In just a few short years UK-based Swiss guitarist Nicolas Meier has carved a reputation out as one of the UK’s most original guitarists. Drawing on a love of Turkish, Eastern music, Flamenco, Tango all mix with jazz, Meier has developed his own unique sound with his regular group (latest release was his eight album with his full band.) See Media page for more details.
London based Swiss guitarist Nicolas Meier is one of the stars of a vibrant British jazz scene, his trademark sound, as heard on his MGP Records and Naim albums, a mixture of Methenyesque jazz and spicy Turkish and world music rhythms.
While in 2006 Meier and his band won the prestigious Grand Prize Of The Jury and 1st Prize Jazz Guitar at Jazz a Juan Revelations 2006: A competition open to the finest new jazz musicians and bands in Europe and run by the legendary Jazz A Juan Festival. He has become increasingly well known in his adopted country where his Nicolas Meier Group featuring some incredible musicians (listed below) has toured extensively for the last 8 years.
Meier draws on a multitude of influences: Jazz, Flamenco, Latin and middle-eastern music are all passionately explored in a series of heartfelt acoustic modern jazz originals and all represent part of Meier’s musical and personal world. His wife Songul is Turkish and he has spent time there and in Spain and ‘Orient’ draws on the melodies and rhythms of both countries. Writing in the Guardian, John Fordham described Meier as” elegant in tone and bubbling with ideas… his originality as a writer, a player and a team leader dispatches any doubts” and described his debut album Orient as ‘a seductive balance of strong themes, inventive improvising and dynamic variety’.
Meier who was born in 73 first picked up the guitar when he was 12. His parents, both art lovers, had wide-ranging musical tastes and he was exposed to classical, jazz, Latin, flamenco, rock and pop. And it was an early gift from his father of Joe Satriani’s legendary ‘Surfing with the Aliens’ and Tony MacAlpine’s Maximum Security (major intelligent rock guitar-god albums) that first really convinced a young Meier to get practicing. Perhaps his old man was worried because he was subsequently taken on a family outing to the Montreux Jazz festival (in what would become an annual pilgrimage) where he heard Carlos Santana with special guest Wayne Shorter. And later that summer Meier was blown away when he saw John McLaughlin’s trio in Antibes (Trilok Gurtu and Jeff Berlin). In fact Mclaughlin’s album Live at the Royal Festival Hall would be a major influence on Meier with its mix of many styles.
Interestingly Meier’s passion for both rock and jazz persists to this day. Something he partly credits to his teacher Francis Coletta (at the Conservatoire Fribourg) who while inspiring a profound love of jazz and world music encouraged the young man to transcribe rock solos as well! In fact Meier is one of the rare musicians who plays both metal and jazz and has written books on both : ‘Heavy Metal part I: Rhythm Guitar’ and ‘Jazz part I: Chord Tones’. Both published by « http://www.ibreathemusic.com ». Meier states of his two seemingly divergent loves :“I deeply love both styles. There is magic in each style that the other one doesn’t have. I just love metal’s power and energy and at the same time I love jazz’s deep emotion. Both styles can give high energy but in different directions or different worlds”.
Meier studied arranging with Max Jendly and Francis Boland before earning a scholarship to Berklee in Boston, USA and immersing himself in classic Amercian jazz (Parker, Coltrane, Miles etc) and playing acoustic jazz and fusion. He graduated and returned to Switzerland in 98 and formed the « Meier Group » who became festival regulars and he jammed in Montreux with the likes of Rachelle Ferrel, George Duke, Macy Gray and Will Calhoun. But Meier missed the vibe of Boston, the energy of America and looking around for somewhere that combined European culture and American ‘drive’ he settled on London as the perfect synthesis. Arriving in London Meier met drummer Asaf Sirkis who he credits with helping open his ears to Middle-Eastern music as well as helping him find his feet in London. “He is such a passionate player that I just had to keep playing with him whenever I could and I met Gilad Atzmon through him and many other great players”.
Meier’s sound is rooted in his love of playing jazz on acoustic guitar, especially his Godin nylon string guitar. It’s a sound that lends itself especially to flamenco and middle-eastern music and it’s all these influences and more that Meier has so brilliantly fused together in his music. He also plays fretless acoustic guitar, which sounds something like a cross between an acoustic guitar and the oud (an Arabic stringed instrument) and the Saz, a traditional Turkish instrument. While his new album also features fretted and steel guitars, Godin glissentar (11 stringed insturment) and a baglama.
