SAM QURESHI is an Alto Saxophonist and Composer of Jazz, Mod Bossa & Latin soul. He was born in Pakistan, grew up in Birmingham and has lived in Manchester since 1997. He is a talented & dedicated Jazz Musician with over 35 years working with some big names in the music industry. He has an interesting and exhilarating story to tell.
Mods of your Generation are excited to feature him an interview.
Mods took their name from Modern Jazz in London 1958 becoming the phenomenon we know and love today. The culture spread throughout the united kingdom and worldwide, effecting fashion trends in many countries adopting Italian scooters such as Vespas and Lambrettas and tailored suites. It was an essential part of The Swinging 60’s. The original Mods of this exciting new subculture frequently attended Jazz clubs listening to Charlie Parker, Stan Getz and Miles Davis – New Mods are listening to Sam Q catalogue in the same way however some are sceptical and not aware about its original roots. Whether it’s the chill-out Bossa Nova set in the lounge or the late night hot sambas to dance the night away. It has become the re-Birth of The Cool. Sam Q’s Night patrol are the essential sound to take you on a journey back to the roots of the Modernist culture and how it first began.
1) can you explain the Concept of Jazz Music /Bossa Nova in terms of Mod Culture?
It’s the pure History of the UK and Worldwide birth of the Mods. It began in London in the late 50’s at the Jazz Clubs at the time. I guarantee you the members of The Who, The Kinks, Paul Weller will be big Jazz fans – and the former would have been attending Jazz/ Bossa Gigs in the Swinging 60’s -They will have original Blue Note Records in glorious Vinyl of the Jazz/Bossa Nova Masters such as Miles Davis, Stan Getz and John Coltrane. Jack Kerouc in his book ‘’On The Road’’ documented it as ‘’The Beatnics Generation’’ - you can read this blog on my website also https://spinningwheelrecords.com/modbossa
2) Do you think your music would sit in with Modern Day Mods?
Yes! I think they are fed up of the norm bands – There are some really cool Mod bands out there for both old and young Mods these days . I think the ‘’New Mod’’ would really dig the sound of ‘Sam Q’s Nightpatrol’’ with the hybrid Latin sounds that Ive invented coupled with infectious rhythms and catchy melodies, it’s a very cool and stylish vibe and they would recognise and identify with their sub culture no problem. Of course, Ska and Northern Soulies also would latch on the Saxaphone influence straight away. My Vinyl EP ‘’Peles Groove’’ proves this with the demand being so great I had to manufacture another run.
3) Who are the band members of Sam Q’s Nightpatrol?
Your not going to believe this but I must have worked with over 100 Musicians since the birth of my Latino adventure called Nightpatrol some 10 years ago!! Jazz musicians are hard to hold as they are in so much demand and they tend to keep moving on with alternative projects. But this gives me such a emphathy with for example the great Saxaphonist John Coltrane and other greats from the 1960’s – as it was the same problem with the quartets he tried to establish. Eventually finding his classic quartet of Garrison, Tyner and Jones. I have used many vocalists worldwide on my compositions also – the greatest musician I used on my ‘’Birdbrain’ and ‘’Secret Bossa Nova’’ tracks is Gibi Dossantos of the Sergio Mendes Band. On my current EP ‘’Lucky Charm’’ I have introduced a young Swedish Girl on vocals called ‘’Maya’’ – I love to nuture and develop- Also my most regular musician bassist Mike Crumpton.
4) Do you find this movement of musicians very difficult to cope with?
The opposite is true. It keeps everything very fresh and new. I always have a nucleus of great musicians available who know my stuff – Although I do strive for my Spiritual line up. My idea is to introduce a new vocalist every 12 months – To give others a chance of breaking through in the music Industry – I think this is important also destroys that old fashioned image of a regular band line up- It’s great when I’m going to do a gig people wondering ‘’will it be Maya or Vanessa or Taylor on Vocals tonight etc’’ – When I tour different countries I will introduce local singers there for example in Los Angeles Fernanda Franco who sang on ‘’Love Spring Fountains’’ in Spain ‘’Almudena Moldes’’ who is the singer on ‘’Birdbrain’’
5) What is a typical Sam Q’s Nightpatrol gig like?
We normally do 2 sets – The first is what I call the ‘’cool set’’ a selection of gentle Bossa Novas from the Jobim Songbook – as well as many originals both instrumental and vocal. This really relaxes the audience as they get prepared for the later set. It really puts their mind on the alpha levels, of course the alcohol also helps to! The 2nd set is the ‘’hot set’’ fast Bossas and Sambas and the joint really is jumping believe me!! Dancing on the tables. Now who says they don’t like Jazz.
6) How important is it to play the Bossa Nova Standards and can you name some of them?
