INTERVIEW | Jacob Mann

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Multi-talented musician Jacob Mann is the driving force behind the Jacob Mann Big Band and Shrek Is Love.

– Where is home for you?

I was born and raised in Las Vegas, and then, aged eighteen, I moved to Los Angeles for college, and I’ve lived there ever since. The two cities are pretty close together, so I consider them both to be my home — Vegas is my hometown, and LA is my city of residence.

– You wear many hats: you’re a composer, arranger and bandleader, but you’re also a talented pianist and keyboard player both for studio recordings and live performances, and you also seem to love the production side of things. Is there one hat you wear more than others? Is there one hat you’re most comfortable wearing? Is there a hat you long to wear?

I really enjoy the variety that comes with being a musician. Some people ask what a normal month looks like for me, and I laugh and say I have no idea. If I can wake up and spend some part of the day thinking about music, regardless of the context, it feels like a victory. So I guess I’d say I enjoy all hats equally. Some hats I’d love to wear in the future would be writing for a full orchestra; scoring a TV show or film; playing in the house band of a talk show; and touring under my own name.

– Tell us about your latest album with the Jacob Mann Big Band, Greatest Hits Vol. 3 (2022).

I had the goal of releasing a full-length big band album before my thirtieth birthday, and I wanted to record two completely different big bands, in order to get more musicians involved. I tend to write music with specific people in mind, so having two separate bands was a nice opportunity to write different types of tunes. Each band recorded four charts, and we tracked the whole album in one day, which was exhausting, but a lot of fun – the bands brought this music to life in an incredible way; I’m really happy with how it turned out.

– What’s next for Jacob Mann?

Right now I’m working on some collaboration albums that I’m very excited about. I’m excited to keep writing, arranging, and playing whenever I can!

Visit Jacob Mann on Bandcamp to hear Jacob Mann Big Band’s new release, Greatest Hits Vol. 3.

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SWIM COLLECTIVE: INSTANT HAPPINESS IMPROV JAZZ NIGHT | Hong Kong, Eaton HK, Terrible Baby

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How do you like your improv jazz? Completely mental? Then SWIM Collective is for you. It’s unusual for contemporary free jazz to feature a vocalist; three vocalists even moreso. But this is the ensemble’s strength and USP: a highly theatrical, human sound. An accompanying band of harp, keyboard, cello, percussion and electronics allows for a diverse range of expression.

Some of the vocal improvisation is straight out of the Toronto Blessings of the 1990s, a flurry of impassioned tongues, over dissonant spreads of expressionist harp and piano cluster-chords. Sometimes the singers merely coo gently; sometimes they are silent.

One of the most fascinating things about these through-composed, non-repeating, freely improvised pieces, is how the style slowly (sometimes imperceptibly) weaves in and out of free-rhythm effects and anchored, rhythmic, tonal grooves. The whole ensemble are really listening to each other and giving each other space, never trying to dominate the sound. Sometimes this leads to moments of complete silence.

Audience participation is highly encouraged. Everyone is given some tissue paper, and a lucky few are given some spoons. Being conducted in and out, at different volume levels, the sound of paper rustling and spoons clinking en masse is quite mesmerising, and the chance to be involved feels pretty special.

Follow SWIM Collective on Facebook.

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