Zoe back on home turf

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Chichester-born Mercury-nominated jazz pianist Zoe Rahman returns to her home city for a date coinciding with the release of her latest album.

Zoe plays the Minerva Theatre on January 27, just a few days after Kindred Spirits comes out, her first album for three years.

The tracks offer a combined portrait of her English, Irish and Bengali heritage, featuring her brother Idris on clarinet alongside her regular jazz trio partners, plus a special guest appearance by Courtney Pine.

“We actually made the album in February but it takes such a long time for it to come out, the whole process of getting the cover, mixing it and mastering and everything. Musically I have moved on a bit since I recorded it, so it will be great to go back to it for the tour.

“All my albums are just reflections of where I am musically at that point in time. The album is just a collection of tracks that I have been playing with my band for a couple of years or that I have written specifically for the album. We did a live album just before it, just tracks from a live gig, but this one was back to the studio.”

Zoe recorded it after touring Ireland in a year that happened to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the birth of Bengali writer, musician, artist and Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore. Both things filter through.

“My mother’s mother was Irish, and I have always been curious about that side of my roots,” says Zoe - just as she has always been curious about her Bengali roots on her father’s side.

“I was born and brought up in Chichester. I love coming back to Chichester. I love seeing old friends. I went to Bishop Luffa.”

Her mum was a GP and her dad ran adult education at Chichester College. Her parents have since retired to London.

“They bought a piano for a tenner apparently. They put it in the back room. My older sister started playing, and I followed. My brother started as well, and they could see that we had some musical talent. They also took us to concerts and gigs.

“The career chose me really. I could not really have gone away from it. It’s just something that I love doing and that I am good at.

“When we were in Ireland, my brother and I were surprised at all the music that was going on in the pubs, people performing and singing songs, and there was a real connection for us. We looked at each other and thought ‘Maybe we are Irish after all!’”