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Do the '88!

By Felix Mensah | 26 August 2017

Their origins begin at an English university city from which both Olivia Newton-John and Tom Robinson originally hail. But a combo with a much different beat are the latest bidding to be Cambridge’s greatest musical exports. Say hi to jazz/funk experimentalists Resolution 88.

Firstly, please take a moment to introduce yourselves  to the readership of Black Sheep.

Good morning, readers! We’re Resolution 88 - we’re a jazz / funk / broken beat band that started out in Cambridge, UK - and we currently have two albums (‘Resolution 88’ and ‘Afterglow’) and an EP (‘Press Play’) out. We’re now working on new material ready for the next release. Our influences are as wide as Herbie Hancock & the Headhunters, Kaidi Tatham and the broken beat scene and J Dilla, D’Angelo amongst others. Our music is rooted in the sound of the Fender Rhodes, especially the suitcase sound made famous by the likes of Herbie Hancock and Toby Smith from Jamiroquai. We met each other just by all being involved in the music scene around Cambridge.

Do those specific influences come from particular band members? Or do you share them all? (i.e expand on  musical tastes, etc, etc.) 

Each band member definitely brings something unique in terms of their playing & personality but there is a lot of common ground in terms of taste. We all loved the early Jamiroquai albums (Stuart Zender is one of the main reasons that our bassist, Tiago, plays a Warwick bass). Ric, our drummer, definitely listens to a more eclectic range of modern music which really informs his playing style - and I have a large vinyl collection of raregroove, jazz funk, boogie etc. Alex, our saxophonist, is a composer and band leader too - and plays all styles of jazz.

Your recent performance at the annual Mostly Jazz festival is reputedly your biggest performance to date -any particular personal  highlights from that?

Mostly Jazz was a great festival to play at, especially playing just before Chaka Khan. We’ve been fortunate to play a number of great gigs in the last few years - we performed at the Barbican in support of Larry Mizell and the Blackbyrds, we’ve played a number of shows at Ronnie Scott’s this year and past support gigs include artists such as Snarky Puppy (at the Village Underground), Fatback Band, Cymande and Medeski, Martin & Wood. One highlight of Mostly Jazz was meeting Chaka and saying hello to her briefly - otherwise, we enjoyed our set performing to many people who hadn’t heard us before. Also, it was nice to have Ronald Bruner, Chaka’s drummer, complimenting us backstage after checking out our set before they played.

What are your plans and hopes for your music in the future?

Really, our plans and hopes are to regularly release new music that refines a distinctive sound we can proudly call our own, to improve our playing and performing as an ensemble, for me to develop as a composer and for us to travel the world getting to play our own music to fans that love what we’re doing.

What do you hope people get from your music?

We’ve been very fortunate to play to all sorts of crowds - playing in sweaty basement clubs where fans were dancing and shouting right from the first song, to playing in jazz clubs such as Ronnie Scott’s and Pizza Express, where the audience are quiet and scrutinising each note of the music carefully. So - different crowds take something different from the music depending on the night - and as long as they enjoy it, we’re happy with that! I’ve always said to myself that I’d much rather our music invokes a strong emotion rather than indifference - and luckily it seems to be that way. People seem to be either really into our music, or it’s just not their thing, which is great. It’s instrumental so there are no lyrics for people to latch onto. Sometimes, people say that they find that really refreshing and that it gives them space to enjoy and hear all the melodies and riffs that are going on.

You’re independent [unsigned ]artists , is this through choice or an important thing for you?

Well, for our most recent album ‘Afterglow’, we’re actually signed to Bluey’s label (from Incognito), ‘Splash Blue’. But mainly, we’ve been independent - and we really enjoy being autonomous, self-motivated and self-funded. It’s a very important aspect for us because from early on in my musical career, I had other musicians that I greatly respect telling me to hold on to the intellectual rights of everything we released as much as possible. And being independent allows you to do that much more so than being on a label.

If you were ever a presented opportunity to collaborate or tour with anybody - whom would be interesting enough for you to undertake such tasks?

We’d love to tour with Herbie Hancock! Or maybe somebody else who we feel we’d be a good musical match for… Kaidi Tatham and his band, or a band like Hiatus Kaiyote.
Anything that you care to add before this interview is complete?
Hopefully you can all enjoy our music (all available to listen to and buy on Bandcamp at: whilst you read this interview - and we’d love to see all your readers at a Resolution 88 gig soon!

Tom & Reso 88

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