Saxophonist, composer, singer-songwriter and now label boss James Mainwaring is perhaps best known as a founder member of the Mercury Prize nominated Roller Trio or more recently as a collaborator with and touring member of fellow Mercury nominees Django, Django, who he met at the 2012 awards. Tipping Point is his new project and the second release on Lamplight Social Records, the label he founded to release the second Roller Trio album, Fracture, after becoming frustrated with the machinations of the music industry.
Tipping Point features James Mainwaring on saxophone and effects alongside British improvised music legend Matthew Bourne Fender Rhodes and two of the UK’s most individual instrumentalists; Michael Bardon double bass and Joost Hendrickx drums. Members of the band have previously collaborated on projects such as; Dave Kane’s Rabbit Project, the Fusebox Orchestra, Shatners Bassoon and Mainwaring/Bardon/Horne amongst many others. It was whilst studying at Leeds College of Music 2007 – 2010 when Mainwaring, Bardon and Hendrickx met and were tutored by Bourne, a pianist whose innovative approach to improvisation and teaching proved to be a great influence on them that the genesis for Tipping Point was born. “Mick and I used to jam as a duo, improvising until we burst out laughing and that would be the end of a tune. We’ve all spent a lot of time working on and thinking about improvisation, absorbing contemporary classical and world influences, looking at different ways of sounding together but being free, different ways of organising sounds, Bourne’s got a PhD in it” says Mainwaring. Toying with language internalised from a vast range of music such as jazz, contemporary classical and north Indian classical, Mainwaring’s compositions for Tipping Point aim to evoke playfulness, mindfulness, darkness and extremes of emotion, the band journeys from reflective ambience to intense aggression, using telepathic improvisations, angular melodies and unorthodox sounds from eerie to comic.
The Earthworm’s Eyeview opens with a playful improvisation, Playtime, a track that emphasises the light hearted empathy the band members share. Mainwaring’s obliquely lyrical Equanimity is based around one melody moving through different keys with different length bars. The gripping Rat Bucket is a heavily improvised track based around a 3 bar riff and a 12 bar melody and is followed by Robin Stood as a Robin Hood Should, another improvised piece highlighting the ensembles light hearted side, beginning with Bourne’s amazing staccato improvisation. Bigsaw Jigsaw perfectly illustrates the band’s modus operandi, they open with an improvisation hinting at the composed A section, but the notated line is never played in full, though they playfully hint at it, and even play parts of it in the right places. The wistful Earthworm’s Eye View leads to the turbulent title track, which Mainwaring only half jokingly describes as “A journey through purgatory”. For Linear Park is a heavy improvisation dedicated to a park in Mainwaring’s hometown Culcheth which will be destroyed if HS2 rail link goes ahead. Finally, Tipping Point is a playful trio improvisation that takes us to Hometime a very quiet, patient improv that brings Mainwaring’s new project to a close and it is this ability to mix composition and improvisation, humour and terror, angst and patience that marks Tipping Point as such a vital new venture from one of the UK’s most interesting musicians.
With Support from Jazz Services Ltd, Arts Council England and Help Musicians UK
released September 11, 2015
James Mainwaring - Sax, effects and compositions
Matthew Bourne - Fender Rhodes
Michael Bardon - Double Bass
Joost Hendrickx - Drums
Recorded and mixed by Sam Hobbs
Mastered by Tim Thomas