O’Higgins & Luft: Play Monk & Trane (UBU0029)
Ubuntu Music is delighted to announce the signing of two powerhouses on the international jazz scene: saxophonist veteran Dave O’Higgins and young guitar wiz Rob Luft for an album release featuring the compositions of Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane.
Dave O'Higgins is a saxophonist, composer, arranger, educator and latterly recording engineer and producer. He has been a popular figure on the UK and international jazz scene for 30 years now, with 20 albums as leader under his belt.
Rob Luft is an award-winning 25-year-old musician from London, and has been described as one of the UK’s most prominent and talented young contemporary jazz guitarists. Praised by The Times “to achieve great things in the future”, Rob was the recipient of the 2016 Kenny Wheeler Jazz Prize.
It all started when Rob got in touch with Dave to make up a quartet. The interaction, shared sensibilities and deeply held mutual respect made this collaboration an instant success. Dave has always loved the Prestige era of Coltrane recordings, both as leader and sideman. Rob has a penchant for calling Monk tunes and played with a group having no piano. The result is pure, unadulterated swing.
O’Higgins explains, “Rob called me for some ‘blowing’ gigs last year. It wasn’t difficult to find a common repertoire, and a predilection for Monk and Trane tunes was apparent. We had such fun that I suggested trying to get a short tour together and a recording and before we knew it there were 40 dates in the book and a new CD planned with Ubuntu.
“The music we’ve chosen to play focuses on lesser known Monk compositions and some of the songs Coltrane chose to record in the late 50s, more than the usual few Monk tunes and modal Coltrane so often heard”, O’Higgins continues. “The choice of Scott Flanigan on organ changes our course from the obvious sonority associated with either musician. We have reinterpreted the material in a way that is both contemporary and, in the tradition, drawing from a wide range of influences but also with deep respect for the authors. American drummer, Rod Youngs, completes the quartet.
“Martin Hummel has always been a keen champion of the music, and the time seemed right to join forces and galvanise our collective energies”, O’Higgins concludes. “There’s been a great momentum with this project and all the parties involved have been tremendously encouraging and made huge a contribution to the collaboration and team spirit. We’re proud to be a part of the new Ubuntu movement!”
Rob Luft explains, “I've always found a great way of looking forwards musically is actually to look back and study the great masters of jazz. The songbooks of Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane are two of the most significant in the jazz canon, and this project is my first attempt at revising their music through my own musical filter. It's really an honour to be working with Dave O'Higgins on this record as I've been a great fan of his playing ever since I got into jazz.”
Concerning Ubuntu Music, Luft says, “This is a brand spanking new collaboration between myself and Dave and having the added infrastructure of Ubuntu Music behind us for this particular release has really helped to give the project a really strong sense of direction, which might otherwise have been somewhat absent. Most importantly, however, Martin Hummel's boundless positive energy and genuine love for this music is so encouraging and uplifting, and this provides a huge amount of inspiration for us to get the best possible musical results that we can!”
“This is a dream team, made in jazz heaven”, said Martin Hummel, Director of Ubuntu Music. “I’ve been a massive fan of Dave’s ever since I can remember, and Rob is undisputedly one of the best young jazz talents there is. Put these two together and you have an intoxicating cocktail of jazz at its finest, with a repertoire from two legendary masters of their respective crafts. We are thrilled to be a part of this exceptional project.”