The Omnibus Theatre in Clapham is acquiring some pedigree when it comes to introducing upcoming talent to the British public.

I saw an example of that two weeks ago when I went to interview saxophonist Sam Rapley at the Omnibus, just before Sam was due to perform with his band called Fabled upstairs in the Music Room. The “Music Room” is very bright with natural light and large sash windows; gigs I have seen previously were held in The Common Room which has more seating and a bar as well.

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Before the gig I spoke to Music Director Sue Dorey who mentioned that by introducing young talented musicians, Omnibus can build long term relationships with artists who want to return on a regular basis and enjoy the good reception they receive from the audience; plus the opportunity to play in a nice venue. Sam performed compositions from his 2015 EP also called Fabled plus compositions from his upcoming release entitled Short Stories, which is due for release later in in 2017. It is always interesting to have a chat beforehand and then see the musicians perform; I would say Sam has a slightly different vision to his contemporaries on the jazz scene. Sam has some interesting influences ranging from Sarah Vaughan to Antonio Carlos Jobim to Debussy.

Sam is interested in composing in a different way from the more conventional jazz and straight ahead style, his compositions are more geared up to tell stories as the titles of his releases suggest. In fact, Sam has already written music for short films and I suspect will be writing more film scores over the next ten to twenty years. The conventional formula to straight ahead jazz is to have an introduction, whereupon each musician takes a solo, then the end of the piece which is usually similar to the introduction. In Sam’s case, even though the band comprised of a conventional quintet of saxophone, piano, guitar, bass and drums, the music bore more of a feel of orchestration with elements of classical and folk to go with the jazz. The phrase that would come to mind is chamber jazz, which reminds of some of the great records produced on the ECM label over the last 40 years, following in the footsteps of artists like John Surman, Miroslav Vitous and Rainer Bruninghaus.

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In some ways this is refreshing because in recent times many younger artists have followed the Esbjörn Svensson trio (EST) route. The tunes performed at the gig involved many changes, like a mini movie with not much soloing going on in the traditional sense; this was more about the collective. Of course, with instrumental music, finding titles can always be a challenge; one track performed was called Yellowcard, composed on the spot whilst watching the football world cup final! The audience had a great time absorbing what was going on in front of them, and pretty much justifies Sue Dorey’s policy of giving the future stars a platform. Long may that continue.

You can listen to our chat before the gig here:

Fabled are:
Sam Rapley: saxophones
Matt Robinson: piano
Alex Munk: guitar
Connor Chaplin: bass
Will Glaser: drums

JLR Review – Sam Rapley at Omnibus Theartre in Clapham May 2017