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TEA BREAK

The monthly Tea Break is a series of short, fun items in What's New Magazine
that also gives jazz musicians an opportunity to update us with what they are doing.

 

Alyn Cosker (Drums) - July 2018

 

Alyn Cosker

 

Drummer Alyn Cosker was born and raised in Ayr, Scotland. He began studying drums when he was thirteen and in 1995, won a scholarship to study at Berklee College of Music. Instead, he decided, to stay in Scotland and studied music at Strathclyde University where he graduated with a BA (Hons) degree in 'Applied Music'. Alyn told journalist Rob Adams that drums were not his first instrument .... 'His dad, Jim, played piano and encouraged Alyn to follow suit, but after beginning piano lessons at the age of six, he found too many extra-musical attractions until his older brother, also Jim, took up the drums. At school in Ayrshire there was a band Alyn Cosker Lyns Unecalled the Dream Teddies, whose drummer, Ross Cooney, Cosker remembers as “the coolest guy on the planet.” Here was a role model and as soon as Jim senior realised that Alyn was serious about emulating his local hero, drum lessons were arranged ...'.

Another early role model was Buddy Rich, as Rob Adams discovered when the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra played a tribute to the late drummer and bandleader. Alyn 'has been in awe of Rich since his father showed him a video of Rich guesting with Frank Sinatra, just after Cosker took up the drums at the age of thirteen. He has listened to Rich’s recordings avidly, studied videos and DVDs of him in action andfound both solace and healthy doses of reality in going back to his favourites. So when the SNJO’s director, Tommy Smith, brought up the idea of a Rich tribute, Cosker was over the moon. Then he remembered those listening sessions when he’d thought he was making good progress, only to be brought back down to earth with a bump, and almost had a panic attack. “I can remember my dad putting on that Sinatra video for the first time and just not being able to believe what I was seeing and hearing,” says Cosker of Rich whose career began at the tender age of eighteen months as Traps, the Drum Wonder and included spells with Artie Shaw and Tommy Dorsey in the big band era as well as gigs and recordings with fellow jazz icons Charlie Parker, Lester Young and Art Tatum'.

Alyn became a regular feature in the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra in 2004 and continues to be their regular drummer. Through the SNJO, and following his own solo music career, Alyn has worked alongside many professional artists throughout the world. Some of these include Tommy Smith, Jim Mullen, Courtney Pine, Larry Carlton, Bheki Mseleku, Annie Ross, Frank Gambale, Clare Teal, Brian Kellock, Joe Locke, Laurence Cottle, Mark Nightingale, Joe Lovano, John Scofield, David Liebman, Gary Burton, Geoffrey Keezer, Arild Andersen, Makoto Ozone, Randy Brecker, Branford Marsalis, Bob Mintzer, Benny Golson, Mike Stern, Bobby Wellins and saxophonist Bill Evans.

 

In 2009, Alyn released his first solo album Lyn’s Une for Linn Records with Ross Hamilton (bass) and David Dunsmuir (guitar) plus special guests. This video from Lyn's Une features Alyn's drum solo:

 

 

 

 

Following the albums great success and Alyn’s solo career developing, he has released his latest album KPF this year with musicians Steve Hamilton (piano), Colin Cunningham (bass) and David Dunsmuir (guitar) and various other outstanding world renowned musicians. 

Apart from his regular commitments with the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra, you only have to look at Alyn's discography to appreciate how busy he is. We caught up with him for a Tea Break:

 

Hi Alyn, tea or coffee?

Hi, I'm very much a ‘Tea Jenny’…..so Tea.

 

I hadn't heard of a 'Tea Jenny'! I read that it's a Scottish term for someone who drinks a lot of tea or 'someone who is fussy about tea'. Milk and sugar?

Yes please.

 

So, your new album KPF is out! How has it been received?

It’s been going really well. Audiences have really taken to the material from KPF and there has been some lovely feedback and reviews about the album. It took a couple of years to make with scheduling all the special guests, etc. So it was really lovely to finally get it out there.

 

 

Alyn Cosker KPF

 

I see the title comes from a family story .....?

Its based on my fiancée Kirsty’s family story. When she was a little girl her grandad had a car with the registration plate that contained “KPF” in it. He always said it stood for Kirsty’s Pretty Face. Kirsty really inspired me to do another album so its a little thank you. 

 

Talking of track titles, I am intrigued by the tracks Hee Haw Twice and Shoogly Paw! What’s all that about?

I’m drawn to use titles that I hear from other people. Hee Haw Twice was inspired by my friend Andy Strachan whom I’ve known since nursery school. I was living in my hometown of Ayr for a few years between 2011 and 2015 and practising for a very musically challenging project. As I was walking back to my flat I bumped into Andy (a fine musician himself), in relaying how difficult I was finding the project, he replied it would be “Hee Haw Twice” for the likes of me. Shoogly Paw is a phrase coined by my future father-in-law. When watching virtuoso players playing very fast lines on their instrument, he describes their hands as a ‘Shoogly Paw’. A brilliant description in my mind.

 

 

How is Jazz doing in Scotland? There always seems to have been those musicians who move down to London and others who decide to stay in Scotland. I get the impression that the jazz scene is thriving ‘north of the border’ these days and I wonder how far that is down to the driving force of people like Tommy Smith? 

