Ambient Jazz Ensemble is the passion project of acclaimed composer, writer and producer Colin Baldry. Baldry’s previous works can be found on a vast and impressive string of iconic labels such as RCA, Geffen, Motown, Virgin & Capitol Records, whilst arranging and conducting The BBC Concert Orchestra and The City Of Prague Philharmonic. Whilst his other works sit across cinematic compositions, Ambient Jazz Ensemble sets to tell a story, painting a scene as opposed to accompanying one, through ambient electronic, contemporary / nu-jazz and experimental and has received support from the likes of Gilles Peterson, Jamie Cullum, Mojo, Hospital Records and Cafe Del Mar.
Ambient Jazz Ensemble has a melting pot of influences from the likes of Marvin Gaye’s Trouble Man, Marlena Shaw’s California Soul, Curtis Mayfield, Minnie Ripperton, early Weather Report records and Bacharach recordings; it adopts a atmospheric palette of sounds utilizing strings, brass, wind & rhythm section and despite having a jazz ensemble at the heart of it all, the music owes much to orchestral and electronic influences.
1. Listening to music has been my biggest musical education
2. My new favourite band is Snowpoet
3. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve woken in the night with musical ideas for Ambient Jazz Ensemble
1. What is the biggest inspiration for your music?
Ambient Jazz Ensemble is my passion project. It is inspired by, & draws on, the broad palette of sounds & ideas in my experience of writing & producing music for tv, but allows me to indulge in a world where the only ‘client’ is myself, with no constraints. I still love to visualise a scene or a story which informs either where the music comes from or goes to, but often it is simply experimenting with a seed of an idea or sound & letting that develop organically.
In terms of artists that have inspired me it would be early Weather Report, The Leaf Label, Jaga Jazzist & Miles Davis.
2. How and when did you get into making music?
At 21 my early career was as a bass player, but I would always help in arranging, production & co writing where possible & was always naturally drawn to the magic of the recording studio. I would also demo musical ideas on a portastudio at home, a 4 track cassette recording device which allowed a limited amount of overdubbing using primitive midi sequencing & drum machine with guitar & bass.
In 2010, having dedicated 15 years to writing music for clients, I found myself getting into making music all over again, utilising a melting pot of ideas & ingredients I hadn’t been able to previously use, incorporating jazz influences & ambient soundscapes… it became Ambient Jazz Ensemble.
3. What are 5 of your favourite albums of all time?
Hejira – Joni Mitchell
What We Must – Jaga Jazzist
Sweetnighter – Weather Report
Close To The Edge – Yes
Jaco Pastorius (1st album)
4. What do you associate with Berlin?
Berlin Philharmonic, David Bowie Berlin Trilogy (with Eno & produced by Tony Visconti).
5. What’s your favourite place in your town?
The tennis club. Tennis is the only thing that gets me out of the studio & keeps me relatively fit & healthy.
6. If there was no music in the world, what would you do instead?
I have absolutely no idea; but if there had been no music back when I was leaving school then I’d have chosen to follow the only other subject I was any good at which was mathematics.
7. What was the last record/music you bought?
Hot Rocks – Rolling Stones (vinyl), Starfire – Jaga Jazzist (download)
8. Who would you most like to collaborate with?
Alfa Mist, Melanie De Biasio
9. What was your best gig (as performer or spectator)?
My first ever pro gig was with Tom Robinson & the last night of the first tour was at Loughborough University, coincidentally close to my home town in a very familiar venue. It still remains my most memorable gig on every level; absolutely packed with the crowd spilling out into the foyer & outside, friends & family present, 4 encores (we didn’t want the tour to end) & everyone in party mood.
10. How important is technology to your creative process?
There’s no substitute for a strong idea, but studio gear has always been crucial for me to shape music sonically & squeeze something extra from every stage. With the computer being the hub of the studio editing can now be an experimental process rather than simply a practical one, mangling fragments of players performances for example. The soundscapes in Ambient Jazz Ensemble tracks rely on hours of sonic experimentation, so with thousands of effects at my fingertips it becomes a joyous way to spend a day.
11. Do you have siblings and how do they feel about your career/art?
I have no siblings.