I think its very important to play a few standards at each gig as this educates the audience onto the birth of the genre and how they relate to my compositions. The music biz can also see how equally my originals sit with the ‘Masters’ of the past which of course wins me gigs and Record Deals. Proof of this is how well my music is being accepted by the Brazillians themselves and currently been offered a Tour of Brazil. The classic Jobim Tunes I will play are ‘’Desafinado, Wave,Corcovado’’ to name a few we also do the Classic Sergio Mendes ‘’Mas Qu Nada’’
A tear comes to my eyes as they have both now passed away. The great Joe Moss who managed The Smiths and Johnny Marr saw me playing a gig by pure chance in Manchester some years ago and immediately wanted to work with me. I was actually playing in a ‘’Indie Rock’’ venue and instead of the punters leaving they were phoning their friends to get to the venue and we got 5 encores. He saw a parallel with the Indie Music movement of Manchester in the 80s when all the major labels said it would never sell. Joe proved them wrong.. The Smiths sold millions. Joe loved my style of Bossa Nova and encouraged me to keep pushing on a regular giging circuit, ofcourse he would represent me to the Majors and prove them wrong a second time haha.. Bruce Replogle who worked with manifold commercial bands over the years including US Manager for John Lennon heard a few of my tracks on New York Radio Station and instantly phoned me and sent me a management contract – He called us ‘’The Beatles of Bossa Nova’’ – I miss them both dearly.
8) Tell me more about the Major Interest currently and why you think this is?
I think Latin Music has come into the forefront of Commercial Music today – Its influence is very apparent such as massive hit Justin Bieber ‘’Depacito’’ – Every week a major seems to release a Latin inspired track – Of course back in the 60s The Beatles touched on this with the Latin inflected ‘’and I love her’’ – But clearly today and now they are searching for the flagship of Bossa Nova – People from Sony, Universal and Warner are actively making contact with me – Im talking right now with Universal Music LA about a potential US Tour to follow up our Brazilian Tour next year. On my Social Media and websites stats you see them monitoring every move I seem to make!! I recently signed a Publishing deal with the original David Bowie and Black Sabbath Team which is another strong indication.
9) Tell me about your previous releases including your current release ‘’Lucky Charm’’?
I have recorded to a high level 8 albums/EPs and recently formed my own label ‘’Spinning Wheel Records’’ to accommodate the business sides. Albums have completely different musicians and vocalists on them as I touched on in a previous answer. They are digitally distributed via Imusica in Brazil who power all the Latin releases worldwide so Im very proud of this. From ‘’How To Steal The World’’ to ‘’ Magnetic Lunchbox’’ to the current ‘’Lucky Charm’’ they seem to be rocking the Industry and music lovers Worldwide. The Vinyl EP ‘’Peles Groove’’ is doing fantastically well in the marketplace. The current ‘’Lucky Charm’’ features vocalist ‘’Maya’’ and is 2 originals and 2 classic Bossa Nova side by side. It includes ‘’The Girl from Ipanema’’ and my original ‘’Magpie and the Squirrel’’
10) You were a professional Busker for years and was spotted by Paramount Pictures. How else did busking Jazz in the streets help with your musical development?
My busking years started in Birmingham in the early 1990s – and I continued when I first arrived in Manchester in 1998 – It helped me establish my first gigs in Manchester as many Bar owners saw me playing – Busking is a very special artform there’s nothing like it to master your instrument 30 minutes of Busking is equivalent to 4 hours practice!! When you learn something standing in the streets you will never forget it and Studio Session work becomes a doddle. Any fool can go into a Studio with a recording team and high-quality equipment and made to sound good. But busking is the REAL deal the Public aren’t stupid, and they will know immediately if you don’t have the talent. I busked jazz, no backing tracks, and kept the punters happy. I must have played over 1000 tunes across the board, never planning my sets just blowing my Sax and let the spirit take me where it wanted to go. Paramount Pictures Scouts were walking though Manchester during their filming of the remake of ‘’Alfie’’ and approached me to appear in the production as a New York street busker – which was great but but NOTHING beats the feeling when a small child of 4 years of age comes and dances in front of your playing when you are busking and the parents film and put a few pennies in your box. That’s true musical success!!
I was 13 years old and sneaked into a Pub in Birmingham in 1978. On my way out I was set about by National Front members in their early 20’s – To my rescue a group of lads black/white in their late teens who turned out be a starting out UB40. Afterwards they took me to their rehearsal room, a shabby old cellar.
12) How did UB40 Influence your musical career?
They had learned their instruments from scratch and influenced me to do the same and join the band, but I was still a school kid. I used to play truant from school and watch them rehearse and go to their gigs. I loved watching them develop their reggae sound and how music could deliver such a powerful political message, they were the forefront of the Rock against Racism movement in the early 80s and played with all the Ska Two Tone bands like The Specials, Madness and The Selector. Also, this was my first flavour with the Mods who had adopted 2 Tone at that particular time. In Birmingham I was regarded as the 8th member of UB40 Sax player Brian Travers bought me my first Saxaphone.
13) Who was your greatest influence to become and succeed as a musician?
In one word my Mum. She was my inspiration and kept me going when I easily could have given up. She was my rock in the Industry and I always got my strength from her. She passed away 4 years ago, but I can feel her by my side every single day.
Interview by Mods of Your Generation
interview (c) Mods Of Your Generation
Photo (c) Sam Qureshi