Hi, Polly! We can’t wait for your gig at The AJC on 23rd March. What are your thoughts on playing The AJC for the first time?
Well, I’ve never even been to Ashtead, so I’m very much looking forward to meeting you all and having a good play and hopefully the audience will enjoy it too!
What can The AJC audience expect from the gig?
As with all my gigs, it’s a real mixed bag. Expect to hear swinging Great American song book tunes, some groovy/funky numbers, and some bluesy shuffles. I love all sorts of music and my gigs always have a real mix. Plus a few original too!
Can you tell us a little about your background? Do you remember when you first felt that spark that grows into a love of music?
I can’t remember the time I first began to love music specifically, but I do remember hearing two singers who grabbed me and immediately made me want to find out who they were and to hear more of their music. Billie Holiday and Aretha Franklin.
You first performed publicly when you were 14.
If you could meet 14-year-old Polly now, about to take her first step into the world of music, what would you say to her?
Don’t do it! Only joking. I think the main thing I would tell her is to carry on learning the piano and to find a good teacher who encouraged her to use her ears and develop her technique and understanding of harmony that way.
You’ve performed all over the world. Have any venues particularly stood out? (Apart from The AJC of course!)
I did two sets on the outdoor stage at the Montréal jazz festival and we ended up playing to about 8,000 people. I remember singing a ballad and pretty well the whole audience were quiet. That was quite an experience!
You’ll be performing with a group of musicians that you haven’t played with before. What challenges and rewards does that throw up?
Well, I think perhaps mainly the challenge lies with the musicians. I, to a certain extent just do what I do! I suppose one has to get used to hearing arrangements played in a new way, but that is a trait of jazz/playful music anyway! The rewards can be just as (if not, more!) bountiful as if you’re playing with musicians who know the music inside out.
What are you listening to at the moment?
I really jump around when it comes to listening to music. I don’t tend to get hold of music when it first comes out. I was flicking through Esperanza Spalding’s album the other day, also Renée Marie’s, Red and Henryk Szeryng, playing some Bach.
Can you tell us a little about your influences as both a singer and a musician in general?
As a singer, I’m really interested and drawn to voices, tones particularly. Almost separately to the making of music, the potential of the human voice technically interests me too. But somehow, when it comes to listening to music, the technique of singers, or indeed musicians is not the first thing that grabs me. It’s the sound and the feel that I’m interested in. I suppose I want to be moved more than I want to be impressed. I think often in jazz, technique can get in the way of the ‘message’.
You have worked with so many incredible artists. Who particularly stands out?
Well at the moment I’m enjoying working with a drummer called Mark Mclean. He's a Canadian living in New York and it’s really fun singing with him. James Pearson and Ian Shaw are always inspiring too.
Away from music, what other passions take up your time?
I like hanging out with my nieces and nephews, reading, being in nature/gardening are things that I value.
Thanks, Polly! We'll see you on The AJC stage!
Polly Gibbons Live at The Ashtead Jazz Club - Friday 23rd March 2018