Out February 4th/5th, ‘Take The Space Trane’ is the new album from producer, composer and musician Mark de Clive-Lowe in collaboration with the Rotterdam Jazz Orchestra.
MdCL and the Rotterdam Jazz Orchestra join forces for the first time, delivering big orchestral jazz grooves with a nod to club productions, for a modern, experimental take on the big band sound. The album brings together a selection of bespoke compositions and existing cuts from across MdCL’s highly prolific career, as well as a cover of the jazz standard, "Caravan" – all realised with traditional big band arrangements and instrumentation.
The idea for this project was born when MdCL met the trumpeter Rob van de Wouw at an improv festival where he was performing, in Rotterdam; on hearing him play, van de Wouw approached MdCL him to ask if he would guest with his big band. Having played in big bands back in high school in New Zealand, when he was learning his way as a jazz pianist, MdCL seized the opportunity to revisit it now in a whole new context: “Big band was the sound of dance music in the ‘20s and ‘30s so to apply that aesthetic and sound to some of my own music was going to be fun”, he says.
In preparation for the show, MdCL selected some of his own releases to be adapted to the band, wrote two new compositions especially for this project and chose one classic jazz standard - made most famous by Duke Ellington - to round out the repertoire. The RJO's arranger and conductor, Johan Plomp, then created the arrangements and brought the big band voice to the tunes. 'El Dia Perfecto' (originally released on Universal Jazz back in 2000) was an obvious vehicle for this kind of project, with its horn-like melody lines and harmonies; but when he chose vocal cuts like “Money (Don't Let It Catch Ya)” and “Relax...Unwind” originally voiced by Bembe Segue and Abdul Shyllon, respectively, it was impossible for MdCL to imagine the big band arrangements. “So when he heard what Johan had done at the first rehearsal it was unreal - he'd taken the vocal melodies and harmonies and transposed those to saxophones, trumpets and trombones.”
The new compositions that MdCL wrote for the project allude to the different influences and thread the whole concept together. “Blues For Six” has a real old school bluesy swing big band intro and then goes into an Afro 6/8 groove against the swing. The title track, another new one, is a melding of the ‘60s Coltrane and McCoy Tyner feel with a UK brukstep rhythm - the avant-garde aspects of the jazz tradition head to head with the driving pulse of the beats. On the name, MdCL elaborates, “The title is a play on Duke Ellington's big band classic “Take The A Train”, but with the modal jazz influences a la John Coltrane and undercurrent of beats and electronic elements, it just made sense to be “Take The Space Trane”!”
The band had a half day rehearsal and then hit their first show at Amsterdam's Melkweg. The next day was the second show, which this album is cut from, with the exception of tracks being edited to shorter lengths to fit the confines of the CD format. “I love how the big band brought the arrangements to life”, says MdCL, of the resulting music.
The next time we performed this repertoire, it really divided the audience. some older big band music fans were walking out in disgust ("that's not big band music!") while the younger music lovers were revelling in hearing something totally fresh. “Nothing like ruffling a few feathers!”, says MdCL.
Get the full MdCL experience by seeing him perform live at his monthly residency CHURCH in Los Angeles and New York City. CHURCH is a musical journey of no boundaries and endless surprises. MdCL leads live sets interpolating jazz, improv, live remixing, beats and dancefloor electronica into a melting pot of sounds and styles unlike any other. Joined by a stellar cast of musicians, vocalists, DJs and spontaneous guests from LA/NYC and beyond, each and every month is a totally unique and individual music-lover's experience...
The next CHURCH is the NYC 1 Year Anniversary Edition and takes place Friday December 7th, with guests DJ Questlove, Casey Benjamin + surprise guests!