Here’s an interview I did for Peter Bacon’s ‘Jazz Breakfast’ blog:

Olie Brice

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I’m really delighted to have the opportunity to tour with my quintet in the coming weeks, and am currently in the process of writing a new set of compositions, which we will perform on the tour and then record shortly afterwards. The tour dates are as follows:

24/05/16 – The Spotted Dog, Birmingham

25/05/26 – Dempsey’s, Cardiff

26/05/16 – Soundcellar, Poole

27/05/16 – Fusebox, Leeds

29/05/16 – Future Inns, Bristol (afternoon gig)

30/05/16 – The Wonder Inn, Manchester

31/05/16 – Jazz Café, Newcastle

01/06/16 – The Lescar, Sheffield

02/06/16 – The Vortex, London

The first music I remember discovering in a truly mind-blowing way, that didn’t primarily come from my parent’s record collection but expanded my horizons and changed my sense of the world, was the blues of Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Robert Johnson, Son House and Mississippi Fred McDowell. The next discovery to have a similar impact was the music of Ornette Coleman and Albert Ayler – a cassette with Ornette’s ‘Change of the Century’ on one side and Ayler’s ‘The Hilversum Session’ on the other, not-at-all incidentally both featuring Don Cherry. I’ve been thinking recently about these two revelations, as I’ve been writing new music for my quintet and contemplating what I really want to do as a composer.

When I first heard Ornette and Ayler, I immediately and instinctively heard them as intimately related to the blues I already loved – and less obviously heard in both things a spirit very familiar from the liturgical music I heard and sang in synagogue; emotional, mysterious music with an intense vocal quality and sense of complete commitment and abandonment, droning, melancholy yet also joyous, and a collective, communal process of generating melody and harmony. Jazz and blues are the music of a diaspora community. I am not going to explore in depth here the complex history of the origins of jazz, but I think we can all accept that it is in its origin an African-American art form, a communal expression of a people forcibly transported from their homelands into the melting pot that was the early USA. The experience of collective music making as a way of remembering the past, fostering a sense of congregation, mourning loss and celebrating joy is an experience probably common to all diaspora communities, and one which I certainly recognise in my own upbringing in a religious Jewish family.

Comparing communities and drawing parallels between their experiences is always a sensitive and complicated activity, and I’m not trying to make any grand claims here. I am also most definitely not trying to stake any kind of historical claim of Jews to Israel – much too complex a topic for this essay! – but I do feel that the Ashkenazi London community that I grew up in tail end of (another history too complicated for me to do justice to here) was a diaspora community in the sense that its rituals, memories, stories and music drew on a shared sense of coming from somewhere else. This ‘somewhere else’ was not a straightforward concept – my own Jewish family roots were Ashkenazi from Poland and Latvia, but I attended a synagogue with a large Iraqi and Indian congregation alongside the Eastern European one, and was also lucky enough to be exposed to Moroccan, Spanish/Portuguese, Hasidic and other traditions. The beautiful, yearning singing in all of these congregations harked back both to a past in Poland/Morocco/wherever, and a more Biblical-derived sense of place.

In the music I’ve been composing for this tour I’ve been experimenting with drawing on the Jewish music of my childhood as an equivalent source to the way I hear the blues, gospel and African elements in so much of my favourite Jazz. I am not writing music that draws much on Klezmer (much as I love Naftule Brandwein) or that uses Jewish music as a style or genre – I won’t be approaching Tzaddik with the new album! Rather I want to draw on Jewish liturgical music as melodic material, and as emotional material. I have used snippets of remembered melodies as starting points to compose from, and tried to find ways to draw on the emotional experience of a congregation singing these tunes that is applicable to five improvising musicians.

The emotional content of music is of course much harder to define than the melodic content. I feel that the synagogue experiences of my childhood directly inform my conviction that improvised music should be a transcendental experience. I have often been reminded at gigs of the impact of being involved in a roomful of people experiencing abandonment to some kind of higher truth or spiritual experience through singing together. Although I am not religious as an adult, this experience feels directly related to the impact of concerts I’ve heard from the likes of Evan Parker, Paul Dunmall, Wadada Leo Smith, Lol Coxhill, Tony Malaby and countless others. One night in particular has always stuck in my mind, hearing a specific gig in February 2009 when Evan Parker, Paul Dunmall, Paul Rogers and Tony Levin levitated the Vortex… that intensity, commitment, engagement feels to me like one of the most wonderful things about this music, and something I always aspire to in my own work.

