Winner of the Parliamentary Jazz Award for Best Media, 2019


Black Mountain Jazz, Abergavenny - The “Sorry We Missed You” Interviews

by Ian Mann

July 01, 2020

Black Mountain Jazz have taken the innovative step of e-interviewing three of the artists who were scheduled to appear at the Club during lockdown, Remi Harris, Claire Victoria Roberts and Kim Cypher.

Black Mountain Jazz, Abergavenny


Like so many others the Abergavenny based promoters Black Mountain Jazz have been forced to postpone scheduled events at their base, the Melville Centre, during the Corona Virus lockdown.

As part of an enterprising initiative they have conducted a series of e-interviews with the artists who were scheduled to appear at their monthly events in March, April and June 2020.

The musicians involved are guitarist Remi Harris, vocalist/violinist Claire Victoria Roberts and vocalist/saxophonist Kim Cypher.

The interviews include profiles of the musicians, their reactions to life during lockdown and a selection of favourite albums from their ‘lockdown playlists’.

There are plenty of links for readers to enjoy further listening and watching along with links to the artists’ own websites.

These interviews are intimate, informative, interesting and consistently entertaining and make for highly recommended reading.

They have already been enjoyed by members of the Black Mountain Jazz mailing list.

My thanks go to Mike Skilton and Debs Hancock of Black Mountain Jazz for granting me permission to share them here.

First up is;

REMI HARRIS (Pictured, with Merlin the Magpie – see below)

The Remi Harris Trio were due to visit Black Mountain Jazz with their Light & Shade show on 29th March.  We were forced to postpone it and hopefully, that will not be for too long.

In this opening edition we feature Remi Harris with his responses to our e-interview, with an insight to today’s world through his eyes.

We also include plenty of links for listening and watching, as well as one to his website.

The videos in this newsletter have been produced by Remi during lockdown - a privileged viewing!


BMJ: Tell us about yourself and what you have been up to in the last few months?

I’m Remi and I’m a guitarist based in the Hereford & Worcester area. The last few months have been a bit different to normal. It’s strange not going out doing gigs but I’ve had a lot to keep me busy with. I’ve been doing a lot of practice and learning new tunes and things. I’ve been able to experiment and play with some new ideas more than I normally would because I haven’t had to work on the material I play on gigs as much.

I’ve been learning to edit and record better quality videos for my YouTube channel and I’m making some basic tutorial videos too. I’ve done a bit of live streaming on facebook and instagram also.

I’ve started doing a weekly Jazz & Blues show on an internet radio station called Bromyard FM which was set up by a friend during lockdown. I do a two hour show every Thursday 8pm-10pm where I play some of my favourite Jazz & Blues tracks along with some requests. This has been a lot of fun to get involved with. Here’s a link if anyone’s wants to listen back to previous shows or listen live - 

We recently rescued a magpie chick which had fallen from its nest when it was raided by crows. So we’re looking after him until he can feed himself and he learns to fly. We’ve had some advice from a local wildlife rescue centre on how to look after him. His name is Merlin and he’s the funniest little creature. We’re feeding him minced beef every 60 mins from morning until evening. We also have 2 cats, 2 dogs, geese, turkeys, goats and sometimes there are sheep here at the farm we live on so we’ve been looking after everyone here like normal.

We recently re-released my first album “Ninick”, so that’s back up on Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer etc. I’ve been sorting out my website and generally catching up on all of those little jobs that get put aside when we’re on the road a lot.

BMJ: The glorious weather so far has been a blessing for us all and the outdoors has been a sanctuary for many. Tell us about your lockdown location?

We’re really lucky to live on a farm in Worcestershire so we’ve had good access to the countryside to go running and walk the dogs.


BMJ: Music has played an important part of lockdown for many people. What has music and being a musician meant to you at this time?

I think it’s been the same as usual really. Since I can remember I’ve always listened to music pretty much all day, if I’m not playing it. There’s always music playing in the house.

The thing I’m missing the most is playing with other musicians, I love the interaction element of jamming on tunes and ideas, that’s my favourite thing about playing music and it doesn’t really work so well when you’re on your own. But I’ve still been playing lots and working on new things.


BMJ: What/who have you been listening to during lockdown?

We listen to a lot of different musical genres. We have big playlists with loads of different tracks in them and they just play on shuffle round and round all day in the house. So one minute we could be listening to Neil Young, and the next tune could be Wes Montgomery, then it might be some Drum’n’Bass followed by Mozart followed by some AC/DC or something.

I love listening to music like this. Anything goes, if it sounds good it gets added to the playlist, it doesn’t matter what the genre is. Sometimes I’ll pick out a particular album to play through if I’m in the mood for something specific.


