Friday, February 15, 2013

Gig Preview - Matt Anderson Wild Flower Sextet

"thinking of misty landscapes with wild flowers and strange, dimly-seen shapes…”
Wayne Shorter about ‘Speak No Evil’

After winning the Jazz Yorkshire young musician of the year in 2010 Matt Anderson is becoming well known on the Leeds jazz scene both as a side man in Kate Peters Septet, Jiannis Pavlidis Quartet and Jamie Taylor Quartet and as a leader of his own quartet.

Matt has moved on to the music of Wayne Shorter with his new band ‘Wild Flower’

Wild Flower Sextet: Celebrating Wayne Shorter are:
Matt Anderson – Tenor Saxophone
Mark Chandler/Laura Jurd – Trumpet/Flugelhorn
Alex Munk – Electric Guitar
Jamil Sheriff – Piano
Sam Vicary – Double-Bass
Dave Walsh – Drums

Ahead of the first full band gig at Seven Arts I caught up with Matt in a Leeds coffee shop to chat about his new project ‘Wildflower’

Mark Beirne-Smith – Most of your music as a leader has been your original pieces, why change to interpret and arrange the music of someone else?
Matt Anderson – In playing jazz there is always this question of balancing between the great jazz tradition and your own more original music and ideas. I’m always trying to straddle this gap and keep both things in the picture, and I felt I could still express my own thoughts and ideas through someone else’s music.

Mark Beirne-Smith – Why the music of Wayne Shorter? 
Matt Anderson – Wayne Shorter has always been a huge influence on me as a saxophonist, composer and improviser. There aren’t as many ‘tributes’ to him as other saxophonists like Coltrane, perhaps because his tunes are often quite complex and odd, and I felt I was reaching a point where I wanted to play more swing-based, straight-ahead jazz whilst not missing out on all that great contemporary harmony. When you add to that the huge body of work that Wayne has produced during his lifetime, he seemed like the perfect choice!

Mark Beirne-Smith – Is this to be a mix of Wayne Shorter music or from a specific period? Will it include some written by the band?
Matt Anderson - I wanted to avoid the easy route of just picking tunes from the periods I know best, e.g. his 60’s Blue Note albums and his work with the Miles Davis Quintet, so I’ve also incorporated tunes from earlier when he was working with Art Blakey in the Jazz Messengers and just starting to find his compositional voice, as well as later with Weather Report. Shorter tunes make up about half the repertoire of the band, and the other half are original compositions.

Mark Beirne-Smith – Does playing the music of someone who is still alive give a different perspective to the interpretation of the music? How has this affected the approach you have taken?
Matt Anderson – I think it does, especially with Wayne because he is producing some of the best music of his career right now – I consider the new Wayne Shorter Quartet album ‘Without a Net’ pretty much the cutting edge of the music. I wanted to take a similar approach to Herbie Hancock when he put together his ‘Directions in Music’ tribute to Miles Davis and John Coltrane – he said ‘
the idea was not to recreate original Miles and Trane recordings but to evoke anew the creative spirit and boundary-breaking that was the hallmark of their genius.’ As such, I feel I can’t just transcribe his music and play the tunes note-for-note, but instead try to use for example more modern approaches to rhythm and metre to create fresh re-interpretations of the compositions.

Mark Beirne-Smith – In arranging this music do you feel, after nearly 50 years from some of the original recording, you will be bringing something present to the arrangements?
Matt Anderson – Yes, for example the rhythmic language of today is quite different from those 60’s Blue Note recordings so we can play around with odd-metres, metric modulations (tempo changes) and layering up polyrhythms. I wanted to keep it swing-based though, and I suppose the influence for a lot of that stuff comes from Brad Mehldau and his trio.

Mark Beirne-Smith – Is it viable to run a sextet in this day and age of arts council cuts?
Matt Anderson – Not really! The sextet is a kind of ‘special occasion’ line-up – I think in reality we’ll mostly gig as a quartet, with the sextet an option for bigger promoters or festivals. I am also running workshops alongside some of the gigs to subsidise them.

Mark Beirne-Smith – Do you intend to record this set or are you keeping this just for live performance?
Matt Anderson – I am recording the Seven Arts gig and organising some video, so depending on how that turns out I should be able to put some more material out online in the next few weeks.

Mark Beirne-Smith – Next gig? Tour?
Matt Anderson – With this band it’s Seven Jazz this Sunday 24th Feb, and that’s the full sextet. After that I’m doing a few dates with Jiannis Pavlidis (25/2 Sela, 13/3 Matt n’ Phreds) and the Wild Flower Quartet is also playing at Sela on the 25th March. There are more dates on my website at

I am sure that there will be many dimly seen shapes at Seven Jazz on the 24th February in the audience, if you wish to join them there are more details here ttp://

And of course Matt’s website has full details of where he is gigging and some clips to listen to and watch. From what I have heard so far Wild Flower is a fresh approach to Wayne Shorters earlier music yet faithful to the original feel. It would be interesting to have some comments from those that have seen the band live.


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