Flautist and saxophonist, Chip Wickham has blessed us with a track-by-track guide of his upcoming album Blue to Red.
Channeling the spirit of Alice Coltrane and Yusef Lateef via the lens of a hip-hop, electronic and club music educated ear, Blue to Red encompasses Wickham’s disparate set of production influences with his Manchester and spiritual jazz education.
The album not only seeks to forewarn Earth’s possible Mars-like future, but seeks to tap into the interplanetary, cosmic nature of music. “It’s a culture crisis rather than a climate crisis, one that can only be solved if we go right to the core of how we live as human beings”.
Take a listen to ‘Route One’ the brilliant second single from the forthcoming album.
Acting as a taste of what’s to come, Wickham guides us through the new project – so without further ado…
‘Blue to Red’ refers to Earth’s possible Mars-like future and not only seeks to restate the immediacy of the current climate crisis but seeks to forewarn the planet’s potential catastrophic fate. Mars was once a blue planet. Now there is no atmosphere or life. It’s our own senselessness that we’re pushing our planet in the same direction. We’re heading towards a red planet. The recent events of Covid-19 have only gone on to emphasis how fragile and interrelated we all are. Time for change, time for greatness, not greed before Blue turns to Red.
Blue to Red:
This title track sets the atmosphere for the album. A serious title track with a deep and dark spiritual flow with ever-moving layers of arrangement and texture. The melody is on alto flute to give it some extra Lalo Schifrin soundtrack vibe and keep the dark intensity flowing. Listen for the beautiful cello arrangement from Simon’ Sneaky’ Houghton who is also the bassist on the album. The harp from Amanda Whiting is very Alice Coltrane with beautiful glissandos punctuating and lifting the song.
Route One is an expression for being direct. I wanted to write a tune that was direct but in a jazz style. However, being too direct in the world of jazz is often boring and being indirect is boring for everyone else! This song is trying to be direct but jazz direct. Route One jazz style. Check the melody and see what you think! This one swings! Flute and harp double the head giving the track some nice old school Dorothy Ashby/Frank Wess vibe. It also has the fantastic work from Rick Weedon who adds some great swinging congas without taking away from the angular fire coming from Jon Scott on the drums. Check out the Rhodes solo from Dan Goldman. Absolutely brilliant playing straight out of the Herbie Hancock school of jazz. Heavy. Fantastic solo with a specially written solo sequence to give the arrangement life.
The inspiration for the tune comes from the 2014 Christopher Nolan film with the same title. I watch this film several times while writing the album and felt it suited the narrative! Its a broken jazz vibe with a heavy beat and driving bass line. A flute driven melody with layered up effects to give it a darker feel. Aggressive and dark with lots of angular work from Dan Goldman’s Rhodes playing and another great solo. I used lots of electronica and effects and played them off against the more organic sounds of the harp and Rhodes. One of my favourites on the album and can’t wait to play this space jazz live!!
I wanted to capture the beauty and vastness of the Cosmos in this song. Capture some space in outer space! Deep inter-planetary jazz vibe with a beautiful Rhodes piano intro from Dan Goldman. Amanda Whiting’s beautiful harp playing again sets the vibe for the song. It’s all about texture and colour here, creating sound as much as music. This was a beautiful moment capturing this in the studio.
This is the darkest track on the album, and it represents the feelings of ordinary people who do the right thing and care about the world but are constantly double-crossed by the system that is stacked against them in favour of an ever-powerful minority. A relentless, driving groove with more broken jazz and driven Rhodes to add an extra angry vibe. The flute reflects this with a driven sound and in your face solo that is pure energy! Check out the fantastic drumming of Jon Scott on this track. He is constantly changing and relentlessly driving the track at the same time.
Dedicated to the mighty Yusef Lateef who has been a source of much inspiration for so many not just me. Just wanted to say thank you. Deep and spiritual end to the record with a simplicity and elegance that is important to keep alive in today’s jazz. Its hard to play simply and beautifully. It requires taste and self-control and the ability to put the music first. You can hear the musicians do this across the whole album, but especially in this track.
Blue To Red is out on 8th May via Lovemonk. Pre-order here.