DozenQ – Sam Qureshi

New LP - Magnetic Lunchbox

This entry is part 2 of 5 in the series DozenQ 5

01. How did you get started?

In the late 1970’s when I was a 12-year-old school kid in Birmingham I met a newly forming reggae band called UB40 – Actually I was in a Pub (when I shouldn’t have been at that age) – and was getting attacked by members of The National Front and they (UB40) came to my rescue. Afterwards, they took me over to a shabby old cellar where they rehearsed and Brian Travers let me play on his Saxophone. Then I had the bug!

02. Describe your sound and techniques and type of equipment that you use?

I have a hybrid tone based on the ‘Masters of the Saxophone.’ It’s a very original sax sound and I was once complimented by the Inventor of the famous Lawton Mouthpiece – Jeff Lawton – he quoted ‘impeccable control and unique tone.’ He actually made to measure mouthpieces for graduates of The Count Basie Band such as the great Sonny Rollins and offered me one for free. However, I’m happy with using my plastic ‘Meyer’ and metal ‘Berg Larsen’ mouthpieces in conjunction with my original Yamaha 62 Alto Saxophone. By utilising standard jazz fingering techniques I have created my own system of playing the Instrument and developed a methodology that other musicians have asked me to pass onto them. I’m self-taught and very limited sight reading which has liberated me from convention and educational jazz improvisation theory to illustrate this fact a few years back Scott Morin guru of ECM Records and Universal Jazz stated about me ‘interesting concept both as a performer and composer!’

03. Who are your major influences and inspirations and who do you despise?

I would probably need 100 pages to list all my major influences in Jazz but will keep it sweet. I would say all the major artists on The Blue Note Recordings produced by Rudy Van Gelder from 1958 through to 1964 – The Alfred Lion Years – John Coltrane, Stan Getz, Miles Davis, Jackie Mclean, Kenny Dorham, Wes Montgomery, Lee Morgan, Stanley Turrentine etc. Also the great Saxophonist and Inventor of Be Bop Charlie Parker and in recent years my greatest influence on the composition of Latin forms is Antonio Carlos Jobim.

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Because Jazz is such a wide genre spanning decades it is actually difficult for me to despise any of its manifold artists or legends. Its music for relevant generations. For me personally I’m no big fan of certain Big Band Sounds or Traditional Jazz and modern day Smooth Jazz seems to lack an organic feel replaced with a overproduction although there are exceptions to the rule. As the great pianist Oscar Peterson once said there are only 2 types of music historically in the world ‘good or bad’!

04. What drives you to make music?

As the Human Body needs food and water to survive so the Soul needs music. Jazz Music is a Spiritual progression. I see myself as a Healer of Souls. One of the reasons people come to gigs is to forget their problems and relax they need fresh hope. If my music can make them feel good and transform their negativity to positivity than I’m a successful musician. I feel I serve Humanity. Coupled with this I’m convinced the world needs new music to parallel the climate of politics and change of each era. Esoteric in nature and perhaps one the ‘’many mansions in my father’s house’’ I HAVE to continually put new music on this planet.

05. What can someone who has never seen you live before expect from your live show?

A very organic interaction of musicians and audience. Although there is a formula for each individual song we have an individuality of performance. Every time we play a song it will be unique and different to each audience such is the beauty of Jazz improvised format. The solos I make on Saxophone will be different EVERY time same with the other instrumentalists of piano, guitar or drums with a very cutting edge feel and a climax of intensity. The rhythmic approaches between the drums and Congas drive furiously and hypnotically a root foundation of Latin Music sure to induce the dancefloor! The template of the Studio recordings are harnessed onto a higher level when we take to the stage – we never know prior to each gig exactly what will happen live – for example ‘’The Magpie and Squirrel’’ (from the Samba of Love album) song lasted for 30 minutes at a recent gig because the audience didn’t want to stop dancing. So it also makes every live show interesting and a new experience for us. Every gig is an adventure and learning process for the band.

06. Who writes your songs? What types of themes and subjects do you deal with?

I am the songwriter. They are a mixture of Instrumental and Vocal Songs all in the Jazz Latin environments. They have an abstract quality in reference to the titles which would mean different things to different people. Instrumentals such as ‘Akisiana the Dolphin is Pregnant’ or ‘Slow Train to Paris’’ encourage the imagination of the listener conjuring up a variety of mental imagery. Lyrically, is an interplay of keywords with subtle messages of political corruption ‘Caught red-handed by the Clown the bank of wealth is closing down’ (Jessington Place) My most recent work the 5 track EP ‘Magnetic Lunchbox’ is titled appropriately with regards to Homelessness in the UK – ‘Blues Cul De Sac’ is about Mental Depression. The clue is always in the titles I use. I allow the Public to decipher the messages contained.

