HARMONY FOR JAZZ TRIO ZOO (WITH
(© Derby Evening Telegraph, November 2007)
If you're looking for harmony in your band, perhaps the best thing is to get your wife and best mate on board.
This formula has worked well for Reg Clegg and his trio, Zoo, which he formed with wife Karen and former schoolfriend Paul Biggins.
The Derbyshire band recently scooped the Best Jazz Artist award at the Glasswerk 2007 New Music Awards.
The awards were set up to reward the best new music around the UK and to highlight the musical depth and diversity of the current music scene.
They covered a wide range of genres and Zoo was also the finalist in two other categories, Use of Instruments and Three-Piece Band.
"We're very grateful that we were lucky enough to win Best Jazz Artist, which was the one we really wanted to win because it shows that our music was seen as good jazz," says Reg. "It's the one that had the most kudos.
"It will open a lot of doors for us in terms of airplay and commercial opportunities."
It's quite an achievement for Zoo, which has only been in existence as a trio for three years.
"The three of us have been playing together on and off for the last 20 years but we didn't form the band until 2000, with the intention of expanding more into jazz and funk crossover stuff," explains Reg.
"Originally it was a five-piece but, in 2004, we became a trio because we wanted to go in more of a jazz, songwriting direction."
The three musicians have found their close connections help considerably when they are writing and performing music.
"It does help," says Reg. "We all have a very telepathic understanding with the music. We never really have disagreements."
This is particularly helpful when it comes to the songwriting process.
"Some pieces we write as a trio, sometimes one of us will a write a songs in its entirety, sometimes one of us will write the music and someone else will come up with the lyrics,"says Reg. "It's very flexible. Then in rehearsal it all gets rearranged. It's a very fluid thing."
Similar musical tastes mean the artists are all moving in a like-minded direction.
"We're all very big fans of jazz and songwriting in general," says Reg. "Personally, I like Steely Dan, Sting, Ben Folds, bands from the 70s like Yes but also Miles Davis and John Coltrane. I think the other guys would very much go along with that."
These varied influences show through in the band's own music.
"We're not like pure jazz in the classic sense, we're very much rooted in songwriting stuff," says Reg. "It's jazz songs but veering into pop and funk. There's a lyrical bend and sinister edginess.
"Our music is not easy to pigeon-hole, its not very mainstream in the commercial way."
Zoo is signed to independent label Red Admiral Records, which released their album, Greenhouse, earlier this year.
It's available to download and also on CD from the band's website, www.zoo-music.co.uk.