I first met Nick through Graham South, when we both played in his student big band at Manchester University. Nowadays he resides in London and can be seen with a wide range of groups, including festival favourites Riot Jazz and his own 9/10-piece Paradox Ensemble (whose debut EP is out on, surprise surprise, Efpi Records). We play together in Skamel and Beats & Pieces Big Band, in both of which I have the dubious honour of having to solo directly after him… He’s an incredibly melodic player, whose improvising never ceases to bring out a smile in me. He is also at home exploring textural soundscapes, but he makes crafting beautiful melodies out of nothing look effortless!
His influences, as you can hear best with his Paradox Ensemble, come from a more funky place than my own, but there’s some distinct cross-overs, namely around bands like Tortoise. There’s a distinct sound to his writing, and I’ve been lucky enough to play his compositions in Paradox, as well as Skamel and Beats & Pieces. Again, another musician who sounds like himself in a multitude of different settings. Also, I have huge beard envy.
This excerpt was written in a reflective mood (I’ll tell you the full story on the gig, if you ask me nicely). One of the challenges of this project is finding the right balance between saying what I want to say but leaving room for the musicians to add their voice. In this instance, I felt Nick was the right man to expand on what I’d given him, and the improvisation he sent back proved me right. He also recorded this during a three=month trip to Africa. That’s the dedication you can expect from Nick, not letting a small matter like his holiday get in the way of the music.