We caught up with Alex Veitch, the keys player and band leader of the AVTRIO, who played at Midsummer Groove Festival 2019.
I suppose we should first talk about the current global situation, as it will have hit musicians quite hard. How has it affected you?
I’ve been very lucky to have a few private students who have been happy to carry on with their lessons online. Undoubtedly for many musicians it is an incredibly challenging period: of course everyone’s gigs disappeared overnight. there is the promise of some welcome support from the government, but it is taking some time to filter through so there certainly is a present financial challenge to musicians in the UK.
When did you first discover that jazz was the genre of music that you wanted to pursue in your professional life?
I remember my first jazz lesson when I was 10 with a local teacher Maggie Badham: being intrigued by the spaces in the pieces for improvising, and kinda enjoyed working out phrases and solos over these new pieces that maggie introduced me to. Jazz to me at that point was composing, experimenting and improvising over these new songs and tunes that I knew already. I guess when I was 16 I was sure that jazz was something I wanted to pursue more than the classical music I had always studied. Even though I didn’t study music for my undergrad, I knew by that point that playing the piano, and jazz in particular, was something I wanted to return to kinda full time and see what would happen.
How did the AVTRIO come into existence?
I love playing in the trio format. I’ve played in many piano trios, in many different styles, both in London and Bristol. The music for AVTRIO was written kinda with James in mind [the drummer in AVTRIO]. James and I went to school together and it was over the winter of 2018, after I’d been in Bristol for a year or so, that I thought it would be nice to do something together. Yeah, I wrote these songs thinking they’d work well with his playing.
Are there any specific artists or sounds that helped contribute to the inspiration for the AVTRIO project?
For sure. I love Alfa Mist, Blue Lab Beats, Yussef Dayes, Vels Trio, Kiefer, Dilla. I guess, yeah UK jazz and beat tapes meets improvised solos and live ensemble playing is what seems to have happened with this project to date. No doubt the music and everything I play is massively inspired by my long term jazz piano favourites: Brad Mehldau, Keith Jarrett, Bill Evans. I love everything they do.
So far, you’ve released two singles, are there any more to come? Is there an album in the pipeline?
There is very much an album near to the end of the pipeline. We actually had a UK tour booked for May of this year, it’s sad that it won’t be going ahead. We had dates up and down the country including Sheffield, Manchester, Leeds, London, Pizza Express Soho, Ronnie Scott’s, Stroud Jazz Festival etc. The tour has been postponed but the album released will go head prior to the rescheduled tour. More announcements to follow for sure.
Talk to me about the delightful synth sounds on the singles, where on earth are they coming from?
Ah, the synth sounds on the singles. The whole of the first album was recorded on a Rhodes Suitcase Piano MK 1 and a Moog Little Phatty monosynth – that would be what you’re hearing on all the lead sounds. That synth sound was certainly part of my original imagined intention when I wrote the songs, for it to sound like that with that instrumentation. I’m very happy with the reality of it and how the sound turned out in that respect. It’s exactly how I imagined it would be really.
Did any of the songs draw inspiration from hip hop?
I love listening to hip hop, ever since my friend Charles gave me his ipod at school when I must have been 11/12: A Tribe Called Quest, Nas, Jazz Liberatorz. We certainly aren’t trying to recreate any kind of hip hop directly, but those grooves are great, and if you hear a bit of that in our music that’s cool, it can only be a good thing.
Are there any albums that you can recommend to people in this period of lockdown?
OK, for sure. I know I’ve mentioned a fair few artists already here. I’ll try and think of 3 kind of varied albums. OK, Still Waters by Kenny Wheeler, J Dilla’s Delights Vol. 1, and, one of my all time favourite jazz albums, – Waltz for Debbie by Bill Evans.
Thanks for your time Alex – one more question: will we see you at Midsummer Groove Festival 2021?
Glad to get such a strong, positive answer. We look forward to hearing about your gigs with AVTRIO when the lockdown is over!
The AVTRIO consists of Alex Veitch on keys, James Vine on drums and Harry Stoneham on bass. They are based in Bristol, UK. Their first two singles are available on Spotify, listen to them below: