We’re thrilled to announce that debut albums by pioneering folk musician Sam Lee and Roller Trio – billed as ‘the new sound of UK jazz’ – are among the twelve Barclaycard Mercury Prize nominees for this year’s prestigious award.
“The striking debut album from young, influential folk musician & live music promoter Sam Lee (produced by Gerry Diver and with mixes by John Wood, of Nick Drake fame) comprises traditional material, largely discovered through years of dogged research and exploration of often long forgotten songs, predominantly sourced direct from English Gypsy and Irish and Scottish traveller communities.
“Born and bred in North-West London, Sam Lee has a glorious baritone voice and seemingly boundless imagination and enthusiasm. A graduate of the Chelsea College of Art, Sam decided to abandon work as a visual artist, teacher of wilderness survival skills (he was trained by Ray Mears) and as a part-time Burlesque dancer. Instead, he embarked on a journey of discovery into the songs of the British Isles. His main musical training developed from a unique four-year apprenticeship under the legendary, late Scottish Traveller, the balladeer, Stanley Robertson, to whom Ground of Its Own is dedicated. Whilst still in his mid 20s, Sam regularly visited Stanley in the North of Scotland where he inherited a vast repertoire of songs as well as an ancient, idiosyncratic singing craft. Sam became inspired to research and document traditional music, a craft which has since led him to become a regular visiting lecturer to Goldsmith’s College and Newcastle University. Sam is also the first folk singer to teach at the Royal College of Music.
“In between times, Sam is the promoter, live events producer and driving force behind the BBC Radio 2 Folk Award-winning Magpie’s Nest organisation (now The Nest Collective) which has played a key role in helping to regenerate interest in the live folk music scene, especially amongst younger musicians and audiences, and presents an eclectic show on Resonance FM Radio. He’s also received the prestigious Arts Foundation Award (presented by Grayson Perry) in 2011, been featured in Vogue Magazine, was a contributor to Sky TV’s Traveller’s Got Talent series and musical director of a Radio 4 series on the history of the postal service!”
“..an album of unusual dignity and immense beauty” – Mojo
“A wonderful singer and fascinating character” – Joe Boyd
Listen to tracks from Sam’s debut below and catch him live this autumn at:
Little Missenden Festival (5th Oct); Union Chapel, London [with Tinariwen] (29th Nov); Old Vic, Bristol (9th Dec).
Also up for a nomination this year is Roller Trio – “described by Gilles Peterson as the ‘new sound of UK Jazz’ – and the latest band to explode out of the fertile Leeds music scene where experimental jazz rubs shoulders with DIY alt rock and electronica.
“Their music is a fresh, visceral stew of conventional and experimental sounds that features stonking riffs, thrashy noise, evocative songs and electronic soundscapes. Incubated in mammoth improvisation sessions and honed in local gigs, their music is delivered with a captivating swagger and greedy energy that is utterly beguiling and packs a hook-laden punch.”
Featuring James Mainwairing (tenor sax and electronics), Luke Wynter (guitar) and Luke Reddin-Williams (drums), Roller Trio met whilst studying at Leeds College of Music although they didn’t consider themselves a ‘proper band’ until they were called in at short notice to support Phronesis at a gig in Leeds in March 2011.
“Their influences are many and wide-ranging – from Tim Berne, Chris Potter and Anthony Braxton to Queens of the Stone Age, Soundgarden, Slum Village, J Dilla and Flying Lotus, as well as the vibrant local scene and contemporary bands such as Heernt, trioVD, Animals as Leaders and Siriusmo. Their compositional process takes place in the moment and is based on gut instinct rather than more traditional methods. The Nail That Stands Up, for example, was written in just over two hours and performed at a gig the very same night. With an energy and freshness that has garnered rave reviews, Roller Trio’s debut looks set to win them a following from way beyond the jazz and experimental music world.
“Every now and then you see a band and think, wow this lot have really got it… There’s hundreds of hours of playing together behind their super-tight sound and quiet confidence. Roller Trio have a nasty bite but their catchy bark will get you in the end”. (Jez Nelson, Jazz on 3, BBC Radio 3)
“What sets this young group apart is how often they favour melody over muscle. Memorable tunes such as R-O-R and Where’s My Whip will resonate with listeners who have never darkened a jazz club door” (The Times **** Stars)
Listen to Roller Trio performing the fourth track – the “thoughtful softly anthemic R-O-R” – from their debut album below and catch them live at the following venues:
Richmond Jazz Festival, North Yorkshire (14th Sept); Prohibition, Leeds (19th Sept); Lancaster Jazz Festival (23rd Sept); Marsden Jazz Festival (13th Oct); F-IRE Festival, Pizza Express Jazz Club, London (20th Oct); ORT Café, Birmingham (26th Oct); The Cockpit, London (29th Oct); Matt and Phreds, Manchester (30th Oct).
See the full list of Barclaycard Mercury Prize nominees HERE