One of the leading sax and flute players currently residing in the UK, Finn Peters has compiled a pretty impressive CV over the past decade. Moving to London in 1994 after studying musicology at Durham University, he pursued a post-graduate course at The Guildhall School of Music and Drama and has, since then, released several EPs under various guises and three critically acclaimed albums ‘Su-Ling’ (2007), ‘Butterflies’ (2008) and the groundbreaking ‘Music of the Mind’ in 2010. in 2007 his Quintet won the BBC Jazz Awards Best Band, and in 2009, Gilles Peterson awarded him winner for the “Best Session” category and runner up in the “Best Album” category at the Radio 1 Worldwide Awards. Finn’s eclectic approach to composing means that although most of his work sits within the realms of jazz, his releases often bear strong ties to electronic, world and classical music. Aside from his solo work, he has played with some of the world’s most pioneering musicians and of course, has been a mainstay on the London jazz scene for many a year. With all this in mind, it’s a bit of a coup that we welcome both Finn Peters and UK jazz stalwarts Tom Skinner (drums) and Oren Marshall (tuba) to The Jazz Meet stage at Floripa this Sunday 20th May, as they play two exclusive sets of original material with their current trio project ‘The Grip’. We caught up with Finn before the gig, so he could give us a quick rundown of what to expect from the trio and everything else he’s been up to. Here’s what he had to say…
Hi Finn, having followed your progress over the last ten years or so, we’re pretty excited to welcome you to Floripa this Sunday. You’ve achieved a lot over that time with regards to your solo work, collaborations and working with other artists. Is there a moment that you particularly cherish, or perhaps something that you feel was a turning point in your career?
There are so many moments – it is hard to list them and amazing to reflect on them. Off the top of my head here are four for starters:
1. Playing a duo gig with Steve Reid. He passed away recently unfortunately.
2. Playing ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’ with Jocelyn Brown then getting to know her in Japan.
3. Doing an impromptu version of ‘Soul Makossa’ with Manu Dibango
4. Touring with Marlena Shaw
The real hit is playing your own music with the people you know and love though. The ‘Su-ling’, then ‘Butterflies’, then ‘Music of the Mind’ tours were most special for me.
As well as pursuing jazz over the years, you’ve also been at numerous points a frequent collaborator in the broken beat and underground house scenes, as well as recording more Latin, Brazilian and electronic based music (to the extent your latest album was based around making music with your mind!) Do you see this kind of cross pollination of styles and experimentation as integral to your overall evolution as an artist?
Totally – you have answered your own question! Those and many more African/Classical/Yacht Rock – that has always been the way I approach music. All the above styles have influenced the music I write and play. Got to rate guys like Kaidi Tatham, IG Culture, Dego and Dilip Harris for the West London thing, have listened more and more to the deep house music I used to get into as a teen and have learned a lot from working with all sorts of Latin and Brazilian artists. Experimentation is key (and fun) – sometimes I think that it is more about exploring your own feelings in sound. Trying to work out a path with all these different kinds of music going around in your head is a lot of fun. I try not to think too much about styles – like Cannonball (Adderley) said……………”it is all the same thing”
Would you say your approach with the trio is a lot more traditional than some of your other projects, or do you still approach it in the same sort of eclectic way. What can people expect to hear this Sunday?
This trio, “The Grip”, is definitely more traditional jazz in that it doesn’t have any electronics in it. Also I have been influenced a lot by New Orleans music – The Meters are my favourite band ever! I liked the approach Gary Bartz and the NTU Troupe had where you could rock up anywhere and play – no microphones necessary. As ever I will try to keep an open mind musically recently (even started listening to opera!) and let the improvisation lead the group.
We hear you’re a pretty heavy record collector when you’re not on stage. How did you get bitten by the vinyl bug, and what have you been listening to of late?
Ah – well, didn’t start buying vinyl till fairly late – in my late teens. By then all the good stuff over here had been munched up. I have spent the last 15 years catching up, buying records in odd places though. Got a good collection of Chinese Disco in Kuala Lumpur!
Of late i have been listening to that incredible Blackclassical 12 hour mix!!! The Invisible new album, Hudson Mohawke, Todd Terje, The Simonsound, Pépé Bradock, Radio 3 🙂
So with ‘Music of the Mind’ complete… what’s the next project we can look forward to getting from you?
Well – I am working on a solo album doing something where I start out with unaccompanied flute and by the end of the set it is more like a DJ set with everything in between. Also the trio record with Skinner and Marshall. I have been writing some spiritual jazz influenced music for a Quintet – top secret! Also a bunch of house productions and other beats that I am working on.
Interview by Rob Coley (@robcoley)
Catch Finn Peters, Tom Skinner and Oren Marshall this Sunday 20th May at Floripa. DJ support comes from Jazz Meet residents Nik Weston and Jarred Rice.