07. How has your music evolved since you first began playing?

Been a major transformation from when I first started playing for sure. As I touched on my UB40 connection earlier I started playing Reggae and Ska Music in various bands. Then being a brass player always lends itself to Jazz Music. As a Alto Sax player I started to school myself by learning the ‘Be Bop style’ of Charlie Bird Parker who first incorporated 12 semitones of the Chromatic Scales tunes such as ‘Scrapple from The Apple’ and ‘Ornithology’ moving onto Hard Bop of Art Blakey and then settled for many years on the progressive stylings of Tenor Sax Legend John Coltrane’s Modular structures and incorporation of Pentatonic Scales. Whereas Parker played long complex chorded solos Coltrane evolved his jazz invention on the modes technique and playing fewer notes with more intensity tunes such as ‘Lazy bird’ – ‘Alabama’ and ‘Mr PC’ Fast forward a chance meeting of Brazilian Musicians in Manchester I turned my hand to Bossa Nova Music inspired by its inventor Antonio Carlos Jobim and the ‘Jazz Samba’ album (Verve) which featured Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd.

08. What has been your biggest challenge as a band? Were you been able to overcome this? If so, how?

Jazz has such a stigma attached to it for the general public. Although at the time of its invention it was a ‘rebel music’ sort of what Punk was in the late 70s. It’s either been adopted by the Music Universities as an elect educational genre or has the image of a very unfashionable group of old men playing away in a back street pub. My job with the band was to recreate the cutting edge nature of Jazz and Bossa Nova. By writing very catchy songs and adopting a cool 1960’s style image I think we are very successful in developing a new audience as well as satisfying the existing Jazz Hierarchy. We use live stage dancers and great vocal harmonies to have achieved this accessibility. Joe Moss who managed The Smiths and Johnny Marr was my first big fan and ally in Manchester is proof of the crossover sound that I had created. It was Joe who suggested the name of the band as ‘Sam Q’s Nightpatrol’ He likened us to the ‘’Indie’’ scene before it broke big time and wanted the renewed challenge to manage me before his untimely death. More recently Bruce Replogle who was Publicist for John Lennon & Yoko Ono on their Double Fantasy Album, also got involved with my unique sound saying ‘Sam Q’s Nightpatrol are The Beatles of Bossa Nova’ As a testimony to this we have a trendy and fashionable audience at our gigs that embrace New Mods, Soulies, Acid Jazz and mature jazz hipsters. You can see that even the commercial charts are dominated by a Latino influence at the present time.

09. Do you play covers? If you could pick any song, which would you like to cover most and why?

It is important to mix the covers with the originals. Particularly, with the new jazz audience we have it’s great to educate them on the original Bossa Nova Songs of Jobim and Luiz Bonfa – There is so much more to Bossa Nova than just ‘The Girl from Ipanema’ Such as ‘Desafinado’ and ‘Corcovado’ and ‘Mana De Carnival’ playing them alongside the originals ‘Tommy n Tutzy’ and ‘Pele’s Groove’ is so much fun! Another is the Ben Jorge song made famous by Sergio Mendes Brazill 66 ‘Mas Qu Nada’ – It was actually amazing Sergio Mendes Percussionist – Gibi Dossantos actually featured on 2 of our songs.

10. Where do you envisage being in five years time?

Well, currently I’m in talks with a Brazilian Promoter who is planning to put a Latin America Tour together. This makes a recent article about us so true ‘Sam Q exporting Bossa Nova from Manchester to Brazil’ Our sound has been signed in Brazil the ‘Samba of Love’ album to Grooveland Music so it’s natural that working the Latin Markets over the next 5 years is a major goal. Also, North America has a huge Latin influence and the ‘Love Spring Fountains’ album, as well as the current EP ‘Magnetic Lunchbox’,  are enjoying countless airplay on stations in the USA.

11. Who would you most like to record with?

There are so many magnificent jazz musicians out there. Unfortunately, my main heroes are long dead. Amongst the still alive how about this line up:

Pianist – Mcoy Tyner
Drummer – Portinio
Percussion – Gibi Dossantos
Bass – Christian Mcbride

12. What should we be expecting from you in the near future?

I’m planning a UK Tour this summer dates to be announced. Also a new album around September time. I have so many new songs it’s difficult to pick 12 which is a  nice problem to solve. A collaboration with a Japanese Label. Also many new remixes by producers worldwide.

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Grab a copy of: Sam Qs Nightpatrol Magnetic Lunchbox Here

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