We always hold close the good friends we have met along our journey here at Fresh Independence. Andrew Maxwell Morris is an artist that many can relate to – because in our real worlds we are all walking well tread roads of responsibility to a life beautifully lived with family – friends and making time for what fills us up creatively. That is why it feels good to connect with music that resonates from that place you can trust. This well seasoned performer, British poet and troubadour, has had his music featured in television series and commercials – which pay true testament to the depth of his talents.
Have a listen to his latest offering below and a personal memoir of his Glasto 2017 experience.
Today Andrew releases his latest single “Don’t Give Up On Us’ and I asked him what this song means to him.
Wow it’s really hard to define your own work at times! The song just grew really from a bass line that I was playing about with. It’s one of the first tracks I’ve written just from the bass, and as the song grew I realized that it was about standing by someone, even when it doesn’t seem right at times. The lyric has a reflection in, looking back as an older wiser person ‘don’t leave me to wonder, how on earth I got here,’ cause I’m old in the sidelines, looking back at our years. I produced ‘Don’t Give Up On Us’ – played most of the instruments and the female vocals are from Hattie Whitehead who was a finalist in the Glastonbury talent competition in 2016.
Last week Andrew played at Glastonbury 2017 and he’s here to share what that experience was like for him. Everyone tends to think of the big stage – but any true music lover will wander to some of the smaller stages where expression is in full bloom and experience ‘the heart of the festival.’
My Experience at Glastonbury 2017
By Andrew Maxwell Morris
I felt how lucky we were to be playing there – and felt an instant connection to the audience – it was one of the few times I really felt I was communicating through music…
Arriving at Glastonbury is like arriving into a new town – a temporary town, set up and built for one purpose; to give everyone who attends the chance to have the time of their life. It is not just a festival of music – it is a gathering of like minded people from the old to the young and in between. As a music festival, it is an assault on the senses – for everywhere you turn there is a music stage – every corner a band. Music is played almost twenty four hours a day.
Arriving as an artist is a unique feeling – you know deep down that you are about to play a small part in the biggest festival in the world. The energy that surrounds you there is so different from anywhere else. I have planned my appearances at Glastonbury over the past 10 years and I have worked towards each one of them like it would be my last. My home is in the Greenfield’s of Glastonbury, the spiritual heart of the Festival, where the you get a sense of how things used to be, when the festival first opened it doors in the 1970’s. In the Green fields, they promote environmentally friendly causes, campaigning and liberal values. There is an arts and craft field, a healing field and a green futures field. It is peaceful and beautiful. It is infectious.
As an artist who is still trying to make a name, it is easy to arrive with high expectations. But when you realize it is not just about you but what you contribute, it starts to make sense. In between our 4 shows, we get a chance to walk around. It is massive. To put it into perspective, there are fields dedicated to theatre and circus, kids and families, poetry and drama. There are two cinemas, politics stages, forums and this is just the start. There are almost 200,000 people. There simply isn’t enough time to see everything on your first visit – you can only skim the surface. Just when you think your senses can’t take anymore, you are hit again. In the ‘Unfair Ground’ the field is set up like a circus noir, with strange fair games and people dressed up like dark circus figures, smiling and trying to entice you in. At Shangri La, the main exhibit might be a plane wreck, with actors playing survivors and waving white flags. There are so many bars playing different types of music, you can hardly believe your ears. At 3am on Saturday morning, we stumbled across the Truth stage, with a band fronted by a Spanish rapper, a rapper from Bristol (West of England) and a female singer. The band were amazing and full of energy. You would not realize how late it was by the amount of people around.
My band and I played on three stages this year – the bicycle powered “Mandala Stage’, the solar powered ‘Toad Hall’ stage and the wonderful Avalon Cafe, in the ‘Field of Avalon’. At 11.30 on a Thursday morning, we took to the Avalon Cafe with a good crowd ready for their first music of the day. It was one of those moments when I knew it was going to be special. I couldn’t put my finger on why, but I looked around at the guys in the band and I think we all felt it. There was an instant connection with that audience, and for one of the few times, I felt like I was really communicating through music, that I had something to say. This was the highlight for me, and I hope everyone there felt the same. I sang a song about my mother called ‘Upside Down’ – I think it brought a tear to a few eyes. I remember feeling how lucky we were to be playing there, in front of an audience who really appreciated it. At the Mandala stage, we had a blast and I was particularly touched by people who waited over an hour to see us perform (thanks guys!) Between gigs, we chilled out and took in the vibe, drank Cider and enjoyed some hospitality from PRS ( the UK version of ASCAP), We met and saw a short set by the 80’s artist Roachford, which was amazing. The problem with Glastonbury is that you have to walk miles to get everywhere, but I suppose when time stands still, walking isn’t really something to complain about.
By Doug Hall
“As any jazz archivist can attest, filming records in the smoky nightclubs with dimly lit stages, where many jazz & blues musicians performed, were sometimes all that history had as a record. Housed in a modular cabinet, are 400 hours of music, 96 exclusive interviews and 20 yearbooks. Inside ‘The Jazz & Blues ART Box’ – it is this type of storytelling that brings alive the behind the scenes aspects of jazz history.” – Doug Hall
The roots of jazz, according to many sources (scholars, musicians and jazz aficionados) derives from a “union of African and European music”. Connecting the American origins of the birth of jazz music dates back to New Orleans about 100 years ago – and its most important originator Louis Armstrong. Fast forward to the present and we have a rich history of musicianship that has driven this particularly American-based genre of sound. And before jazz – the blues, an origin that dates back to, historically, and generally accepted as, evolving from “African spirituals, chants, work songs, field hollers, rural fife and drum music, revivalist hymns and country dance music.”
