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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.


Rob Luft - November 2016

Rob Luft


Award winning guitarist Rob Luft only graduated from the Royal Academy of Music this year but already has a formidable CV. On awarding Rob the Kenny Wheeler Prize this year, judge and Edition Records boss Dave Stapleton said: ‘In this sixth year of the Kenny Wheeler prize, the wealth of talent emerging from the Academy’s Jazz course continues to astound us on the panel. It is an exciting and encouraging indication of just how strong the future looks for the jazz scene ... It was in this spirit that the music and guitar playing of Rob Luft shone through. He is already a remarkably experienced and accomplished musician, and he presented a clear vision that was particularly coherent with both the legacy of Kenny’s own aesthetic, and with Edition’s artistic direction. Rob’s own musical direction combined with his gifts as an instrumentalist and composer, will no doubt provide huge value to the strength of the Deco EnsembleEuropean jazz scene in the future and we look forward to sharing Rob’s journey on releasing his debut album.’

Originally from Kent, Rob is now based in London. He joined the National Youth Jazz Orchestra when he was fifteen before studying on the Academy’s Jazz programme. In 2015 he released the album Encuentro with The Deco Ensemble that he co-founded in 2013 to re-imagine the music of Astor Piazzolla’s Nuevo Tango, combining classical, jazz, and world music influences. With this group alone Rob has performed in Warsaw, Paris, Bratislava, Rome and other major European cities.


Deco Ensemble



Rob is a member of Byron Wallen’s “Four Corners”, Martin Speake’s “Mafarowi” and Enzo Zirilli’s “Zirobop” and the band Big Bad Wolf. He appears on Liane Carroll’s 2015 release Seaside, on Brazilian singer Luna Cohen’s 2016 album November Sky, and on the 2015 debut album from Enzo Zirilli, Zirobop.

I caught up with Rob as he toured with Corrie Dick’s band during the launch tour for the album Impossible Things and persuaded Rob to take a tea break when he got back.


Hi Rob , tea or coffee?

Coffee thanks, Ian.

Milk and sugar?

Neither, actually!

Paul MotianThelonious Monk



If you could ask two past jazz musicians to join us for the tea break, who would you invite?


Thelonious Monk and Paul Motian







What would you ask them?

I'd love to know how each of them maintained such a high level of artistic integrity over their incredibly varied and lengthy careers as jazz musicians. 


Hob Nob, Custard Cream, Ginger Nut or digestive biscuit?

Ginger Nut, thanks. 


Congratulations on winning this year’s Kenny Wheeler Prize, Second Prize in the 2016 Montreux Jazz Guitar Competition and last year’s Peter Whittingham Award. That’s quite an achievement! What have these Awards meant and have they helped?

Thanks Ian. Well, the Kenny Wheeler Prize was given to me based on my final recital at The Royal Academy of Music back in May, and this prize, in association with Edition Records, will allow me to record my debut album, which is very exciting! Similarly, the award that I received inBig Bad Wolf this year's Montreux Jazz Guitar Competition will fund the recording process of my album, which is really great. 


Big Bad Wolf


Finally, I was a recipient of the Peter Whittingham Award as part of 2 separate ensembles. I won the main prize as a member of Patchwork Jazz Orchestra, who are using the award to fund a series of warehouse events across London in an attempt to widen the audience of big band jazz. This group was setup by bassist Misha Mullov-Abbado in order to perform original big band compositions drawn from within the band.

Secondly, I was a recipient of the Help Musicians UK Development Grant with my jazz-rock quartet Big Bad Wolf, and this allowed us to record our debut album in August at Giant Wafer Studios in Powys, Wales. That album is due for release next April, and we will be touring across the UK and mainland Europe - so do keep a look out for that!



Here is a video of Big Bad Wolf playing Canary In A Coalmine.





What gigs have you played recently?

I've just returned from Corrie Dick's Impossible Things album launch tour, which was a total blast. His band features incredible musicians such as Alice Zawadzki, Laura Jurd and George Crowley, and it was just a total dream to play the same music night after night in a plethora of different UK cities. 



Corrie Dick's Project playing What Has Become Of Albert live at Cambridge Modern Jazz.





My tango quintet, Deco Ensemble, recently performed at The Arcola Theatre in Dalston as part of an alt-opera festival called Grimeborn. We were lucky enough to perform Astor Piazzolla's surrealist tango-operita Maria De Buenos Aires for a whole week, which was an incredible experience. 


The Deco Ensemble playing Fuga Y Misterio from Astor Piazzolla's tango operita Maria De Buenos Aires




I've also been playing a fair amount with Martin Speake's new quartet - Mafarowi. This group plays both original compositions of Martin's that are influenced by traditional Indian and Arabic traditional music as well as playing Indo-Jazz compositions by the likes of Ramesh Shotham and R. A. Ramamani. It is based on a group he led in the 1990s called Fever Pitch, which featured Chris Batchelor, Oren Marshall, Stuart Hall, Paul Clarvis and several other UK jazz legends, too!


What have you got coming up in the next few months?

Well, I suppose the next major event to occur in my life is this year's London Jazz Festival, in which I'll be playing a string of gigs with several different groups. Here are my outings in this year's LJF:

Rob Luft


Sunday 13th November (1pm-4pm), with Patchwork Jazz Orchestra, at The 606 Club.

Monday 14th November, with Phil Meadows Project, at Ray's Jazz Café at Foyles.

Saturday 19th November, with Byron Wallen Quintet, at The 606 Club. 

Sunday 20th November (1pm-4pm), with Simians of Swing, at Hideaway. 

Sunday 20th November (7:30pm), with LuftAbbaMic, at Omnibus Arts Centre. 



Following that, I'll be recording my debut album for Edition in January at Real World Studios in Bath, with a cracking line-up: Florence Yilma (voice), Joe Wright (sax), Joe Webb (Hammond organ), Tom McCredie (bass guitar), Corrie Dick (drums). This album is due for release in early Autumn 2017, so please do watch out for that! Here's my composition Riser played with Jamie Safiruddin (keyboards) and Will Glaser (drums) and the album will sound something like this:






Who else have you heard recently that we should listen out for?

I've been listening to Snowpoet's debut album for the past few months. Chris Hyson and Lauren Kinsella (the bandleaders) write beautiful songsChris Cheek and the album has been recorded wonderfully well by Alex Killpartrick. Also, I recently heard Bex Burch's group Vula Viel at Scarborough Jazz Festival, and they sounded really great. 

Chris Cheek's new album Saturday Songs just came out on Sunnyside Records, and I think there are some gorgeous compositions on that record.  


Chris Cheek


In the rock/indie world, I've really been enjoying the new Radiohead album, A Moon Shaped Pool, and also the new Deerhoof album, The Magic




Burn The Witch from the new Radiohead album with Trumpton (?) animation.




Another biscuit?

I'd better not!


Rob playing Busy with Matin Speake's Mafarowi.




Rob Luft


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