Sound Effect: Neil Cowley interview

Neil Cowley - Sound Effect

Neil Cowley is the leader of the Neil Cowley Trio. His group recently won UK Jazz Artist of the Year at the inaugural Jazz FM Awards. He played piano on Adele’s best-selling 21 album and is the PRS for Music Foundation-supported musician in residence at Derry-Londonderry as part of the UK City of Culture 2013. He will perform a new piece of music written with musicians from across local communities as part of the residency.

In the latest issue of M magazine we asked him to talk us through the songs that have shaped his life. Underneath, you can listen to his song choices via our Spotify playlist.

The first music I remember hearing was…
 I Wonder Who’s Kissing Her Now by Harry Nilsson. Harry Nilsson was one of John Lennon’s best mates, had an incredible voice, lived very hedonistically and made an album of old standards called A Little Touch of Schmilsson in the Night. This song was a big favourite at home as a kid.

The first record I ever bought was…
The Nightfly by Donald Fagen. I bought this when I was in my first band. We had a paraplegic drummer who used to make a bass drum noise through a tube and amp. It was one of the most incredible things I’d ever seen. I’d sit in the back of his modified Ford Cortina and he’d play me records. This was one of them.

The last great record I listened to was…
Song for Abba Tribute Record by Let’s Wrestle. Let’s Wrestle are a London indie band who remind me of early Pixies. It’s got all this energy, angst, anger and poetry to it. I’m pleased to see these qualities still exist in new bands.

The song that I know all the words to is…
Moving the River by Prefab Sprout. I never listen to lyrics, probably because I’m an instrumentalist. I listen to melodies, chords and harmonies but Paddy McAloon’s lyrics get me every time. This is pure pop artistry.

The song I wish I’d written is…
Midnight Cowboy by John Barry. I’m transported as soon as those first harmonica notes come in. It’s simple, beautiful and has a melody which takes you to a new place.

The song that makes me want to dance is…
Lips by Micachu and the Shapes. She’s a phenomenal new artist who represents everything good about new British music. She’s really young, off the wall yet largely ignored. My kids love it. It’s always played at parties as our musical statues tune.

The song that makes me cry is… 
I Can Let Go Now by Michael Macdonald. I loved listening to Tony Blackburn’s show on Radio London in the late eighties and Michael Macdonald would turn up there. It was at a time when I learnt about love and loss and this summed it up. When the orchestra comes in, you just drop to your knees. It’s beautiful.

The song I want played at my funeral is…
Let’s Go Round Again by The Average White Band. I don’t believe in an after-life but I do believe that my life has been a really big laugh. It started with soul bands which sounded a bit like The Average White Band so saying Let’s Go Round Again would be a perfectly apt way to go.

www.neilcowleytrio.com

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