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Improvising together for new album

Mon 4 May 2020

1:3:5:7 Improvised Duos sees music staff, alum and students unite

A musical adventure blending percussion, jazz and improvisation, 1:3:5:7 Improvised Duos is the new digital release from Head of Composition Dominic Murcott

He is joined by four superb improvisers: trumpeter, alum and composition tutor Laura Jurd, saxophonist, PhD student and jazz composition tutor Tom Challenger, pianist and Head of Jazz Hans Koller, and violinist and Head of CoLab Joe Townsend.

 1:3:5:7 Improvised Duos record cover featuring an octopus

Created over four short recording sessions, each of the album’s 16 improvised pieces is either one, three, five or seven minutes long.

Dominic explains –

“The idea behind it was a simple question: if we know exactly how long the section is going to be, will it influence the material in each? For example, is the first gesture of a three-minute improvisation different to that of a seven-minute one?

“Like many musicians who make their living from a multitude of activities, I am always trying to balance drawn-out creative processes with rapid bursts of energy. This is very much a rapid burst project.”

On working with these four musicians, Dominic continues –

“I am lucky enough to have many friends who are great musicians, each with a very particular style. I’m also a sound engineer, so I was able to call upon collaborators with whom I was personally very comfortable and record, mix and master this recording myself. The process has therefore been intimate and as simple as it could possibly be.”

Joe Townsend, one of the featured players, comments –

“There is something really special about improvising with one other person. When you play alone, you can go anywhere; when you play with many people there are too many possibilities and it needs some kind of organisation to prevent the music from falling into chaos. When you make up music with one other person, you look for a shared space in which to listen, to lead and to follow. Sometimes you find it.”

This is Dominic’s second release on the Nonclassical label, following The Harmonic Canon, a work for the eponymous double bell that won a British Composer Award in 2017.

1:3:5:7 Improvised Duos  is available to download on Bandcamp.

Read Dominic’s interview about lockdown and the release on Nonclassical’s website.

To find out more about music at Trinity Laban, visit our Study pages.

Lead image: Dominic Murcott