Wednesday 20th March
Please note the timings will be slightly earlier than usual tonight in the following format:
5.30pm doors open
6.15pm support artist
7.30pm Chip Wickham
9pm DOORS CLOSE
Chip Wickham: Flutes & Saxophone
Jessica Lauren: Piano
Simon ’Sneaky’ Houghton: Double Bass
Jon Scott: Drums
Jonny Mansfield: Vibraphone
Shamal Wind combines Chip Wickham’s globetrotting, spiritual jazz expeditions with hard-won schoolings in the UK Jazz scene. On this new album, the sax, flute player and producer’s second long-player for Madrid-based imprint Lovemonk, Chip continues the rapid ascent, which started, with his debut, La Sombra, in 2017. Chip spent his formative years in Manchester’s close-knit jazz scene working with top UK Jazz artists such as Matthew Halsall and Nat Birchall. Now, after years in Madrid, he divides his time between the UK, Spain and Doha having undertaken a momentous life-changing experience upending his whole outlook on life and music.
Recorded across a week in Madrid last July, he brought in special guest Matthew Halsall and a band – made up of both Spanish players, and UK musicians based in Spain – who were part of the same soul-jazz-influenced circle he helped cultivate while based there. The record nods to spiritual jazz influences like Yusef Lateef, and rests on Chip’s many-sided experience as a musician: he’s played with Nightmares On Wax, Dwight Trible and been chosen to be part of the Craig Charles Fantasy Funk Band, spanning trip-hop experiments to heavy-hitting funk heavyweights.
The title, Shamal Wind, references the winds, which pass through the Persian gulf. Around certain points of the year, they can become extreme, causing disruption and unrest. It often marks the shift to a new season. Likewise, this album marks a new chapter for Chip, opening up a newfound energy and inclusiveness in his music. Where his first album saw him taking his first moves toward centre stage (with the title, meaning ‘The Shade’ in Spanish, alluding to him stepping out into the limelight), this sees him expanding what he achieved in a more expansive way.
More than before, this album sees him in touch with a bigger musical vision. Through his move to Doha, he’s experienced close-up the Arabic influence which was an important reference point for the likes of Sahib Shabib. Seeing those US spiritual jazz forebears in a fresh light, he’s observed how those sounds have filtered through his own UK-based tangents of jazz, as well as the North African influences which permeate the traditions – most visibly, flamenco – of Spain.
His previous record saw a cover of Camarón de la Isla’s ‘La Leyenda del Tiempo’, and the title track of this one – with brushed, textural Arab-influenced percussion – sees those different points of reference being joined together. Elsewhere, ‘Barrio 71’ sees him nodding to Shabib’s inimitable style: high energy, lyrical and absorbing, with sax and the vibraphone taking the lead. The sound of the new record is also the product of the different, distinct paths he’s carved out across his career. On the one hand, his previous base in Manchester saw him as an early lynchpin of the jazz scene which has now grown up around Matthew Halsall and his Gondwana label. Halsall has been a friend and collaborator over the years, with the pair recently touring together as the band for Dwight Trible. That’s fed into the side of his music, in evidence on ‘Snake Eyes’, that taps into the meditative exaltations of modal jazz. Elsewhere, ‘Soho Strut’ nods to the jazz fusion, funk-influenced side of Chip’s playing, and is also a tribute to the UK Jazz Scene of Tubby Hayes and Ronnie Scott.
Regularly visiting Leeds from his base in Manchester in the ‘90s, the city’s funk and soul scene – centred around The New Mastersounds – was one of his entry points into music. It opened his eyes to the live, powerful directness that funk music could have on crowds, something he’s explored before with his funk-heavy 7”s, and his alias Malena. It also was a starting point that led to his own involvement in a range of music that was emerging at the time: from instrumental hip-hop to live drum‘n’bass, he toured and recorded with artists like Nightmares On Wax and Jimpster (before the latter’s subsequent diversion into house music).
The latter collaborations speak to the influence which club culture has had on his music. Ever since blazing down the M62 to Leeds’ late night, brass-heavy get downs, he’s always figured music as a way to (amongst other things) make people dance. It’s a perspective in evidence on recent dancefloor-minded cut ‘The Beatnik’. Recently, that connection has been expanded with remixes of his music from the likes of Moodymann-affiliated, Detroit legend Andrés, as well as LA based, hip-hop and beats scene innovator Carlos Niño.
That wealth of experiences is channelled into this deep long-player. He connects the dots between the places and people which have shaped his music, drawing from his unique vantage point. As a dedicated student of the history which has come before him, and a player whose experience spans different worlds of musical styles, it gives a natural weight to the music he makes. Shamal Wind is a heavy record, built on strong foundations.