Chroma Emma Rawicz
- 2Xanadu I02:16
- 4Xanadu II02:48
- 5Middle Ground06:36
- 6Xanadu III01:40
- 7Intro to Viridian01:01
Info for Chroma
At the age of just twenty-one Emma Rawicz has already sown many of the important seeds for a major career. She clearly can be considered a part of the wave of Young British Jazz which has been making its mark worldwide. The North Devon-born saxophonist, whose Polish surname comes from her Warsaw-born grandfather, who settled in the UK during World War 2, has already led her band for several international festival appearances, single-handedly negotiated and managed a seventeen-concert UK tour for her quintet and recently founded her own big band. She has headlined at Ronnie Scott’s, won the award for Newcomer of the Year at the 2022 Parliamentary Jazz Awards. Emma Rawicz has a Jazz FM Awards nomination to her name, as well as being a finalist in the BBC Young Jazz Musician competition. “Chroma”, her ACT debut, marks a new and important step.
Emma Rawicz’s interest in music came early: she started composing for the instruments she knew – piano and violin – as a seven year-old. “They were just sketches really, I had no idea of a process,” she remembers. The interest in jazz and the saxophone came later, at fifteen. She was given a place to study the instrument for two years at Chetham’s in Manchester, one of the UK’s top specialist music schools, and made astonishingly rapid progress technically and made huge gains in confidence. From there she went to the Royal Academy, where her playing, arranging and composing skills have developed massively. Her musical enthusiasms are broad. For example, she has a real enthusiasm and knowledge of singer-songwriters. However, it is above all her deep listening to the tenor saxophonists who found their own ways with melody, harmony, timbre and story-telling, Joe Henderson and Wayne Shorter, which can be heard on “Chroma”. Incidentally, Rawicz also proved to be smart, creative and productive during corona times: she started posting practice routines on her tenor sax, flute and bass clarinet on Instagram. The lasting effect of that initiative is impressive: she now has almost 50,000 followers on the social media platform.
The album title "Chroma" (the Greek word for colour or paint) is very significant: Emma Rawicz is a synesthete, in other words, she always involuntarily and simultaneously experiences music through a second sensory pathway, colour. “I can’t do anything else while listening to music because there is always a sensory overload going on as I Iisten,” she says. All of the tracks, with one exception, are named after relatively little-known colours.
The band is mostly made up of the kind of in-demand UK players whom one finds in many contexts: Drummer/percussionist Asaf Sirkis, pianist Ivo Neame and bassist Conor Chaplin have already appeared on ACT albums: Sirkis with Gwilym Simcock, and Neame and Chaplin in bands led by Marius Neset. Guitarist Ant Law has already made his mark with his own albums and with his work with Tim Garland. The less-known name on "Chroma" is Emma’s friend from the same student cohort, vocalist Immy Churchill, another rising star. Rawicz: “Immy has an incredibly wide range of influences from a whole range of songwriters to being deeply into the jazz tradition. She has the knowledge and the open mind to walk into any musical situation without knowledge of the context, and bring her own voice to it.” Their interaction and empathy is one of the joys of this album.
The idea of allowing musicians to bring their own strong musical identities to the band is a key to the way Rawicz leads the band. “For me it is essential to embrace their musical personalities and let them be themselves.” Thus the very first sounds we hear on “Phlox” (the title refers to what Rawicz calls “a pretty unpleasant shade of pink”) are from Asaf Sirkis, a specialist in Konnakol rhythms and ‘talking drums’.The album is cleverly constructed, with a thread running through it of three different readings of the same twelve-bar tune, “Xanadu” (the title refers to a grey-green colour), starting with a first version in rapt calm and progressively becoming more energetic, with the third version in the domain of a prog rock/jazz band such as Marbin. Rangwali (the colour is a light shade of pink/purple), a happy track, brings the richer sounds of Rawicz’s flute and bass clarinet, plus an inexhaustible melodic conversation involving most of the band. "Middle Ground", the only track not named after a colour, opens with the wonderful ebb and flow of the Neame/Chaplin/Sirkis rhythm section, and a limpid melody from Rawicz and Churchill in unison. “Viridian” is a bigger and more complex structure, with happy echoes of Norma Winstone and Kenny Wheeler. “Falu” completes the album with more optimism and a sax work-out where altissimo, multiphonics and ferocious finger-work stand above all as an emphatic declaration of “can-do”.
"An astonishing new talent" (Jamie Cullum), “a name on everyone’s lips right now” (BBC 3) and "a force to be reckoned with" (Jazzwise).
Emma Rawicz, tenor saxophone, flute, bass clarinet
Ivo Neame, piano
Ant Law, guitar
Conor Chaplin, upright & electric bass
Asaf Sirkis, drums, vocals
Immy Churchill, vocals
is an award-winning young saxophonist and composer, already making waves on the UK music scene. She has been described as 'a force to be reckoned with' (Jazzwise) and 'a fast-rising star' (London Jazz News). At the age of 19 she has already recorded her eagerly awaited debut album featuring Ant Law, made up entirely of her original compositions, due to be released in early 2022. She has also created a name for herself both as a bandleader and a sideman. A new arrival on the scene, she has already made an impact, regularly playing at major London jazz venues with a wide range of established musicians. Emma is a recipient of the 2021 Drake Yolanda Award.
guitarist Ant is “a game changer” according to The Guardian. Since 2010 Ant has concentrated on making a living playing guitar, eventually moving to London and immersing himself in the scene there and touring internationally. He has also lived in NYC for a season where he studied with his heroes Ari Hoenig, Ben Monder, Adam Rogers, Lage Lund, Johannes Weidenmueller, His 4th album ‘The Sleeper Wakes’ (Edition Records) was released on the 24th July 2020 to great acclaim. Tour booking is now underway for 2022.
has been described as ‘flute phenomenon’ (London Evening Standard), ‘formidable’ (The Guardian) and ‘an exceptional soloist’ (Jazzwise). Gareth started playing at the age of 10 and after raiding his Dad’s record collection discovered jazz at the age of 14. Gareth formed the award-winning Grooveyard with Saxophonist Alex Garnett in 2002 and founded his own septet which released the acclaimed album ‘NO MESSIN’ in 2009; he has also formed his own big band. As a sideman Gareth has been involved in many diverse projects – such as the late great Bheki Mseleku’s group, the James Taylor Quartet and Phil Robson’s IMS Quintet to name just a few.
is a pianist and composer from Portsmouth. He has performed music in a wide range of styles at prestigious venues such as the Lansdowne Club and Buckingham Palace, and last year played a set of original music with his trio as part of EFG London Jazz Festival. He has also won various composition awards, some of his arrangements having been played on BBC Radio 3 and Classic FM in recent years. Scottie is currently studying at the Royal Academy of Music in London; here he has been honing his skills in performance, composition and production, and has had the opportunity to play with exciting like-minded musicians.
is a recent graduate from Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music & Dance. He performs and records across London and the UK in a variety of contexts, spanning a range of playing styles. Through growing up in a mix of playing circumstances, Hugo takes inspiration from a wide gamut of music, from jazz and rock, to folk and choral music.
is one of the great upcoming drummers on the scene today. A forward thinking and conceptual player with a solid groove style yet he has an open-minded approach to free experimentation. His performances are always fresh and exhilarating. Jamie has a strong sense of writing, his compositions are personal and original with an Electronic/Jazz/Fusion style attached to them.
is a jazz singer and singer songwriter studying at The Royal Academy of Music. As a member of The London Vocal Project, Immy has played with the likes of Norma Winstone and Dave Holland and has recently been involved in Jon Hendricks’ Miles Ahead. As a soloist she has performed in The London Jazz Festival with her trio and also alongside Liane Carole. She has also performed with a range of ensembles at major jazz venues across London. Her influences range from Joni Mitchell and James Taylor to Ella Fitzgerald and Norma Winstone, providing her with a wide breadth of musical knowledge that sets her apart as a vocalist.