Improvising is more interesting than repeating the same music - interview with Mark Sanders

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mat. promocyjne

You wrote that you are also a "Breaking Bad" fan. So who is your favorite character and why?

Mark Sanders: In 'Breaking Bad' Bryan Cranston stole every scene he was in. I also really enjoyed the character and acting of Raymond Cruz as Tuco Salamanca, you could feel the unknowingness and fear of being in the presence of such an unpredictable, unhinged and powerful character. But of course the writers are the real stars.

Do you have some other favourite series? What are you watching these days?

MS: I am loving the work of British writer and actress Phoebe Waller Bridge who has written two wonderful series 'Fleabag' and 'Killing Eve'. In Fleabag she also stars, portraying a clever and funny woman dealing with her sexuality, anger and people around her in an open and free way. With Killing Eve she wrote the first (and better series) about a brilliant and hilarious professional assassin who loves her job and the MI5 agent on her case to catch her, the relationship between the two women is brilliantly written and acted.

On your website we can read that you work in theatre, dance, contemporary classical and conceptual art situations. Could give me some examples?

MS: I work with artist/musician Christian Marclay on his pieces 'Screenplay' improvising freely in response to the film, and a larger more theatrical piece called 'Everyday' which involves Christian, John Butcher, Steve Beresford, Alan Tomlinson and I responding to Christian's collage of excerpts from films that involve music in many forms, like records being played, dancers, marching bands or interesting sounds being made by actors. I also worked in a series of performances with Artist Henrik Hakensen on 'The End' which is his film with live music written by John Coxon performed by a symphony orchestra with myself improvising freely over it.


Is making music for theatre a different thing for you than doing records and playing concerts? What are the main differences?


MS: The difference for me between working in theatre and concerts and recording is that my live and recording work entails a lot of improvising, whereas the work I have done in Theatre and Dance has been written work with little or no improvising, I find it very enjoyable being part of the event being made, all the ideas flying around and being put in place, but improvising in every performance is far more interesting and rewarding than repeating the same music each time.

You are a lecturer at universities. What is the main motivation for you to teach students?

MS: I love to help students find out who they are on their instrument, I'm not particularly interested in their technique or even their music genre, I love to help them explore their sound and character to develop a personal identity on the instrument.

You've recorded with so many musicians. Is it still possible that someone with you are playing surprises you?

MS: Interestingly it is mainly women musicians who are surprising me at the moment, nothing to do with their gender of course but I'm hearing such personal new ideas coming from people like Rachel Musson as a composer and improviser. Elaine Michener who comes from the classical world but is an amazing improviser, she has written a Music/Theatre/Dance piece including Sylvia Hallett, Jason Yarde and myself called 'Sweet Tooth' based on the history of the Sugar Industry and British Slave Trade, I love this sort of work as it can be challenging and freeing simultaneously.

You've worked with Mikolaj Trzaska in Riverloam Trio. Do you remember when and how did it happen that you started working with him?

MS: I think it was about ten years ago I was playing with the great Danish bass player Peter Friis Neilson, he was saying we should play with Mikolaj,  Mikolaj had just been checking me out on You Tube playing in the US with Peter Brotzman,  we set up a gig but Mikolaj missed the flight, so we didn't play until a year later. Mikolaj later asked if I knew a Jewish bass player (it wasn't compulsory, but helped) for  a series of workshops based around Jewish music and literature,  I recommended Olie Brice and that worked so Riverloam started.


Are you interested in polish jazz and improvised music scene? With who would you like to work?

MS: I'm not an expert on the Polish scene, as I only really work in Mikolaj's projects, but through him I have met and played with some amazing musicians, notably Raphael Roginski, I love his playing and his records. I loved hearing Kuba Suchar and Artur Majewski and their duo Mikrokolektyw. I see in listings and advertisements on my travels in Poland there is a thriving young scene of musicians doing new great things.

What are your plans for the near future? New recording, live gigs.

MS: I have new groups with records just being released, one led by Sarah Gail Brand with Steve Beresford and John Edwards and another is 'Shifa' with Rachel Musson and Pat Thomas, both groups have concerts coming up and Elaine Mitchener's project 'Voices of the Black Avante Garde' will be playing London Jazz Festival.

I have tours coming up in trios with John Butcher & John Edwards, Toby Delius & Olie Brice, and Elliot Sharpe's quartet with John Edwards and Eric Mingus (Charles' son and a great Blues singer/shouter) .

I will be recording soon with Veryan Weston and Hannah Marshall playing Veryan's new compositions. Tonight is a celebration of Trevor Watts 8oth birthday with a concert at Cafe Oto, praise be for Trevor and all the amazing music he has made and continues to make.