I’m releasing a brand new live album of songs recorded back in 2011. Really fascinating stuff, the record features the band both expanded to a sextet, and stripped down to a trio:
You can buy the The Last Here HERE!!!!
And as of the 5th of May 2012, brand new videos!
And some audio:
In Just a few short years Ma have carved out a reputation as one of the most interesting of a new wave of electro-jazz outfits. Led by Redsnapper/Outhouse saxophonist, Tom Challenger, an improviser and composer who has been described by Jazzwise as ‘mature beyond his years’ and influenced by the likes of Burial and Supersilent, MA features fellow Loop collective collaborator, drummer Dave Smith, organist Ross Stanley as well as long term friend and collaborator Matt Calvert on electronics. Within a setting of dubby beats and drones, Ma utilise deceptively simple themes as a launch pad for music that is hugely atmospheric but full of powerful improvisation and unexpected textures.
Their latest album ‘The Last’ is a culmination of 18 months work combining improv, electronics, live sampling, and synths into their new music. In the process their music has become simplified, with predominantly improvised shows moving slowly between pre- prepared material, during which the band reposition the boundaries of the ‘sonic’ worlds that currently exist within jazz and improvised music. Drawing on dark, abstract dub sound worlds, Ma’s musical process moves beyond the scope of most jazz-electronica projects towards something compelling, cohesive and highly individual. Fiercely interactive, the band contribute ideas simultaneously as compositions are deconstructed, developed and reformed. In turn, this inspires passages of interweaving group improvisation that produce thematic elements that are then subjected to the same processes.
The music draws from a mutual interest of many styles, as well as exposure to numerous projects. Growing up on the vibrant jazz scene in London in the noughties the members of MA have a deep respect for a wide range of music, whether old or new. This persistent attitude feeds the music that the band makes – described as if “early Tony Williams’ Lifetime was jamming Messiaenʼs organ works with Fennesz, Deathprod, Lee Perry and Coltrane.” With members of groups such as Redsnapper, Three Trapped Tigers, Outhouse (+ Ruhabi), The Loop Collective, and Nostalgia 77, itʼs not surprising that Tom Challengerʼs intoxicating, heady, often Messiaen-inspired material is subject to such a multi-pronged interpretation. Amongst the albums many highlights are the roaring freejazz meets bass music ʻPipesʼ; The breaks, drones and searing stabs of ʻDumpʼ; the big organ-driven sound world of the title track and the dark, dubby, underworldly sounds of Noir.
A BRIEF HISTORY of Ma
Ma began working together in 2006. Initially a trio (Tom Challenger – Saxophone, Dave Smith – Drums, Ross Stanley – Organ), they met each other (along with future member Matt Calvert – Electronics) at Music College in 2001. Loosely collaborating in different formations and groups, they performed and rehearsed together – playing a myriad of styles – in various rehearsal rooms and venues around the capital, before Challenger specifically wrote music for what would become Ma.
Starting out playing a hybrid of jazz/improv/rock/psychedelica, they recorded their first album ‘Jyketie’ (as a CDR release) at the now sadly defunct, but infamous back room in the Red Rose in Finsbury Park in North London. The Album was released in 2008, and was a testament to the earthy lows and blistering highs the band achieved in performance.
The next year included Ma’s integration of live electronic processing into their Live Sets, through collaboration with Brit-improv legend Steve Arguelles on Laptop. After a successful UK tour, the continuation of this expanded line-up was sought, and a more permanent member was found in old friend, Matt Calvert. With his inclusion and the whole group being processed through his set up, the size of Ma’s sound expanded to include – alongside more dubby elements and beats – sonic explorations of soundscapes that defy the size of the group.
Whilst developing the new material for what would become ‘The Last’, individual members also developed other projects at the same time, which in turn filtered into the Ma’s new music. These projects included Challengers involvement with electronic pioneers Red Snapper; Smiths curating of Outhouse Ruhabi – a collaboration between an improvising jazz quartet and 5 West African Drummers; and Calvert’s involvement with unclassifiable renegades ‘Three Trapped Tigers’.
‘The Last’ was recorded at the turn of 2010 at the Fish Factory recording studios, London, and was subsequently produced and mixed by Calvert. The record is released on the North-London based Loop Collective’s record label, ‘Loop Records’.