As well as leading his own band, he has also recorded “Guidance” featuring Vivaldi’s 4 Seasons with a guitar orchestra (acoustic, electric & synth guitars) for American Classical label Centaur and he continues to lead “Seven7” his nu-metal band as after three full length albums which have had outstanding reviews. http://www.seven7.name.
Meier is a guitar tutor at Goldsmiths University
and at the “Academy of Contemporary Music” in Guildford.
Nicolas Played with Jazznights Trio who were:
Roger Odell – Drums
Roger was one of the founder members and drummer with the jazz-funk group Shakatak and the forerunner band Tracks. Roger has toured internationally and recorded numerous CDs, which he continues to do on a regular basis to this day.
Peter Lemer – Keyboards
Peter studied at the Royal Academy of Music. He remained a fixture of In Cahoots – he can be heard on Parallel (1996), Out Of The Blue (2001), – as well as playing one-off gigs with old friends Steve Cook (bass) and Roger Odell (drums), recording an album with them in Israel
Steve Cook – Double Bass
Steve has a wonderful rounded tone with great clarity. In the 1960s and 70s Steve Cook played with many leading jazz artists including Don Rendell, Art Themen, Dick Heckstall-Smith, Alan Skidmore, Pete Jacobsen, Michael Garrick and numerous others. He was in several of Barbara Thompson’s bands including the Quintet, Jubiaba and Paraphernalia. He may occasionally be seen with the Harmony in Harlem band and the Cambridge Sinfonietta. He has also had a 35-year career as a professional software engineer.
Larraine Odell – Vocals
Larraine began her professional singing career with the group CMU with whom she recorded two albums, Larraine performed at numerous venues throughout the UK and Europe, including the Purcell Room, Royal Festival Hall. Boxford Fleece & Ronnie Scott’s
Master of Ceremonies for the evening was the erudite Gareth Williams-James
Larraine Odell opened the first set with some lovely jazz standards including:
Bennny Golson’s Whisper Not
John Coltrane’s Equinox
Night & Day by Cole Porter
Richard Rodger’s and Lorenz Hart’s Wait Till You See Him
What’s New by Bob Haggart with lyrics from Johnny Burke
Nicolas Meier then joined the band to play extended versions of:
Poinciana is a tune by Nat Simon based on a Cuban folk tune
How High the Moon is a jazz standard by Stan Kenton
Body and Soul the great jazz standard from Johnny Green
Brazil by Ary Barroso
Following the Jazznights raffle of 3 jazz cd’s we had the traditional Jazznights sitting in spot which is open to all musicians who have an opportunity to play with the band. Tonight we had Geoff Harriman with his harmonica playing Gentle Rain and vocals from Jean Faulkner singing Exactly Like You
Nicolas Meier then re-joined the trio more extended versions of:
Breeze a composition by Nicolas Meier played on a fretless 12 string guitar
Pat Metheny’s No Matter What
Sergio Mendes’s Slow Hot Wind
Spain is an instrumental jazz fusion composition by jazz pianist and composer Chick Corea
This was a truly magnificent evening for ma master guitar musician which was fully appreciated and lauded by the Jazz Nights crowd.
We are also delighted to learn that Jazznights will be presenting Nicolas again as well as Emily Dankworth at the Bures Music Festival in July 2016.
Sunday 10th April 2016 – HANNAH HORTON (saxes)
Hannah plays regular monthly sessions at the Haverhill Arts Centre where she performs with some of the best UK jazz musicians. “Hannah has a warmly attractive ‘vocal’ sound on the tenor and baritone saxophone combined with lovely unhackneyed phrasing” – John Etheridge.
THE BEST IN BRITISH MODERN JAZZ is at Jazznights, The Bell Hotel. Clare, Suffolk.
Admission £10. Doors open 7.00 pm. Music 7.30 – 10.00 pm.
Reserve seating on 01787 237653 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Pay on the night.
You can join us at facebook, read reviews of previous performances on more opinions blog or tweet at twitter.com/jazznightsuk
Pictures from past gigs can also be seen HERE
For further information on future gigs go to www.jazz-nights.com