Originally from Edinburgh, he has studied in London and New York and is now contributing his considerable talents and buoyant positive energy to the Birmingham scene. We spoke about his new job, about his upcoming gig this Sunday and about jazz in general.
Q You have recently been appointed as Senior Lecturer at Birmingham Conservatoire. What does your role entail?
A I work full-time for the jazz course looking after all jazz students. My job entails lessons, lecturing, and some pastoral care.
Q There is something of a Scottish contingent in Birmingham now when it comes to jazz musicians. What do you think it is about the jazz scene in Scotland? And what attracts them to Birmingham?
A I have been an artistic director for the National Youth Jazz Orchestra of Scotland for the last ten years working all over Scotland running three ensembles, a summer school, and conducting numerous workshops. I’ve had the pleasure of nurturing various talents that have made their way down here (Jonathan Silk and Richard Foote to name two) and we continue to recruit well from Scotland here at the Conservatoire.
These young Scottish jazz musicians have a warm, open attitude, coupled with a determination to succeed. I think these qualities create successful students and emerging professionals regardless of their destination, but the opportunities this city creates for a student with the above qualities creates a fruitful partnership.
Q Tell me about Player Piano. It’s happening on Sunday and is your first major concert in Birmingham since coming to work here.
A It is a combined tribute, of sorts, to British Jazz and Kurt Vonnegut (the title is a nod to his first novel). Featuring Mike Walker on guitar, Gwilym Simcock on piano, Iain Dixon on saxophone and Steve Watts on double bass, we will be playing a combination of original music by the band members, and music by some late and greatly missed British jazz composers.
It is part of my PhD study at Birmingham City University into spontaneous composition and the process of improvisation, and this Sunday (18 October) we will play exclusively British repertoire. There will be a combination of original compsotions by the band, and some great tunes by Ken Wheeler and John Taylor.
The next instalment will be a US project featuring three good friends, saxophonist Jon Irabagon and bassist Mike Janisch, alongside the legendary pianist George Colligan. It is scheduled for November 2016. Both projects are generously supported by Prof. Tim Wall at Birmingham City University and Jazz Research at BCU.
Q And tell me about the Pure sessions.
A We are in week three of the Pure Sessions (previously Yorks Bakery) and we are enjoying our new home. We have had Jez Franks, Mark Hodgson, Rebecca Nash, Nick Jurd, Arnie Somogyi, and Simon King in so far, with Mike Williams playing next week. We have a pretty diverse audience so far, happy to enjoy the great food and drink, alongside the great music. Upcoming highlights include Calum Gourlay, Trish Clowes, and Andy Panayi.
Q You and Percy Pursglove have always had a strong rapport. How did that come about and develop?
A I’ve known Percy for 15 years. We first played together at the CBSO Centre – coincidentely enough! – when I won BBC Big Band Drummer of the Year 2000, and Percy played in the winning band, Fat Chops. From there we spent time in New York studying and playing together, and we have not stopped since. We share a love of rhythm, vibe, and excellent beer!
Here are some useful links:
And there are full details and booking for Player Piano here.