BMJ: What would be your recommended lockdown playlist?

I was recently tagged in one of those “List Your Top 10 Albums” posts on facebook. It’s hard to pick a definitive list because I’m always changing my mind but here are the ten I’ve chosen this time…

Neil Young - Harvest.  I’ve been listening to this since I was a little boy. It makes me happy every time I hear it.

The Stone Roses - 2nd Coming.  In my opinion one of the most underrated albums ever made, great guitar playing, great musicianship. It’s like a 1990s Led Zeppelin II.

Free - Free.  Another album I’ve been listening to since I was a little boy. It has such great subtlety.

Led Zeppelin II.  I think I would have been around 9 years old when I heard this for the first time, it changed my life.

Lynyrd Skynyrd - Pronounced.  Great tunes, tight band, epic guitar playing!

AC/DC - Highway to Hell.  Never ceases to pick me up!

The Beatles - Abbey Road.  It’s hard to pick a favourite Beatles album but the medley on the 2nd side is the reason I always come back to this one.

The Rosenberg Trio - Caravan.  The first gypsy jazz album I really got into and still one of my favourites.

Ahmad Jamal - At the Pershing: But Not for Me.  Probably my favourite jazz album of all time.

Fleetwood Mac - Greatest Hits (original 1971 version).  This album was my introduction to Peter Green who is still one of my favourite guitarists.


BMJ: Have you been inspired to try anything new, music or otherwise or develop a new style?

I’ve definitely been inspired to learn and work on new ideas. Without having to work on music for up and coming gigs I’ve been more free to just experiment with no specific goal in mind.


BMJ: Anything that you would like to add?

My plans for the near future are to finish my 3rd album which is nearly done but has been put on hold due to the lockdown and not being able to go to the studio. We’ll be finishing it off and releasing it as soon as we’re allowed to.

I’m thankful for all of the people who have been following me online and interacting with my guitar videos on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram etc. I try to put out a few videos a week on the different social media platforms. We’re all in a state of uncertainty at the moment and I don’t know when we’ll be back to normal in terms of our gigging and touring so I’m just hoping for the best and taking each day as it comes for now.

Use this link to Remi’s website for further links and updates;

Remi Harris Youtube links;

A little improvisation over the Donna Lee/Indiana chord changes

A jam on a jazz standard called “Perdido”

A solo version of Beethoven Piano Sonata No. 8 - Adagio Cantabile

My solo arrangement of Django Reinhardt’s “Nuages”

A jam on the jazz standard “Them There Eyes”



The Claire Roberts Trio were due to visit Black Mountain Jazz on Sunday 26th April.  We were forced to postpone it and hopefully, that will not be for too long.

In this edition we feature Claire Roberts with her responses to our e-interview, with an insight to today’s world through her eyes.

We also include plenty of links for listening and watching, as well as one to Claire’s website.

BMJ: Tell us about the singer Claire Victoria Roberts and what you have been up to in the last few months? 

Hello, I’m a singer and violinist, performing in a range of different styles from folk/jazz fusion to 1940s swing.  In January I released my début album of old-time jazz tunes, and am hoping to bring some tight, upbeat swing to Black Mountain Jazz when performances resume .

I have been taking the time to focus on writing some original music. November this year, if concerts resume, I will be singing some original jazz-meets-romantic material in the big smoke with Camden Symphony Orchestra.

In a way, it has been nice to have the time to study orchestral scores and create something new, something the gigging life doesn’t really allow for.

My vocal chords have been getting plenty of exercise, I have been learning some Welsh fiddle tunes, and attempting the challenge of being able to do the splits by the end of quarantine.

Hopefully I will still be in one piece by the end!!


BMJ: The glorious weather so far has been a blessing for us all and the outdoors has been a sanctuary for many. Tell us about your lockdown location?

I am on lockdown in my flat in Manchester, waiting until it’s safe to go home to my parents.
On sunny days we have been able to head to the Peaks, Formby beach and the huge parks in South Manchester.


BMJ: Who inspired you and what makes a Great Jazz singer?

I think the first vocalist who really inspired me was Liane Carroll,
I actually transcribed her incredible version of Almost Like Being in Love on my Instagram a while ago. I don’t know if I’m great yet but I do my practice!


BMJ: What/who have you been listening to during lockdown?
I have been listening to the singers who I always love to listen to - female jazz vocalists who are on my Spotify playlist ‘Sunday jazz mixtape’, a list of singers and songs who inspired my album.
If you use Spotify then have a listen, it features Cyrille Aimee, Jazzmeia Horn, Jane Monheit, Madeleine Peyroux and more:

For my orchestral project I have been listening to minimalist, spacious classical music such as Edmund Finnis as well as French orchestral works by Debussy and Ravel.

