Jul 6 2011

Interview from All About Jazz

Today the fantastic All About Jazz website published an interview with me, so I thought I’d re-post it here for you to check out. The original interview can be viewed here, where you can comment on the post.

Meet Simon Little: I’m a session bassist living in London.

I was born in London and started learning the double bass at school in Dorset with Barry Glynn. I went on to study at The Guildhall School of Music & Drama in London (1999-2003) receiving tuition from Kevin Rundell, Jeff Clyne and Steve Watts. I first picked up an electric bass aged 15 and have never looked back…

Most people know me as the bassist with The Divine Comedy and Duke Special. I also tour regularly with Clare Teal and Maggie Reilly. As a jazz bassist I usually play with singers. Most notably Kate Eden, Lea DeLaria, Ian Shaw, and Nina Ferro. I’ve also played and recorded with Nick Cave & Warren Ellis, A Girl Called Eddy, Chris Difford, Jamie Cullum, Liane Carroll, Beth Rowley, Ben Folds, Norma WinstoneClaire MartinPee Wee Ellis, Alan Barnes, Polly Gibbons, Newton Faulkner and The Ronnie Scott’s Allstars amongst others.

I have released two solo albums under my own name: Mandala (2010) and The Knowledge of Things To Come (2011)

Instrument(s):
Double Bass, Electric Bass, Sitar

Teachers and/or influences?
I’m influenced by a wide range of music and musicians. Probably my biggest influences as a bassist are Eberhard Weber, Stuart Zender, Scott LaFaro and Jaco Pastorius. At the moment I’m listening to a lot of Les Claypool. I like bass players with a really distinctive style and sound…

I knew I wanted to be a musician when…
I had a go on a bass guitar for the first time.

Your sound and approach to music:
I approach all music with an open mind. It’s important to know where you fit in as a sideman and what you can and can’t do in any given situation. This comes from playing with a wide variety of bands and singers. My sound as a solo artist is very distinctive. You can hear a lot of my influences in my improvisations.

Your teaching approach:
I train my students to teach themselves. I introduce a broad spectrum of learning skills and practice techniques so that students can claim ownership of their development and continue improving independently.

Your dream band:
I would love to play with Prince. I think most people would love to play with Prince…

Road story: Your best or worst experience:
On my 22nd birthday I played a sold out show at the Birmingham Academy with The Divine Comedy in front of about 1500 people. It was also the first time I played live on stage with Ben Folds; he is one of my idols and we played a version of Brick (one of my favourite songs). It was the best birthday ever…

Favorite venue:
The 606 in Chelsea. The best jazz club in the world. And the best sausage and mash you’ll ever have.

Your favorite recording in your discography and why?
Ian Shaw’s Drawn To All Things (2006). Ian and I are both massive Joni Mitchell fans and in 2006 we recorded an entire album of Joni songs with some fantastic arrangements by Janette Mason and Ian. There some great musicians on that record and the bass sounds great. My favorite track is our version of “A Case of You.” It’s my favorite song of all time and Ian and I play it as a duo. Lovely…

The first Jazz album I bought was:
8.30 by Weather Report.

What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically?
Personality and presence. I’d like to think you can hear me in whatever music I’m playing.

Did you know…
I play the sitar too. And the musical saw. I just recorded a track on the saw for Newton Faulkner’s new record…

CDs you are listening to now:
Les Claypool & The Holy Mackerel, Highball With The Devil
Marcus MillerA Night In Monte-Carlo (Deuces/Dreyfus)
Bon Iver, Bon Iver (4AD)
James Blake, James Blake (Lindisfarne/Unluck)
Tom WaitsOrphans (ANTI-)

Desert Island picks:
Joni Mitchell, Hejira
Eberhard Weber, Pendulum
Jaco Pastorius, Jaco
Trilok GurtuKathak
Erykah Badu, Baduizm Live

How would you describe the state of jazz today?
Generally in the UK, I would say the scene is struggling. I’ve been very lucky to have worked with some of the UK best jazz artists over the last ten years and those artists will always have a strong audience. I think it must be very tough for younger players coming through from all the colleges these days. A lot of the smaller venues in London are disappearing….

