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A Ton of Multitracks by Ambient Jazz Ensemble
Sampling

A Ton of Multitracks by Ambient Jazz Ensemble

Inspired by Brian Eno, Gil Evans, and early Weather Report, and often compared to David Axelrod and Bob James: this is Ambient Jazz Ensemble. The electronic jazz and orchestral, large-scale soundscapes by a fifteen-piece orchestra feel like cinematic scores. Two albums worth of multitracks on Tracklib allow for deep digs...

By DannyVeekens
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Before starting the fifteen-piece Ambient Jazz Ensemble, Colin Baldry carved out a path in music by writing and producing for major labels like Motown, Geffen, RCA, and Capitol Records. Working with orchestras like the BBC Concert Orchestra and the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, opened up his eyes to the compositions he wants to make.

Baldry: “I’ve never stopped learning with regard to production, sonics, scoring, instrumentation... Every part of the process that’s vital in the recording chain. I continue to take any relevant experience from TV and film music composition, transferring and adapting it to all stages of writing and recording new AJE tracks. For example, I love visualising a scene or a story that informs either where the music comes from or goes to.”

That way of working leads him to an intricate blend of electronica, jazz, ambient, and orchestral music. “Instrumental storytelling, cinematic journeys; chilled soundscapes growing into expansive, thematic suites utilizing rhythm section, brass and real strings with simpatico electronica,” as described in an interview with Listen to Discover.

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"Another way Ambient Jazz Ensemble is inspired by my composition and production work for TV & film, is my experience of working in tons of recording studios with hundreds of different musicians across many years in the industry," explains Baldry. "Some of the players have become invaluable contributors to the AJE sound.” Those players for Ambient Jazz Ensemble make up a rhythm section of drums, double bass, piano, and percussion, together with a brass section and a string quartet.

All of them can be sampled through the multitracks of the albums Suite Shop (2014) and A J E (2017). One of the contributors is Neil Cowley on keys on Suite Shop: a former Brand New Heavies pianist who also played with Jamiroquai, Zero 7, Birdy, and Stereophonics.

Various reviews reference David Axelrod and Bob James to describe the music of Ambient Jazz Ensemble. Baldry: “Not so much Bob James, but I can certainly relate to the work of David Axelrod and, in particular, Charles Stepney. The music they created in the late 60s and early 70s was a masterclass of ideas, production & sound, utilising expansive arrangements with strings and brass added to an already cinematic approach to early jazz fusion. Their inspirational output of music has subconsciously influenced me and given me the desire for ambitious arrangements and a big sound.”

Colin Baldry of Ambient Jazz Ensemble (photo: Here & Now Recordings)
Colin Baldry of Ambient Jazz Ensemble (photo: Here & Now Recordings)

“I would imagine my textural elements, keys, strings, or guitars sampled in hip-hop and chillhop. Or uplifting parts such as horns and solos in broken beat, nu-jazz, or house.”

—Colin Baldry (Ambient Jazz Ensemble)
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Aside from working with a fifteen-piece orchestra, Baldry also turns to sampling on a regular to shape his musical ideas and compositions: "For me, [sampling] is a spontaneous way of sketching out ideas. I’ve spent huge amounts of time slicing beats, horn lines, and phrases in my life and I still use samplers all the time. Though with Ambient Jazz Ensemble, I'm fortunate enough to also work with musicians."

With the offering of Suite Shop (2014) and the self-titled A J E (2017) — both in full, with multitracks!—on Tracklib, UK label Here & Now Recordings gives a glimpse of Ambient Jazz Ensemble's cinematic compositions. “I would imagine the textural elements, keys, strings, or guitars in hip-hop and chillhop,” says Baldry. “Next to that, especially the uplifting parts such as horns and solos in broken beat, nu-jazz, or house music.” Here’s to hoping for more to come on Tracklib… Till then, dig in:

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