It is no understatement to say that Maisha are one of the hottest new outfits in Jazz, comprised of some of the most in-demand instrumentalists from the London scene. Before they play at Patterns on Tuesday 21st May, we had a chat with bandleader, Jake Long.

How long have you been playing together and how did you meet? 

Maisha’s been playing together for about the last three years.  A lot of us met at university (Trinity College Of Music) – we were playing together a lot at that time in different bands and ensembles and I was really enjoying everybody’s playing.  With members like Shirley and Tim, I met them through a music scene in London – played and hung out with them individually.  When I put the band together I thought it would be good to bring all those people together.

What inspires and drives you to make the music you make? 

I’ve always been a part of bands and have always enjoyed writing and playing original music, so I think it’s kind of that and the joy of doing it, feeling that we have something to say…  Something to leave behind when we’re not here.

Why do you think that Jazz has exploded so much over the last few years? 

A lot of people that are creating jazz have realised that, for a long time, it was very much an intellectualised music and I think that put the general public off listening to it.  If you’re led to believe that you won’t understand it if you don’t know anything about it, I think that is a massive put off… So I think what a lot of people have done is they’ve changed the way that people can perceive the music;  performing it in spaces they wouldn’t previously have performed jazz before, fusing it with elements of dance music, hip-hop and popular music, stuff like that.  That allows people to find it a bit more accessible and to be able to go out and dance to it.

Jake Long

What is your relationship with London, personally and musically?

I grew up in London. I’ve always lived in London. And I’ve always loved it really…  I feel like, musically, it’s really inspiring because there’s so many different cultures – everybody with those cultures brings the music so you can really hear things going on and be exposed to so much.

What about your live show feels special or different to you?

I think why I enjoying playing with Maisha so much is because it’s so free and it allows us to explore the music so deeply. When we perform, we all take the approach we intend and we don’t want it to be any show we’ve done previously – I think that even though that aspect is taken on by a lot of different bands, I feel that potentially a lot of other people’s music is slightly more structured than Maisha’s.  The fact that there’s not so much structure allows us to be a lot freer with it.

What is in store for Maisha in the future? What are some of your aspirations for the band and your music?

I’ve got a couple of different things coming up…  I want to do another EP with Maisha that’s reworks of some of the tunes on the first album, maybe some original ones that are kind of exploring another side of Maisha that I maybe haven’t necessarily managed to incorporate in the music (maybe with more electronics and stuff like that).  Then want to have another album coming out at some point in the future that is potentially more along the lines of the first album, with that kind of instrumentation.  In terms of aspirations, kind of going forward and travelling more, playing more gigs, better places, reaching more people with the music…  But, more important than that, it’s kind of along the personal development line – using that band and using that music to find my own voice and how I like to play, how I can develop myself musically as well.  I think that’s really important.

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