Louis Durra is one of the most interesting and inquiring musicians in jazz today. The Californian pianist, currently based in Berlin, has developed a highly individual take on what makes good raw material for great jazz. His Mad World and Rocket Science albums have become popular on US college radio for their interpretations of songs by Bob Marley, KT Tunstall, the Beatles, Michael Buble, and Bob Dylan and his forthcoming release, Chromakey, continues the adventure through inspired versions of rap, Radiohead and Gillian Welch’s Orphan Girl, as previously covered by country music sweetheart Emmylou Harris.
In 2011 Durra was awarded a Herald Angel, one of the statuettes presented by the Glasgow-based newspaper The Herald for excellence in performance during the Edinburgh Festival and Fringe each August, and his trio with Scottish rhythm team, bassist Euan Burton and drummer Doug Hough provides the ideal vehicle for subtle investigation of familiar melodies and for the economical grooves that Durra favours. His talents extend beyond interpretation into original compositions that stay with the listener long after the music stops and he communicates with his audience in a direct, sometimes offbeat and often very entertaining way.
As an adult, Louis discovered that he’d been adopted. Soon afterward came the news that his birth-father had played reeds for Gil Evans Orchestra, Lou Reed, Cornell Dupree, and been part of the eclectic band The Insect Trust. The jazz pedigree was the only un-surprising part of this story.
“ an articulate and melodic player…rewardingly creative(The Scotsman, four stars)
Louis listened to music incessantly from age three. According to his mother, Louis taught himself to read from record labels. The family attended many concerts during several months residence in London. His first music teacher was chamber composer Melanie Daiken, followed by classes at San Francisco Conservatory. Hearing John Coltrane on the radio as a teen was a life-changing experience. Soon he was playing in school ensembles, hearing live jazz. Louis began playing professionally with groups and music directing for theater during high school. The next few years were spent at Berklee College Of Music with a subsequent move to Los Angeles.
“Takes the piano trio into a superbly subtle space where he can surprise and delight… his choice of material seems specifically designed for seduction.” (The Herald Scotland)
In Los Angeles Louis worked in many genres, including a six-year stint with ex-Beefheart guitarist Moris Tepper. He worked as a film sound editor, composed for theatre and documentaries, and toured with Jazz Tap Ensemble. Over the years he recorded two mainstream jazz trio albums, recording standards on ‘Dreaming’, and composing new improviser-friendly jazz for ‘What We Have’. His decision to decline work with other artists and to concentrate on band-leading and self-initiated projects led to two years tenure at a Los Angeles nightclub, a well-received debut at the Edinburgh Fringe festival, and a track on a Radiohead Tribute CD by ESC Records, (Frankfurt, DE).Louis has developed a painstaking way of immersing in the music he performs, mostly acquiring repertoire from recordings of groups, focusing on the vocals. “Making use of insomnia, I’ll sit up in bed, and write out music from audio with a pencil and manuscript paper. I love the subtle notes-and-rhythms choices vocalists make, and immersing in the sounds of great groups. I do a lot to personalize a song, but I like to start from a pretty detailed picture of what happened.”
“Herbie Hancock meets…Harpo Marx.” (guitarist Matt Aschkynazo)
Euan Burton has worked in illustrious company with New York jazz players Ari Hoenig, Gilad Hekselman, Will Vinson and Jonathan Kreisberg, and also Scottish folk band Salt House.
Doug Hough currently hosts the Tuesday night jam session in Swing in Glasgow and is the drummer with the Glasgow jazz collective Elusive Tree.