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TIM BONIFACE

1. Hi, Tim! You're no stranger to performing at The AJC. Are you looking forward to headlining your own night?

 

I can't wait; it's a real privilege. The AJC brings together everything I care about and love in playing live music, in a community that's very precious to me. I have a lot to thank people in Ashtead for.

 

2. What can The AJC's audience expect on 17th October 2014?

 

A joyful journey with lots of different views on the way! We'll play all sorts of styles from trad, blues and mainstream to my own compositions and more contemporary arrangements of the great standards. It'll be a diverse but coherent whole! Plus… the rest of the band are phenomenal musicians and we love playing together, so you can expect a good deal fun emanating from the stage, as well as some deep emotion, I hope. 

 

3. How does headlining your own night differ from being part of someone else's band?

 

I like to think that when we play there's always space for every musician to flourish no matter who's in charge, so ideally whether I'm headlining or not, there's space to play as freely as possible and also enjoy the abilities of the others. That said, I love being able to pick all the tunes(!); and I enjoy trying to guide the group towards what's in my imagination, whilst giving them space to express themselves as freely as possible. (It also gives me a chance to compere - watch out!)

 

4. You are a renowned multi-instrumentalist, playing expertly on sax, clarinet, piano, guitar, trumpet and flugel. Do you have a preferred instrument to perform on?

 

I've been asked that so many times an I always struggle to answer! I guess it's a toss up between piano and saxes, and in the end may come down to the fact that there's just nothing quite like holding and playing a lovely rich toned vintage saxophone! Overall though, it's all about finding that perfect match between what I want to do musically and what instrument I do that on… when the combination's right, it's magic. So I love each of the instruments I play in different ways. Am I allowed to evade the question like that?!

 

5. As well as a fantastic performer, you are also an excellent arranger. Do you enjoy this side of the creative process?

 

Yes I love it - though sometimes you get so far with an arrangement and you realise you're just making the song worse! I have lots of discarded arrangements! When it works, though, a good arrangement gives the audience a totally new perspective on a song they thought they knew, hearing something new or sensing a new energy in the piece. I do a lot of arranging 'on the go', just singing to myself.

 

6. You are the Musical Director for The Tim Boniface Hand Picked Big Band. How does arranging for a Big Band differ from arranging for your Quartet, the Tim Boniface Jazz Quartet?

 

Much more time consuming! In some ways you have more to work with in a big band chart - lots of colours, combinations of instruments, and a huge dynamic range. In other ways it's more limiting as there's a lot less space for letting the players take the arrangement in directions beyond what's on the page. It requires much harder imaginative work.

 

7. You have toured the country with the quartet. Just how much fun are they to play with? What can we expect from them in the future?

 

So much fun - and not just playing either. On the road we have a great laugh, and also care deeply for each other too. It's a wonderful, wonderful group of musicians. We have so many moments on stage where looks are exchanged that just say "yes, that was what we were going for, isn't it great!"… What to expect in the future…lots of mischief, a new album, and as much live playing as we can do!

 

8. You recently released a video for the track 'Singin' In The Rain' (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mpjr-hd_9uw). How was that to record?

 

It was one of my favourite musical experiences. The video really captures something of what's special when we play together. I was so grateful to all the others for really pouring so much into the performance, it felt like a high point in our work together. Also, it was at Crown Lane Studio - best studio ever!

 

9. 'Singin' In The Rain' is a track on your forthcoming album. What can you tell us about that project?

 

It's an opportunity to present some familiar and less well known standards in new arrangements that I've written over the last two years, showcasing this wonderful new ensemble setup. I want the album to capture something of the joy and depth of feeling in the way I approach jazz, and hopefully I've written arrangements which give all the musicians space to do that. 

 

10. Apart from the obvious, how do you feel recording differs from live performance? Do you have a preference?

 

Although performance is my preference, recording can be almost as good. If there's real interaction and listening; if everybody's open to hear others' ideas; and if each musician is an appreciative audience to the others' playing, then recording can contain many aspects of live playing. Ultimately, both recording and live performance should, I think, be 'outward looking' - should have a sense of giving about them - to audience (whether live or listeners to a CD) and to each other. But yes, the buzz from playing to an appreciative audience is hard to beat!

 

11. Who have been your biggest influences as a performer? How about as a writer?

 

Oh gosh, how to answer that! Listening to Oscar Peterson changed my world! His piano playing influences everything I do on any instrument, as does his sheer energy and delight in music-making. Sax wise - Dexter Gordon and Ben Webster, probably. In terms of arranging and writing, Kurt Elling and Lawrence Hopgood continually expands my musical horizons. The amazing music of Pat Metheny, too, has probably been the most consistent influence on my less traditional work.

 

12. Who are you listening to at the moment?

 

Right now, 'I'm a Fool To Want You' by Dexter Gordon.

 

13. Do you have a favourite style of jazz to play?

 

Across all styles I'm addicted to anything that swings hard…and ballads. Essentially, I want something that I can put my everything into. My favourite jazz is jazz I play with friends.

 

14. When not listening to jazz, what other styles of music are you into?

 

Sacred choral music - especially Durufle, and currently Lauridsen and Villette. …and Bach.

 

15. Finally, when away from music, what do you enjoy doing with your time?

 

Well, Beth and I have two beautiful daughters, which keep me busy and joyful! Alongside that, I'm in Cambridge training to be ordained as an Anglican Priest whilst doing a PhD in theology… so there's always lots to do. And then there's Brighton and Hove Albion…