Over the past decade, the Baltic Triangle has stood as a cultural force within Liverpool, consistently pushing the boundaries of creativity in arts, culture and digital media – to name but a few areas. Despite this, what has often been found lacking; amid an abundance of electronic music festivals, art exhibitions and a melting-pot of different creative spaces, is jazz music. Nestled amongst the Georgian Quarter’s many pubs and Hope Street’s much-loved bars, jazz in Liverpool is becoming an increasingly popular go-to throughout the week. There is however, a jazz void that exists within the Baltic Triangle – Enter, a season-long residency at Constellations for the Sam Jones Quartet!
Having frequented a number of these popular hang-outs, both as a performer and an observer, Sam Jones is all too aware of how fast the scene is growing. Often jumping in on jam sessions wherever he can find them, Sam has performed everywhere from festivals to the city streets. An artist who is just as comfortable behind a drum kit or a piano as he is producing electronic music, Sam’s diversity as a musician ensures that his sound is like no other. Curating a four-man band consisting of drums, bass, trumpet and keys, the newly formed Sam Jones Quartet will be making their debut appearance at Constellations on Thursday 4th October as part of the Live Music Thursdays series.
“I’ve been playing instruments for about 10 or 12 years now. I play all sorts; drums, clarinet, flute, guitar, bass, piano and I also make electronic music which you can find on Soundcloud under my ‘Tap-In’ alias. I’ve not been in many bands because I’ve spent much of my musical life noodling away on a computer, jamming with various people, going to festivals and trying to get on different stages. This project with Constellations is the first time I’ve been given free reign over the curation of a band.”
A “working title of a band name”, Sam is quick to explain that the group of musicians behind this latest project are some of the most exciting on the Liverpool jazz circuit:
“I’ve managed to get a lovely piano player called Max O’Hara; he’s an amazing talent and great guy. He’s recognised for playing in Frederiks and he also plays keys in Galactic Funk Militia – we’re going to be playing a fair few of his own licks and riffs throughout the show.
We’ve also got our bassist, Pablo. He also plays Frederiks quite a lot. Pablo moved over here from Spain and wanted to get playing around as fast as possible. He also practices all the time! I first met him only very soon after he moved here; I busked with him in a drumming project called ‘Our Neck of the Woods’ that I’m involved with – It’s essentially a free-form, unchoreographed drum circle.
Last but not least, we have Tony Pearce. He is a resident trumpet player at The Grapes. If you’ve ever been to The Grapes on a Sunday, you’ve heard Tony on the trumpet! He will be joining us from November and hopefully onwards from there. There will also be a whole host of different musical guests joining us throughout the residency.”
A cornucopia of different sounds, rhythms and styles, jazz music can be heard in many forms across the city: “For this residency, we’re basically going to be playing groove-based jazz tunes. We’re all really into the likes of Haitus Kaiyote and The Cinematic Orchestra. I’m also really influenced by more prog-based works like John Hopkins but you may only hear that later on in the residency, once we’ve been jamming a bit! I may even play some synth in the near future…
…My electronic music production and jazz work are very much one of the same thing. Being a multi-instrumentalist without financial support, I’ve found it quite hard to execute a lot of the ideas I have, musically. I’ve been playing piano for 6 or 7 years now and I’ve only just got myself a piano. Similarly, I’ve been playing drums for 12 years but only in the past year have I got a drum kit. But, with limitation comes creativity and learning, I think electronic music production allows me to push through these limitations.”
With jazz music currently undergoing a massive renaissance across the UK, Sam’s marriage of electronic and live instrumentalism exemplify the grounds upon which this burgeoning scene has been built. Tragically viewed as an archaic genre of music by many, the rebirth of British jazz has been largely built upon the foundations of electronic and urban music. Community engagement is the key behind this renewed proliferation of the genre. Working to cement this ethos, Sam’s involvement with the ‘Our Neck of the Woods’ drumming group has taken musical education to the streets. Often found around Liverpool One and other parts of town, the project encourages children to become involved in music as a form of self-expression.
You can catch the first of Sam and his band’s performances on Thursday 5th October at Constellations, where they will performing monthly throughout the autumn and winter. If you are unable to attend, you can catch the performance, in its entirety, live on Melodic Distraction Radio and after-the-fact on Mixcloud.
For a flavour of what’s to come, be sure to check out the various band members most recent productions below…