BMJ: What would be your recommended lockdown playlist?

Ah! See above… 


BMJ: Have you been inspired to try anything new, learned any new skills music or otherwise?

Well,as mentioned I am attempting to be more flexible so that I can do the splits, which I’m not sure is a very useful skill. To be honest, I have not seen any improvement either!

My attempts at cooking have been a bit more successful, although I cannot wait for the tapas bar down the road from us to re open.


BMJ: Have you been inspired to try anything new, music or otherwise or develop a new style?

I’ve definitely been inspired to learn and work on new ideas. Without having to work on music for up and coming gigs I’ve been more free to just experiment with no specific goal in mind.


BMJ: Anything that you would like to add?

My CDs are available from my website, including my new one - Cheating Hearts (£10) - tracks include - I Should Care, Don’t Explain and Que Reste-T-Til de Nous Amour.

Cheating Hearts also available on Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon, Itunes etc!

It was a really fun album to make, the main purpose was to get all my friends (and family) in a room and play together - so if anyone buys a copy I hope it lifts your spirits during these next few weeks.

Here is some of the Welsh folk material Claire has been working on - “Pan Ow’n Y Gwanwyn” - “When in Spring”

BMJ: Thank you Claire, it has been lovely to touch base with you and we look forward to welcoming you here at Black Mountain Jazz soon.



This is the third of a series of newsletters, each featuring one of the terrific artists we have missed due to Coronavirus.

The Kim Cypher Quintet were due to visit Black Mountain Jazz on Sunday 28th June.  We were forced to postpone it and hopefully, that will not be for too long.

In this edition we feature Kim Cypher with her responses to our e-interview, with an insight to today’s world through her eyes.

We also include plenty of links for listening and watching, as well as one to Kim’s website.

BMJ: Tell us about the performer Kim Cypher and what you have been up to in the last few lockdown months? 

Hi I’m saxophonist, vocalist and composer Kim Cypher from Cheltenham in Gloucestershire. Myself and my husband Mike (drummer) are both professional musicians and we are not used to not gigging for such a long period of time!

Thankfully, we were very lucky to perform a really special gig literally days before the country went into lockdown. It was a tribute gig at London’s Pizza Express ‘live’ as part of my ‘For Mum’ project raising money for The Brain Tumour Charity and as a tribute to my late mum.

We had special guest Ray Gelato with us, it was a sell-out show and we’d done lots of preparation for it, including arranging a coach for all my supporters from Cheltenham. We are so thankful and grateful that this gig just made it before everything stopped.

When everything did stop we went into shock really (as everyone did). Our full diary of bookings was literally wiped out overnight and much uncertainty fell upon the whole ‘live’ music scene. It’s not just the financial uncertainty this brings, but also the loss of an integral part of our life.

So, it wasn’t many days into lockdown that we decided we needed to somehow keep connected with everyone and we also needed to keep bringing our music to our friends and followers. There has never been a time when music can be used so positively and we were determined to make very good use of this time.

Firstly, we started a morning coffee and chat show on Facebook - going ‘live’ every weekday for an hour at 11.00am. It was our way of creating a friendly, community gathering where anyone in need of some company could join us for some chat, fun, ‘live’ music, special guests and lots more. Everyone was welcome and we soon had a lovely following joining us each day.

The show attracted far more attention than we ever imagined it would…we ended up on BBC Points West TV, BBC Radio Gloucestershire and in many publications. We absolutely LOVED doing it and it really helped us stay connected with everyone. We did a total of 53 shows before deciding to finish up, although we have been doing some ‘reunion’ shows since!

The show allowed us to celebrate the release of our new music, plus we celebrated lots of other events including Easter, VE Day and we were also part of International Jazz Day. It is something we will never forget and I’m sure we have made friends for life from the show. We plan to arrange an ‘actual’ gathering once things get back to normal.


BMJ: Who has inspired you as a performer and made a difference to developing your style of playing?

So many great players have inspired me. I get very excited sometimes when I hear my influences coming out in my own playing. It’s very cool to think that my playing is a culmination of all these great influences together with my own style.

To list them all would be impossible but some of the key influences have come from saxophonists Andy Sheppard and Pee Wee Ellis (both of whom I’ve been lucky enough to study with).

I also love lots of other sax players - including Gerald Albright, Maceo Parker (I love the funky style) plus some amazing female saxophonists, including Mindi Abair and Angella Christie.

My vocal influences include Billie Holiday, all the old jazz greats plus I love Liane Carroll.

Thanks to all these great musicians I have developed my own style which can be described as ‘funky saxophonist meets 1940’s jazz singer).


BMJ: Tell us about your lockdown location?

