Nottingham Post JUNE 15, 2017 - by Kevin Cooper


On his love of Nottingham, latest album Piano, working with Brian Eno and more

Jools Holland will be back in Nottingham at the end of the year on his annual pre-Christmas tour with his Rhythm And Blues Orchestra. He tells Kevin Cooper about his love of Nottingham gigs, his latest album, working with Brian Eno and getting drunk with Imelda May.

You are a regular visitor to Nottingham so you must like the place?

We always have a great time up there in Nottingham and the Royal Concert Hall is such a wonderful place for us to play. We all do really enjoy the time that we get to spend in the city. There is always such a nice atmosphere whenever we play there.

Your most recent album, Piano, was harder to make than you had anticipated, right?

Yes that's correct. At first I thought it would be quite fun because there is quite a lot of self-study in there. But after a while I realised that I hadn't been paying attention or really listening to what I was playing, I was just playing without thinking. I found myself having to think about it a lot more. Anyway, I am pleased with the result.

How was it working with Brian Eno on the album for the interpretation of Floyd Kramer's Last Date?

Brian, as you will no doubt remember was with Roxy Music and has produced the likes of U2 and Coldplay, makes soundscapes for airports, so he is like an abstract artist with his music. He said that the person who he admired the most was Floyd Kramer because his playing was so understated and so un-busy. He invented a whole new style of playing. So we decided to do a track together. Brian came up with the ambient sound, and I put the piano on top. I think we managed to capture Floyd's playing but in a modern concept whilst maintaining the understatement of it all.

What inspired the songs and covers on the album?

They are all based upon the piano players who have at some time inspired me, such as Erroll Garner. I like the way that he played a tune. I always indentified with Erroll because he said "I compose music, I play music but I don't bother to read or write it". [laughs]

Tell me about the covers Eruption by Focus and Dr. John's Dorothy.

Dr. John is a very dear friend of mine and he wrote that piece well over twenty-five years ago now for his mother. So I would like to dedicate that song to all of the mums everywhere. It is such a sweet piece but I don't actually know how you would describe it. Focus are a Dutch prog rock group and I think that the lead on Eruption was originally played by the guitarist Jan Akkerman. I have always liked the tune and thought that it would be great to do it on the piano but I never got round to it. It's an abstract piece but the great thing about music is that there are no rules. If I like a tune I will go home and play it on the piano and then ask myself if it works.

Bumble Boogie always makes me think of a Buster Keaton film where he's trying to rescue the heroine from railway tracks...

I think that is a great compliment. It is fast and quite a piece to deliver live. It is almost as though you can't keep up with it. I originally heard that piece of music when I was a kid and now just to make the classical music people very cross, I have inserted Bach's Prelude No. 1 in the middle of it together with some weird effects. That particular prelude is, in my opinion, some of the prettiest music that has ever been written.

He could have given it a title including love, God, the sun, nature or whatever but no. I love that he just called it Prelude No. 1. [laughs] It was a mere number to him. He said that he wrote it in the hope that it would inspire young people to play the piano. I thought, that is good enough for me, I am that person and I will follow this great man.

So what's next for Jools Holland?

Well, I am going to continue trying to figure out the piano which I feel is a lifetime's work for me.

I have been trying to find a copy of your album Solo Piano for a while now and finally found one on Amazon for £152.

Bloody hell, how can they sell it so cheap!?

Jools Holland plays the Royal Concert Hall, with special guest José Feliciano, on Thursday, November 16.