Great to meet some of Canterbury University tonight. Played two sets in the Gulbenkian Bar – good venue, friendly staff and lovely crowd… Olly Knight had everything sorted: the ultimate agent.
The heart of the evening was when Slavko from Bosnia told the story of how his life shifted from organised crime to being engaged in bringing hope to his broken city. This wasn’t because he sorted himself out – it was because he experienced a revolution in his life as a result of meeting Jesus Christ… He explained that he reached a point where he realised he could not save himself but that Jesus Christ – God here – had come to achieve the ultimate rescue through dying in Slavko’s place to bring him into relationship with the God he is created to know.
Great to come to sunny Southampton this morning: Sholing Baptist Church. For once, I could bring Faye and the boys with me too…
Here is a full listing of live dates for 2012 – we’d love to see you!
[google-calendar-events id=”1,” type=”list”]
“Andy has put together a finely crafted set of songs which speak clearly of the Gospel and relate it to the experience of the man in the street (or the man in the jazz café, in this instance). His careful vocals mean that every word is heard and the diverse musical arrangements – particularly those which feature Nick Beston, and some achingly beautiful strings – are wonderfully produced.
“Some of the songs are obviously very personal and there are two or three which have a narrative style to equal the best of Tilbrook and Difford’s work with Squeeze, “He Says He Loves Her” being a prime example. “Jazz Café” makes explicit an atmosphere which really pervades the whole album and into that atmosphere Andy sings the good news of Jesus with a forthrightness that hits the listener between the eyes.
“At a time when singer/songwriters are enjoying something of a renaissance, Andy Mayo’s work is definitely up there with the best of them.”
– Ian Hayter
(Cross Rhythms Review on Release)
The band line-up on “This is for You” is an exciting combination of exceptional artists – here’s Andy to introduce them:
Nick Beston: Saxophones
Stan Majerski: Keys & programming
“Stan and I met in Serbia – the place that was my home for ten years. I’m always stunned by Stan’s creativity and lateral thinking… a funky man. On ‘This is for you” – as well as playing and programming – it is Stan who has engineered and arranged the songs.”
Scott Barnard: Bass & Trumpets
“Give to Scott an impossible score and he’ll play it perfectly adding that ‘Je ne sais quoi!’ that makes a Barnard bass-line. You’ll also find him playing the subtle harmonising trumpets in the background of ‘Silhouetted'”
Buster Birch: #1 Percussion
“He’s playing all over the world but he has time to put in gigs with us too. He’s the ultimate drummer who – as one person pointed out – ‘Can play slow and fast’.”
Luke Wastell: #2 Percussion
“Luke’s toured with us several times now and adds some Wastell spice to retro-sounding ‘Flattered’ on this latest album – in fact it was while we were touring in the Balkans that we set aside an afternoon in an artists’ ancient brick studio and asked Luke to play that distinctive retro snare sound.”
Natasha McDonald: Backing Vox
“She’s amazing – took time out from London shows to pour in some extra magic to five of the songs on ‘This is for You’. Her voice is incredibly versatile as one reviewer wrote, “a delight”.
Daniel Weatherley: Violin
“Usually found playing with Catherine in chamber quartets, Daniel came to join us for the recording of “This is for you”. Somehow we squeezed a “strings section” into the “Railway Carriage Studio”…
Catherine Brooker: Cello
“Friends from way back and now bringing her sound to this recording, classically trained Catherine is the heart of the string quartet easing into the title track. A most mellow cello.”
Pete Ringrose: Double Bass
“Pete’s a genius. So precise yet with a soul… From the lineup of our first tour, it’s something special to have him back for ‘This is for You’.”
PRESS RELEASE – for immediate release
– no champagne and music executives at this surprising CD launch.
On the 24th May, the eagerly awaited CD, ‘This is for you’ by the soulful, jazz-blues singer-song writer Andy Mayo will be released. Should we be shocked that this will not be a flashy red carpet affair?
The first concert of the “This is for you” tour is planned in an East UK prison – details are shrouded in secrecy due to security issues. After living for a decade in the war-battered Balkans, London–born Andy has seen the ‘rawer side’. Yet inspiring his music – Andy would say, even his life – is a belief that there is more to living than the passing realities that many take to be ‘the whole story’. This belief in ‘something greater’ echoes throughout the thirteen tracks on this beautifully crafted CD.
‘This is for you’ follows the success of the highly acclaimed previous album “Dreams of a Homecoming” and features ten musicians – each a show-stopper in their own right. From the melodic jazz sax soloist Nick Beston to the funk infused Stan Majerski; from the Gospel singer Natasha McDonald on backing vocals to the chamber musician Catherine Brooker on cello, these contrasting schools resonate together to form a harmonic whole in this stunning production.
“This is for You” is eclectic and yet wonderfully coherent: the sound hard to pigeon hole and yet intuitively making perfect musical sense… Andy gives a clarion call throughout this soul-stirring recording to a life of freedom and beauty – a life of fullness in personal relationship with a God He believes intimately cares for ordinary people – even to the point of dying for them in the person of Jesus Christ…
There will be an opportunity for those of us not living ‘at her majesty’s pleasure’ to experience, “This is for you” live. The first concert ‘on the outside’ will be at Oak Hall in Kent on the 1st June…
But as he prepares for the ‘Prison Premiere’, with no hint of irony, Andy explains, “Jesus’ message of life and salvation is for anyone who knows they cannot make their own way to freedom… “If you’re coming to such a point of realisation, ‘This is for you’”
And the crowds are pushing, bustling by: anonymous strangers thronging toward untold destinations – lives in their own personally-contained orbits. Some confused. Some ecstatic. Some limping towards a worrying tomorrow, others striding self-confidently ahead.
