J-Sonics bring Latin, jazz and funk to Shoreham

Seven-piece Latin, jazz and funk band J-Sonics are the guests at the Ropetackle, Shoreham, on Saturday, April 7.


And as co-founder and bassist Mike Flynn says, if you want to appreciate the band, it’s live you need to see them.

“I am in Brixton in south London, and my day job is that I am editor of Jazzwise magazine. I was a journalist for quite a long time and have worked as a free-lancer for a number of years and then got offered the job of assistant editor at Jazzwise and then editor.

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“The band started in 2012. Myself, the sax player Matt and the drummer Gabor had all met on the London scene playing jam sessions and in different bands. The three of us were involved with another band, and I got a little bit frustrated with the direction of the band stylistically.

“Really the J-Sonics started as a vehicle for my composing and also for the guitarist Clement who is French. I am very diverse as a musician, but principally, I am a jazz musician. I play bass guitar in the band, and the bass is a good instrument for me because I can dip into all sorts of different styles of playing. There is a whole range of stuff that you can explore as a bassist and as a composer and as a player.

“The template for the band has always been to be quite diverse. The idea was always to keep it really open. We are very groove-orientated across a lot of things like Latin or samba or bossa nova and then maybe some funk or jazz funk fusion. With the bass, I can move across all that and, with the drummer, direct the direction we are going in, but at the same time leave a lot of space for improvisation, which has always been a key element of jazz.

“The songs are very tight and very drilled, but there is a lot of stuff that happens spontaneously on stage. That has always been a key part of the band because we have got such great players that you can trust them to improvise. It is great to have that freedom. That’s the goal. People can have a good tune to launch into, but then something very exciting happens.

“We did an album a couple of years ago called Different Orbits, and it went pretty well. We got some pretty good reviews, but it is really hard to capture the band… and also to get the band together because we have all got our own projects and are all doing our own stuff. In a way, this is a little bit like a supergroup where we all get together when we can.”

As Mike says, they play perhaps 15 gigs a year, maybe 20 in a really busy year: “We have played some big events, some big festivals, and we have got a great response. I never imagined that the band would go quite so well. It just really started as a group of close friends playing the music that they wanted to play, and it has ended up becoming a really, really exciting live band. You just have to come to one of our gigs to appreciate it. The guys are all really, really great players, but getting everyone together can be quite tricky.”

Hungarian drummer Gabor Dornyei is an internationally-recognised clinician for Pearl drums and also tours widely with his own Thunder Duo group.

Trumpeter Andy Davies leads the weekly jam session Upstairs at Ronnie Scott’s, while Matt Telfer offers monthly Vandoren and Yanagisawa jam nights at The Spice of Life. Guitarist Clement Regert has enjoyed many sessions and gigs with performers including Liane Carroll and Dennis Rollins along with his Wild Card group which has seen him working with some of the UK’s finest musicians.

For other stories by Phil, see:https://www.chichester.co.uk/author/Phil.Hewitt2