On February 8th, pianist, producer and composer Mark de Clive-Lowe will release his new album Heritage via Ropeadope. For the half-Japanese half-New Zealander who calls Los Angeles home, Heritage is a deeply personal exploration of de Clive-Lowe’s ancestry and cultural roots. “ Heritage is the idea of transmitting from the past to the future – knowing more about who we are and where we’re going by understanding where we come from,” he says. “It’s about identity and one’s place in the world.”
“I was raised bi-culturally and as time goes on, the more I appreciate how much I owe to my roots,” de Clive-Lowe continues. “Japan is my spiritual and ancestral home – the connection I feel there is so visceral and has shaped much of my life, largely without me even being fully aware of its influence. This music is me openly embracing and interpreting what Japan means, feels like and sounds like to me.” De Clive-Lowe is somewhat of a musical chameleon – as comfortable on the grand piano in a jazz club as he is multi-tasking electronics and live beats for a dancefloor.
Like his peers Kamasi Washington, Makaya McCraven and Robert Glasper, de Clive-Lowe isn’t content to simply play the jazz lane and he purposefully reaches across a broad palette of genres and influences to create something quite unlike anything else. “I grew up on a mix of jazz, hip-hop and electronic music, so there’s always all these different sounds in my head,” de Clive-Lowe explains. “Some sounds can be expressed on conventional instruments, some need machines and I’ve developed a hybrid setup to facilitate all of that when I perform. Adding my own cultural story – allowing myself to reflect on and really show my ancestry and roots – feels like I’ve found the missing piece to my own identity and artistry.”
The music reflects his own experiences in Japan (“Memories of Nanzenji” recollecting his visit to the historic Kyoto temple and gardens), the samurai code (“Bushidō” – “The Way of the Warrior”), childhood folk songs (“Akatombo” – an arrangement of a traditional melody as ubiquitous to Japanese people as Twinkle Twinkle is in the west), and more.
Heritage was recorded live at LA’s Blue Whale jazz club over three nights, as well as one day in a North Hollywood studio. Exactly where the live recording stops and the studio recording starts is all but impossible to tell, with de Clive-Lowe editing the material to purposely blur that line. “The way I incorporate technology is always live – capturing and manipulating moments as they happen in real time – so this record was never about post-production, how you hear it on the album is how it happens live on stage.”
De Clive-Lowe will play Heritage live on January 12th at SOB’s in Manhattan for Winter Jazzfest , and on February 8th and 9th at the Blue Whale in Los Angeles. Heritage is the first in a two part project. Heritage II will be unveiled in April 2019.
1. The Offering
3. Memories of Nanzenji 4. Mizugaki
7. Asa no Yume
(Mark de Clive-Lowe Picture by Renae Wootson)