Surface Tension is a quartet project from drummer and composer Luke Bainbridge - its self-titled debut album was released in October 2021. Inspired by the dynamic relationship between composition and improvisation, Surface Tension explores different forms of musical storytelling - from large-scale journeys, to angular ritualistic loops, to multi-geared solo-coaster rides. In an eclectic mix of styles, this project is influenced as much by Béla Bartók as it is by James Brown.
Luke’s debut album presents the latest line-up of Surface Tension (Kieran McLeod on trombone, Ralph Wyld on vibes and Huw V Williams on bass), born out of the recent pandemic restrictions. Living locally to one another, the band were able to rehearse safely outdoors at a social distance. This period not only deepened the project's strong roots in groove and contemporary classical music, but also took exciting new steps into the world of free improvisation. Culminating in a set of original music, the band went into ‘the shed’ to record on the 8th October 2020, which was mixed and mastered by Sam Baldwin at Town Studios. Coming on the heels of this debut release, and a run of launch gigs, this exciting new quartet is set to make an impression within the UK music scene.
“what characterises all the tracks is the complex and shifting approach to rhythm that comes from Bainbridge’s intricate compositions.” Peter Slavid – London Jazz News
“the standard of the playing is exceptional throughout and the level of interaction impressive, with Bainbridge subtly directing procedures from the drums.” Ian Mann – The Jazz Mann
“Bainbridge, a winner of the John Dankworth prize for composition in 2017, favours angular yet snappy contemporary grooves and plays great alongside the fine Chaos Collective bassist Huw V Williams…a promising debut.” Selwyn Harris – Jazzwise Magazine
“a young jazzer who is definitely going places…[Surface Tension] is stunning” Martin Powell - Jazz Scene BCB 106.5 Radio
“a mature debut…and a CD vying for album cover of the year” Pete Butchers - Jazz Today Cambridge 105 Radio
The quality of the performance from each of the musicians is quite outstanding, due in part to the high levels of their intercommunication and collaboration…Bainbridge’s arrangements have also played a large part in managing a fluctuating, multifaceted slant to the rhythmic framework. The album, short as it is, carries an individual, distinct and identifiable voice and it has to be that of Luke Bainbridge. Ken Cheetham - Jazz Views
In June 2022, Luke reached the semifinals of the 7 Virtual Jazz Club Contest, with two music videos Surface Tension (synoptic album video), and U-Turn (full-length music video). See more here.
In December 2021 Luke was interviewed by Miami-based drummer Luke Martin about the process of creating Surface Tension. Listen to the full podcast episode here:
As a band project, Surface Tension has been developing over several years, with the title composition dating from summer 2017. Forged from a desire to combine his work as a composer and drummer, Luke’s first steps as a bandleader have been guided by invaluable mentors, during his studies in Birmingham, Saskatoon (Canada) and London. As the project has evolved in line-up and repertoire, the concept has been profoundly influenced by each musician involved along the way. To all these mentors and musicians, Luke is eternally grateful, as well as to every supporter of the project - be those fellow creatives, fans, family, or friends.
Live at 606 Club
In November 2019, Surface Tension presented its debut set at the 606 Club, featuring Sam Norris on alto sax, Billy Marrows on guitar, Lukas DeRungs on piano and Harry Pearce on bass. Highlights of the gig can be seen here, recorded by Fellipe Baldauf and filmed by Owen Diplock.
In January 2018, the band (Sam Norris on alto sax, Wilbur Whitta on piano, and Seth Tackaberry on bass) teamed up with Brazilian sound engineer Fellipe Baldauf to record a 3-track EP at the University of West London.
EP - Sketches from Saskatoon