Award-winning multi-instrumentalist, bandleader and composer Jason Yarde is one of Britain’s foremost jazz musicians and will be familiar to Hastings jazz heads as one-sixth of supergroup Hexagonal. He talks to Andrew Myers about his new project, big band Acoutastic Bombastic

PICTURE: Gregory Heath

How did you get into jazz?
Essentially through my parents’ record collection which, thankfully, was varied and great! 

My father’s passion for Jimmy Smith, Bob Marley, Roger Daltry and B.B. King, and my mother’s for Duke Ellington, Nat King Cole and Frank Sinatra, all made a big impression.

Then as a teenager I joined the Jazz Warriors, and from there I really started to get into writing as well as playing. 

I don’t particularly like being hemmed in to any particular genre and I like improvising, so Jazz seemed like the most natural place to explore all aspects.

Who is your sax hero?
If I was forced to narrow it down to one, without hesitation I’d volunteer Wayne Shorter before any weapons were drawn. As a composer, saxophonist and bandleader, he’s been and continues to be an inspiration for me at every stage of his universally influential career.

What do you think of the music industry at present? Is it getting easier or harder for less mainstream genres such as jazz?
It’s certainly in a state of renewal with a lot of creativity through necessity. Whatever the genre, there isn’t the money or opportunities seemingly floating around as there may have been in the past. On the plus side, listeners and artists alike are becoming more accepting of crossing genres. Jazz, thankfully, still attracts supporters of physical formats, CDs, LPs …

Has the internet been a good or bad thing for jazz?
Likewise, there is good and bad … I’m privileged to be a committee member of Basca (The British Association of Songwriters, Composers and Authors), and as such I get to see and hear many perspectives on how things are and the need to improve.

Certainly, it’s great that you might be able to check out a particular scene or study with someone online, where it may have cost big bucks previously. But if the content provider’s work isn’t properly compensated, it cheapens everything for everybody –  and eventually writers can’t feed their families. And new writers might never begin the journey.

Tell us about your latest project, Acoutastic Bombastic.
#AcouBomb is literally my dream project. Not only did it first form as a childhood dream, it’s been a great excuse to get together with some of my favourite musical beings and explore. 

The line-up is at least ten strong and within that, everybody plays multiple instruments. So the palette is vast. It can morph from a brass led band to a string section, a choir, a sax quartet… 

It’s a sonic pick’n’mix for a curious composer. 

Give us a good reason why someone might want to donate to your crowdfunder! 
Well, besides all the fantastic music on offer and all the wonderful formats it’s available in (please check the page!), you’ll be supporting families, friendships and future music-making. Surely desirable for everyone!

Should the crowdfunder be successful, I’d certainly bring the band home to the coast! I love it down here but I don’t spend as much time as I’d like through the necessity of touring. There’s nothing quite like doing a gig you can walk to and from. Having lived in Hastings/St Leonards for almost six years, this would be a particular treat – I dare say for all concerned!

If you would like to support the #acoubomb project, get your skates on – the crowdfunder runs until 15th February 2019.

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