Musician Thomas Gould: ‘Imagine Brahms had smoked a spliff – that’s the jazz we play’

Tom Gould

Tom Gould - Credit: Archant

The cool young violinist will be playing Triplicity alongside Jim Rattigan and Liam Noble for Hampstead Arts Festival, writes Michael White.

You could fairly say that the most interesting, colourful and cool young violinist on the British circuit at the moment is Thomas Gould: a charismatically engaging player with a lot of hair who ventures into repertoire that many a virtuoso violinist wouldn’t know exists.

Entrusted with a pricey Guadagnini fiddle, he does all the usual mainstream repertoire and more besides. He recently brought out a much-admired disc of the Beethoven violin concerto and Vaughan Williams’ Lark Ascending. Later this month he’s with Thomas Ades for performances of Ades’ violin concerto in New York. And when he’s not being a soloist he leads the ultra-chic Aurora Orchestra.

But at the same time he plays vintage swing with a quintet known as Man Overboard. And he also plays what Hampstead Arts Festival is advertising as “contemplative chamber jazz” as part of an unlikely trio that includes French horn (Jim Rattigan) and piano(Liam Noble).

It’s the kind of grouping you associate with Brahms and maybe Ligeti, who both wrote for that combination, but not jazz. Contemplative or otherwise. As Gould says, “we’re odd because we have an abundance of high melody instruments, where most jazz groups provide more of a bass line – so it means that the piano has to work extra hard on harmony as well as rhythm”.

For HAF they will be playing music from their latest CD release, Triplicity, which Gould describes as “difficult to categorise but imagine that Brahms had smoked a spliff before writing his horn trio and you’ll get the idea”.

The disc came out a while ago, with good reviews but modest impact – which Gould admits “was disappointing, because it’s something I’m really proud of. It’s not cool to be proud of your latest Beethoven concerto recording, and you certainly wouldn’t give it to your friends. But this disc I do give to friends because it’s something out of the ordinary that I think they’ll like. And they usually do”.

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Thomas Gould, Jim Rattigan and Liam Noble play Triplicity and other jazz trio repertoire, Sat 14th, 7.30pm, St John’s Downshire Hill.