Jazz/beat-master and co-founder of L.A. (now national) club night Church, Mark de Clive-Lowe comes from an international background, growing up in New Zealand with a Japanese mother and Kiwi father where he was first inspired by Tokyo jazz. He gained notoriety in London as a BRUK producer and musician until 2008, and now exploring his Japanese roots after releasing a jazz EP, “Live at the Blue Whale,” recorded at the Little Tokyo/Bronzeville jazz club in sowntown L.A., saluting his heroes Yusef Lateef, Sun Ra and Ahmad Jamal.
“Heritage” is de Clive-Lowe’s upcoming album, releasing on Feb. 8 via Ropeadope. Produced and largely composed by de Clive-Lowe, it was recorded at the Blue Whale and also NRG Studios in L.A. over several dates last year. It’s the first in a two-part series (“Heritage II” is set for release in April), featuring de Clive-Lowe (piano, rhodes, synths, live electronics and programming), Josh Johnson (alto sax and flute; Leon Bridges/Esperanza Spalding), Teodross Avery (tenor sax for a couple tracks; Talib Kweli/Mos Def), Brandon Eugene Owens (bass; Terrace Martin/Robert Glasper), Carlos Niño (percussion; Build An Ark/Lifeforce Trio) and Brandon Combs (drums; Moses Sumney/Iman Omari).
“I grew up on a mix of jazz, hip-hop and electronic music, so there’s always all these different sounds in my head,” says de Clive-Lowe, “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.”
His new single, “Memories of Nanzenji,” is a shimmery, thoughtful east-west contemplation, inspired by his visit to the historic Zen Buddhist temple and gardens in Kyoto. “I was raised bi-culturally and as time goes on, the more I appreciate how much I owe to my roots,” says de Clive-Lowe, “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. …
“‘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. It’s about identity and one’s place in the world.”
||| Stream: “Memories of Nanzenji”
||| Live: Mark de Clive-Lowe will play live at the Blue Whale on Feb 8 and 9. Tickets
||| Also: Stream the song here: