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Andy Kinsman - award-winning portrait painter (works have included Clive Morton, Beth Rowley, Shirley Williams and members of Kasabian) and saxophonist for the likes of Clare Teal, Beth Rowley, Noel Gallagher and Nick himself.  Nick interviews Andy in May 2010 at his home in Bristol.


Nick Langston with an exclusive interview with the award-winning portrait painter and respected jazz saxophonist.



There’s a dichotomy of modern living where we all have access to more and more interests and activities yet we are increasingly defined purely on the basis of one thing – our hobby, our job, our marital status, our favourite supermarket.  The question, ‘What do you do?’ is only allowed to have one answer but is much too narrow for the likes of Andy Kinsman who I have heard described as a jazz saxophonist, a portrait painter and a favourite amongst the ladies (the last isn’t really a job, more of an occupational hazard).


For anyone with even a passing interest in Bristol ’s excellent jazz, latin and funk scene, Andy Kinsman will be known to you as the smooth saxophonist with the great melodies, often seen at The Coronation Tap, El Puerto, The Old Duke and Bristol ’s other cool jazz locations. 


However, I remember the first time he showed me some of his portrait work and the complete disbelief I had at the outstanding quality of it.  He refers to it as ‘hyper-realism’ and its photographic quality and attention to detail is incredible.  However, he is aware of the danger that whilst the viewer can perhaps admire the skill of the work, that in itself does not make it a good painting.  His most recent works have had settings which are less ‘hyper-realistic’ whether it is himself dressed as a clown juggling bubbles or the recent paintings he has been working on based on photographs he took of Kasabian (whose trumpet player is Andy’s good friend Gary Alesbrook).


I was dismayed to learn that he once sold a saxophone to pay the rent and surprised that he did not really start playing until he was 25. I ask him how he got into it. 


“I just loved the sound of it and the fact that its like a voice which makes every sax player sound different.”


Anyone who has heard Andy play will know that he focuses on melody rather than just hitting as many notes as he can.  I ask him whether its talent or practice and he admits that he probably doesn’t practice enough.  This, however, doesn’t seem to be the opinion of the people he works with who admire his ability to complement music rather than blow all over it. This is the kind of skill that can’t really be taught and which has led to him being one of the saxophonists of choice for everything from cool jazz to hard funk where feel and timing is everything; Andy has even been asked to join Gary Alesbrook on Noel Gallagher’s new album.


We chat about the similarities and differences of his creative pursuits.  He explains his love of music and the social side of the Bristol jazz community but feels there is something ultimately ephemeral about performing live that doesn’t match the satisfaction of seeing a painting develop and being able to look at the finished product. 


In an attempt to get him to put himself in his own pigeon-hole I ask him the desert island question:  his painting stuff or his saxophone?


He pauses. “My painting stuff,” he says after great consideration, “but it would be a difficult choice.”


This doesn’t diminish his love of music and Andy, not being happy with his current achievements, is now learning piano – a skill he is already confident enough to demonstrate at some of the jams around Bristol .  Saxophonist, painter, pianist – he’d be really annoying if he wasn’t such a nice bloke.