Lewis Wright, composer & vibraphonist

Who or what inspired you to take up composing, and pursue a career in music?

Many people from my father, who was a percussionist and producer, to many artists I heard on recordings growing up. I always wanted to write as well as play and was encouraged to do so by my teachers. As a jazz musician, much of the craft involves understanding theory and orchestration in order to express yourself better emotionally; Composition is the same in that respect.

Who or what were the most significant influences on your musical life and career as a composer?

I love a lot of different music. I’ve been lucky enough to travel quite a lot and seeing music from different parts of the world first hand has had a lot of influence on me. I find that seeing music live is often the best way to connect with something you have never heard before.

What have been the greatest challenges/frustrations of your career so far?

For most people (myself included) it takes a long time to develop a strong voice. While everyone has it naturally, there are many elements that need to come together and many ways of working that need to be discarded in order to distill your personal creativity. Concepts, craft and confidence take years to develop and that can sometimes be frustrating.

What are the special challenges/pleasures of working with particular musicians, singers, ensembles and orchestras?

Every musician and ensemble has their own unique way of working. I enjoy finding the common ground and also being pushed into territory which makes you learn fast. Getting to know the people you are working with usually helps with making better music, but it’s not always possible with time constraints.

Of which works are you most proud?

My new album ‘Duets’. It’s the first album that I have solely composed.

You’re about to release your debut album on Signum Records, which is also your first solo venture as a composer – how did writing this album compare to your previous collaborative projects?

It was far more personal than anything else I’d composed as I was able to set the sonic and compositional landscape entirely. It was easier in the sense that I didn’t have to consider how my writing would fit along with someone else’s style. The album is more vibraphone centred than anything else I’ve written because I wanted to explore more of the instrument’s potential than I had done in other projects.

How would you characterise your compositional language?

Hopefully varied!

How do you work?

Mainly at the piano, sometimes at the vibraphone and drums too. I quite often try and put together full recorded demos together to give a better idea of the finished piece. Being able to play piano helps a lot.

Who are your favourite musicians/composers?

Bartok, Debussy, Stravinsky, Miles Davis, Wayne Shorter, Quincy Jones, Bjork, Prince.

As a musician, what is your definition of success?

Creating or being a part of things you care about for as big a percentage of your time as possible.

What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?

Learn your craft and be interested in the process not just the final result. Take care over the details.

What is your most treasured possession?

I think my Bluthner piano might be it. It’s been with me for over 20 years.

 

Award-winning vibraphonist Lewis Wright releases his debut album, Duets, on Signum Classics on 6 April 2018. The album, featuring duets for vibraphone and piano all composed by Wright, also features virtuoso pianist Kit Downes, whom Wright has known and performed with since childhood. Although he has written for and recorded multiple albums with award-winning ensemble Empirical (who were awarded Ensemble of the Year at the Parliamentary Jazz Awards 2016 and MOBO Best Jazz Act in 2010), this album marks Wright’s first solo venture as a composer.


 

Lewis Wright is an award-winning British vibraphonist, composer and drummer based in London.

As a vibraphonist, he was nominated for Rising Star in the 2016 Downbeat International Critics Poll, was awarded Ensemble of the Year in the 2016 Parliamentary Jazz Awards with Empirical and was awarded the Worshipful Company of Musicians prize in 2011. He has performed at venues such as the Sydney Opera House, the Royal Albert Hall, the Barbican and has been a featured soloist with Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Centre Orchestra.

His compositions have been featured on radio (BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio Scotland) and film (‘About Ray’).

His debut album will be released on the 6th April 2018 on Signum Records and features British piano virtuoso Kit Downes.

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