Manchester-based trumpeter, composer and improviser Graham South’s previous work with Johnny Hunter Quartet, Beats & Pieces Big Band, and Anton Hunter’s Article XI (amongst others) has established him as a key player on the local and national improvisation scenes. On his debut as leader, South’s mature, emotionally direct playing is matched by three regular collaborators who together take the strong source material through a set of volatile landscapes.
By and by is the debut album for the Graham South Quartet, featuring Richard Jones (piano), Seth Bennett (bass) and Johnny Hunter (drums). It is a suite of the five African American spirituals used by Michael Tippett in A Child of Our Time and these arrangements were commissioned by Southwell Music Festival to complement a 2018 performance of Tippett’s piece. The arrangements of the songs are deliberately sparse, in a way that highlights and aims to show great respect to the melodic beauty and the depth of wisdom inherent in them. Ample space is given for individual and group improvisation, all profoundly influenced by the content of the original spirituals.
By And By is in every aspect a collective exploration of core musical principles, taking strong melodic ideas through a series of thought-provoking soundscapes. The quartet’s approach to space and structure make for a highly engaging listen. For fans of Ambrose Akinmusire & Miles Davis, Terry Riley & Tomasz Stańko and even Michael Tippett, this album sheds new light on these most enduring of melodies.