Friday 15 March 2013

The Friday Interview: Phil Meadows

Saxophonist Phil Meadows has been involved in the Northern jazz scene for quite some time. He started out studying at Chethams Music School in Manchester and went on to complete his BA Jazz at Leeds College of Music. During that time, he led his own groups that played across the North, was involved in high profile performances with visiting musicians to LCoM, was a finalist in the Keep An Eye on Jazz Soloist Competition in Amsterdam and ran a successful jazz night at The Wardrobe in Leeds. He has maintained this momentum since leaving Leeds to move to London, first to complete his Masters degree at Trinity Laban and now where he lives and works as a freelance musician.

How's life in London - what's keeping you busy?

Life in London so far has been very inspiring. At first it was a struggle but the kind nature of the scene down here offers some great support by a network of highly talented musicians. I've been here around 18 months now and everyone is up for getting together to play all the time and I am still making new friends every time I head into town. It's a great city to be a part of and I should know, I used to live in Yorkshire! 

For my first year down here I studied a postgraduate degree at Trinity Laban where I was awarded the 'Arches Scholarship' to study; the course down here has such a great reputation that I couldn't say no and since finishing the course in a fast-track 12 months and since I have been enjoying life as a freelance musician. My latest group the 'Phil Meadows Group' perform my original music and is my main focus at the moment. I can also be seen playing with the National Youth Jazz Orchestra as well as having the pleasure of being the musical director of their jazz and improvisation workshop 'NYJO London'. I also enjoy my journalism too as I write regularly for JazzUK magazine. I like to keep as busy as possible.
You're involved in a lot of different areas of jazz - you perform and compose, you teach, you write articles for Jazz UK and other places. Is that diversity a conscious decision? Do you enjoy being involved in all of those areas and do you think it's beneficial?

As a freelance musician diversity is par for the course but it is also something that I have always encouraged within my creative outlet. I try to keep proactive and create as many opportunities to work in as broad a variety of situations as possible. I am very fortunate to enjoy the hand my career has dealt me so far and hope never to take advantage; there's nothing better than waking up knowing that today will be different to both the last and the next and it keeps me on my toes! As long as I can share my love of music to as many people as possible I'll be more than happy and I enjoy performance, education and journalism alike. 
You're in Leeds next week presenting a paper at the Jazz Conference. Can you tell me a bit about the topic of the paper and your reason for focusing on it?

This is my first time presenting a paper but as education is such a passion of mine I couldn't resist submitting a proposal. Entitled 'Do UK jazz Conservatoire students sound 'British' and does it really matter?' the paper tries to tackle what constitutes the the British 'sound' and asks the question whether it is actually possible to sound British at all? Challenging archetypal structures, the history of recording and current high quality jazz education the paper breaks down course structures from the Royal Academy of Music, Guildhall School of Music and Dance and Trinity Laban and compares these with the thoughts of the course leaders and current students. It's only preliminary research at the moment but it has flagged up some very interesting points and I am looking forward to sharing these at the conference and hopefully researching them further in the future.

What are your plans for 2013?

2013 is set to be my most exciting year to date! At the end of March I will be hitting the studio with the my group and I can't wait to record my music alongside some of my favourite musicians. The outcome is set for release in June ahead of an 8 date UK launch tour. So far with the band I have had the pleasure of visiting a number of cities but with the help of Jazz Services we are now able to hit the road and play at some of our favourite venues old and new including the wonderful Seven Arts on the 30th June. However, if you can't wait until then we're also at JATP in Bradford this Friday (15th) previewing some of the album material, it would be great to see you there and know what you think! More information to be released soon...

Tell me about a musician you're excited about at the moment.

I was recently on a gig with bassist Gary Crosby and we got talking about who we were listening to at the moment - as all jazz obsessives do! I was talking all about my love of Dave Binney and Tigran Hamasyan and he threw another alto player my way who I can't stop listening to. I feel I may be a bit slow on finding his music but he's called Miguel Zenon. He's well known for playing with the SFJazz Collective but has some great albums of his own music including one called 'Reyula' that has been on repeat all week.

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