Jazz is doing brilliantly in Scotland. There has always been an amazing pool of musicians here. This continues to grow with time and through figureheads such as Tommy Smith running the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS) Jazz Course, the Tommy Smith Youth Jazz Orchestra, the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra, Richard Michael working with Fife Youth Jazz Orchestra, Paul Towndrow running RCS Junior Jazz Course, Malcolm Edmonstone and Andy Bain running National Youth Jazz Orchestras, Brian Molley and Allon Beauvoisin running Strathclyde Youth Jazz Orchestra, Pauline Black running Aberdeen University Big Band and many others. Because of this there is an amazing pool of young players coming through. All of whom are arranging their own gigs, jam sessions etc. Its really wonderful to see!

 

Alyn's Quartet rehearsing Oh Dear from the Lyn's Une album in 2017.

 

 

 

 

Are there particular jazz venues people might not know about?

The Blue Arrow in Glasgow is a great club. It's relatively new but fingers crossed it will keep flourishing. Jazz At The 78 is a great Sunday night gig/jam session on Kelvinhaugh Street run by the fantastic bass player Euan Burton. Also, the Jazz Bar in Edinburgh as well as the Blue Lamp in Aberdeen are legendary.

 

Blue Arrow Jazz Club Glasgow

 

Blue Arrow Jazz Club, Glasgow

 

 

 

You have been with the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra for some time and their recording output has been of very high quality. Jeunehomme featuring Makoto Ozone; In The Spirit Of The Duke ..... Do you have a favourite recording by SNJO?

Each album I’ve played on has been a great experience. Two personal favourites are Rhapsody in Blue and American Adventure. Rhapsody in Blue is a favourite as it was the first album I recorded with the band. Brian Kellock (as always) plays his very colourful socks off. American Adventure was a personal highlight for a few reasons. It had always been a dream to record in a New York Studio as I'm really inspired by a lot of the great session drummers such as Steve Gadd, Steve Jordan, etc. Also, getting the opportunity to record with so many of my musical heroes on one session was really quite surreal at the time. Such an amazing experience. 

 

Listen to Yes Or No from the SNJO album American Adventure featuring Alyn Cosker and Joe Locke.

 

 

 

 

Hob Nob, Bourbon, Garibaldi or digestive biscuit?

Garibaldi….because David Garibaldi is a legendary drummer (I really prefer a Bourbon….Sorry David!).

 

Jaco Pastorius

 

There are some great guest musicians on your album – Joe Locke (vibes); Eddi Reader (vocals) and Tommy Smith himself. If youcould have asked two past jazz musicians along, who would you have invited and why? 

Yeah, as well as Joe, Eddi and Tommy we have : Fraser Anderson (vocals), Rachel Lightbody (vocals), Kirsty Johnson (accordion), Adam Bulley (mandolin), Fiona Hamilton (fiddle), Chas Mackenzie (acoustic guitar), Laurence Cottle (bass), Marcio Doctor(percussion) and Paul Towndrow (alto saxophone). Also at the core of it is my amazing band with Steve Hamilton (keys), Davie Dunsmuir (guitar) and Colin Cunningham (bass). It was a thrill to have my dad (Jim Cosker) play piano on the track Eddi sings on.

That’s a good question. Michael Brecker and Jaco Pastorius are two musical heroes I would have loved to have played with. Both really open-minded musicians who really pushed the boundaries of their instruments and music in general.

 

Jaco Pastorius

 

 

 

What gigs have you got coming up?

I'm running around working with lots of amazing people. I'm also doing some gigs with my band over the coming months promoting KPF. Edinburgh Jazz Festival on the 20th of July at the Jazz Bar, The Drygate in Glasgow on the 22nd of October, Pizza Express Dean Street on 20th of November, Catsrand New Galloway on the 14th of December.

 

Who else from Scotland do you think people should be listening out for?

There are literally hundreds of names I could mention. One musician that definitely is worth mentioning is the incredible alto saxophonist Adam Jackson. A fantastic musician with endless creativity and soul.

 

Listen to Adam Jackson playing Rhapsody from the album Too Much Love with Euan Burton's band -
Euan Burton (double bass); Adam Jackson (alto saxophone); Tom Gibbs (piano) and Alyn Cosker (drums).

 

 

 

 

Another biscuit?

Deep fried Tunnocks teacake.

 

Deep fried Tunny Tea Cake

 

I found this picture by Pete Lidell of the traditional Scottish chocolatey treat online. Reactions online were mixed: one person said: “If this were posted elsewhere with the caption ‘Doctors removed this from my body last night,’ I would have believed it.” and Pete himself says: “I have to admit it tasted much better than I expected and those who tried it were pleasantly surprised!”

People should listen to your KPF album - they will be 'pleasantly surprised' too!

 

Here's a video of the band playing at the launch of KPF in Glasgow during March 2018

 

 

 

Click here to sample KPF which is also available through Alyn Cosker's website: www.alyncosker.co.uk (click here) or listen through Spotify.

 

 

Alyn Cosker

 

 

Utah Teapot

 

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