Angus Murray

Paul Mason

Frank Sebastian

NEWS Behind The Beat
The third in a series of interviews
by writer Paul Deegan.
Interview: Mark Dofman

Paul Deegan: You’re embarking on a Master’s Degree in Music Psychology: what got you interested in this side of music and what will the Master’s involve?
Mark: This is a two year part time course at University of Sheffield. It is an attempt on my part to look more formally  at the processes that go in within performance, and I hope this will be of use to both my teaching and playing.

PD: Looking back, would it have been more useful to have studied music for your first degree rather than South Asian Languages? Do you still regret not being able to take advantage of a place on a subsequent degree course at Trinity College of Music?
MD: It would have been useful to have gone on a music degree but you can do everything you want by yourself if you are sufficiently motivated. The big advantage of a music degree is giving you contacts and networking opportunities – not that I would know what a networking opportunity was if it bit me on the bottom!

PD: What effect did working with Kenny Clare have on your drumming whilst you were learning your craft?
MD: A big effect. I still have very fond memories of the man. He was one of the great jazz drummers both in the UK and the US and was a great teacher.

PD: You're the only musician - other than Angus - to play on all the tracks on ‘Now I Know Why’: is it fair to say that being a drummer secures you more work than other jazz musicians?
MD: Doesn’t seem like that to me. Look in the Musicians’ Union directory and you will see five times as many drummers listed as any other instrument.

PD: Tell us something about your involvement in ‘The Spin’ in Oxford.
MD: I set  up The Spin Jazz Club with guitarist Pete Oxley about 5 years ago, more with the idea of getting a regular play in Oxford than thinking of setting up a jazz venue. Things have evolved to the point where it is full every week, we feature some of the top jazz players in the UK and the word is spreading that this is a good place to play. From a selfish point of view, it is great to work with these wonderful musicians week in, week out.

PD: What advice would you give your children if they wanted to follow in your footsteps and become musicians?
MD: Don’t! Become an accountant and keep your old man in the lifestyle he has become accustomed to.

PD: What music do you enjoy listening to?
MD: I listen mainly to jazz – great songwriters like James Taylor, Stevie Wonder, Steely Dan and lots of country and western.

PD: Which musician would you most like to play alongside and why?
MD: Frank Zappa. Boyhood hero and iconoclast of the first order. He also wrote some great toons.

PD: Angus Murray has just created a nine-piece big band to compliment his four, five and sixteen-piece bands: what size of band do you enjoy playing with most and why?
MD: I don’t have a view on the size of the band but most of my work is with small groups so I guess that must say something.

PD: If money was no object and you could go anywhere on a two-week holiday, where would you go and why?
New York. For the jazz.