ALEX HITCHCOCK explores new sounds and textures in contemporary jazz and brings together some of the most talented musicians in London’s vibrant music scene. “I felt lucky to be surrounded by many distinctive and contrasting voices. I wanted to capture that variety in an album, creating space for the musicians to express themselves and shape my music. In 2021, when people couldn’t play and create as much, I tried to go the other way, taking a maximalist approach to make something adventurous and broad in scope. Partly, it was a kind of ‘curating’ – I imagined what combinations of my favorite musicians would sound like and wrote music for that.’
In response to the current challenging climate for artists, Hitchcock has chosen to aim high and be bold. His latest project, Dream Band: Live in London, is an innovative undertaking that showcases three distinct ‘dream bands’ formed by his preferred musicians. The bands were captured live throughout three nights at London’s iconic Vortex club, performing music composed for each ensemble. The extraordinary line-ups he curated are proof of the respect he has earned among his peers as a composer, player, and bandleader with a uniquely inspiring vision.
The first night’s band features Mark Kavuma on trumpet and Liselotte Östblom on vocals, blending over the trio of Rob Luft, Rio Kai, and Jamie Murray. The second night features James Copus on trumpet with longtime musical partners Kit Downes on piano, Lewis Wright on vibes, and Conor Chaplin and Marc Michel supplying bass and drums. The third night sets Downes’ piano alongside Ant Law’s guitar and Alexandra Ridout’s trumpet, with the international all-star rhythm section team of Orlando le Fleming and James Maddren. The album’s delight lies in the unexpected combinations of these acclaimed players and the new levels of creativity that they bring forth. The constant presence of Hitchcock’s unmistakable voice on tenor sax and the strength and consistency of his writing give the project a compelling unity.
Each of the three bands adds a unique blend of voices to Hitchcock’s compositions, taking them in directions even unforeseen by the composer himself. Hitchcock committed to the idea of relinquishing control on the day of the recording and creating a space for others to work. The result is a snapshot of a moment in time and a constantly evolving process.
The album features twenty tracks showcasing extraordinary creativity. For example, ‘Sach,’ where the contrasting solos by Rob Luft and Mark Kavuma soar above the bubbling beat created by Kai and Murray. Liselotte Östblom’s crystal-clear vocals add a calm serenity to ‘Verglas’ and ‘Grace’ while ‘Momentum’ features irresistible propulsion generated by Lewis Wright and Kit Downes over the rhythm team, Conor and Marc. The distinctive tenor sound of Hitchcock blends with James Copus’ trumpet to create the spectral textures of ‘Brocken.’ Orlando Le Fleming and James Maddren’s endless rhythmic subtlety spurs Alex Ridout’s trumpet to dizzying heights on ‘Differentials.’ Meanwhile, Ant Law’s angularly melodic guitar constantly pushes the band into new directions over the deliriously wonky beats of ‘Red.’
Live in London is an outstanding example of a bold artistic strategy paying off for both the artists and the audience.