Martin France

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Biography of Martin France

He has been the rhythmic backbone on an astonishing 50+ albums working with some of the worlds finest musicians, so it’s easy to see why British drummer, Martin France is regarded as one of Europe’s most sought after players. Described by BBC Radio 3 as “so incredibly superb”, France is now calling the shots as well as firing them.Spin Marvel is France’s solo project; a group of some of the best and most
experienced British contemporary jazz musicians gathered together by France for both the studio and the stage. Journalist and broadcaster Kevin Le Gendre describes their recordings as “murky uberfunk that is way off the beatbox radar”, and of a live show, the Guardian commented “they dazzled and perplexed the audience in equal measure… genre-defying madness… a fabulously futuristic band whose heart and soul paradoxically seem to belong to a bygone age of musical experimentation”.

Spin Marvel is eclectic to say the least. It is heavyweight yet deep. Inventive and challenging. Combining fluid groove playing with powerhouse virtuosity, France augments his conventional drum kit with electronic pads that trigger various loops and samples - at times adding texture rather than pulse, at others, building from tightly woven complex phrases to exhilarating rhythms. His approach is unique. Rather than consider the rhythm section’s input late in the creative process, Martin builds on the foundations of the music – the drums and bass. Indeed, some of the tracks remained just drums, bass and electronics. As Martin says, “I also wanted to have moments of space in the music, in effect to leave something to the listener's imagination. I left it to the other musicians to change the music with the idea that it would take on a life of its own and grow organically”.

Spin Marvel has a distinct European sound, which comes as no surprise given that France began his recording career at the age of 19 for ECM records. Born in Rainham in Kent, France dismissed music college in preference for on-the-road tuition. He, with his friend and music cohort Django Bates, had been performing with Evan Parker and Kenny Wheeler, and through their friendships had been introduced to ECM. France went on to record several albums for the label, and toured with some of their bands throughout he 80’s and 90’s. A further turning point for France was his role as a member of the famously democratically organised 80’s big band Loose Tubes where he began long standing partnerships with many of its members. In fact, founding member Django Bates and Iain Ballamy are now key members of the Spin Marvel live band. Since then, Martin has performed and recorded with some of the world's best andmost divers musicians including David Gilmour, John Taylor, Kenny Wheeler, Lee Konitz, Dave Holland, Steve Swallow, The Yellowjackets, Nils-Petter Molvaer, Bugge Wesseltoft, Mike Gibbs, Maria Schneider and Sidsel Endresen to name a few, as well as non-jazz activities such as TV and Film soundtracks. Martin is also a member of the winners of the 2004 BBC Jazz Award for Innovation, The F-IRE Collective - the most organic experimental musician’s organization to develop in London.

For Martin France’s debut recording as leader, he is joined by a stellar cast of musicians. Bassist Tim Harries who has been described by the Guardian as “capable of a bone-crunching death metal bassline” has also worked with Brian Eno, DJ/Composer/Producer David Holmes and, David Sylvian. John Parricelli joins them on guitar and Norwegian Terje Evensen, whom France met while the the former spent some time studying in London, further cements the European sound with programming, sequencing and keyboards.

Martin France’s Spin Marvel is fresh, imaginative and visionary, providing a bracing reminder of the persistence of creative energy in jazz. This is jazz of our time.

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