Emma-Jean Thackray: Everything will flow

For the horn player, breath is everything. From the plaintive, drawn out notes of Miles Davis’ trumpet, to Don Cherry’s ecstatic squeals and Armstrong’s scat, it is the vital force behind their improvised sound. But for trumpeter and producer Emma-Jean Thackray, the past year has been spent fighting to regain hers.

“I breathe for a living, so I thought I knew everything I could about it, until I got Covid,” she says. Speaking softly with a hint of her native Yorkshire in her accent, we are meeting on the hottest day of the year so far, in the garden of a favourite local south London café. As the sun bounces off her orange coat and tortoiseshell glasses, Thackray explains how she contracted coronavirus as the UK went into lockdown in March 2020, leaving her with breath control issues for eight months. “It was really worrying – I remember doing a session for the band Squid where they wanted me to hold a single note for three minutes and it felt like my lungs were on fire,” she says. “My album is also a vocal one, so we had to really pace ourselves with the takes to get it all done.”

Read the interview in Crack magazine.

[This piece was published on 20/07/21]