‘Anon is the main composer on the record’

Leveret
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Leveret brings together three accomplished musicians keen to explore the great wealth of traditional English tunes.

Andy Cutting, Sam Sweeney and Rob Harbron line up in their new guise at the Ropetackle, Shoreham, on Sunday, February 15, at 8pm.

“It’s a new project for us,” says Rob,” but it is built on years and years of bits and pieces of playing together that we have done. It’s a really nice group to be in – although there is almost a generation between each of us.

“When I was 15 or 16 getting out to summer schools, Andy was really doing a lot of gigs. He was one of those musicians that really influenced me.

“And then when I was starting leading courses, one of the people I taught was Sam. We each influenced each other along the way. This is a relatively-new band, but it is based on years of old collaborations and sharing.”

The three of them had performed together with Fay Hield: “We each got to play tune sets. That was about two or three years ago, and we just decided that it would be good to do something more with it.

“We started rehearsing, and on the strength of that we put together half a dozen small-scale, self-promoted gigs, and we had a great time.

“The next thing was to make a record, which we have now done.”

New Anything came out at the end of January: “The title is the name of one of the tunes we recorded. All three of us write tunes, and Andy in particular is known as a tunesmith, but the majority of our repertoire is the traditional tunes we have dug out. That’s the fascinating thing about the English tradition, that there are thousands and thousands of tunes that exist either in tune books or in manuscripts. Some of them are played, but there are hundreds and hundreds more that are not, that are waiting to be revived.

“Music-making happens by ear. If you hear something being played, then you get an awful lot of information beyond the notes. You get the feel, you get the groove, you get the pulse. If you are just looking at the notes, it is not so easy to get that feel.”

But it is fascinating to try.

“The three of us are primarily instrumentalists for this project, and the idea is to explore this fantastic instrumental repertoire. There are definitely tunes on the album that go back 300 or 400 years. A lot of them are so old it is not really clear where they came from. Anon is the main composer on the record.”

As Rob says, so often music-making can be quite a sombre and serious thing, but Leveret like to put the playfulness back into playing.

“With most bands, it is quite arranged. People know the parts they are playing. We don’t do that. It’s all very much in the interaction between us. It’s about listening. One of us might do something, and the other two will think ‘OK, let’s go in that direction!’ It’s hard to sum up, but we are very aware of each other’s playing, and that’s hard to represent on a CD.”

As Rob says, for a recording most bands will do at least three takes, which are actually fairly interchangeable; half of one could be added to the other half of another.

But Leveret probably did just the two takes for each tune on the album – and each was very different to the other.

“It’s not just playing music,” as Rob says. “It’s about playing with music.”

Visit ropetacklecentre.co.uk.