The Broken Orchestra on jazz influences, creating their live sound and perfect Sunday tunes

Ahead of their set as part of our New Sounds of Hull show at Hull Jazz Festival this July, we had a chat with Pat Dooner from The Broken Orchestra…

There are a real range of sounds and influences in your music, including elements of jazz. Who are the jazz artists who’ve influenced you over the years, and what is it that draws you to their music?

Jazz has always been a big influence on the music I’ve created. My initial foray into Jazz music came from listening to a lot of Hip-Hop when I was younger. Things like Nas-Illmatic, Pete Rock, Common, Gangstarr, Talib Kweli and Jay Dee sampled a lot of Jazz and Jazz influenced records. You eventually go and find the records that get sampled and find these beautiful creations that have been skilfully sampled and adapted by these producers and artists.

For me personally, what I love about Jazz is the underplaying for the benefit of feel and groove. Often when people think of Jazz, they think of a cacophony of instruments played at the selfish will of the player but it’s not like that at all. You have these incredible musicians and to hear them underplay so well live and on records excites me.

Some of the Jazz artists that have influenced me are Bill Evans, Ahmad Jamal, Roy Ayers, Bob James, John Coltrane. I’m also excited and influenced by a lot of modern artists and I love how Jazz creeps into a lot of very popular modern music. I particularly enjoy and am influenced by artists like Portico Quartet, Go-Go Penguin, Bonobo, Loyle Carner, Matthew Halsall, Origamibiro, Speech Debelle and The Cinematic Orchestra.

Listening to your tracks, there are lots of different layers of sound. Having started doing live shows last year, how do you translate your studio sound into a live experience? What’s the set up for a Broken Orchestra live show? 

A Broken Orchestra live show currently consists of Carl Conway-Davis triggering samples, sounds, loops, beats and bass. Tom Kay playing guitar (traditionally and also with varying effects and pedals), Emily Render handling nearly all vocals and myself Pat Dooner playing keys.

The Broken Orchestra

For years we’d struggled to find the right way to put forward live what we do in the studio but now it seems so obvious and natural. We pretty much set up for all eventualities, so we have as much gear as we need for the set on stage: keys, guitar, bass, cymbals, samples and vocals and we all just chip in as needed.

The idea is to that we all have our area to concentrate on, but if in a certain instrumental track Emily needs to play samples or bass then she will do. Similarly, I’ll move from keys to trigger sounds, samples if the track calls for it. With the exception of Tom, we’re all relatively limited in playing musical instruments but I think that works for what we do. Personally, I know that my limitation on keys prohibit me from overplaying and I think our tracks benefit from that.

You’ve just announced a series of gigs across the country – what else does 2018 hold for The Broken Orchestra?

The idea for 2018 is to gig, increase our fan base and create as much new music as possible.

We had an EP out earlier in the year (Blinded EP) to give us a focus and the plan is to have another 5-6 track EP ready for towards the end of summer.

Although we’re Hull-based, and proud of it, it has never been our intention to do the standard circuit of gigs around the area. We want to get out of the city, play different and interesting venues and meet new people and promoters. So far it appears to be going pretty well, with some great gigs here in Hull both at the Jazz Festival and at Hull Minster later in the year and some great out of town gigs too including Sheffield, Huddersfield, Manchester Jazz Festival and Newcastle.

We’re all big fans of lazy Sundays here, and we know you used to do the Sunday Soulscape podcast. If we asked you to soundtrack our perfect chilled Sunday, what three tracks would you open with?

That’s a great question. We loved presenting that show, and we were sad to stop doing it but time commitments got in the way. We used to DJ in old town Hull on a Sunday afternoon doing similar stuff and we really enjoyed doing that too. Ok, so three opening tracks… I’ll give you five instead:

  1. Pompidou– Portico Quartet
  2. Make a Smile For Me– Bill Withers
  3. Love & Hate– Michael Kiwanuka
  4. Walk The Same- Grey Reverend
  5. I Need A Win– Mammas Gun

We’re off to make a pot of coffee, put our feet up and listen to Pat’s Sunday selection. If you fancy catching The Broken Orchestra live, tickets are on sale now to see them plus The Dyr Sister and Revenu at Kardomah94 on Saturday 21 July. £7 (£5 for students and under-26s) from Hull Box Office online or on 01482 221113

New music commissioned for Hull Jazz Festival

“It’s so important to explore new sounds in jazz.” says J-Night and Hull Jazz Festival Director David Porter, “We’re as interested in great new sounds for the future as we are in celebrating the wonderful jazz tradition.”

