Writing for guitar, a string section and percussion is a stretch, no pun intended, for any musician.
Add in the word ‘Chamber’ front loaded as the name of the project, the band, and the planned album to the title ramps up the stakes still more.
Nick Tyson was sanguine about the word as he talked about his plans just a few days before going in to record with producer Ben Lamdin, the in demand producer who has been working with Stonephace Stabbins of late (see Dreamjazz yesterday).
Chamber to him comes from his sense of baroque classical music, but cast half an ear and it’s clear there’s more to this than meets a first glance as is pretty evident from hearing Chamber live.
Bantering over a coffee on a sofa downstairs at the Vortex, only a few weeks earlier he and Chamber had packed out the place on a busy Friday night as he toured the music some of which will go on the album to be released by F-IRE with basically the same line-up from the gig. Only the cello chair is up in the air as he speaks.
Tyson, 27, picked up a prestigious PRS award to help him on his way as a composer, and Chamber due to be released in October with a string of dates around a launch at Pizza Express Jazz Club in Soho promises much.
Tyson, a Londoner, studied at the Leeds College of Music following secondary school at Pimlico School, a progressive comprehensive in its day with an influential music education reputation.
His passport to Pimlico as it were came after a spell living in a village in France where he attended primary school and began to play guitar.
Both his dad and brother played a bit and, says Tyson, as a youngster it was fun to pick up three chords and sing along as he plinked away.
With Chamber, the first fruits of someone who excelled as a student, it’s more than reclaiming the word, it’s a statement of intent.
Influenced by Ralph Towner and Jim Hall, and with classical Spanish music a factor arrived at through Towner and Oregon in the music of Albeniz, Chamber was greenlighted last year when PRS backed the project and with the music already written Tyson a keen DIY organiser, and amateur cyclist who also plays reggae in the ironically named Gentleman’s Dub Club where his old Leeds chum and If Destroyed Still True bandmate Tommy Evans share the stage with a bunch of players whose publicity shots make them look as if they’re card shark hustlers.
It’s a world away from Chamber the very adjectival conjuring historic pinging acoustics, old boys and gals togged out in their best clothes listening to Vivaldi or Bach.
For Tyson chamber music is not about neck ties or evening wear and the third stream but built on the potential of the guitar as a massive palette to let him compose for strings (he also likes playing as a guitar trio) and writing cinematically with the possibility of an electronics layer but the project he says matter of factly is an acoustic one.
Tyson likes to compose on guitar and record a prototype version of a new tune before sculpting it sonically in Logic or Garage Band before the final Sibelius coiffed version is ready for the band.
He expresses an admiration for the work of the likes of the Cinematic Orchestra and The Invisible but warms to his first real exposure to the jazz he could identify with in Wolfgang Muthspiel’s celebrated appearance when he was just 16 at the Old Vortex in Stoke Newington when the Austrian guitarist was part of a dream team with the great Marc Johnson of Bass Desires/Bill Evans repute and Wayne Shorter Quartet drummer Brian Blade.
Those influences are coming to fruition it’s surely clear and the album later in the year will be the best indication yet of a fine new jazz guitar talent it’s good to have around.
Nick Tyson (pictured above)
Check out a longer version of this article in the July issue of Jazzwise on sale until Wednesday