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Tobie Medland’s ‘The Aviary’

Doors 7:45 PM, Music 8:30 PM – 2 set(s) of music



Tobie Medland – Violin

Sol Grimshaw – Acoustic guitar

Bim Williams – Electric guitar

Sam Leak – Piano

Tom Smith – Clarinet

Kit Massey – Violin

Helen Sanders-Hewitt – Viola

Shirley Smart – Cello

Marcus Penrose – Double bass



Originally founded as a quartet, violinist Tobie Medland’s ‘The Aviary’ grew to include several heavyweights of British Jazz following the success of their debut record ‘Apparitions’. Featuring Sam Leak on piano, Tom Smith on clarinet, and a string section of Kit Massey, Helen Sanders-Hewett and Shirley Smart, the ensemble’s new sound is rich, complex, and full of twists and turns.

‘The Aviary’ aims to transport the listener to a world overrun by fantastical species of birds. As well as representing the personalities and individual tales of these strange avians, it is also an exploration of the mystery of finding oneself in this world.

During the Covid-19 lockdowns Tobie found a love for cycling to far away places. It was during these cycles that their adoration of birds really arose. These adventures were a driving force in coming to terms with recent bereavements, as well as a way of coping with the lockdowns. ‘The Aviary’ acts as a metaphor for similar themes of loss, rebirth, and escapism.

Rooted in a contemporary spin on gypsy jazz, the ensemble are influenced by 20th Century Classical composers Shostakovich, Debussy and Bartok as well as the likes of Joe Pass, Django Rheinhardt, and Joe Henderson. Juxtaposing atonality, free improvisation, and darkness with jovial melodies, driving swung grooves and bright harmony, their immersive world presents an undeniably fresh perspective on an underappreciated genre.

The Aviary are a rare voice in the UK: Queer-led, drumless arrangements, driving rhythms, soaring melodies and atonal soundscapes support virtuosic but tasteful group improvisation and characterful performances. Ever future facing, the quartet offer a fresh, distinctive, dark and unmistakably modern sound.


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