Lara Jones and Charlotte Keeffe: Precious Collaborations

Written by | News, Women in Jazz Media, Workshops

As part of our series exploring the exciting EFG London festival programme, I lept at the opportunity to talk to two truly inspirational and incredible musicians – Lara Jones and Charlotte Keeffe.  I have been a huge supporter of Lara Jones’ work for quite some time and have only fairly recently, and thankfully, been exploring the work of Charlotte Keeffe starting with her brilliant new album release, Right Here, Right Now. These two artists are not only incredibly talented, but they also exude a beautiful energy through their kindness, generosity and desire for a better world. They are role models for the new generation of jazz musicians.

As part of the EFG London Jazz Festival, Lara and Charlotte are holding a workshop in improvisation for all women, non-binary people and those who don’t feel seen or heard within the environment they make music in. It was a pleasure to put some questions to them about this workshop and their work.

Photo by Monika S Jakubowska

Some musicians can be a little scared of improvising, especially when they are first starting. What would you say to encourage people who feel that way?

Take a breath.

Improvisation is embedded in our lives from how we move to how we communicate so we don’t need to be afraid of it. It’s not the improvising that is new, we’re just learning to improvise with a different method of communicating – in this workshop we’ll use sound and music. We are all improvisers.

What is it about improvising that you feel is so important?

There is no right or wrong in improvising. It’s a time for people to express themselves in any way they choose. These moments are completely freeing and allow us to connect with ourselves and others, explore the present moment and can bring so much joy!

Who is the workshop aimed at?

The workshop is open to all women, non-binary people and those who don’t feel seen or heard within the environment they make music in. Open to all but this workshop will particularly benefit those beginning to explore improvisation, in their early career and all those wanting a boost in confidence when improvising. All ages are welcome, but the workshop would benefit those who play/sing/learn music.

You mentioned that this workshop is a safe space for those who don’t feel seen or heard. Do you feel people are not seen or heard?

Sometimes in jam sessions (which are often the best places to develop your improvisation skills) they can feel intimidating for gender minorities. So we want to create a safe space, right here, right now, for those people to come to and explore/learn improvisation in a non-pressured and fun environment.

Photo by Monika S Jakubowska

You have both worked together on many projects and clearly enjoy working together. What is it about your working relationship that connects you?

Charlotte: Improvising/making music with Lara feels like something that really should be happening for me! I’m captivated by Lara’s grounded, earthy, strong and loving energy! We have a big creative like-mindedness, an artistic kinship. She’s someone that I feel like I’ve known for a lot longer than I actually have!

I love taking musical ‘risks’/trying new things out when playing with Lara. I can easily allow myself to just play and trust the moment with her – throughout our musical fiery bursts and particularly in the quieter, almost piercing silent moments; I’m sometimes surprised as to how natural it all feels to me/how comfortable I am. She’s an inspiration for me in every way – it’s an absolute necessity for me to keep making music with Lara Jones!

Lara: I absolutely love to make music with Charlotte, we’re definitely kindred spirits in music. It feels very special when we play together. We never have to talk about what we might do or play, we just trust in each other and let it happen and every time it feels like magic.

I can never really remember what’s happened when I’ve played with Charlotte and I know that means I’m truly in the moment … right here, right now! I’m so happy I get to share sound with Charlotte, it brings me a lot of peace and good energy.

Photo by Nick Brittain

You both have incredible careers, working with a range of people. Lara, you have an album coming out soon? And Charlotte, yours has recently been released and getting some amazing responses. Can you tell us a little bit about your albums?

Charlotte: Thank you, yes, it’s called Right Here, Right Now; here’s a poem I wrote about this album release, I’d love to share it with you all here:

 

Right Here, Right Now.
You are a precious collaboration.
Pieces, journeys, stories…
Right Here, Right Now.
You are full of improvisations.
A mantra. A practice.
Exploring. Feeling. Listening.
Expressing.
Feeling.
Listening
Breathe, Right Here, Right Now.
You are a way of being.
Making music.
Right Here, Right Now.
You are full of connections and connecting…
Right Here, Right Now.
You have captured my past;
melodies and compositions I wrote as a teenager,
my 1st freely improvised trumpet solo,
my 1st conduction. Breathe.
You are full of my intentions and un-intentions.
You are raw and fragile.
Right Here, Right Now.
You are when my trumpet seems to play itself.
You are as it is.
Let it be.
Be, be.
Right Here, Right Now.
Breathe.
Creative Freedom For All.

Right Here, Right Now can be found right here, right now: Right Here, Right Now

I’m very proud and excited for the invitation and support from the mega Martin Archer (who runs the epic Discus Music record label) to create this album – it’s a huge collaboration! If you’re into free jazz and free improvisation I can’t recommend checking out the Discus Music catalogue enough. Please explore the links above to discover more Discus Music releases.

Photo by Jess Rose

Lara: I have a new single coming out on the 5th November called ‘Upside Down’ that I am absolutely delighted to share with the world… it was written during lockdown as I was homeschooling our 7 year old and features a lot of electronics! This single comes from my new EP called ‘Flow’ which will be out early next year.

You can also check out my solo album Enso based on train travel to loved ones here: Ensō

You can pre-save my new tune here: https://kycker.ffm.to/upsidedown

How do you hope people will feel after your workshop?

We hope that people will leave feeling inspired to improvise! We also want people to feel more confident and comfortable with improvising too. People will hopefully meet like-minded musicians and improvisers during the Workshop and feel part of a loving, musical community. After the Workshop, it would be wonderful to stay in touch with everyone and arrange further playing/jamming/improvising sessions together going forward – spreading the love, connections and of course, the power of music making out into the world!

Lara and Charlotte’s improvisation workshop is taking place on November 21st at Toulouse Lautrec, London. To book a place, click here: Tickets

For information about the EFG London Jazz Festival, please click here: EFG London Jazz Festival 2021

Last modified: October 29, 2021