Now our Floripa love affair has ended it’s time to pick ourselves up and get creative. The weekly live event with house band and guests will reappear but until we find a permanent new space to accommodate us, you can expect to see one or two specials pop up in the coming months at other venues across the city.
It was of course always our intention to welcome pianist Tom O’Grady and his band Resolution 88 back to the stage after their début live show with us last October, and now with their first full album imminent, and with a slew of well received live dates under their belt, we think it’s fair to say their star is well and truly on the ascent. Prior to that first gig, we caught up with Tom to give us a little insight into his world. What we actually got was an amazingly thought out piece that really illustrated what a seriously driven and passionate musician he was. Needless to say, he then duly stepped out on to the Floripa stage with a hand-picked band and blew us all away – we’ve been fans ever since! A year on, and with their second Jazz Meet supported gig coming up this Sunday at the Queen of Hoxton, we thought it was about time we picked up the conversation again with Tom to discuss his past twelve months, and of course touch on the plans for their first album (so super secret we’ve still only heard the snippets!). Read on to see what he had to say:
Morning Tom, so it’s been a pretty busy year for you over the past twelve months. Can you tell us a bit about what’s been going on and maybe touch on a few of your high points so far?
I don’t know where the time has gone this year – it’s difficult to believe that Resolution 88 last played the Jazz Meet in October 2012; it feels like yesterday! Most recently, a few months have been spent mixing and mastering the Resolution 88 album and learning more about the industry as a whole; I’ve also been gigging regularly with artists including Myles Sanko (we were recently in the studio recording his forthcoming album). Earlier this year, the Resolution 88 Jazz re:freshed gig in June and Herbie Hancock tribute for the Jazz Meet in May were a particular focus for me – I learned a lot as I prepared for those gigs.
Having heard a few clips from the album via your Soundcloud, we’re super excited to get our hands on the real thing. Can you tell us a bit more about it and what we can expect from the project?
The début album is very close to coming out – we’re in the process of setting a release date and it could even be before the end of 2013. Right from the beginning, my approach / ethos was to make sure I had the right person for each job and never to compromise musically. Firstly, I’m extremely lucky that I have good friends and band-mates who are such incredible musicians – Resolution 88 was formed out of friends I specifically asked to play because I knew they would create something special together. We recorded live as a quintet in a single (cramped) dead room and the only overdubs you will hear on the finished album are keyboards (just like Herbie’s famous ‘Headhunters’ album). That’s a testament to the sheer talent and professionalism of the band – I don’t take for granted that we were able to use entire takes where the drums, bass, percussion and sax are locked in and spot-on all the way through. I think it’s very rare these days to have a band recorded live like that – and then to require minimal or zero editing; that’s a big deal. From that point of view, the album is very much a showcase of the talents of each of my friends involved: Afrika Green, Tiago Coimbra, Ric Elsworth, George Crowley. We recorded at Bluebarn studios just outside Ely, which is a great studio – Chris Taylor is a brilliant engineer and a top bloke. Mixing-wise, the only choice was Dan Goldman AKA JD73 – he’s somebody I look up to as one of the best keyboard players around and he’s a fantastic producer. I knew he’d understand exactly what I’d want and he’s given the album a modern punch as well as giving a nod to the tape-saturated, retro days of the albums we all reminisce about – it’s definitely an aggressive, in-your-face funk album with some ballads and interludes along the way. Finally, the mastering has been done by none other than Bob Power. Bob’s an accomplished musician as well as having mixed, produced etc for artists such as Erykah Badu, Common, D’Angelo, The Roots and A Tribe Called Quest – the list goes on…! He’s made our music ‘more of what it already is’ and it hangs together really well as an album now.
The industry as a whole seems to be in an interesting place currently. Have you managed to find a label for the project or are you, like many musicians today, looking to do it all yourself?
Part of my approach of getting the right person for the job at each stage has been to get advice from experienced people as to the best ways of releasing music these days. I’ve tried my best to learn about people’s listening and buying habits, the music industry and reading about new initiatives in terms of selling. The album will be self-released and will definitely be available through our own website when that’s up, but anything else aside from that is still undecided.
You and the band have obviously put a lot of work into getting the album this far, and it’s clearly a labour of love for you. What do you hope people take away from the album when they finally get to give it a listen?
It’s very difficult to give an answer to this that doesn’t sound pretentious or facetious! My listening tastes aren’t the most eclectic but over the years I have come to know what I like and know exactly why I like it. Using that experience, I wrote and recorded an album with some great friends and it turned out exactly how I wanted; we’re all very proud of it. As I said earlier – there was no compromise at any stage. My aspiration was to produce an album where I could proudly put my name to it and say “This is what *I* sound like as a musician.” I’m trying not to have any expectations about how it will be received or what sort of fan base we’ll gather. My only thoughts are that we were true to ourselves throughout this whole process, so I’m sure there will be people out there who find that our music really resonates with them. If they love our album and we end up with some fans (however many) who have a genuine and enduring enjoyment of what we do, then we’ll be very happy with that – especially if it empowers us to do this all again and continue to gig and record.
Finally, we’re very much looking forward to welcoming you back to The Jazz Meet again. Last time was a blast! Can you give us a little heads up on what you’ve got planned for is this Sunday at The Queen of Hoxton?
This coming Sunday, we will be performing all the tracks that are on the forthcoming album but we will also be trying out some new songs (never heard) that are in their embryonic stage. It’s easier doing this the second time – in a way we’re revisiting the situation we were in at the Jazz Meet last year; we gigged those original songs and they improved to the stage where we could record them for the album. This time round, it’s easier to see past the rough edges and work out whether this batch of new songs have the potential to go on to album #2 (when that happens!) A big part of that is our collective feeling that we’ve got a responsibility to put on an evolving show for our fans. We’re extremely grateful for all the support shown to us so far and we want to reward everybody who supports us and comes to gigs by mixing things up, adding new songs into the show – and not playing the same playlist each time. This is our last gig of 2013 owing to touring commitments etc for some band members, so we can’t wait to perform for everybody!
Interview by Rob Coley (@robcoley)
So that’s about it. The last gig of 2013 for the band AND they are playing the yet unheard new album in its entirety as well as a few NEW songs. What’s not to like (if you haven’t yet, you also need to click on the video of above to see them in action, smoking!)? It all kicks off this Sunday 3rd November downstairs in the Queen of Hoxton basement (NOT Floripa!). Also on the bill, you’ve got the combined DJ talents of the resident DJ team of Rob Coley and Sid Ford, who will be taking the opportunity to throw down all manner of lovely jazz aimed squarely at the spacious dancefloor. Doors open from 6pm with the first live set starting at 8pm. The price? Well now we’re self supported, it’s been necessary to charge but if you do pick your tickets up in advance from HERE, you will pay just £3 (all of which goes to Tom and the band’s coffers, there’s no booking fee here!). Otherwise, leave it till Sunday and it’s still only £5 on the door. We hope you can join us for what promises to be another special night of music.