Photography ALEXANDRA WAESPI
As Ben Marc gets set to unveil more details about the long-awaited LP (Glass Effect) lurking right around the corner, the multi-talented UK jazz musician has revealed a self-contained record that took on a life of its own last summer.
“We wanted to make something meditative to help people through this traumatic time,” Marc says of his Breathe Suite EP. A reflection on, and response to, the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, it’s both a sign of what’s to come from Marc’s widescreen solo work and a four-part foray into loose improv sessions and tightly woven compositional tracks.
Check out Marc’s complete track-by-track commentary below, and look out for Glass Effect on Innovative Leisure early next year….
“BREATHE SUITE A”
“Suite A” was the first song I wrote for the EP. It was never meant to become an EP until events happened during the summer of 2020 and the BLM movement.
I wrote three minutes worth of music to make up my album and called in MidnightRoba to bless us with lyrics. There were no strings or live harp at this point, but the idea was settled.
Once Midnight heard it, she asked for a longer version. I was adamant that this was the arrangement. Whilst the conversation was being had, George Floyd was murdered, so I decided to go in and change the arrangement and extend the piece to express the emotions I was feeling.
At this point, my passion for strings and harp — noticeably associated with classical music — were added. I aimed to find the right blend for my other love of beats and jazz. For the choruses, I added the cry of a kids’ choir, which for me symbolizes youth, education, and innocence.
“BREATHE IMPROV A”
This short piece showcases my ability to play double bass — my first study instrument. Having a classical degree at Trinity [Laban’s] college of music; studying jazz improv at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama; going through a jazz organization such as Tomorrow’s Warriors UK…. I felt like I brought all of these experiences into one piece. The looped kids chorus was always going to be central to the suite.
“BREATHE SUITE B”
I really enjoyed writing “Suite B.” It followed “Suite A” naturally. I wanted to find another emotion in this piece — an emotion that probably wasn’t expressed in “A,” was an extension of it.
I wanted a different audience to listen to this one, so having Shabaka Hutchings and a rapper / poet in it — someone as talented as Rarelyalways — was perfect. That combination of artists gave the piece another gear. I wanted to start the song differently, but also try not to feel like you have already heard the song before.
“BREATHE IMPROV B”
I composed this piece to connect electronic music, innocence, playfulness, growth, voices, education, and improvisation. I’m not a keyboardist, but I can play, produce, and engineer, so I turned on all my analogue gear, put the faders up to the maximum, and had three goes of getting this Sun Ra-style sound over the themed kids choir.