Jazz guitarist and composer Ant Law’s album Zero Sum World showcases global musical influences and has gained the attention of critics in and out of the jazz world. He talks to The Big Issue in the North ahead of his show at the Royal Clifton Hotel in Southport on 24 May.
Does improvisation play a significant part in your performances or do you rely heavily on a score?
Improvisation plays a huge part in the performances. Structurally speaking the music closely resembles traditional jazz, where usually a melody is stated, improvised upon by musicians in turn, and then stated again. There are some variations and exceptions to this in our set. In many other ways our music does not resemble traditional jazz, I should also point out.
What jazz sub-genre would you class yourself under?
Someone recently called it “math-jazz” but I’m not sure if I like that title! It’s contemporary jazz but it draws from many other sources, like rock music, Indian classical music, pop music, hip-hop and so on.
How does Zero Sum World differ from your first album?
ZSW has the same instruments and nearly the exact same musicians as Entanglement. But we have played together much more since the first album – over 50 gigs – so that is audible.
Has studying physics helped your music?
Studying physics made me realise I wasn’t that into it, and that I had better try and get good enough at music to make a living from it! Seriously though, there are some approaches I may have learned from the scientists’ approach, like experimentation with a certain concept or idea.
You have a book published – 3rd Millennium Guitar: An Introduction To Perfect 4th Tuning. Will you continue to share your knowledge with aspiring guitarists?
Yes, I’m working on some instructional material at the moment. I might call it Guitar Hacks, because it’s all about adapting the system to work for you – making the guitar much easier. It will include lessons I learned that no one ever told me but are of incredible importance.
For example, if you find a particular aspect of playing easy, you should run with it and build on it as far as you possibly can.