I had a chat a few months back with Jonathan Crayford. He’s a pianist, bassist – multi-instrumentalist in fact. He works as a solo act, as part of a duo with Ross Burge (Spanner), in trios and other small combos too. You’ll find him as part of a big-band (Eru Dangerspiel) or playing in a piano bar. He’s composed for film (most recently the Pork Pie sequel), studied at Juliard, recorded and toured internationally – and after a long stint in New York throughout the 90s he returned to Wellington. He’s now dividing his time between, mostly Auckland, France and New York – and popping up to play shows all over this country and around the world.
I’d wanted to talk to Jonathan for some time – because obviously his own music is brilliant, I’m a huge fan of his recordings and have seen him play a bunch of times – but also his name has been mentioned a few times already on this podcast. Conversations with Riki Gooch and Myele Manzanza speak to Crayford’s brilliance and influence. (And here’s a link back to the Mike Nock podcast from last year – Jonathan and I talk a lot about Mike Nock towards the end of our conversation).
Some 17 or 18 years ago I first saw Jonathan play – in a trio at The Space in Newtown, Wellington. It was mind-blowing. Patrick Bleakley on bass, Chris O’Connor on drums, Crayford at the keys. Three world-class players taking me on a thrill-ride. Since then I’ve been a fan. (Here’s my review of Dark Light, one of two terrific albums Crayford has made recently with his New York-based trio).
I’d only met Crayford, briefly, a couple of times. We hadn’t really exchange more than just a few words until we met at my house on a Friday a couple of months ago. He walked in and I had some Keith Jarrett on the turntable. We got talking about that, and Miles Davis and, well…we were off. Next thing Jonathan was transcribing my rug (not a metaphor!) He was literally pointing to patterns on the carpet, explaining the rhythms and melodies he could hear…I wasn’t quick enough with the tape recorder, because I like to give every guest the chance to veto any particular topics – as a courtesy. Anyway, I quickly switched on the recorder and we backtracked a bit…
I hope you enjoy hearing this conversation. Some deep thoughts here. Some interesting tangents. And you’ll hear snippets of some wonderful music – as well as finding out about an intriguing career.
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