What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing?
The music needs to remain relevant. It should embrace other styles of music more openly. Jazz used to be pop music back in the day. The only thing that separates it from modern day pop music now is improvisation. You can blow over anything if you want to…

If the music was more relevant and more people connected with it, we wouldn’t need to worry so much about funding. Most of the people I play with would never need an Arts Council grant to go on tour…

What is in the near future?As well as maintaining a busy touring schedule with Clare Teal, I’m also currently working on a new duo project with drummer Steve Alexander called Little Alex. We are combining my live looping with Steve’s live drums and electronics. We should have an album out by the end of this year.Also am about to start working on a new production at The National Theatre with Ben Castle. This runs all through August and September so I’ve got a busy couple of months ahead!

If I weren’t a jazz musician, I would be a:
Writer.

Big thanks to everybody at All About Jazz for helping spread the word of the new album. Hoping to have the album reviewed by them at some point in the near future. In the meantime, you can check out the most recent review at eBurban.

 


Jul 1 2011

The Knowledge of Things To Come: Two week update & Other News

Hello folks,

Well it’s been a fortnight since I released my new solo album The Knowledge of Things To Come on Bandcamp and iTunes. So far I’ve had a very positive response from all concerned.

I had a lovely review from Oliver Arditi on the fantastic eBurban site. I was really pleased to get a review on eBurban as I really like that site and they have some great writers working for them. Oliver’s closing comments:

Little presents a series of atmospheres, a selection of airs for us to inhale. They do not take us to extreme places: there is a tang of melancholy, but there is also a sense of purposeful movement. The experience of listening is highly rewarding, for the continual sonic transformations, and the ongoing flow of ideas, as well as for the moods he creates. The Knowledge Of Things To Come is the work of a thoughtful and very creative musician, and one who shows signs of development and growth with every new release.

Oliver is such a great writer. He has previously done reviews for both Mandala and the Rejectamenta EP. In fact he is the only person to have reviewed all my solo releases. He has a brand new website so go check it out and subscribe to the feed.

I also had a little feature on the front page of the Warwick website. For those of you that don’t already know, I am a long-standing endorser for Warwick basses and amps. The whole of the record (and the previous albums) were recorded using my fantastic Warwick Thumb bass and they are a big part of my sound. I was really pleased to be featured on the site again and it’s great to have their support, especially for the solo projects.

One track from the album will be the featured free download of the day on the All About Jazz website on July 16th so keep your eyes peeled for that one. I won’t spoil the surprise and tell you which one.

I’ll keep you posted on any new reviews or features on the album as they come in. Probably via Twitter. I’ll assume that if you’re reading this we probably chat on twitter at some point!

Had a rather busy week last week as I scooted up and down the country with Clare Teal. We played Glastonbury last Saturday in the Bourbon Street tent. Didn’t get much chance to see any other acts (saw two songs from Rumer on the main stage; it was nearest) and only slightly wrecked my bass in the mud. Please remind me to take my electric bass next time I play Glastonbury; it really isn’t the place to be carting around antique instruments.

I went straight from there to play a show in Tychy (I’ve seen it spelt about a million ways) in Poland with Maggie Reilly. We had a lot of fun out there in the short period whilst we weren’t on planes and waiting in airports. For the first time since I’ve been playing with her, somebody in the audience filmed us playing a song that isn’t Moonlight Shadow. Here is a wobbly video of us playing To France. The sound is pretty nasty so don’t get over-excited!

I shall leave you for now. Don’t forget to grab a copy of the new album from the Music page via Bandcamp. It’s the only place where you can get the full hi-res audio. The iTunes versions will be all squashed down to fit in with all their other squashed down music. You know it makes sense… And don’t forget to spread the word of the solo bassist and his new album 😉

I hope you’re all enjoying it.

Simon x