911 Blue (For George)

By: Nick Etwell
Produced By: Nick Etwell
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"After watching the awful footage of George Floyd’s murder I, like so many others felt overwhelmingly shocked and sickened to my stomach. I found myself sitting down at the piano and playing the Blues, which felt like the only way I could process what I’d just seen. I started playing around with some minor chords back and forth and the opening phrase of the tune came out. That became the main melody and the form began to take shape fairly quickly. I went for a walk to try and make sense of both the news and my thoughts, going back to the tune in my head, eventually formulating a possible bridge. I spent the afternoon working on it and by the evening it was finished. I felt the urge to share it as the whole thing had had such a powerful effect on me, and this felt like the only way to express how I was feeling. I uploaded a video of me playing the tune on piano onto social media and didn’t think I’d do much more with it than that. But I kept thinking about George and all the other people who’d lost their lives at the hands of the Police like this and began to think about the possibility of trying to use it to help in some small way, and the idea came of releasing the tune to raise money for the Black Lives Matter Global Network. A few months later I went to visit Simon (our drummer) at his home studio and we laid down a rough demo of what would later become the final Quartet version. We recorded it with me on piano at first but I soon realised I wanted to get a proper pianist on board to do it justice. I wasn’t sure who to ask initially but whilst watching Bill Laurance play his livestream set from Ronnie Scott’s for the online London Jazz Festival last year I knew I had to ask him. I’d met Bill with Snarky Puppy a few times over the years and he’s a great guy and a wonderful musician. I called him up, sent over the demo and was excited he was up for coming on board. We used the bones of the demo for Bill to add his take, and although i’d originally planned to redo the Trumpet part there was something about the fragility and emotion of that first, unintended pass that I couldn’t quite match second time around, so we kept it. Bill’s playing is sublime as always, he really adds something so poignant and beautiful to this tune I couldn’t have wished for anything better. And some lovely and supportive playing from Simon and Dan (on bass) helped form the base from which Bill is able to showcase his undoubted talents. This tune was born out of the most terrible tragedy, but we hope that any money we can raise for the ongoing cause of racial equality in our society can help show that George Floyd, and the far too long list of so many other victims of oppression by official bodies, have not died in vain.  -Words from Nick Etwell on “911 Blue (For George)”

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