With 'Weightless', their second LP, London-based soul/jazz ensemble Teotima are celebrating friendship, creativity, love, meditation, progress, and the work of being happy.
As musical director and guitarist, Greg Sanders, explains: "You create your own happiness. It's a discipline and a practice, learning what works and then remembering to do those things. So that's how I try to approach the music as well, bearing in mind moods and happiness. The work of being happy — like learning an instrument or a language — feels like something you need to maintain and do regularly."
"In this music there's a lot of time where people are following the written music, but I also try and make sure that there's plenty of space for improvisation and solos and interaction. So you're creating the space and conditions for spontaneity and joy by using structure. It's how I write, but it's also how I try and live."
What exudes are 7 tracks that take full advantage of the remarkable breadth and depth of talent within the band's core members. "One of the most important things about Teotima is that the music is written with the specific players in mind - each player's voice on their instrument is an essential part of the group's sound".
This tradition of large-ensemble music written for the characters in the ensemble has a rich history stretching back to Ellington and Strayhorn. After the release of their debut LP 'Counting The Ways', First Word label boss Aly Gillani suggested that Greg should try writing for a smaller ensemble, to tour with.
Greg took up the challenge and focused on writing pieces which could work in differing arrangements/instrumentations, and workshopped ideas with other band members to develop the songs' sound and atmosphere.
Musically, the sounds span the Atlantic from the African continent to Brazil, the Caribbean, the USA and London, while sounding completely fresh and singularly captivating.
Album opener 'Suddenly' sees the Chakacha rhythm of coastal East Africa blended with the song-writing sensibilities of close friends and sometime collaborators Flying Ibex. 'If Every If' is the sound of Radiohead recording a samba with Bjork in Nashville, while 'From A Distance' sets Gil Evans style orchestration and a vocal performance reminiscent of Kadhja Bonet to a heavy Steppaz reggae riddim. Meanwhile, 'To Friends' is a joyful homage to South African township jazz legends Abdullah Ibrahim and Brotherhood of Breath, composed in the Ijexá rhythm of North-Eastern Brasil.
In the 6 years since 'Counting The Ways', the members of Teotima have been making waves with their own projects as leaders, as well as playing with contemporaries such as James Blake, Jordan Rakei, Waaju, Riot Jazz, and this wide-ranging experience in the band's joyful and sensitive performances.
Once again the group have recorded as-live to tape at London's well-loved Fish Factory studios, with Ben 'Nostalgia 77' Lamdin handling engineering and mixing duties. 'Weightless' is set to further establish Teotima as one of the most dexterous, globetrotting musical outfits whether heard on record or seen live.
released May 24, 2019
Ellie Rose Rusbridge – Vocals on 1, 2, 3, 4, 7
Ben Assiter – Drumkit on all tracks
Greg Sanders – Guitar on all tracks, keys on 1 & 4, additional percussion on 3 & 6
Kieran McLeod – Trombone on all tracks
Sam Rapley – Tenor Sax on all tracks, Bass Clarinet on 6 & 7
Maria Chiara Argiro – Acoustic Piano & Fender Rhodes on 2, 3, 5, 6, 7
Sara Farina – Bass Guitar on 2, 3, 5, 6, 7
Fabio De Oliveira – Congas on 1, 4 & 5
Shekere on 4
Bomboleguero, Tamborim, Shaker, Cabasa, Pandeiro, Woodblocks, Cowbells, Bottle on 2
Ernesto Marichales – Congas on 2, 3, 6
Timbales, Woodblocks, Extra Percussion on 7
Bomboleguero, Cabasa, Woodblocks & Cowbells on 5
Kareem Dayes – Bass Guitar on 1 & 4
Leo Richardson – Tenor sax on 2, 5, 6, 7
Flute on 6
Graeme Flowers - Trumpet on 2, 5, 6, 7, Flugelhorn on 6
Suddenly music & lyrics by Greg Sanders & Ellie Rose Rusbridge
If Every If music & lyrics by Greg Sanders
But I Can’t music by Greg Sanders & Ellie Rose Rusbridge, lyrics adapted from ‘If I Could Tell You’ by WH Auden.
What We Were Waiting For music by Greg Sanders, lyrics by Ellie Rose Rusbridge, adapted from a poem by Rumi – English version by Coleman Barks, used with kind permission from Coleman Barks.
To Friends music by Greg Sanders
Cracks music by Greg Sanders
From A Distance music by Greg Sanders & Ellie Rose Rusbridge, lyrics by Ellie Rose Rusbridge
All tunes feature contributions, ideas and improvisations from all the musicians which are an essential part of the character and sound of the band!
Suddenly & But I Can’t instrumentals recorded and engineered by David Bryceland, April 2016 at The Stables, London
Suddenly & But I Can’t vocals recorded by Ellie Rose Rusbridge at Goldsmiths Music Studios, London, Dec 2016
Suddenly & But I Can’t horns recorded by Ben Lamdin at Fish Factory, London, Nov 2016
If Every If, To Friends, From A Distance, What We Were Waiting For & Cracks recorded by Ben Lamdin at Fish Factory, London, June 2018.
All tracks mixed by Ben Lamdin & Greg Sanders
Mastered by Matt Colton at Alchemy Mastering, London
Greg would like to thank: all the musicians, my friends - who have brought this music to life and given so much of themselves to the project. All of your contributions are essential and you guys are the inspiration for the music!
My parents Cris & Jerry and my sisters Glor, Mel & Em for being hilarious and supportive.
Special thanks to: Ben Lamdin, Antonio Feola, Pete Churchill, Barak Schmool, Nick Smart, Chris Montague, Mike Walker, Will Fry & Adam Osmianski, Aly & everyone at First Word, Ben Brown, Will Harris, Coleman Barks, Jon Whitten, Tiff, Maddy & Liv.