Of all the projects we have done this is perhaps the most traditional in the sense that we got together and played compositions. Some of Gress’s, some of Maggi’s and some of my tunes. Nevertheless, we approached the task in the same manner as in our previous collaborations. From my own point of view playing with Drew was both the easiest thing I’ve ever done and also the most difficult. Playing with Katt Hernandez, for example, was easy because there is a relative openness in the approach. Not that anything goes, but almost everything is negotiable. Drew comes out of a long and strong jazz tradition that has its rules and its traditions and out of that tradition he has established his own aesthetic in a way that is very specific yet very open. In order to fully understand his approach, I felt I had to also understand where he was coming from.
Luckily, Drew was easy to work with and shared a lot of stories about his past and current musical collaborations. Also, through his music the process became more and more transparent. For myself one of the key clues came when he brought in a hand written tune titled Vespar. Not only was it a clear reference to a more jazz oriented aesthetic, it had a clear reference to one of the key figures in re-structuring jazz in contemporary harmony and melody, namely Kenny Wheeler. Hence, to me this tune brought a understanding to, not only how to play his compositions, but also to how to play with him.
Thanks to support from Musikverket we are able to invite the fabulous bass player Drew Gress to participate in our ongoing exploration of what jazz is, what it can be and, most importantly, what it is for us.
We are currently booking concerts in Sweden but as usual, our fokus is on the process rather than the result. On finding out what Gress’ concept is and how we can learn from him while staying true to our own aesthetics.