These are only some of the things I’ve been thinking about. Other recent influences have included becoming quite obsessed with the novels, poetry and criticism of the astonishing writer Nathaniel Mackey. I’ve also been investigating and falling in love with the incredible work of trumpeter/composer Wadada Leo Smith, as well as poring over the Billie Holiday complete Columbia recordings, The New York Art Quartet album ‘Mowhawk’ and the recently released Sonny Rollins Village Gate 1962 boxset… These and countless other things all feed into the complex mix that is influence at any given time, but this essay is already by far the longest thing I’ve ever written about my music, so I might leave it at that for now!

Very excited about this! And very grateful for the generous support of the Arts Council… more information to follow soon…

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toby trio

I’m really delighted to have a little run of gigs in October with one of my very favourite projects, a trio with the incredible Toby Delius and Mark Sanders.  We released our debut album ‘Somersaults’ back in March 2015 – here’s some footage from the session:

We’ll be touring England from the 4th – 7th October, these are the full details:

04/10/15 – The Bridge Hotel, Newcastle.  8pm, £8 (£6 concessions). Jazz North East (http://jazznortheast.com/event_detail.php?event_id=226)

05/10/15 – Spa Inn Function Room, Derby.  6pm, £onebankofenglandnote.  2ndline (http://2ndline.coreymwamba.co.uk/deliusbricesanders)

06/10/15 – Fizzle, Lamp Tavern, Birmingham.   With very special guest Paul Dunmall! Two of the greatest tenor players in the world in one room!!! 7.30pm, £5 (http://improvisationuk.wix.com/fizzlebirmingham)

07/10/15 – Vortex, London.  8pm, £10 (http://www.vortexjazz.co.uk/event/deliusbricesanders/)

blood moon

I’m really pleased to announce a new release – an album of duo improvisations with the wonderful tenor saxophonist Tom Challenger.  Tom and I recorded last autumn, in a very quick and enjoyable recording session in Alex Bonney’s living room (Alex recorded, mixed and mastered the album).  I’m really pleased with this recording, Tom is incredible and the duo felt very natural from the moment we started playing.

The album is download only, there aren’t any physical copies.  You can stream and/or buy the album here:

https://loopcollective.bandcamp.com/album/blood-moon

We’ll be playing a duo set on the 30th of August as part of a 3 day improv festival at 100 years Gallery in Hoxton, London – more details to follow…

Some new music

April 28, 2015

Thought I’d share a couple of things here from projects I’ve been involved in recently.

The Mike Fletcher Trio, with Jeff Williams on drums, has been the band I’ve been most active in in 2015.  We’ve done a fair bit of touring, mainly thanks to Mike being selected as one of the European Concert Hall Organisation’s Rising Stars.  It’s a band I love playing in, with two of my favourite musicians and some great tunes.  Our debut album ‘vuelta’ came out in January, details here.

Here’s a video of the trio playing at the CBSO Centre in Birmingham:

Another project I’ve been particularly pleased to be part of is Alex Ward’s Quintet / Sextet.  His Quintet piece ‘Glass Shelves and Floors’ features Rachel Musson, Hannah Marshall, Tom Jackson, me and of course Alex, and has just been released on Copepod Records.  It’s a pretty incredible piece of work in my opinion, combining densely composed sections, free improvisation, conducted improvising, pitch sets and all sorts of other good stuff…  Alex has simultaneously released a live and studio version as a double album – you can both hear and buy them here:

https://alexward.bandcamp.com/album/glass-shelves-and-floor

We’ve also recorded some further pieces of Alex’s as a sextet (with Steve Noble added on drums) – details to follow…

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I’m very pleased to announce the release of a new album, Somersaults, on Two Rivers Records.  The album is a freely improvised trio recording, featuring two of my very favourite musicians, Tobias Delius (tenor, clarinet) and Mark Sanders (drums).

The album was recorded, mixed and mastered by the multi-talented Alex Bonney, who did a great job as always, and the gorgeous artwork is by my brother Jethro Brice.

Thanks to Alya at Two River Records for the incredible support and getting it out so quickly!

