Leading British guitarist Nick Costley-White releases his debut album, Detour Ahead, this summer. It features some of the UK’s finest improvising musicians – Matt Robinson on piano and Fender Rhodes (Reuben Fowler), Conor Chaplin on double bass (Norma Winston) and Dave Hamblett on drums (Ivo Neame). The album portrays the quartet’s musical journey, beginning with performances that draw from the American Songbook tradition and travel through to a more modern aesthetic, inspired by the surroundings of London’s exciting jazz scene. “The diversity of people playing and writing at such a high standard in London is very inspiring to me and I feel really lucky to have three such musicians in my band,” explains Costley-White. “What’s crucial for me in this group is that the musicians play in a contemporary style that is routed in the fundamentals of playing traditional jazz harmony and rhythm. The melding of these two aspects is what I try to balance when writing music specifically for these players and during this process I hope to express my own voice and experiences with this idiom which I find endlessly inspiring.”
Costley-White combines his love and deep understanding for the jazz tradition with a fresh and contemporary approach, his six original compositions exploring sounds from many perspectives simultaneously. Forms, harmonies and rhythms are superimposed and abstracted but still retain their essential function, whilst the improvisations express the excitement and beauty of these frameworks. ‘Thinky Pain’, a tribute to the wonderfully neurotic comedian Marc Maron, reflects this blending of styles and paints a haunting portrait in three parts. “The solo intro explores an open palette of clustered chords. The rhythm section (augmented now with bass clarinet played by Sam Rapley) join the guitar with a steady travelling pulse whilst the polytonal theme is slowly unwrapped and explored through further improvisations,” explains Costley-White. “The final section strips us back down to just the double bass and gradually all the instruments, harmonies and rhythms are stacked on to one another, building a rich and beautifully dissonant sound world. As if from nowhere, the final chord is struck, peacefully resolving all tensions.”
‘Just One of Those Things’ by Cole Porter & ‘Detour Ahead’ by Herb Ellis have been arranged with a subtle new flavour that is fresh and personal to the quartet’s own sound. ‘Just One of Those Things’ is a wonderfully witty and clever song by the great Cole Porter,” says Costley-White. “Further twists and turns in the arrangement keep the listener on their toes whilst the soloists dig into every corner of this beautifully harmonic song.”
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