Jazzwise – Every New Day – Interview – by Selwyn Harris

Jonny Phillips’ Oriole is one of the only surviving lineups from the bands that made up the first flowerings of the influential F-ire Collective. The stability of its personnel contrasts with the nomadic wanderings of the Lake District born acoustic guitarist and composer. His desire to experience first hand the landscapes of the latin world in particular – thats physically culturally and philosophically – accounts for his sabbatical of five years since  Oriole’s previous album release Migration. Phillips continuos his journey with “Every New Day” and his writing and arrangements carry both the sensuous yearning and gentle intoxicating dance qualities of its predecessors. Infused with roots music originating from hot climates, the new album draws from North African and Flamenco music via Cadiz in Andalusia (which has been his home since the Migration CD) and folkloric rhythms from African Brazil (baiao, maracatu, afoxe, samba) and Venezuela (bolero), as well as hints of South American classical music and Gypsy Jazz. Not forgetting that Phillips’ background in classical and church music is also relevant to this world-chamber super potion, which can at times evoke the heady cinematic music of Nino Rota. Drummer Seb Rochford is at his understated best, Oriole occasionally sounds like Polar Bear at carnival time – and now New York based Ingrid Laubrock’s darkly-hued tenor sax tone raises the temperature at the right moments. Just close your eyes and imagine your there.

1/Why a gap of over five years between this and the previous album Migration?


I was living in Spain having a great time, I learned a new language and a whole load of things about music. I lived in Cadiz, Andalusia which is a magical place, very absorbing with brilliant people and by a nice beach. I found it quite hard to think about London and the British Jazz scene to be honest, great as it is. The other reason perhaps is that Cadiz is the city in Europe with the highest unemployment per capita, so as you can imagine its not a great place to save up money for recording and promoting an album. When I finally needed to come back to the UK the Spanish police had stopped many of the concerts in southern Spain meaning I had to busk for a few months every day in order to save enough money to send all my stuff back.

3/You are back living in London now?

Yes I am. My father got very Ill and died recently. I came back to say goodbye to him and help my family, especially my mother who has always 100% supported me as a musician. In fact my mother is a musician and composer also so I was always surrounded by classical music, early music and church music as a child which is a real gift.

4/Would you still consider yourself a musical migrant? 

Yes I still have wanderlust. In the summer I hope to go back to Spain to see my friends there. Check out some flamenco and then go across to Tangiers in Morocco. After that I might go down to Essaouira to listen to some Gnaoua Music and see the castle from Jimi Hendrixs’ “castles made of sand” . Then maybe compose a few tunes for the next Oriole album on the beach. 

5/Where have your explorations of folkloric music taken you recently?

While I was in Spain I listened to a lots of Flamenco like guitarists Nino Josele, Paco De Lucia, Tito Alcedo and Nono Garcia (who I also played with), pianist Chano Domiguez and Flamenco singer Cameron De La Isla, all Andalusian musicians. I also got a better understanding through my Cuban flat mate in Cadiz of Bolero which I love for its melodrama. Recently I was given a whole pile of classical guitar music by a complete stranger which I am slowly studying. Its mainly from folkloric music from Brazil, Columbia, Spain and Italy. I really love early 20th century Brazilian guitar composer Garoto. I’ve also been getting into Randy Weston (not folk music but he’s really folkloric influenced as a player using lots of African influences), the Argentinean film composer Gustavo Santolalla and Calexico who use use lots of Mariachi influences crossed with Spaghetti Weston soundtrack music. I’ve always listen to and studied a lot of styles, later I strive to integrate them into a coherent style of my own.

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