We’re selling copies at gigs, or I can post to anywhere in the UK if you click here:

Buy Now Button

In Europe, Instant Jazz have copies, and in the US the Downtown Music Gallery is your best bet

It will also shortly be available (digital download and CD) from the Two Rivers bandcamp page, where you will be able to listen to a track

‘Immune to Clockwork’ has had some very flattering attention since it came out.  The quintet was named by the ‘El Intruso’ international critics poll as one of the 5 new bands of 2014, and we’ve had some more lovely reviews:

http://thebluemoment.com/2015/02/04/olie-brice-at-the-vortex/

http://www.thejazzmann.com/reviews/review/olie-brice-quintet-immune-to-clockwork/

http://www.adambaruch.com/reviews_item.asp?item=104690

and in Polish: http://polish-jazz.blogspot.co.uk/2015/02/olie-brice-quintet-immune-to-clockwork.html

A couple of really nice reviews have appeared in the last week or so:

http://www.allaboutjazz.com/immune-to-clockwork-olie-brice-multikulti-project-review-by-john-eyles.php%20target=blank

http://www.freejazzblog.org/2014/12/olie-brice-quintet-immune-to-clockwork.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+blogspot%2FvEnU+%28Free+Jazz%29

If you’d like a copy, you can get one from me here (UK only, if you want one sent somewhere else please email olie (at) riseup.net for postage costs):

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We’ll be launching the album with a gig at the Vortex in London on Feb 3rd – not quite the same line-up as the album, Alex Bonney, Jeff Williams and me will be joined by two more of my favourite musicians, George Crowley on tenor and Mike Fletcher on C Melody sax

Immune to Clockwork

October 22, 2014

immune cover

I’m delighted to announce the release of my first album as leader / composer.  ‘Immune to Clockwork’ has just been released on the Polish record label Multikulti Project.  The album features some wonderful musicians – Mark Hanslip on tenor, Waclaw Zimpel on clarinets, Alex Bonney on trumpet and pocket trumpet and Jeff Williams on drums.

You can hear a track here: https://soundcloud.com/wawmak_multikulti/olie-brice-quintet-the-hands-from-immune-to-clockwork

I’ll have copies to sell at gigs, or if you’d like to buy a copy and have me post it to you within the UK use this link:

Buy Now Button

To buy a copy via paypal if you’re not in the UK, please email me at olie (at) riseup.net and I’ll let you know how much postage will cost

Or it should be available via various online sources – Multikulti’s website for example, or Instant Jazz.

And we’ve had one review already – here it is, via the delights of google translate…

Are rare recordings that can really impress on many levels. Especially in modern jazz. Musicians trying to create an interesting composition, very often forget about emotions, or playing free not pay attention to the intellectual aspects of music, its structure and used for its building measures. And there is one aspect that often escapes the attention of critics, and which is present in jazz since its inception. It is the joy of making music, resulting largely from the creative freedom autonomous partners. Perhaps, at some point, these three elements are mutually exclusive, but the musicians are still trying to find the musical formula, in which they are all present. And the music quintet Olie Brice fits precisely in addition successfully in the search.

Recorded in a rather unusual composition – no harmonic instrument, but with extensive brass section plate, shows the full range of possibilities for musicians in this combination of instruments. Decisive is the key selection of musical personalities that come here (Mark Hanslip, Waclaw Zimpel, Alex Bonney), it is not only outstanding instrumentalists and Sid, but the artists have their own individual sound and vision of their own music. Abide by the concept of Olie Brice, but also bring a lot of each other, whether in the solo or collective improvisations.

Leader moreover seems to leave them enough amount of creative freedom, but also carefully watching over the structure and texture of each composition. Eject bass tone to the fore in critical moments of each composition when he takes over the helm in your hands, it very easy to pick up this recording. It is also a demonstration of how you can realize the vision of his music, not sacrificing creative creativity stage partners. Evenly played lots of tutti” are a necessity, but also represent only a starting point, not thus determining the shape of the whole work. Well you can hear it even in The Hands” or “Snake Path”, which transforms the individual instrumentalists sonically.

Olie Brice is when the leader of an experienced, otrzaskany on scenes of contemporary jazz, a variety of free or completely free improvisation. It is quite well known in our country along with Mikolaj Trzaska and Mark Sanders creates because Riverloam Trio. But the list of his collaborators and partners stage is much longer Paul Dunmall, Tobias Delius, Achim Kaufmann, Ingrid Laubrock, Louis MoholoMoholo and Ken Vandermark is the most important among them.

And this stage, great musical experience can be heard on the album. Brice can create plans with various instrumentalists and combined them into blocks in a logical manner, at the same time surprising. Even more so I hope for a great feast of music, which can be concerts of this composition, with the hope that the Polish do not miss it. Because the great music non-flammable, improvisations excellent, and even the joy of the meeting, the making of music, even in the studio recording you can hear a lot.
by Joseph Paprocki

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