Well, I truly cannot grumble about my lockdown location. I live in the beautiful town of Cheltenham and I’m lucky enough to have a garden which I have been enjoying very much. I’ve even been growing my own vegetables. We’re quite ‘The Good Life’ now!

We are also surrounded by stunning countryside and we’ve been taking time out to walk several times a week. We love nothing more than packing a rucksack and heading off on an adventure.


BMJ: What has music and being a musician meant to you at this time?

Music is what keeps us going. I can’t imagine life without music. Without fail, one of the first things I do each day is sing. I also need to create and get absorbed in music. I am at my happiest when a music project is on the go.

Our house during lockdown is just musical chaos…and we love it! Our kitchen was transformed into a recording space and where we would perform our ‘live’ shows.

There’s saxes, drums, keyboards and bits of music everywhere, with different projects on the go. How we’ll ever adapt back to ‘normal’ life I have no idea.

BMJ: Who have you been listening to, to lift your spirits?

Our musical tastes are so eclectic and also very much mood dependent. Anything from Reggae to Brass Bands with everything in between.

I have discovered some great radio stations just recently though. I love a good radio station and I especially love all the amazing DJ’s who support our music. One I love to have on the go throughout the day is ‘Best Smooth Jazz’ with DJ Rod Lucas.


BMJ: Share with us your Kim’s heroes and heroines recommended playlist?

This could literally be an endless list, but I will list some of my ‘go to’ albums when I am in need of some great music:

Blicher, Hemmer, Gadd - this is the title of the album as well as being the musicians featured. What an album!

Tenoration - Pee Wee Ellis - if you like good sax, you’ll love this album.

Standard Issue - Liane Carroll - well, i’m a huge Liane Carroll fan so any of her albums are fabulous. This one is a long-standing ‘go to’ album for me though.

Fierce & Non-Compliant - Fiona Ross - Fiona is a friend of mine and a fellow jazz performer whom I admire very much. This album is something else (and i’m not just saying that because i’m a special guest on it!) This is a fabulous album by a very talented artist.

Closer To Home - Courtney Pine - I love Courtney Pine and really love the Reggae vibe of
this album.

New Beginnings - Gerald Albright - There’s always some Gerald Albright in my playlists.

Mo’ Roots - Maceo Parker - FUNKY!

Come Morning - Grover Washington - Reminds me so much of the music I was listening to when I was growing up. Just love it.

BMJ: We would love to hear all about your new CD and the projects explored during the recent lockdown?

I have had two new music releases during lockdown. The first was planned for 10th April as it was part of my ‘For Mum’ project. Of course I didn’t realise we’d be in lockdown at this point. But, it was fine because we marked this occasion as part of our coffee and chat show and people even cracked open bubbly at 11.00am to celebrate with us.

The track and video can be viewed below. It’s an original track called ‘All For You’ - inspired by my mum, with an animated video illustrated by artist Martyna Sabadasz:

My second new music release was more spontaneous. It was actually scheduled for later in the year. But, because we were unable to be out performing our music ‘live’ we decided to bring the release forward, so that everybody could be enjoying it.

It’s a very special piece of music for me. It was recorded just before lockdown and features some incredible musicians. The track is available on Spotify, iTunes etc. It’s called ‘Water From An Ancient Well’ composed by South African pianist Abdullah Ibrahim. I really hope everyone enjoys it…it’s 11 minutes of total relaxation and escapism!

Also, during lockdown we felt the need to create music to share with everyone. We are musicians after all and that’s what we need to do. So, as we had an Easter Tour cancelled with our good friend, guitarist B.D. Lenz from the US, we decided to record a series of videos, sharing a new video each week. We called them ‘The Twilight Jazz Sessions’.

These sessions are still going and we’re loving doing them. We’ve all had to learn the new technology and get used to recording remotely in our own homes. But, how amazing that musicians are able to do this. Having this connection with our musician friends has been so vital.

All our ‘Twilight Jazz Sessions’ can be viewed on my YouTube Channel. There is a Playlist especially for all the sessions. Please use this link to subscribe to my channel to be sure you don’t miss the next one! I have just released our 7th video in our ‘Twilight Jazz Sessions’ series, which can be viewed below.


 BMJ: Is there anything else that you would like to share with us?

We are so looking forward to booking in a new date to perform at Black Mountain Jazz. We love meeting new people, making friends and building up a good relationship with fellow jazz lovers and music supporters. Our supporters mean the absolute world to us and they are the reason we do what we do. At this time, it’s all about supporting each other and keeping everyone going. We’d love to support you in any way we can.

We’d also be very grateful for any support and there are many ways people can help. It’s not just financial support but support for our music too. Every little truly helps. It’s all listed on my website at this link so please do take a look if you can and help support all musicians at this time. Thank you.


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