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Mark Hendry Spotlight 11 Oct 2019

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Mark Hendry is a Glasgow based bass player composer and arranger. At age 11 Mark received an electric bass as a Christmas present, he then fell in love with playing music and also took up the double bass at age 14 as his curiosity for jazz sparked. In 2015 Mark was accepted to study double bass at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland’s Jazz course where he has immersed himself in the Scottish Jazz scene. Mark has performed in the London Jazz Festival, BBC Radio Scotland, and with many of the top young Jazz musicians emerging in the UK: Fergus McCreadie Trio, STRATA and Tommy Smith Youth Jazz Orchestra.

Hendry will be performing at St.Bride's on Saturday 19th October presenting his Fractus project, their afternoon performance will be a double bill together with Ben MacDonald's quartet. 

What drew you to the music industry?

When I was a teenager I wasn’t sure what career I wanted to have. But when I turned 16 I began playing with other musicians in Glasgow and started performing. I think it was at that point I knew I wanted to be a professional musician. Finding like minded musicians who were beginning to get into jazz was ultimately what led me to the industry.

Who inspires you as a musician?

There are so many people! I’d say the most inspiring people would have to be mostly bass players, in particular those who led bands. Charles Mingus and Jaco Pastorius were huge for me and they gave me the confidence to lead groups myself. Also John Coltrane, he continues to inspire me every time I listen to him.

How did fractus come to be?

Composing is just as important to me as playing bass. I have a tendency when I write music to be so focused on other instruments that I forget about the bass. fractus came about because I wanted to write for a small band and wanted to feature instruments more equally. I also wanted to challenge my writing by removing any chordal instruments like guitar and piano. It’s makes harmony trickier to convey in a lot of ways, but it has allowed me to write music in a different way and revealed new possibilities for me

Is there a hidden meaning in any of your music?

Not particularly. I have always been interested in programme music, music which is written about a literal thing, like Holst, Strauss and Debussy did. So I enjoy being quite descriptive and open about my ideas. But other times I keep things ambiguous which is fun too.

Tell me about your favourite performance venues

I played in a beautiful space last January in Brussels called Flagey. It’s a former radio studio. So it has this quality about it which feels different from anywhere else I’ve played. Also the acoustics were very nice. Small clubs are great to play in because they have an intimate feeling. Philly Joe’s in Tallinn is lovely example of that. The Blue Lamp in Aberdeen is a brilliant club, the audience are always very attentive! 

Who is your favourite musician of all time?

It has to be John Coltrane, he’s one of the first jazz musicians I heard. I still listen to him now with the same curiosity and excitement.

What advice would you have for someone wanting to follow in your footsteps?

I’d say if you want to be a musician, listen to as much music as you can. I think it’s really important to listen all kinds of music, even music you don’t like. The more aware you are of any type of sound the better you’ll be able focus on your own sound and identity. Also, practice!

What does the next year look like for you projects?

The main thing will be with Graham Costello’s STRATA. I think we’re going to have a very busy and exciting year! In terms of my own music the main focus will be to write more for the orchestra I composed for in 2018 at the Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival. I want to make a full record and do a double suite.

Why do you think Everyone should come down to Gallus-A Scottish Jazz Weekend?

With the explosion of jazz coming out of Scotland at the moment I think it’s more exciting than ever to see Scottish jazz musicians perform. There are not many dates a year you can see so much exciting jazz in one weekend. 

To watch Mark Hendry's Fractus perform at Gallus- A Scottish Jazz Weekend click here for tickets.


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