I had the pleasure of talking with Jools Holland, an exceptional pianist, composer, bandleader and TV presenter (a mere few of the hats he wears) not forgetting a great sense of humour, for Music-News.com, about his upcoming album, Pianola. Piano & Friends and his extensive tour.

Morning Jools, it’s lovely to interview you and thanks for your time. How are you?

It’s a pleasure and thank you. I am driving up the A1 on my way to Nottingham from Stoke.

I’d like to ask you about your new album, Pianola. Piano & friends, set to be released on 19 November 2021, which is a tribute to your best friend - your piano and friends of friends. Could you tell me about it, as your grandmother Rosie played the pianola and this is how you began learning?

She had a pianola in her front living room, which we would gather round, my uncle played boogie woogie on it, people would ring the doorbell, you know friends, maybe the police (both laughing).

The piano is an extraordinary thing, not only it is the last thing you buy nowadays, that you probably give to your children or grandchildren – it will outlive you sort of thing, because it’s played most importantly by all of those people that come before you in your family, it has a very strong resonance and also in my case I wouldn’t be talking to you now or driving from Stoke to Nottingham or having my work, if it wasn’t for the piano, specifically that piano I started on. So, the last song on the album is called Pianola and that’s what it’s about really.

The lineup is on your new album is impressive, Lang Lang, Ruby Turner, Gregory Porter, Tom Jones etc is a real showstopper, how did it come about?

What I realise is that the amazing thing is that the piano becomes whatever you want it to be (agreeing).

I hope when I play it, it sounds like me whether you like that or don’t like that it doesn’t matter, you realise that the piano is the root of a lot of stuff. I also thought that people don’t do instrumental records anymore and there are so many great people that play instrumentally.

That’s what is was about, collecting some of those people and putting together with my piano sound, my styling, their styling so you’ve got Herbie Hancock, Jamie Callum, great saxophonists, trombonists, all these different instrumentalists and including the human voice, that is a human instrument, but it’s not overwhelmed with that, representing that is Tom Jones, Gregory Porter. The female voice is Ruby Turner and Ayanna Witter-Johnson, but it is unusual and challenging but I am really pleased with it.

What was your favourite part of producing this album?

Nitin Sawhney is the great fellow that produced it and I spent quite a lot of time in his studio and I enjoyed the fact that he was an great enabler of whatever you think of he was able to musically conjure up understood when I would I would refer to an idea, he would then be able to make that into something much more tangible and attractive.

With the song, The Piano for instance, he thought it would be really nice with strings on this so he puts some synthetic ones on to try and he wrote it out and two days later the lovely string quartet is there.

Whatever you are imagining, he can turn it into a soundscape.

You have an extensive tour underway, what can we expect, your spontaneity and any surprise guests?

We have Lulu, next month Vic Reeves is coming out with us and of course Ruby Turner who is the powerhouse. Louise Marshall is there and Lucita Jules, it’s really packed solid with wonderful stuff. Will your brother Chris be there? Yes he’ll be joining us.

You have Hootenanny on the horizon, are there any hints on what we can expect?

Yes we have and I think that you can expect a frenzied confusion and I hope that we’ll have some guests (both laughing).

Thank you for your time Jools and I wish you the best of luck for your tour and the new album release.

Thank you too. Bye.