Tom Challenger – sax
Ross Stanley – organ
Dave Smith – drums
Matt Calvert – electronics

In Just a few short years Ma have carved out a reputation as one of the most interesting of a new wave of electro-jazz outfits. Led by Redsnapper/Outhouse saxophonist, Tom Challenger, an improviser and composer who has been described by Jazzwise as ‘mature beyond his years’ and influenced by the likes of Burial and Supersilent, MA features fellow Loop collective collaborator, drummer Dave Smith, organist Ross Stanley as well as long term friend and collaborator Matt Calvert on electronics. Within a setting of dubby beats and drones, Ma utilise deceptively simple themes as a launch pad for music that is hugely atmospheric but full of powerful improvisation and unexpected textures.

Their latest album ‘The Last’ is a culmination of 18 months work combining improv, electronics, live sampling, and synths into their new music. In the process their music has become simplified, with predominantly improvised shows moving slowly between pre- prepared material, during which the band reposition the boundaries of the ‘sonic’ worlds that currently exist within jazz and improvised music. Drawing on dark, abstract dub sound worlds, Ma’s musical process moves beyond the scope of most jazz-electronica projects towards something compelling, cohesive and highly individual. Fiercely interactive, the band contribute ideas simultaneously as compositions are deconstructed, developed and reformed. In turn, this inspires passages of interweaving group improvisation that produce thematic elements that are then subjected to the same processes.

The music draws from a mutual interest of many styles, as well as exposure to numerous projects. Growing up on the vibrant jazz scene in London in the noughties the members of MA have a deep respect for a wide range of music, whether old or new. This persistent attitude feeds the music that the band makes – described as if “early Tony Williams’ Lifetime was jamming Messiaenʼs organ works with Fennesz, Deathprod, Lee Perry and Coltrane.” With members of groups such as Redsnapper, Three Trapped Tigers, Outhouse (+ Ruhabi), The Loop Collective, and Nostalgia 77, itʼs not surprising that Tom Challengerʼs intoxicating, heady, often Messiaen-inspired material is subject to such a multi-pronged interpretation. Amongst the albums many highlights are the roaring freejazz meets bass music ʻPipesʼ; The breaks, drones and searing stabs of ʻDumpʼ; the big organ-driven sound world of the title track and the dark, dubby, underworldly sounds of Noir.