Jazz-Planet: What do you personally like about the Trio Plus / quintet format and how did this group come about?
Mike Nock: I invited Ken Allars to join the quartet for a gig at the Sound Lounge and the response was unanimous – ‘Let’s include him in the group and expand to a quintet.’
Having two horn players allows me to think orchestrally but still enables me to play with the flexibility I so enjoy with the trio format, particularly with these two exceptional musicians as both Ken and Karl hear and respond to everything that is going on in the music.
JP: How did you prepare for the recording – was there a lot of rehearsal, an extended period of touring?
MN: I’d been playing with Karl in various quartet formations for a few years and Ken was in my Sydney Con Ensemble for 18 months before he left for Berlin ( where he currently is until March ) When I thought the time was right I brought all five musicians together and luckily it was a compatible mix. The trio had been busy throughout 2011 and although rehearsal time with the quintet was limited due to conflicting schedules I felt the group was prepared enough to record. One would always like more time, but being less than 100% prepared can also have a positive side as it tends to keep everyone listening, helping keep things fresh and in the moment.
JP: There’s a mix of new and not so new tracks on Hear and Know. What prompted your choice of tracks on the CD?
MN: I’m always workshopping music and have a lot of original material to draw from, both old and new. We whittled our repertoire down and went into the studio with nine pieces although two of the tracks we recorded didn’t make the finished CD for various reasons. Maybe they’ll resurface at a future time ( possibly in a different setting )
JP: What music or musicians are you listening to at the moment that are inspiring or challenging you? Have you been listening to anything recently that’s made you sit up and take notice?
MN: Composing takes up an ever increasing part of my life so other than what I’m currently working on I don’t find as much time to listen in depth as I’d like to have. Having said that I try to stay current but I find I’m getting more critical as I get older. There is so much choice available to us in every area nowadays and so many extremely capable young musicians emerging all the time, its impossible to keep up with it all. Listening to live performances is what its all about for me ideally, but having a large CD collection is also mandatory. Having said all of that though, I heard an unreleased recording of new music from Andrea Keller with a string quartet and caught Paul Grabowsky’s sextet with Scott McConnachie at Bennett’s Lane – all the superlatives apply in both cases. Some CDs I’ve enjoyed recently include Tim Hopkins new CD Seven (Rattle records) Craig Taborn’s Avenging Angel ( ECM ) Aaron Parks Invisible Cinema, Cassandra Wilson New Moon Daughter (Blue Note) Antonio Carlos Jobim Urubu (WB), the piano music of Gyorgi Ligeti (African Rhythms – teldec)
Personnel: Mike Nock – piano, Ben waples – bass, James Waples – drums, Ken Allars – trumpet, Karl Laskowski – tenor saxophone