And the busker-man steps forward. He reaches out to touch your arm – to tear your attention away to another. And as the masses blindly march on, a voice whispers:
“This is for you.”
“Newly released by Andy Mayo on the Turquoise Tracks label, ‘Dreams of a Homecoming’. A fusion of funk, jazz and R&B: melting ballads contrast with driving rhythms. A lyrical poetry soaks the recording… Andy’s blues-folk vocal lines – now raw, now mellow – cut to the soul. These are songs that echo long after the CD has stopped spinning.
“Hauntingly melodic contributions from the versatile jazz saxophonist Nick Beston of “Take5” and “NBQ” complement the rich talent of Stan Mayerski on keyboards ranging from Hammond to Grand.
“Creative interplay between vocals, bass, drums, guitars, saxes, keyboards and sequencing – arrangements skilfully sculpted by Stan Mayersky – make for an imaginative, surprising recording.
“With an unlikely eclectic of influences ranging from Morcheeba to Bob Dylan; Tracey Chapman to Ronnie Jordon, these songs were written in the shelled remains of the former Yugoslav Republics where London-born Andy made his home for these last seven years. Against this stark background of civil war, bombings and deserted dwellings, a cry for peace and a homecoming stand out vividly.
“After a honing in the streets, bars, train stations and cafés of Belgrade, Vienna, Sarajevo and London, these passionate songs of longing and peace are finally available on CD.”
– press release on CD release –
Guitars, mandolin and vocals:
Keyboards and programming:
Stanislav Majerski (Whining of the brakes, Salvation Day)
Zoran Zivancevic (The Reason, Coming Home)
Additional Backing Vocals:
Jelena Djokic (Today, Coming Home)
Anita Adamek, Marjan Djoicinoski, Stanislav Majerski, Dule Martinov, Marija Martuljak, Ivan Zlatanovic (May the Lord Answer you)
Jazz ballads of the same ilk as Tracy Chapman and the like are combined with poetic lyrics on Andy Mayo’s impressive debut album. Against the backdrop of the war torn former Yugoslav Republics, where Andy spent the last seven years, Dreams… carries a message of hope and peace through all 13 tracks, from the melodic ballad ‘Today’ to the more upbeat funk of ‘The Reason’.
Best Track: ‘Pink House Peace’ – moving lyrics and soulful sax.
“Excellent. Original, spiritual, uplifting: the Message in a language and deep rhythms that we understand.” – Dominic, Wayland Prison
“What an evening! Positive, stirred, challenged. Roars and cheers and a standing ovation from a packed auditorium…” – Nick, Norfolk
…a long way from the introspective musings or stylised praise and worship of many independent releases. In fact, with contributions from jazz saxman Nick Beston (Take 5 and NBQ) and Stan Mayersky’s winning ways on Hammond and grand it’s jazz which colours many of the tracks here, though Andy wouldn’t claim to be an out-and-out jazzo.
What he is is a thoughtful observer of the carnival of life and whether he’s penning his observations of a shivering child in Belgrade (“Princess In The Park”), the quiet still voice of God (“Today”) or a hint of glory to come (“Dreams of A Homecoming”), Andy’s lyrics are decidedly poetic… his dry, world-weary voice suits the laid back mood of haunting poignancy perfectly.
These songs were written in the shelled remains of the former Yugoslav Republics where London-born Andy made his home for seven years. Yet despite the occasional bleak image his message is continually suffused with transcendent hope.
Learning to play the guitar at the age of twelve, the instrument quickly became part of my identity. The fret-board never far from my fingers, friends always turned to me for a song. Sade, Muddy Waters or Otis Reading-style songs were great atmosphere-builders and I loved to oblige a request for “a bit of music”.
Later, free weekends saw me at Oxford Circus Tube or playing in a club…
Jesus and my Life:
Parallel to my enjoyment of music but increasingly surpassing it was my experience of walking with Jesus Christ as my King and Saviour. At seventeen I started to write songs about Him with the purpose of communicating something more radical and revolutionary than simply a good vibe.
Friends unable to talk about such close-to-the-heart subjects would listen, enquire, cry, laugh and question the deepest themes when they came out of a song… some coming right to that place of responding to Jesus and experiencing that ultimate of homecomings.
University missions in cities such as Birmingham, Cardiff and London were good opportunities to take this message to a wider audience. During this time I met jazz saxophonist Nick Beston with whom I played a number of venues. His melodic solos complemented my compositions and his friendship and creativity inspired me to push the music further…
Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia:
My wife – Faye – and I moved to Serbia during a shocking period of that region’s history. But in partnership with local believers and under the auspices of Oak Hall, we began a mission course to facilitate the sending out of Serb, Croat and Bosnian missionaries to their own people.
We praise God for the opportunities that we have seen as over one hundred and fifty people have been with us for a year of study and outreach experience and then moved out to the mission fields around us. A team of twelve local people now work alongside us to lead this project.
During the last seven years in the Balkans, the music recorded on “Dreams of a Homecoming” has been written played and honed in places ranging from train stations to TV stations, theatres to beach bars…
Dreams of a Homecoming
The theme of “Homecoming” is a powerful one to me in the context of the destruction we have witnessed: wars, ethnic-cleansing, refugees and bombing.
But this theme is not one that is just for the Balkans: the world is full of those who dream of a homecoming.
As He explains in Luke 15, it was to bring us “home” that Jesus came.
In the insert of the CD I wrote:
“A longing for a homecoming fills countless people’s hearts: a yearning for peace…”
My prayer is simply that this album would communicate about Jesus – the Prince of Peace – the One who died to bring us home.
– Andy 01/05/03