Interview/Premiere: Mark Kavuma’s The Banger Factory

Mark Kavuma has been plying his trade for a long time. Over the last decade, he’s established himself as a key player in London’s rapidly expanding jazz scene. As his career progressed, you can see the evolution of his style. From his work as an associate Music Leader for the Tomorrow’s Warriors programme to performing in ensembles including Nu Civilisation Orchestra and Jazz Jamaica All Stars to releasing a piano album with Artie Zaitz. In short, it’s all there and carefully leads us to ‘Warriors’, the next full-length release.

The renowned trumpet player, label owner and community leader returns under the guise of The Banger Factory alongside bandmates Theo Erskine (tenor saxophone) and Ruben Fox (bass clarinet) for their second album.

We’re super excited to premiere the latest glimpse from the record ‘Senzo’, a composition that, as the press release notes: “seeks to pass to torch from the past to the present.”

In keeping with the ethos of The Banger Factory of linking young and old, the track features several generations of talent from the London jazz scene, including Deschanel Gordon (piano), Luca Caruso (drums) and Conor Chaplin (bass). 

Built around a swinging bass, smooth piano progression and toe-topping drums that set an upbeat tone. All that is topped off by emphatic horn melodies, scintillating sax leads and mediative clarinet notes that lend the cut a truly hypnotic tone. This one bumps hard!

“Senzo is Japanese for forefathers. On this composition, we set out with the goal of carrying the torch from past to present. I’d describe this one as our party number.”

Mark Kavuma

Ahead of the release, Kavuma tells us more about the record. 

Hey Mark. Where are you up to at the moment?

At the moment at lot is centred around the release of Warriors, preparing for The Launch of Banger Factory Records at Milton Court during London Jazz Festival, A lot of playing And preparing for some exciting gigs over the coming months. It’s a very busy period but a blessing also.

‘Senzo’ is such a swinging tune. Can you tell us how the song came to be?

I had initially written the Warrior suite, Part 1 and 2 for the album and also heard Ruben and Theo’s contributions to the project. I think the warrior suite took quite a lot out of me, I really wanted to capture  and bring to life the essence of the theme. After hearing the other compositions I knew we had collectively done that, and I guess Senzo came about as a reflection of having accomplished what we set out to do. This is a reflection of a triumphant warrior, at ease and having endured. I was at ease when composing this piece and I think that’s reflected in the music.

Tell us about the forthcoming album.

“The pandemic came and everything was pretty dire, everyone was disappearing from the outside world. What was happening to the music scene?” I was thinking. This album came about as a reflection on what was happening at the time and the people around me that were pushing and keeping on during all the madness. That was how the theme into fruition.

What is a warrior? That was the question that I, Theo Erskine and Ruben Fox, Deschanel Gordon, Conor Chaplin and Luca Caruso set out to consider when we met in the studio soon after lockdown.

Although holding many different interpretations, the starting point for this session was to explore the word ‘warrior’ in the context of the struggles and challenges faced by musicians during the pandemic.

Is it more about jamming or composition when you write your tracks? 

There’s a lot of trial and error, but I do spend time composing before bringing compositions to the group. This particular piece was pretty much set in stone by the time I brought it to the guys. Usually we get to jam things through and see what works but because of the nature of the pandemic, people weren’t meeting in large numbers so putting things together was slightly different than our normal way of doing things. Usually we are playing and gigging all the time so we get to try things out but the funny thing is we haven’t even played any of this music live yet. So watch out!

Tell us about the trumpeters that inspire your style.

Miles Davis and Clark Terry are big inspirations, I love Kenny Dorham and Freddie Hubbard too. Recently I have been diggin some Christian Scott and Ambrose Akinmusire. I love British trumpeter Steve Fishwick; he’s incredible. But I would say not many days go by without listening to Louis Armstrong. He is the king. I love pops.

Your cover art is always striking. What’s the story behind the artwork that accompanies the track? 

I spend a lot of time thinking about the artwork for each album, but this one is special.  It was painted by a great friend of mine, Stevie Montana in Barcelona. ”When I write music, it’s normally about someone or about a place, always trying to portray a person or their vibe. But here, for the first time, we had a theme to explore.

I asked Stevie to explore this theme in the artwork and explained the meaning behind every song. It took 3 months, but he came up with this beauty. I love it, for it truly captures the sound and theme of the album. Each part in the painting represents something on the album. So I guess you’ll have to check the full album to truly be able to soak in the artwork. It’s a beautiful thang. The whole album is out on the 18th of November 2022.

Please tell us three artists that you’re into at the moment. 

At the moment, I am really digging Kokoroko; they are beautiful. Love their new album ‘Could we be more’.  I am also digging what James Copus is doing. He’s a bad man, love his album Dusk. I am really diggin and enjoying Sister Rosetta Tharpe; wow, she is a marvel.

What’s in the pipeline for Banger Factory Records?

It’s a very exciting time. We have the release of Warriors 18.11.22 followed by Artie Zaitz’s Debut album featuring Veterans Steve Brown, Ross Stanley, Dave Patman in early 2023 followed by Theo Erskine’s debut and another Banger Factory Album round summer time. All these have been recorded and each album is incredible! I can’t wait for you to hear the sounds.

Last but not least, you have a show coming up at Milton Court. The Banger Factory live show: what can we expect?

 The Greatest show of allllll times! Man I’m so excited, we will be presenting the first three albums on Banger Factory Records. Arashi No Ato, Kinetika Bloco – Legacy and Zaitz & Kavuma Back to Back. The night is going to feature a host of special guests, including Theon Cross, Sheila Maurice Grey, David Mrakpor, Claude Deppa, Deschanel Gordon. It’s going to be the who’s who of the London jazz scene. It’s going to be beautiful, it will be mine and our biggest show to date.

Pre-order the new album on Bandcamp.

CF Smith

Permeating your ears with good music.

Leave a Reply