Intricately fusing the defining elements of modern jazz with hints of math, groove and the many variables of improvisation, Waldo’s Gift have established themselves as the city’s favourite musical experimenters. Born out of Gloucester Road’s trusty muso hub The Gallimaufry, the three-piece showcase an authentically forward-thinking – and captivatingly exciting – brand of UK jazz.
Shooting to the forefront of the national scene with the 2019 release of their debut seven-track EP Improvisations, Waldo’s Gift have become known for creating thunderously complex sounds – despite a surprisingly small core set-up. The band, consisting of Alun Elliot-Williams on guitar, Harry Stoneham on bass and James Vine on drums, recorded the EP live and in single takes, avoiding overdubs and samples in order to capture the essence of their seemingly-telepathic sonic connections. Improvisations guide listeners through delicacy-drenched soundscapes, hypnotic in their melodic expanses, into beat-driven moments of cacophonous energy with an expert fluidity that only concretes the band’s virtuosic grounding.
beat-driven moments of cacophonous energy
Though the three piece are clearly bound by an unbreakable dynamic, they also radiate an all-welcoming ethos of collaboration. Pioneering Bristol’s Wednesday nights, Waldo’s Gift invite an impressive array of artists to play their Waldo’s Weekly shows at the Galli, and always encourage audience participation. Here, the band also developed their Rework series, taking on albums by some of the biggest global names around and gifting their elaborately curated interpretations – think Red Hot Chili Peppers, Weezer, Bjork, Justin Timberlake and even ABBA… all jazzed up.
Carrying their well-renowned energy into the new decade, Waldo’s Gift were set to release a new EP this May, however with studio time on hold due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it looks like we may have to wait a little bit longer. However, you can catch Waldo’s Gift live online as part of The Bristol Takeover’s live stream this Saturday 23 May, hosted by Colston Hall and featuring a whole host of key grassroots venues and artists from 3pm-12am.
Who are your top three acts right now?
Floating Points, Oliver Coates, Jon Hopkins.
Which song by another artist most inspires you?
Entertain Me – Tigran Hamasyan.
First piece of music you bought?
Alun: Puff Daddy – No Way Out. Jim: Gorrilaz. Harry: One of The Offspring’s albums.
Jim: Shadows EP – Floating Points. Alun: 24 Preludes – York Bowen. Harry: James Last Plays Abba.
Who is or was the most underrated artist, in your opinion?
It’s 2am and the party is dying down, what track do you play to get everyone going again?
Eve & Gwen Stefani – Let Me Blow Ya Mind.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grow up?
Alun wanted to be an author.
Jim: The Master and Margarita – Mikhail Bulgakov. Alun: Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoevsky. Harry: The Duel – Anton Chekhov.
Most recent binge watch?
Harry smashes anything Star Trek. Big time.
Live and let live.
Tea or coffee?
Festivals: big or boutique?
Boutique (apart from Glasto).
Harry hates barking dogs.
Are you organised or a procrastinator?
Favourite quality in a person?
Confidence and/or wisdom.
Do you have any secret skills?
Jim is the best Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 player in the South West.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
The key to weight loss is the control of insulin levels and not calories in/calories out as recommended by the USDA in 1979.
What is your oldest possession?
Jim has a weird jingly bell thing someone gave him when he was born. Alun has an old skateboard that belonged to Tony Hawks’ grandad. Harry owns a small portion of Chew Valley Lake.
What are you doing tomorrow?
Recording some music.
(Interview originally published in print on 1 March 2020)
WALDO’S GIFT LIVE: 23 May – The Bristol Takeover – live stream event, Colston Hall’s YouTube page
you can catch Waldo’s Gift live online as part of The Bristol Takeover’s live stream this Saturday 23 May