Leading composer and likely Scottish (or UK) jazz’s finest improvisational guitarist, Graeme Stephen‘s eclectic and inquisitive style has led him to a varied range of projects around the globe. From free improvisation, to folk music, to film scores, Stephen leads groups of all sizes (even solo), masterfully improvising over standards, as well as composing his own freely improvised sweeping soundscapes.
In 2016, Stephen collaborated with ultra-creative Dutch string quartet Zapp4 to compose a new score to the lauded silent film Metropolis (1927). Stephen says his aim for the project was to let the audience see the film from a new perspective, allowing his playing to highlight minor details that may otherwise be overlooked on screen, without distracting from the storyline. Since premiering Metropolis’ live score at the 2016 Fringe Festival to sold-out audiences, Stephen has gone on to score Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927), The Cabinet of Dr Caligari (1920), Nosferatu (1922), Charlie Chaplin’s The Kid (1921), Buster Keaton’s The Navigator (1924) and more, recording and releasing the music for Sunrise and Nosferatu on the aptly titled 2-disc recording, Films. Speaking of his film scoring work, he says, “I think I’m addicted to it.”
Finding musical soulmates in Zapp4, the new collective went on to develop all new works, culminating in the astoundingly creative album, ‘Distances’, as Stephen reaches into the unexplored, alien depths of the deep sea for inspiration. “Stephen’s new album evokes wide open spaces, profound depths and, occasionally, a sense of precipitous unease as Stephen’s electric guitar chimes against the richly toned string sound.” – The Scotsman
“The way they improvise together is amazing. I know from working with them on Distances that I’m probably writing too much for Metropolis and that when we get to the rehearsal stage, we’ll probably throw out a lot of what I’ve written because I’ll arrange a passage for the four instruments and they’ll take, say, the cello line and put their own stamp on it as an ensemble. They have a way of bringing their own sound to something and yet staying true to the original idea.” – Graeme Stephen
Graeme Stephen Sextet
Teaming up with Ben Davis (cello), Fraser Fifield (soprano saxophone), Martin Kershaw (alto saxophone), Mario Caribe (double bass), Stuart Ritchie (drums), Stephen created his dream band. Earning coveted spots with development projects such as the Scottish Arts Council Creative Development Award and the PRS-Funded Take Five Initiative, Stephen was granted the time and mentoring to be able to fully expand the Sextet’s compositions and sound. Combining impressionistic, colourful jazz with Celtic folk, Stephen considers the Sextet to be his ‘main voice’, reflecting upon his personal background as well as the group’s musical influences, while allowing their inspirations to roam freely.
Follow Graeme Stephen Music on Facebook for updates and live-streams, including his past performances which are still available to view, such as this one with Tom Bancroft.
Check out Graeme Stephen’s music catalogue via his website here, or if you have enjoyed his live-streams, free streaming such as Spotify, or his past live-shows, and would like to show your appreciation, you can send a donation directly to PayPal.me/graemestephen.
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