Arnie Somogyi's Ambulance
'Best Album' Nominee
2008 BBC Jazz Awards
Accident and Insurgency
One of the aims when Ambulance first formed was to make it sound like a band, rather than a bunch of musicians playing one person's compositions. We felt it important that there should be the opportunity for complete spontaneity within the structure of the music - if anybody felt like changing tack halfway through a tune they should be able to.
In 2006 the five of us, minus Eddie Henderson, were the first jazz group to be offered a musical development residency at Snape Maltings, near Aldeburgh on the Suffolk coast. We spent a lot of time improvising freely and most of the tracks on this CD have been written around those moments, captured on minidisc and inspired by people and places in and around Aldeburgh.
Having worked frequently with Eddie Henderson, I knew that his musical open-mindedness and generosity of spirit would dovetail with the band so I invited him to tour with us during May 2006.
The bulk of this recording (over 45 minutes) was completed during one four-hour live session, mid-tour, and I think captures the essence of the band.
The Atomic Weapons Research Establishment, Orford Ness Suite was freely improvised around discussed musical frameworks - nothing was written down.
A perennial Ambulance favourite, this has been part of the set since the very beginning.
Mick the Fish
You can buy freshly caught fish directly from the small huts on the beach in Aldeburgh. We bought our cod from Mick Lawson. Rob used fragments from a recorded interview with him, blended with the sound of the sea at Aldeburgh and some reversed
piano chords to create the sound bed for this improvisation. Mick is not actually a fish.
This is about a fisherman on Aldeburgh beach, who only goes out in really bad weather. Consequently, the other fishermen call him Captain Courageous. His real name's Kirk! It starts with the sound of me walking across the shingle. The changes in feel and tempo on this tune were completely spontaneous.
Tim wrote this beautiful ballad after the Aldeburgh residency. The title comes from the "tumbling down" melody halfway through the tune.
Lobster Pot 999
Improvised around three nine bar sections in 9/8. I fell asleep listening to this track and had a dream about a giant lobster called Derek. According to the Guinness World Records, the heaviest marine crustacean to be found was an American or North
Atlantic lobster that weighed 44lb 6oz (20.14kg). It was discovered off the east coast of North America in 1977. I'm not sure if it had a name.
Recently it seems to have become fashionable in jazz to reduce improvisational content in favour of repetitive grooves. I thought it would be fun to write a tune where nothing ever changes for the bass or piano but which allows for plenty of improvisation over the top. It features a melody written for the unlikely and unfashionable combination of soprano saxophones and bass clarinets.
As well as improvising as a group we spent time working individually in the practice rooms at Snape Maltings. Tim ended up in a very small, cell-like room. I think he felt quite at home, hence the title of the composition he wrote there.
I hope this evokes a suitably maritime feel. Dave emulated the sound of waves crashing on the shingle; Paul and Rob imitated seagulls, by squawking loudly and nicking people's fish and chips.
The melody and root-notes for this ballad were freely improvised by Paul, Dave and myself, after a bracing walk around Snape Marshes. Paul transcribed them and created this arrangement.
The Ambulance theme tune.
Dedicated to one of our favourite beers, this tune is written in 13/8 and starts with the sound of Dave playing the Britten shell sculpture on Aldeburgh beach. The electronic loop is the same recording manipulated electronically by Rob. The drone is actually the sound of the sea - again broken down into fragments of sound and rebuilt into something different. Arnie Somogyi
Arnie Somogyi - double bass
Eddie Henderson - trumpet, flugelhorn
Paul Booth - tenor and soprano saxophones, bass clarinet
Tim Lapthorn - piano, Fender Rhodes, melodica
Dave Smith - drums
Rob Townsend - tenor and soprano saxophones, alto flute, bass clarinet, laptop
Recorded by Paul Madden at Intimate Studios, London, 9th May and 6th September 2007
Produced by Arnie Somogyi
Edited by Rob Townsend at Mutant Studios, Watford
Mixed and mastered by Andrew Tulloch at The Blue Studio, London
Photography by Jules Lawrence
Surround mix at Finesplice, UK
Design by John Haxby
Arnie Somogyi uses Picato Innovation double bass strings.