“Some of the compositions were inspired by different authors, different books."
Richard Savery's love affair with the baritone sax began at the age of 12, for no other reason than he loved the sound, and it's taken him around the world, performing in the UK, the US and even in the Caribbean. He's also a composer and with his seven-piece ensemble, LIE, he's recorded an album, Flowers And Convicts, which he'll be launching at this year's Kinetic Jazz Festival.
“Some of the compositions were inspired by different authors, different books,” Savery explains. “That's kind of the inspiration for most of the things on this album. I'm inspired by lots of different musical elements obviously, but most of the titles, the ideas came from different works. They're drawn from imagery in the sorts of books they're from. Two of the titles are from Jean Genet, and some from Rimbaud, the poet – actually they're mostly French authors I think.”
Not that the music reflects that literary passion for all things French. Wonderfully ornate, LIE music is definitely informed by jazz, though with a line-up that includes violin and cello, with Savery also playing bass clarinet, there are strong classic allusions in there too. With both cello and bass clarinet, Savery also felt that including a double bass only cluttered things in that part of the sonic spectrum, so the originally eight-piece is now seven.
Savery has admitted that of late, in his own composing he's begun to feel that allowing the soloist or improviser freedom reduces the freedom of the composer and imposes its own limitations. “One of the biggest challenges for me as a composer is thinking about allowing people enough freedom and where they can solo. I try and really structure it as part of the composition so there's a spot in every piece where someone gets a chance. Generally each piece will feature one or two people, so I kind of work around the elements of what they can add to the piece. The people in the band were very carefully chosen, each person – I've played with them for years. The drummer [Finn Ryan] I've been playing with since we were both in high school together.”
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Savery also works with life partner Russian-born LIE violinist Anna Okunev in a duo called Avery and the classical Marianna Ensemble, while his brother Jono plays clarinet and sax in LIE, with Anatoli Torjinski on cello, Aaron Flower on guitar and Wilbur Whitta on piano, with special guest Jarred Dunn also sitting in on piano.
“There [are] definitely lots of classical elements,” he admits of LIE music. “I try not to think about jazz or classical elements. I just write what I like and kind of go from there. Because I've been writing for this group for maybe five years, we have about 35 pieces, so I just took pieces that I though would fit together really well for the album. They're not all influenced by books but these particular ones all kind of came together in that way.”
There'll be a couple of LIE gigs later in the year, while a cut-down version of the group will be playing the Bellingen Festival, but for now, they'll be joining the 18-piece Kinetic Jazz Orchestra, the guitar-led Tim Rollinson Trio, the Dale Barlow Quartet and Captain Kirkwood, all part of the five-day Kinetic Jazz Festival.