Kenny Mathieson catches up with Julian Argüelles as he fulfills an ambition to collaborate with one of his heroes, guitarist John Abercrombie
Saxophonist Julian Argüelles is originally from the Birmingham area, but has spent a lot of his time in East Lothian since moving to Scotland five years ago to join his partner, singer Cathie Rae. He may be an adopted local, but his work on the jazz scene is genuinely international, both geographically and in terms of his collaborations.
The latest of these is a collaboration with the great American guitarist John Abercrombie, an all too rare visitor to these parts. Their Tune Up tour will provide audiences around Scotland with a chance to check out what promises to be a fascinating meeting of musical minds. Abercrombie will link up with the saxophonist’s trio, which already features two top American players, bassist Michael Formanek and drummer Tom Rainey.
‘I’ve been working with the trio for a number of years and I thought it would be nice to do a tour with a guest,’ says Julian. ‘I’ve known John for a long time, and I also knew that he had played with Mike and Tom, so I thought it would be a nice quartet. I’ve been a fan of his music since I first started getting into jazz as a teenager, so it will be a pleasure to play with one of my musical heroes.’
Argüelles has been active on the recording front of late, turning out a fascinating disc of solo wind music, Inner Voices, and contributing in full measure to the sparkling duo encounters on Brian Kellock’s The Nine Mile Burn Sessions.
A further disc, Momenta, featuring Julian with the Frankfurt Radio Bigband, is due for release from Basho Records at the end of May.
The saxophonist has a deserved reputation for having an original and distinctive musical voice that stands out in any setting, and it is precisely that quality that he most admires in Abercrombie’s work. ‘That’s the thing that appeals to me most about any musicians I work with. It’s not a stylistic thing, I primarily look for a musician who has his or her own voice. John is an “open” sort of player, like Tom and Michael. I think they all feel comfortable playing in different vibes: complicated harmonic stuff, free improv, grooves, whatever. And I like these different colours in music. I don’t think it’s an eclectic approach, just colourful.’
The saxophonist has been in New York preparing for the tour with the other three musicians and developing new material that will lend itself to the particular musical qualities of this combination.
‘I’ve written some new music specifically with John in mind. Of course, because of all the wonderful recordings he has made over the years I know his sound pretty well, and I’ve tried to write stuff that he will feel comfortable playing.
‘I still have a few extra things I’m hoping to write before the tour gets underway. As well as the new stuff, we’ll be playing some trio things which will work with the addition of John.’
Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow, Sun 3 May; Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh, Tue 5 May; Byre Theatre, St Andrews, Fri 8 May.