London Jazz News – interview with Moses Boyd

London Jazz News

Moses Boyd Interview by Steve Plumb Thursday 6th November 2014

As the EFG London Jazz Festival 2014 fast approaches and in anticipation of the forthcoming Musicians’ Company Extravaganza gig at 229 The Venue on Thursday 20th November, Steve Plumb of Musicians’ Company Jazz interviews the Company’s 2014 Young Jazz Musician Award winner, drummer Moses Boyd.

Steve Plumb Hi Moses, thanks for taking time out from your schedule to bring readers of LJN up to date with what’s happening in your own particular scene. Tell us a little about yourself, your background etc.

Moses Boyd Well, I was brought up in the Lewisham area of South East London and I went to a large comprehensive school in Catford. My parents were not especially musical and I, like so many other young kids in our area, was into skateboarding, football, basketball etc. My brother played a bit of guitar and I dabbled with guitar, piano and saxophone including getting Grade 3 on the euphonium! When I was about thirteen years old, I had my first drum lessons with Bobby Dodsworth who was the peripatetic drum teacher at my school. I continued having lessons with Bobby until I left school.

SP So, was it orchestral percussion technique that Bobby was teaching you?

MB No, not at all! I was learning snare drum stuff as well as general kit playing. But, looking back, Bobby was showing me Tony Williams’ style of playing as well as other jazz masters. But to be honest, a lot of the subtleties of what Bobby was showing me were going over my head. I ‘got’ the technical side, but not the nuances that Tony, Elvin etc. were noted for.

SP So you built on this foundation as you got older?

MB Absolutely; and I still am! However, by the time that I was fourteen years old, I was spending all my school breaks in the music block practising. I was doing no socialising whatsoever! Drums were my priority. But it was not being ‘flashy’ that was important to me. No, even at that age, I was getting into Steve Gadd, Vinnie Collaiuta, even John Bonham! This was serious study. In my mid-teens I started to attend out-of-school projects like the Roundhouse Workshop in Camden and the Weekend Arts Centre in Belsize Park. This exposed me to other young musicians who were playing jazz.

SP So from school you went on to Trinity to study to degree level?

MB Yes. It was at Trinity that I met pianist Sam James and later, sax player Phil Meadows who I met on the Trinity post-graduate jazz course. Both Sam and Phil were fellow finalists in the Musicians’ Company’s Young Jazz Musician Award.

SP How did you approach the idea of ‘competing’ on the Stand at Pizza Express Dean Street with the other Musicians’ Company finalists?

MB Well, I was honoured to have my name put forward by one of Musicians’ Company Jazz’s nominating panel, fellow drummer Shaney Forbes. I knew that the gig is about presentation, teamwork and not about egos. I also knew that I had to simply ‘be me’. You can’t control an audience; or if you can, that’s not what I, or the gig was all about! I played no differently than I would on any other gig. I guess that the voting audience must have seen something in how I interacted with the others and (so I’m told) supported the whole band.

SP You must be excited to be playing again with the other finalists at the Musicians’ Company Extravaganza. Tell me a little about Exodus which, I guess, is your band.

MB No Steve, it’s not my or anybody’s band per se. It’s my project whereby I, as a sideman, bring some of what’s going on in my life into the public listening sphere.

SP So Exodus is some sort of ‘heavy’ political statement?

MB No, not at all! My use of the title ‘Exodus’ is more related to a journey, a venture or even a pilgrimage. It’s my contribution to the world. It’s an expression of a community’s journey – a creative community of various musicians. I don’t even want my first EP to be a classic “here’s Moses’ first album” (cheers!) with the clichéd launch-gig. No, my new EP is almost like a window into what has been, and will be, happening in my creative life.

SP And Binker?

MB (laughs) Ah, Binker Golding. Yes, he and I have a long-standing musical relationship. Binker plays tenor and soprano saxes and who knows, maybe we will do some duo recordings at some point in the near future. In the meantime, we are doing some good stuff with Zara McFarlane. You had better watch this space Steve!

SP Moses, thanks for your time and for putting me straight on more than one misconception on my part!

MB My pleasure Steve. Get down to 229 The Venue on Thursday 20th November! The EFG London Jazz festival in full swing!