INTRODUCING GABRIEL LATCHIN
"A fiercely swinging, accomplished debut… Latchin embraces the feel of a classic piano trio with zest.”
- London Jazz News
My first introduction to jazz was through my grandmother, Dorothy Paton. A singer and pianist in her youth, she taught me to play 'In the Mood' on the piano when I was nine years old, complete with boogie-woogie bass line in the left hand. Soon after, she bought me my first CD - a compilation of Oscar Peterson’s music called Piano Moods. I was hooked. As the great Cedar Walton said, “If the bug’s gonna bite you, it’d be then.”
School and an Economics degree out the way, I began to “cut my teeth” in the Edinburgh jazz scene before returning to London to study at the Guildhall. Though the journey to the point of releasing my debut album has been over twenty years, my musical taste hasn’t changed that much. My heart still lies in swinging jazz. Naturally, the music from which I draw inspiration has widened far beyond those early Oscar albums. Important influences have been, so far, Art Tatum, of course, Sonny Rollins, Nat King Cole, Bill Evans (to whom this album cover is a tip of the hat), Oscar Peterson, Charlie Parker, Ahmad Jamal, Thelonius Monk, Bud Powell, Tommy Flanagan, Hank Jones, Phineas Newborn, Barry Harris, Miles Davis, Cedar Walton, Herbie Hancock, McCoy Tyner, and so on. From them, have learnt everything I know.
Of the eleven songs presented on this record, seven are my arrangements of well known jazz standards. The exception would be the lesser recorded "If I Only Had a Brain" from The Wizard of Oz, which perhaps should have been titled "If I Only Had Cedar’s Brain". The remaining four are my own compositions written over the last five years.
The opening track, “Carlora” is dedicated to my parents, Fiona and Dinkha. The word is a portmanteau of the towns in which they grew up, Carlisle in the North of England and Dora in Baghdad. The composition is heavily inspired by the virtuoso Phineas Newborn, in particular his use of contrary motion and arpeggios in tenths.
“Off The Latch” came about from practicing over the chord sequence to Frank Loesser’s song “Slow Boat to China”. It is a bebop melody based on the same changes.
Whilst studying at the Guildhall, the class was set an assignment to write a blues one week. “Trane Hopping” has its origins based in that first draft. The title reflects the jump in harmony from a “Giant Steps” type of blues progression to a more modal second half.
“Blues for Billy” is dedicated to one of my favourite drummers, Billy Higgins. Though I never got to see him perform live, his unique way of playing on albums with Dexter Gordon, Herbie Hancock and Cedar Walton, among others, continues to have a great influence on me.
This album also has two contrasting solo piano pieces. The first is the Strayhorn masterpiece “Lush Life”, in which my tortured classical-self is given a chance at the piano chair. The second, “Can’t We Be Friends”, is approached in a much more traditional way. Here, my love for the early piano players (Art Tatum, Teddy Wilson, Earl Hines) is expressed in a bluesy, stride arrangement.
There are several people I would like to thank for helping to realise this project. First and foremost are the musicians themselves, Tom Farmer and Josh Morrison. Two great musicians and great friends. Long may we make music together. Simon Hendry for all his patience while mixing the music. My brother Abraham for the photos and artwork. The list goes on.
I hope you enjoy listening to this album and that my words above offer some insight into where
the music has come from.
"A ravishing mix of originals and standards... From the opening measure, I was spellbound."
- Bebop Spoken Here
Release date: 15th September 2017
Gabriel Latchin - piano
Tom Farmer - bass
Josh Morrison - drums
Recorded in London at Red Gables Studio on the 20th and 21st March and 31st October 2014.
It Had To Be You 04:32
Lover Man 04:39
Off The Latch 05:03
Lush Life 03:28
Trane Hopping 04:37
If I Only Had A Brain 05:19
Stompin’ At The Savoy 03:36
Easy To Love 05:25
Can’t We Be Friends 02:39
Blues For Billy 04:39