Can you tell us about your new album and launch concert?

Yes, I’m very excited to say that Fire Horse is my debut album. It represents an emotional time capsule, a very poignant chapter in my life. Some of the earlier songs were written during lockdown & it felt like an incredibly special adventure to disappear down a rabbit hole and lose myself in composing, lyric writing, and learning Logic Pro so I was able to make demos. The album has eight of my originals songs, three interpretations of my favourite jazz standards and a fun soul number.

Claire Martin OBE has produced the album and I’m honoured to say there are some wonderful musicians featuring on it. Jim Watson plays the piano and keyboards & hammond organ, Laurence Cottle plays the electric bass which brings a whole personality in songs such as Your Biggest Fan which features a fantastic solo from him. Jeremy Brown brings his impeccable double bass playing to some of the more traditional jazz standards, and Ian Thomas brings his genius on the drums. Skyscapes also features a lovely flugelhorn solo from James McMillan who recorded several of the tracks at his studio Quiet Money in Hastings. Stolen Moments has some masterful trombone playing from Chris Traves who also recorded most of the tracks & engineered all of them at his studio Soup To Nuts in London.

Highlights on the album for me are Snow Blind, one of the first songs I wrote, which featured on Jazz FM’s Dinner Jazz Single of The Week. Also Born Yesterday, which although it’s sad, the title makes me smile; Black Dog, a happy ditty about depression, and Lush Life which is such a masterful tune by Billy Strayhorn that it’s exciting to have had the chance to record it.

I composed all the original tunes on the piano. I am by no means really competent on the piano, but I find my way around chord progressions until they become compelling and then the melody line & lyrics usually come to me together. Sometimes not being a master of something frees you up to experiment without too much self-policing. I really enjoyed also composing & arranging the backing vocals on the album. I know for sure that singing in gospel & soul choirs played a big part in my passion for this.

What other projects are you currently involved in?

I’m putting together some spring gig dates for the album launch as I’m thrilled to say the official launch gig at Pizza Express Soho on 18th February 2024 has already sold out. I’m writing new songs, and have an idea for a musical on the back-burner! I think some new collaborations would be the way to move forward in 2024.

What are you currently listening to and what was the last CD or download you bought?

I’m currently listening to the two latest albums by Cleo Sol. Heaven, and Gold. She has a fragility in her voice that I love to hear. I really love Lost Angel on Gold. It has fantastic backing vocals. I love hearing singers that really utilise and embrace backing vocals. She’s part of the SAULT group of musicians who are a collaborative team and also independently release innovative soulful music that very often features stunning backing vocals.

It’s not current, but at the moment I’m listening a lot to Shirley Horn’s 1992 album Here’s To Life. Sometimes when you hear an album it’s like you can hear the magic in the room when it was recorded. It’s a rare thing, but for me this this album definitely has that quality. The arrangements & instrumentation are so beautiful. Sometimes an album hits you at just the right time too, I don’t think I would have ‘got’ this album in my twenties.

What is your all time favourite album and why?

There are many albums that represent different chapters of your life & that’s what’s so magical about them. If I cite any I’d have to say: Stevie Wonder’s Songs In The Key Of Life, Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story the movie soundtrack, Tom Wait’s Blue Valentine, Joni Mitchell’s Hejira, & Nina Simone’s The Best of Nina Simone.

Who has caught you attention recently that we should be listening out for?

There’s a fabulous French trumpeter called Fabian Mary. He’s probably already ahead of the ‘listening out for stage’, so I hope I’m not doing him a disservice mentioning him here. My Dad was a jazz trumpeter so I grew up listening to him play, & the great trumpeters he would listen to. Fabien Mary is up there. He plays with such fluidity and grace. His new single Never Let Me Go is a beautiful version of one of my favourite ballads.

Click here to read our review of Fire Horse by Sarah L. King