Graeme Wilson of the eponymous quartet tells Big Issue North he’s hoping to do more than survive at this year’s festivals. He plays Burton Agnes Jazz and Blues Festival (1-3 July).
How would you describe your sound?
We play homegrown jazz melodies inflected with latin, dance music and free improv. There’s a mix of barnstorming post-Coltrane workouts, earworms in off-kilter time signatures and heartfelt filmic ballads.
Tell us what you’ve been up to since last summer?
We recorded a new album in the Reid Concert Hall in Edinburgh last summer, with a beautiful acoustic. The CD Sure Will Hold A Boat has most of the tunes in the current set and came out in February. We’re very excited with the way it sounds. The quartet played at Manchester Jazz Festival in August and we’ve been touring some great jazz clubs in the north of England since then as one of the artists on Jazz North’s Northern Line scheme. I’ve also been collaborating with visual artist Cath Keay on new work for Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra at their annual GIOFest event last November, and for Concurrent, a festival of improvisation between disciplines in Edinburgh in February.
What festivals are you playing this year?
We’ve been at Liverpool international Jazz Festival, and due to play Ilkley Jazz Festival and Burton Agnes later this summer.
Who else are you excited to see at the festivals?
There’s some great bands on – Blind Monk Trio, Bugalu Foundation, Manjula and others. And we should be able to catch some of Lindsay Hannon’s set before we’re on – always a good idea.
If you could curate your own festival what would the line-up look like, with artists dead or alive?
How big a festival am I allowed? Brotherhood of Breath, Eddie Palmieri, Andrew Hill, Ingrid Laubrock, Shiver, Fred Frith, Nina Simone, the Roches, 29th St Sax Quartet, Don Cherry, Ralph Towner, Corey Mwamba, Thelonious Monk, Matana Roberts, Novos Baianos, Coltrane & Dolphy, Natacha Atlas, Lambert Hendricks & Ross, Nic Jones, David Helbock’s Random Control, Dinosaur, Marilyn Crispell & Raymond MacDonald, Ivo Papasov, Slim Gaillard, Baden Powell, Last Poets, us… That would do for a start.
What’s your best festival memory?
As an audience, catching one of the later Miles Davis bands, Sun Ra, 29th St Sax Quartet and Screaming Jay Hawkins at the North Sea Jazz Festival. Playing, I’ve had some great times at Glasgow International Jazz Festival, particularly at the late night jams with visiting artists like Joey Calderazzo sitting in.
What’s in your festival survival kit?
A saxophone, a camera, a baguette and some bananas. That’s survival level– would be hoping for a bit more…
Apart from music, what should the ideal festival have?
Intriguing food, dancing, a maze, and a great plant nursery. Maybe films and poetry. And of course a great audience.