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WorldService Project (WSP) is a young British jazz/punk/experimental quintet formed by Dave Morecroft (keyboard/compositions), Tim Ower (saxophones), Raphael Clarkson (trombone), Conor Chaplin (bass), Neil Blandford (drums).
Dave Morecroft, keyboarder/compositor and leader of the band tells to Toonari Post the whole story of WSP and their unconventional music mash-up experiment.
Toonari Post (TP): How long have you been playing together and how did you start?
Dave Morecroft (DM): WSP in its current form has begun approaching three years ago, [but] we have known each other for a lot longer because we all went to the same sixth form college in Alston, Hampshire, where four out of five of us studied at the age of 16 to 18. We were there in different years and times.
Our average age is 23 years and 2 months, I think, because of the actual gap between the oldest – Neil, the drummer, who is 26 – and the youngest – Conor, our bass player, who is 20. The great thing about this college is that there was a very active music department. There were computer LAN night shows where we knew about Neil.
Me, Neil, Conor and Tim, the sax player, were very familiar with each other playing, and we met up and played together. We have been playing since a very young age, especially myself and Conor.
We did our first gig when he was 12 and I was 15. So, we’ve known each other playing for a long time and I think that it really helps and gives a kind of brother fit to the band. When I left the college, I went to university in York, in the north of England, and I met Raph. [That] was when WSP started. Raph joined in with us just to see how it worked out and then in 2009, we recorded an EP and that was the real start.
TP: In 2010, you got the prestigious Peter Whittingham Jazz Award for best emerging jazz band. Can you tell a bit about this experience and how it affected your path?
DM: In 2009/2010 we were working on some material and defining the sound — and rehearse as much as possible. Then, in the winter 2010, we were very fortunate to be awarded with the Peter Whittingham Jazz Award which creates fantastic opportunities to young musicians. If you look in the scene there is no[t] really many other things like it, it’s very unique. The musicians kind of curate the benevolent fund that comes from the Peter Whittingham Award and the Whittingham family. There is nothing else like it, especially for this kind of music.
If you look at the previous winners there are some fantastic British jazz musicians from several generations. I think it really did kickstart on to what we are doing now – the “Match&Fuse” – that is the project proposal we’d submitted for the Peter Whittingham.
TP: Your music is a patchwork of styles, how would you define it and how did you come up with this mash-up?
DM: As you said, the music we play is a patchwork of styles. Defining is always very interesting and difficult. Sometimes we’ve done gigs and people came up at the end saying different things. Some people listen in a very kind of gestural sense, or they see just diversity of colors on [a] structure scales, completely [choosing] the contradictory term. Some people listen in a way like ‘oh you must listen to Frank Zappa’ or ‘there is a bit of Meshuggah’ or ‘you really like Weather Report’ and that’s how we came up with this mash-up and what every individual member of the band brings to WSP.
Neil the drummer is very interested in metal and funk as well as 80’s music. I’ve studied in university all kind of improvisation, contemporary and 20th century classical music like Stravinsky and Meshuggah, so that’s what I brought compositionally. Conor is very much the kind of funk bass player and strains at jazz classics, Raph and Tim the horn players are [into] all ranges [of] stuff, it’s really a mixture.
There [is] a press review we use that says our music is a kind of “a four-way cage match between Stravinsky, Meshuggah, Weather Report, and Frank Zappa” or something like that. It’s the mash-up literally of the composers I’ve listen to, combined also with the mash-up sense of each individual band member’s different sound that go together and form who we are.
Image Courtesy of http://worldserviceproject.tumblr.com