2017’s been a busy year so far for J-Night. Being UK City of Culture demands something different. Something extra. Something that makes people see jazz in a new way.

What better than funding our most creative UK artists to explore and create new music for our audiences?

The PRS (Performing Right Society) Foundation has funded J-Night to commission a number of cracking projects this year:

GoGo Penguin, the acoustic electronica trio, will unveil their tribute to the industrial sounds of the North in a Basil Kirchin-inspired piece called As Above So Below. It premieres in Hull and London in July as part of the PRSF New Music Biennial.

They’ll then revisit Hull in November to reprise the piece, alongside their astonishing score to Godfrey Reggio’s cult film Koyaanisqatsi, itself commissioned by Home in Manchester.

GoGo Pengiun performing live

GoGo Penguin performing at Home, Manchester (c) Sarah Leech, Home Manchester

J-Night will also support guitarist / composer Stuart McCallum and electronica artist Revenu to create new works exploring their love affair with their instruments and with the City of Hull. Stuart McCallum is established as one of the UK’s leading guitarist and composers, working with the Cinematic Orchestra. Stuart will write a piece to celebrate the versatility of the guitar. Revenu has been discovered by Giles Peterson’s Future Bubblers in 2016 and took part in the Basil Kirchin celebration weekend Mind on the Run in February this year. Revenu will be exploring his favourite sounds of Hull, alongside visuals from artist Joe Bird.

The commissions will headline the Hull Jazz Festival 25th anniversary in November, joining another commissioned piece. A Journey with the Giants of Jazz is Peter Edwards’ new piece for the Nu Civilisation Orchestra. It’s all about the defining year of 1917, that saw the birth of jazz’s most influential artists – Thelonius Monk, Dizzy Gillespie, Ella Fitzgerald, Tadd Dameron, Dizzy Gillespie and Mongo Santamaria. Young people from Hull and East Riding will be working with Peter in the run up to the November festival and they’ll perform pieces by these six giants of jazz before Nu Civilisation Orchestra take the stage.

All Aboard for the Jazz Ticket!

J-Night has a long-standing partnership with Tomorrows Warriors, a leading music education and professional development organisation working with some of the most exciting and diverse new, emerging and established jazz musicians in the UK, with a particular focus on those from BAME backgrounds and girls.

In line with the Tomorrow’s Warriors ethos, here at J-Night we aim to create progression routes for young Hull jazz musicians, taking them from a learning environment in a school or workshop setting through to performing on a professional stage.

To this end, J-Night are bringing a band of Tomorrow’s Warriors to Hull this Easter, to meet with Hull Music Hub and up to six local schools, share their enthusiasm about this exciting new project and start mapping out how local young musicians can get involved.

Artists Gary Crosby OBE (artistic director of Tomorrows Warriors), Peter Edwards, Fish Krish and Andy Chapman will meet with Hull music teachers to talk about the project then Peter Edwards will lead a 2-hour workshop for members of the Hull Youth Jazz Orchestra, looking at the repertoire of the great names of jazz.

Peter Edwards

Peter Edwards

About the Jazz Ticket project

The Jazz Ticket – a Journey with the Giants of Jazz, is a co production between Tomorrow’s Warriors and Turner Sims Concert Hall in Southampton, where Tomorrow’s Warriors are Associate Artists.

1917 was a defining year for jazz that saw the birth of some of the most influential jazz artists, including Ella Fitzgerald, Thelonious Monk, Dizzy Gillespie, Mongo Santamaria, Tadd Dameron and Buddy Rich.

In order to celebrate the 100th anniversary of these Giants of Jazz, as well as Tomorrow’s Warriors’ 25th anniversary and Hull City of Culture 2017, pianist and composer, and Tomorrow’s Warriors music leader, Peter Edwards, is writing a composition – A Journey with the Giants of Jazz – that will reference music by all six of these outstanding musicians, to be performed by the Nu Civilisation Orchestra, (Tomorrow’s Warriors contemporary Jazz Orchestra.)

Peter Edwards has been successful in receiving a PRS for Music Foundation award to present this new work at the New Music Biennial on 1 & 2 July 2017 as part of Hull UK City of Culture 2017 and 7- 9 July 2017 at London’s Southbank Centre. The aim is that young musicians from Hull schools will have the chance over the next year to create music specifically to accompany the Jazz Ticket Show and Nu Civilisation Orchestra next July.