Gareth Lockrane: Doing That Grooveyard Thing
"Basically from then on," Lockrane explains, "we did endless amounts of duo blows and quartet and trio and quintet gigs. He couldn't write down his own tunes, so we'd do these long rehearsals where I'd video his fingers to get the voicings just right and transcribe and learn all these epic tunes of his. There were loads of new things that haven't been recorded. So, it was an incredible relationship and that was running parallel to film school. It was a really exciting time with all these things colliding at once and getting a whole wave of new influences coming in at the same time and just playing with Bheki and trying to get into the mind of one of your heroes. We had some fantastic gigs together with a few little tours. Steve Rubie at the 606 Club in Chelsea was a massive support. We used to play there every month."
"Bheki was this larger than life personality," he adds. "The sheer projection and whole compositional scope of his musicfor me, he is one of those great writers. His compositions have this inevitable flow about them. Once you've heard the whole thing, it's like that was the only way it could have gone, no matter how many surprising twists there are in the tunes. It just feels that it could only have gone that way. These are the only gigs I've done where the whole audience was singing along to these great hooks and all the musicians are sweating it out on stage with their eyes fixed on the charts. It was a great time for me."
In fact, the times seem to get better for Lockrane. His reputation is growing and The Strutwill take that to a higher level still. Whether it's playing in Grooveyard or his septet, leading his own big band or playing with Phil Robson's quintet, Lockrane is becoming a key figure in a very healthy UK jazz scene. Playing opposite figures like Mark Turner or with giants like Jack DeJohnette inspires him but it doesn't faze him. He also seems like a really nice guy. He laughs easily in a way that suggests that he takes his music more seriously than he does himself. Growing up in the British Midlands in a strong and supportive family environment has given him roots which give his writingand his playinga depth and a quality unusual in one still so young. Like the man, like the music, in every sense.
Gareth Lockrane's Grooveyard, The Strut (Whirlwind, 2012)
Phil Robson, The Immeasurable Code (Whirlwind, 2011)
Gareth Lockrane Septet, No Messin' (Gailforce, 2008)
Tom Richards Orchestra, Smoke and Mirrors (Candid, 2007)
Grooveyard, Put The Cat Out (Gailforce, 2003)