Chip Wickham – Interview

Where are you from and how did you first get into music?
I’m originally from Brighton but lived many years in Manchester before making Madrid my home. I now live somewhere between Madrid, the UK and Doha in Qatar! My wife works in the International School system, so we move around! It seems normal to me as a musician as we are always traveling to do shows!
I originally got into music listening to tapes on my parents AKAI tape machine with its 3 band EQ! Loved listening to anything they had! Dionne Warwick, Jose Feliciano, Johnny Harris, Tim Hardi, Cat Stevens and lots of jazz! My Dad had a fairly decent vinyl collection that I used to plunder and was listening from an early age to Gerry Mulligan, Stan Getz, Sonny Rollins, Thelonious Monk…you name it! My Dad actually saw John Coltrane live in London. Something he loves to tell me on a regular basis!

What the jazz scene like in the UK when you started and how is it currently?
I think the current UK jazz scene is great! Really healthy and diverse with lots of great artists of all ages from all over the UK. I think there is a great scene in London right now particularly with new artists like Kamal Washington and Nubya Garcia. Really exciting clubs too that are backing these guys and providing the context for a ‘scene’. And its not all London as you have people like Tony Burkill from Leeds and and Nat Birchall from Manchester.
It’s a very exciting time to be a UK Jazz artist.

You’ve moved around quite a bit, how has being a nomadic musician changed your approach to composing and playing?
I think it has all contributed to my music. Yes of course. I’m very lucky to be exposed to such different musicians and music constantly. I have taken a lot from my travels. On the album La Sombra I covered a classic Flamenco track called La Leyendo del Tiempo which was a huge track in Spain for Camaron De la Isla. I wanted to bring some of that flamenco sound into my album. That was what I was hearing around me and wanted to use it. Or listen to the beginning of Shamal Wind and you can hear the middle east right there! The harmony and the stylistic approach, the 5/4 time and the use of percussion.

What’s the new record Shamal Wind all about?
Shamal Wind is about the change that can blow through your life bringing change and growth. That’s what the Shamal Wind does! It blows across the Persian Gulf bringing huge, beautiful sand storms with great destructive force and eventual renewal.

3 favorite albums:
Only 3!! I guess these ones right now:
Sahib Shihab: Companionship
Harold McNair: Flute & Nut
Timo Lassy: Love Bullet

Check out Chip’s website and you can hear a few of his tracks on OK Jazz Episode’s 75 & 77

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Mr. OK Jazz is a 20+ year resident of Japan and spends all his free time wandering the Kanto area looking for jazz cafes, bars, clubs and record stores. For two years he hosted the OK Jazz radio show on InterFM Radio, currently the OK Jazz podcast. You can reach him at *protected email*