Jazzlines Recording Sessions in Symphony Hall

Jazzlines is a unique programme of creative jazz music and Talent Development initiatives based at Town Hall and Symphony Hall that offer opportunities to emerging and established Birmingham-based contemporary jazz musicians.

Working alongside a thriving community and venues across the city, Jazzlines commissions cutting-edge new work and offers support to continually develop young emerging jazz musicians across the city.

Earlier in September, Ashley Allen and Wilkins / Harris recorded at Symphony Hall, filling the beautiful hall with their music.

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Photo: Pete Wakelam Sloan 

Currently teaching at Birmingham City University at Access Creative College, Ashley Allen  holds over 15 years of experience in the performing arts industry as a professional musician and private workshop/piano instructor. He has had the pleasure of working, recording and playing with many notable musical industry figures such as Gregory Porter, Aynsley Lister, Julie Dexter and Omar.

Ashley Allen also performed at The Jam House as part of Jazzlines alongside his sextet. They performed classic jazz and soul, as well as original material from his latest EP ‘Dreaming’.  

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Photo: Pete Wakelam Sloan 

It’s difficult to summarise the feeling of recording in a building that has the finest acoustics in the United Kingdom, however, the word surreal is one which best fits the consistent feeling I felt during the process. I remember watching Wynton Marsalis perform there in 2012 and walking away with a sense of achievement that I had finally been inside the main auditorium of Symphony Hall to witness a concert. To make use of the main auditoriums total acoustics for a personal project is far beyond what I would have ever expected six years ago. Recording in this venue brought out the best of myself and the other musicians I recorded with, and I am thoroughly grateful to have been presented this opportunity. I hope that the music I release encourages others to push beyond their own expectations and realise that there are no limits to success.

Ashley Allen

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Photo: Pete Wakelam Sloan 

Wilkins/Harris are a captivating piano-vocal duo, combining original music, re-worked jazz standards and short interludes to create mesmerising wordless landscapes, virtuosic improvisation and heartfelt songs. They performed at Symphony Hall’s café-bar as part of Jazzlines’ free gigs initiative.

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Photo: Pete Wakelam Sloan 

It was a privilege and a delight to record in the beautiful space of Symphony Hall. It provided a stunning acoustic for our upcoming EP, which we’re really excited to share with you. We’re so grateful to Jazzlines for giving us this opportunity, and look forward to see what they do with Symphony Hall next.

Becca Wilkins

Jazzlines also runs a yearly non-residential Summer School which provides an entry point to young, aspiring musicians aged between 11 and 19 based in and around Birmingham for free. From developing their skills with professional musicians to socialising and creating music with fellow young musicians, this year’s Summer School 2018 saw professional trumpet and bass player Percy Pursglove and professional vocalist and songwriter Sara Colman share their knowledge and expertise to a group of young, aspiring musicians.

With an aim to offer a platform to musicians in and around Birmingham, and a programme to truly represent Birmingham’s jazz scene, THSH Jazzlines Manager Mary Wakeham Sloan said:

Offering opportunities to record in a world class venue is something Jazzlines feel privileged to enable and Symphony Hall offers an incredible acoustic setting for talented jazz musicians in the city to utilise. We are very much looking forward to hearing the new music recorded and anticipate continuing to provide these valuable chances for gifted musicians to use one of world best concert halls situated in the heart of their city.

The Jazzlines Talent Development and Concert Programme is managed by Mary Wakelam Sloan (Jazzlines Manager) with support from Tony Dudley-Evans (Jazzlines Advisor)  and Rohit Jepegnanam (Programming Assistant).

Jazzlines is also offering a Half Term Jazz Sessions project following the success of their Summer Schools, which you can read more here.

You can keep up to date with upcoming Jazzlines by following them on Twitter and more gigs by following Town Hall Symphony Hall on Twitter and Facebook.