But in the modern age of the 20th century, particularly post WWII, the “live” performance of both jazz and blues was the way to reach greater audiences and truly let the music and musician express themselves and “improvise” and “take it” to the audience, “at the moment.” We know the “big” names for premier festivals in the U.S. such as the Newport Jazz Festival, The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and the Monterey Jazz Festival. But how about the International Jazz Festival Bern, Switzerland? For 40 plus years of “hard swinging”, the founder Hans Zurbrügg has been delivering a commitment to a purist form of jazz shared by icons such as Dizzy Gillespie, Oscar Peterson, Sarah Vaughn, Sonny Rollins and contemporary legends Wynton Marsalis, Marcus Roberts, Christian McBride and Diana Krall. Now – picture a collection of 20 years of impeccably recorded and on-stage filming (by Swiss Television) of seminal performances by these jazz greats followed-up with off-stage interviews – where these pioneers share thoughts about their life, their music and the expression of jazz music itself.
Hans Zurbrügg, George Wein, Wynton Marsalis at NYC Premiere
Photo Credit Hank O’Neal
Hans Zurbrügg, Founder and producer of the International Jazz Festival Bern(Switzerland) has just announced release of ‘The Jazz & Blues ART Box’, a collection of 230 DVD’s, in a fully functional and accessible 3 drawer cabinet, that includes DVD’s, yearbooks and an art book. On-board with enthusiasm and helping to present and promote the uniqueness of this collection are other legendary members of the jazz community including George Wein (founder and artistic director of the Newport Jazz Festival), Wynton Marsalis (trumpeter, composer, and artistic director of Jazz at Lincoln Center) and Hank O’Neal (photographer, author and music producer). From 1983 to 2002, the International Jazz Festival Bern was televised and broadcast by Swiss Television, resulting in this remarkable record -both visually and auditory – archiving what Hank O’Neal calls the “most remarkable collection of jazz and blues performances on video ever assembled.”
Hank O’Neal, George Wein, Wynton Marsalis and Hans Zurbrügg
Mr. Zurbrügg’s – commitment as a musician (trumpeter) and passionate promoter, and noted entrepreneur would take his jazz festival along the steps, from a fledgling beginning in the 1960’s to what would become “one of Europe’s great jazz festivals.” Reflecting on his early days in Bern, Wynton Marsalis recalls, “This festival stood out as one of the few that embraced the integrity of Jazz when many others proudly and successfully expanded their festival audience by selling a watered-down roster of non-jazz.” By 1976, Mr. Zurbrügg would be the founder and producer of the Bern Festival, and creating a line-up year after year that would include the seminal names in jazz on stage including Oscar Peterson, The Modern Quartet, Sonny Rollins, Dave Brubeck, Sarah Vaughan, Art Blakey, Joe Williams, Clark Terry, Benny Carter, and Gerry Mulligan. This is just a taste of the full line-up of filmed recordings in this collection of stellar musicians at the height of their creative abilities – caught live for all future listeners and historians to enjoy and to serve as an educational history for this unique genre of music.
Legendary Jazz – Saxaphonist – Composer – Arranger – Jimmy Heath attending the NYC Premiere
Photo Credit Hank O’Neal
As any jazz archivist can attest, filming records in the smoky nightclubs with dimly lit stages, where many jazz & blues musicians performed, were sometimes all that history had as a record. Mr. Zurbrügg took this to heart and pursued an agreement with Swiss Television to record every performance at his festival. But most importantly, Mr. Zurbrügg ensured a standard excellence and caliber of recording, “It was determined that the concerts would be filmed with full production values, with the highest quality technological standards of the era.” As many of these legendary musicians have not only long since left the stage, but also have passed into history, “The Jazz & Blues Art Box” now remains a very critical record of performance and also interview.
At the World Premiere of “The Jazz & Blues Box”, (NYC, June 8, 2017), in just one example, in interview, I listened to Art Blakey (of Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers) tell his story about his beginnings, moving from the piano to the drums in a Chicago club, operated (by his own admission) by the “mob”, and how he was un-ceremoniously told to vacate the piano seat and accept his next job as drummer. This, again, is an interview moment that would be lost without this vital collection. Blakey, of course, would go on to be an extraordinary performer and contributor as bandleader and mentor for many upcoming jazz leaders like Wynton Marsalis. It is this type of storytelling that brings alive the behind the scenes aspects of jazz history. In fact there are 96 individual un-released interviews in this collection, as stated by Wynton Marsalis, “Hans Zurbrügg went a step further and convinced Swiss television to record and broadcast interviews…the most important jazz legends provide an in-depth insight into the life and musical heritage of Jazz & Blues culture.”
The Jazz & Blues ART Box on display at the NYC Premiere
Housed in a modular cabinet, with three drawers, on caster wheels, designed exclusively by Swiss manufacturer, USM, are 400 hours of music, 96 exclusive interviews and 20 yearbooks (and one large format book). Touches of modern art affects are finished-off by legendary graphic artist Roger Pfund. This small footprint reveals a treasure of recordings, which Hans Zurbrügg refers to as a “collection of historical value.” At the World Premiere in New York (June 8, 2017), all attendees were given a numbered ticket that coincided with one of the DVD’s in the “The Jazz & Blues Box”. As I approached to receive mine, I felt, as certainly everyone else did in the audience that night, that this was a “lottery” ticket where every selection was a winner.
The best part of what we do is meeting inspiring people like writer Doug Hall. His contributions are a blessing and bright light to Fresh Independence.
My lifelong passion for writing and literature (which are wed to each other) continues to stay active, with art and cultural freelance writing assignments for on-line entertainment web sites. Home has been New England, Rocky Mountains, and London and lots of places travelled through books and points of view. (publishing in lazysundaymag.com and bubbobar.com )
“Creativity is a continual surprise.” ― Ray Bradbury