'No man is an island'. This popular quote by John Donne holds a particular truth in my experience as a musician. Besides the obvious parallel in terms of performing in a group context, over the years I have been inspired, motivated, comforted and even dependent, on being a small part of one of many 'scenes' in London and beyond. Musicians learn from each other, practice and perform together, and also hang out together, discussing everything from politics to practice patterns and sharing music and experience. Thankfully in London there is an abundance of amazing, generous musicians, and the 'Fours' project is a series of recordings representing a fraction of the 'scene' I find myself drawn to. This week I turn the spotlight to...
I've had the pleasure of knowing Tom since we were just starting out at Guildhall. I have learnt a lot with, because of, and from Tom since then and it pleases me greatly to see him go from strength to strength in such an eclectic range of settings. It is no surprise. Tom's passion for music was obvious when we were at college, often dragging me to 5+ gigs and jam sessions a week, and his inquisitive mind and broad tastes apparent as he would explain his transcriptions of Vijay Iyer or Kurt Rosenwinkel in between sharing his enthusiasm for recordings of Ahmed Jamal or Nat King Cole, to name but a few. It is no wonder that he has gone on to be a quarter of the award winning quartet Empirical, one of the most consummate and progressive jazz quartets in the country, and become an in demand sideman for acts as varied as Dice Factory, Ant Law, Anoushka Shankar, Big Screen Trio, Joe Stilgoe, Anthony Strong etc.
Personally the thing I love about performing with Tom is his servitude to the music at all times, helped by a deep and wide understanding coupled with impeccable decision making. He is also an incredibly melodic and succinct soloist. Check out his solo on 'We See' from the 'Fours' record where he switches from melodic fragments to a more textural walk, and back again, arriving at some great memorable phrases.
If you haven't had the chance to hear Empirical, I strongly recommend that you do so. Here is a video as a taster of what to expect, with Tom et al discussing their latest album 'Connection'
Explore from the band at empiricalmusic.com
I am pleased and grateful that Tom performs on 'Fours' Vol. I alongside Hannes Riepler and Dave Ingamells