“You’ll see that they can let their hair down … from gypsy swing to husling, Chick Corea-ish improv, and serene excursions into the baroque, the playlist always keeps you guessing. And the telepathy is always tuneful.”
“… impeccable musicianship … a Gypsy jazz delight … played with masterly flamenco and classical guitar technique … The musicianship of the players provides some glorious sounds and textures. There is certainly some beautiful and emotional music on this album … This is different and interesting. And did I mention the impeccable musicianship?”
“They play together with pinpoint precision … scorching improvisations … a rewarding listen all round. ****
“A very tasty gumbo indeed. TGC’s ever widening crazy-quilt of influences … delightful … swinging … unerringly lyrical.”
An intriguing mix of gypsy jazz, flamenco, jazz and contemporary classical influences, TG Collective was born in Autumn 2006, built around the core of guitarists Jamie Fekete and Sam Slater, alongside the unusual combination of flutes, violin, double bass, trumpet, clarinet, cajón and percussion.
Creating ‘an exciting, sensuous sound’ (or so a wise copy-writer once thought up), TGC perform original music and arrangements, touching on influences as varied as Paco de Lucia, Django Reinhardt and JS Bach, and have built up a strong following with their intense live performances. The band is completed with the double bass and trumpet of Percy Pursglove; flautist Holly Jones; Louis Robinson on violin, Lluis Mather’s clarinet, and cajón/percussionist Joelle Barker, with interchanging shapes of ensemble within a performance.
Growing out of the young acoustic guitar trio, Trio Gitano (their 2005 debut album Who Ate All The Tapas? landing a spot in The Sunday Times’ Records of the Year) – TG Collective have since found themselves touring in innumerable weird and wonderful locations over the past few years … from a live appearance on BBC One’s Politics Show to a cavernous former asylum in Dorset … sell-outs at the Cheltenham Jazz Festival to London’s South Bank … and the ever-surprising Shambala Festival to a beach in Cannes (from where Frank Skinner still owes Jamie a cigarette).
In May 2012, TGC released their long-awaited first album as TG Collective – Release The Penguins- a recording of original compositions and arrangements, venturing to the wilds of Shropshire to record in spring 2011 in a converted milking barn, under the watchful eye of the few remaining cows, co-producers Alejandro Merola and Joe Peet, and longstanding TG Guru Bryan Lester.
Recent months have brought a (sell-out) return to the Cheltenham Jazz Festival, several packed shows at Pizza Express Soho, a live session for JazzFM, appearances at Jamie Oliver’s Big Feastival, the Manchester Jazz Festival and the Cambridge Big Weekend, and radio play from BBC Radio 3 to KEXP in Seattle! Release the Penguins continues to receive fine reviews, from Songlines, fRoots and Jazzwise to Time Out and Yahoo! TGC are touring the UK again in spring 2013, kicking off in London in February, with a tour of the Balkans during August.
There are strong contributions from the whole band … and the rhythm team hunkered down and tightly groovy, but the heart of TG remains the exceptional two-as-one guitar pair of Fekete and Slater … The album ends as it had begun – on the sunnier side of this particular flamenco jazz street.”
The Birmingham Post, June 2012
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Over the past four years, the band have ventured far and wide, building a strong following in the UK. Towards the end of 2007, the group sold out Birmingham’s Glee Club for their first performance collaboration with flamenco dancer Ana Garcia, and followed with a spring sell-out at the 2008 Cheltenham Jazz Festival. After performances in Cannes and Barcelona, TGC toured back home to a series of wonderful audience reactions, taking in venues from Devon to Yorkshire, including Belfast’s Open House Festival, the South Bank Centre, London, and festivals at Shambala, Tewkesbury and Wirksworth.
2009 featured performances at The Stables, Bristol St Georges, a return to the Cheltenham Jazz Festival and a second mini-tour of Ireland, alongside a number of smaller, intimate performances in rural villages around the UK.
Early 2010 found TGC popping up live on BBC1′s ‘Politics Show’, with the band finally heading into the studio in 2011 to record their first release since Trio Gitano’s Who Ate All The Tapas? in 2005, touring throughout the summer at major venues from The Stables, Milton Keynes, and The National Centre for Early Music, York, to another sell-out in a factory in Birmingham and the Pizza Express Jazz Club in Soho.
The Trio Gitano Story
The original line-up of Trio Gitano – Jamie Fekete, Sam Slater and Sophie Johnson – performed together between 2001 and summer 2006, releasing their debut album, Who Ate All The Tapas?, in 2005.
The Trio began simply, when three young guitarists first crossed paths in their mid-teens, performing together as part of the Birmingham School’s Guitar Ensemble, which gave them a taste of venues such as Birmingham Symphony Hall and The Royal Festival Hall. It was here they struck up a rapport with Bryan Lester (left) – the then director of the Schools’ ensemble, who became long-term composer-in-residence, guru and Musical Director of the Trio.
After leaving the ensemble at 18, Jamie, Sam and Sophie continued playing together, which developed and evolved into ‘Trio Gitano’ sometime in 2001. Staying in Birmingham as students at Birmingham University, the trio found themselves performing to a gathering fan base drawn in by their intense live performances, which took them to a wide range of venues throughout the UK, from theatres to jazz clubs, the Royal Opera House to the RSC.
In early 2003, TG made their London-debut in Camden Town, followed by six nights at the Royal Opera House, at the inaugural Festival of Firsts – ‘a week-long festival showcasing some of the most innovative artists working in the UK today’. 2004 saw the Trio perform several sell-out gigs, from 200 at Birmingham University, to over 30,000 at the city’s Fireworks Fantasia before the CBSO.
On graduating from University in the summer of 2004, the Trio were finally able to set about recording their long-awaited debut album, which they released in August 2005, with the fledgling Birmingham label, The Birds Recording Company.
The Trio also developed a fine relationship with two top Midland-based trumpeters that year, with Ray Butcher and Bryan Corbett both performing live with the Trio, with Bryan also featuring on the Trio’s album.
2005 turned out to be a milepost year for the Trio. Early spring performances took in venues including The Spitz, Le Quecumbar and the National Theatre, plus the slightly unexpected surrounds of the Barfly and Hard Rock Cafe, followed by a return for a second year to close the Lewes International Guitar Festival.
With the release of Who Ate All The Tapas? in the summer, further festival performances followed, with the group opening (and promptly selling out) the Cheltenham International Jazz Festival, causing a stir at Moseley’s International L’Esprit Manouche Festival, plus an intimate appearance at the London Jazz Festival.
In October ’05, TG performed live on BBC Radio Four’s Loose Ends, with tracks from the album also being aired on BBC Radio Three, Four, Jazz FM, and various worldwide radio stations. In December, the album found it’s way into The Sunday Times’ Records of the Year, with 2005 ending before a capacity crowd at Birmingham’s CBSO Centre, bringing in numerous guest performers for the first ‘Trio Gitano and Friends’ gig – the inspiration behind the TG Collective.
The first half of 2006 found the group touring nationwide dates, with another glowing live review from The Times at London’s Pizza On The Park. During summer ’06, Sophie left the Trio, taking respite to recover from a wrist operation to then concentrate on recording and performing with her own family bluegrass band. The highly regarded and much sought after multi-instrumentalist Percy Pursglove joined the group, adding new dynamic drive and direction on double bass, which paved the way for the formation and basis of the TG Collective in September ’06.