London Jazz News

Hang 2017 interview


Vocalist Georgia Mancio takes over the Pizza Express Jazz Club next month for six shows over four nights with 20 other musicians. It’s Georgia Mancio’s Hang, her most ambitious project since the ReVoice! festival which she produced for five years. Editor-at-Large Peter Bacon asks the questions.

LondonJazz News: Hang! It’s a great concept – tell me what it means to you. What vibe do you want the word to convey to the potential audience?

Georgia Mancio: Thank you! Hang is both slang for the after show, after hours gathering and the assembly and installation of artwork before an exhibition. So it’s the process and the pay off: the thought and preparation and the celebration and fun. I hope our audiences enjoy all those aspects and know their energy and spirit are as integral to the success of a performance as the music itself.

LJN: Collaborations and partnerships – don’t you find they compromise your vision? What happens if you don’t get your own way?

GM: Ha ha! I’ve obviously been outed as a control freak… To me, the compromise is the learning curve and may actually be the sign of what you need to work on. A collaborator is more likely to pull you from your comfort zone; deepen or refresh your artistic vision. Ultimately it’s finding the balancing point where everyone feels both safe and out on a limb.

LJN: And surely it’s tiring, making so much music in so many different combinations in so short a space of time?

GM: The last ReVoice! edition was 12 nights straight across four venues – each a different combination, so by comparison this is a walk in the park! What I’ve really missed in these three years since ReVoice! is that intense performing platform. You really stretch your technique and the cumulative creativity is energising and intoxicating so I’m thrilled to be experiencing that again.

LJN: There are people involved who mean a great deal to you. All of them, in fact! How about a few words on each? Say, one sentence per performer?

GM: Yes, you’re right all of them and as it’s my first Hang (and I hope there’ll be more) I wanted to include as many as possible.

Ian Shaw and Liane Carroll gave me performing opportunities when I was very inexperienced – a measure of their generosity and outlook, and an important reminder to nurture and encourage anyone new to this music and never judge.

Quadro is the titanically talented meeting point between someone I’ve worked with for just 18 months and hope to enjoy a very long collaboration with (Frank Harrison) and someone who has been an integral part of my musical development for over 20 years (Andrew Cleyndert).

I’ve loved touring with Nigel Price and Julie Walkington for several years now and we released an album, Come Rain or Come Shine, together in 2013. They are both highly creative and supportive, and the Trio is the perfect vehicle for our complementary skills.

Compañeros is a very new project – we’ve done a handful of gigs but found instant chemistry after Arnie Somogyi invited me and Dave Ohm to play with him and Guillermo Rozenthuler at his club. I’m a Latina by blood (and temperament!) so it’s a joy to revel in it.

Mark Crooks and I co-lead our tribute to Brazilian maestro Antonio Carlos Jobim. He and the whole group (which includes Colin Oxley and Robin Aspland) are so inspirational to play with: such high calibre musicians who always serve the beauty of these compositions.

I’m honoured that Kate Williams asked me to co-write for her stunning Four Plus Three project, following previous guests Gareth Lockrane, Mike Outram and her father, guitarist John Williams. I’m proud to finally voice some of my experiences supporting refugees these last two years as part of our original suite for Finding Home.

Lastly, sharing the stage with my partner in life and music is always special, as is the peerless musicality of Dave Ohm.

LJN: At the risk of getting all pretentious here, I suspect that there is a higher principle at play here that you want to convey? A bigger picture than (just) a few bands in a room playing this music called jazz? Am I right?

GM: I think many of us feel we have entered a new era of disconnection and darkness. We are overwhelmed by catastrophe, cruelty, narcissism, abuse. We are afraid. We are tired. We are diminished by an endemic lack of empathy. We are starved of love and kindness. But a gesture, a smile, an acknowledgment, a moment of appreciation, all can reconnect us. Taking journeys together, trusting each other, encouraging each other, daring each other – all reconnects us. Being in the moment and aspiring to make that moment the best it can be.

LJN: I seem to recall that you put ReVoice! out to pasture because it was getting in the way of your own music. Is Hang a sign that you missed the more communal, event-producing side of things? Does this slightly less ambitious event give you a musician/promoter balance that you are happier with?

GM: I think mainly it’s a sign that I need to keep evolving and that anyway everything connects. Sadly it seems that where there is life, there is admin so, yes, balance is very important. What I learned from beginning to end of ReVoice! will serve me for years to come – both personally and professionally. Hang feels like the natural continuation of that work and my subsequent partnership with Alan Broadbent and the start of our Songbook. Given all the art I still want to make, I think Hang could be a very fitting home.

LJN: And that begs the question: what happens after Hang?

GM: I have a pile of beautiful songs from Alan (Broadbent) waiting for me to put lyrics to as we work towards a second album together. Kate (Williams) and I hope to expand  Finding Home with more dates [there’s already another outing for the project at Watermill Jazz on 10 October], writing and a recording, perhaps incorporating visual arts. I’m so inspired by Khaled Hosseini’s recent animated Sea Prayer  and the work of Dutch filmmaker/animator Michael Dudok de Wit. And then there are a few others on my collaborating wish list…