INTERVIEW: ABBIE FINN TRIO | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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I always like to emphasise that we’re a cordless trio as that’s crucial to our sound. We’re a punchy, percussive cordless trio featuring heavy improvisation.”

Durham-based jazz ensemble Abbie Finn Trio have passionately drawn from their love of the North East to explore various musical sounds within their new album, On Pink Lane. As this is their first album comprised wholly of original tunes, I spoke to ensemble leader Abbie Finn, who shed some light on her inspiration behind the compositions and overall adoration for the jazz genre.

The title is inspired by Newcastle’s Pink Lane, a street which has become synonymous with all things jazz in the city thanks to the infamous Jazz Café, it was only fitting that the album honoured its momentous reputation. Similarly holding a dear place in Abbie’s heart, the Jazz Café was the place where she first met her fellow ensemble members, Paul Grainger (double bass) and partner Harry Keeble (tenor saxophone) through participating in regular jam sessions. The building is now home to Prohibition Cabaret Bar, which will be the location of the album’s launch on Thursday 12th January.

Being a drummer, I like to get varied genres and areas of jazz on the album

Comprised of nine unique tracks, On Pink Lane creates a beautiful soundscape of musical diversity, whilst regularly returning to the album’s core – the art of jazz devised through exquisite improvisation. Abbie noted how this assortment of sound is central to her identity as a musician: “Being a drummer, I like to get varied genres and areas of jazz on the album, so we’ve got a funk tune, a Latin tune and many other different vibes.” These elements are present within each track, giving them a true sense of identity through thoughtful construction. This individuality is also enhanced by a reflection on Abbie’s personal experiences, such as on Mirador de Los Poleos, which is a ballad illustrating an idyllic viewpoint location in Tenerife. “I visited this place at the start of the year with my dad. It was such a moving experience seeing the clear sky and shining stars, so I have a deep connection to this track,” says Abbie. The graceful yet elaborate saxophone entry perfectly sets the scene, followed by a slow introduction of the other instruments: beginning with a soft and rhythmic bass line and finishing with percussion playing rolling cymbals to create a captivating Spanish feel.

Whilst the musicians strive to avoid any type of effects during performances to capture their organic sound, The Labyrinth exhibits obvious manipulation including prominent echo on certain parts. Engineered by Ray Beckett at Blank Studios, he effectively created a mysterious atmosphere through these effects. To enhance this further, Abbie used mallets on the toms, creating a muffled sound and uncanny undertone.

The jazz scene in Newcastle has always been a flourishing environment for musicians, and the connectivity amongst the scene allowed Abbie to meet a variety of people, some of whom have collaborated on the album: “There are so many different influences within the album they are difficult to pinpoint,” she says. The friendly nature of Newcastle has inspired the trio to reciprocate that camaraderie through their music – a central intention behind the album’s formulation. Providing relaxed, enjoyable gigs, they want audiences to simply sit back and soak up the tranquillity jazz music offers.

As a collection of harmonious jazz material that illustrates Abbie’s exceptional compositional skills, On Pink Lane displays traditional jazz techniques including heavy improvisation and rhythmic concepts, whilst also introducing the listener to wide-ranging sounds which are seamlessly interwoven within each track.

Abbie Finn Trio launch On Pink Lane on Thursday 12th January at Prohibition Cabaret Bar, Newcastle.

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