Ishmael Ensemble's Top Bristol Tips

Ishmael Ensemble's Top Bristol Tips

A guide to the city's underground music scene...

Bristol has always been staunching independent. While other cities prevaricated over the removal of archaic statues, the good citizens of Bristol led the way in physical action by dumping Colston in the harbour.

A city with its own cultural recipes and flavours, Bristol is currently home to a thriving jazz scene, one that can hold its own with London's much-mythologised jazz underground.

With a new compilation incoming on Worm Discs set to push these jazz luminaries into the light, Clash hit up saxophonist, composer, and Bristolian resident Pete Cunningham of Ishmael Ensemble for some Bristol tips.

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The Gallimaufry

The Gallimaufry’s owner James Koch has harboured and nurtured so many of the new breed of Bristol jazz bands, his part in the scene’s success can’t go unnoticed. Waldo’s Gift, Snazzback, Simiah and Hippo among many others have cut their teeth inside it's colourful walls. James has also invested the same love and attention into the food they serve at both the Galli and over the road at sister-venue Suncraft.

The Bristol Germ

Alastair Shuttleworth’s Bristol Germ is a vivid and vital insight into the city’s diverse underground. Candid interviews & witty editorials make for a very enjoyable read and have put me on to loads of new artists including Kayla Painter, Sunun and the bountiful world of Matt Loveridge and his many guises.

Friendly Records

Tom and Benny are the perfect record store owners. If you want to dig in silence, you’re left alone. If you need a nudge in the right direction, they’ve probably already worked out what you’re in the mood for before you have. And most importantly, if you want an hour long meandering conversation about nothing much at all, they’re ready and waiting. They’ve always supported our releases and have certainly widened our hometown audience through their championing of local music.

Dubloaded

I moved to Bristol in 2009 having spent the previous couple of years making the monthly pilgrimage from Somerset to the back room of The Croft for Pinch’s Dubloaded night.

Looking back at the posters for the Wednesday night gathering, it’s hard to think of a more influential and inspiring time from my teenage years. Getting to see a young Ben UFO drift effortlessly between genres, Kode9 opening my ears to footwork and juke or hearing dubplates by Joker, Appleblim or Peverelist given their maiden spin to a room of 80 - 100 loyal heads was a pretty special experience.

The ripples of Dubloaded's influence are seen throughout the city today, from Young Echo and Giant Swan to Julio Bashmore and My Nu Leng.

EP 64

I first came across Dali de Saint Paul’s Ephemeral Project 64 at an Evil Usses gig at the Lanes a year or so ago.

The finite series of 64 unique performances sees Dali collaborate with different musicians and artists. She was joined that night by original Run Logan Run drummer Dan Johnson and Yama Warashi’s Yoshino Shigihara on keys. I loved the raw frenetic nature of the music and the boldness of just getting up there and seeing what happens. Inspiring stuff.

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Noods Radio

I met Leon and Jack at the Surrey Vaults (RIP), I was playing a solo live show upstairs. It was midsummer, sweaty, and like many nights in that beautiful building, a shirtless Larry McCarthy aka Bruce was hanging from the ceiling.

Much like the Dubloaded nights, a community was blossoming and Noods Radio was (and still is) at the heart of it. Over the years they’ve built a platform as inclusive as it is elevating for creatives and collectors to share their musical worlds to an ever-growing listenership.

Rider Shafique

Rider’s 'I-Dentity' floored me when I first heard it three years ago and still packs the same punch now. He’s a prolific artist, activist and community ambassador who’s work never seems contrived or compromised. Just as comfortable toasting a jungle rinse out as he is performing arresting spoken word pieces, his extensive back catalogue crosses genres unlike any MC I know.

Stanlaey

Bethany Stenning is a creative force of nature. Her music is a gateway to a fully realised world of mystique and fantasy, full of adventure. We’ve been collaborating on some stuff recently and I love the playfulness she brings to the table, often reminding me how much fun making music can and should be.

Stolen Body Records

I started to dig into the Stolen Body record label after discovering The Evil Usses via Tom at Friendly Records. This pointed me in the direction of many Bristol acts like Yama Warashi and Yo No Se but also blew the door off a gritty, psychy garage I didn’t know existed. The latest release on the label from French group SLIFT is a ferocious favourite.

Elevator sound

Ben, James & Marco provide an essential and impeccable service for the seemingly infinite number of Bristolians scratching their heads over a mountain of patch leads and synths. They’re always ready to tackle any cable based conundrum and are probably solely responsible for us ever getting our complicated live set up to actually work.

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'New Horizons : A Bristol Jazz Sound' will be released on September 2nd - order LINK.

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