Colleen ‘Cosmo’ Murphy talks about Classic Album Sunday sessions at Jazz Café

Camden Town's revamped Jazz Cafe presents series of album playbacks and related live shows under the auspices of Colleen 'Cosmo' Murphy (pictured) and her Classic Album Sundays sessions banner.

Colleen-MurphyThe series kicks off on 5 February with trumpeter Yelfris Valdes (formerly of Yussef Kamaal) interpreting Donald Byrd's 1973 Blue Note release, Black Byrd. Things continue on 5 March with drummer/bandleader Jake Long, of emerging groove-led band Maisha, who appears with an expansive line-up of trumpeter Dylan Jones, saxophonist/flautist Nubya Garcia, bassist Mutale Chashi, keyboardist Amané Suganami, guitarist Artie Zaitz and percussionist Yahael Camara-Onono for a widescreen take on Miles Davis' epochal 1970 album, Bitches Brew. The series concludes on 17 April with electronic musician and composer Ben Hayes' interpretation of hugely influential electronica artist Aphex Twin's Selected Ambient Works 85–92.

Murphy first presented Classic Albums Sundays on BBC 6music and Worldwide FM, and has since held CAS listening sessions at The V&A Museum, Royal Albert Hall and The British Library, but the Jazz Cafe run will be the first to feature live performances of the records themselves.

Jazzwise spoke to Colleen Murphy about the series:

How will Classic Album Sundays work at Jazz Cafe?

Classic Album Sundays has always focused on full replays of albums, so we are excited to work together with the legendary Jazz Cafe on a series of live renditions that will shed new light on the records. With our usual events, we tell the story behind the album followed by an uninterrupted replay on our state of the art world-class audiophile hi-fi sound system so that the album is truly brought to life in the way the artist intended. With our series with the Jazz Cafe, we will focus on the great legacy of these classic albums. I will interview the guest musicians about the influence of the artist and album they are covering both on their own work and contemporary music in general. Then we will be treated to a live interpretation of the entire recording in which the musicians will bring their own personality into play and will sonically translate the music in a fresh, contemporary way. This series aims to show how classic albums can morph and change with the times and therefore have a life of their own.

Do you think the renewed interest in vinyl, as an analogue real-world experience, has had a positive effect on how people interact with music – specifically audiences listening to live music?

An analogue audiophile sound system is almost as good as hearing a band play live (sometimes it can be better if the band is having an off night and the venue has poor acoustics!). The aim of an audiophile reproduction is to get as close as possible to the live event of the actual recording. Having said that, sometimes there isn't an actual live recording event, as much of today's music is created with one or two producers working on computers and is more of an assemblage. The renewed interest in vinyl reflects an increasing interest in music and that is music to my ears. Music has been in danger of becoming a devalued commodity that can be accessed without much interaction or intent. It's so easy to stream music and then barely pay attention while you get on with your activities, allowing it to take on the role of aural wallpaper. The vinyl experience is interactive, as you have to physically engage with the record – putting it on the turntable and flipping it over just in time so it doesn't wreck your stylus. The fact one has to pay for a physical unit rather than a download or stream, means the listener will take more notice. It gives music more value both emotionally and economically and this can only be a good thing for both live and recorded music.

It's good to see Aphex Twin in the mix – do you think electronica artists share some of the uncompromising creative values jazz musicians do?

Absolutely! An artist like Richard D James has pushed boundaries and experimented with not only sound, but also with what actually constitutes music. John Coltrane expanded the possibilities of saxophone and, similarly, Aphex Twin widened the scope of potential of a keyboard and computer.

Do you have any plans for another season of these gigs and what albums may feature if you do?

We hope to continue as the programme seems to be very popular! Other albums I would personally like to feature are Joni Mitchell's Blue, Massive Attack's Mezzanine, Radiohead's Kid A, Portishead's Dummy, Kraftwerk's Trans-Europe Express, Talking Heads' Remain in Light, Björk's Homogenic and a dub version of one of the most classic albums of all, Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon.

For more info visit www.thejazzcafelondon.com

– Mike Flynn

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