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The Jazzlines Month - July 2014

Last month we were delighted to welcome the Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra (JALC) to Symphony Hall, and two members of the group Victor Goines and Chris Crenshaw generously gave their time to lead an inspirational workshop and masterclass with our Jazzlines Ensemble.

Clearly impressed by the Ensemble, Victor and Chris complimented them on their improvisation in particular before inviting the young musicians to join JALC on stage in Symphony Hall for their soundcheck.

This was also watched by invited students from Birmingham Music Service Ensembles and Birmingham Conservatoire who then took part in an insightful Q&A session with JALC members.

The Ensemble later gave a performance in Symphony Hall Cafe Bar, before the JALC concert that evening, which was warmly received by a good audience, including orchestra members Victor Goines and Ted Nash.

This weekend we showcased a selection of great new projects on The Jazzlines Stage to thousands of music fans at Mostly Jazz Funk & Soul Festival in Moseley Park.

The day began with a Jazzlines Kids Workshop (lead image above) led by trumpet player Matt Gough, introducing young festival fans to the double bass, the trumpet and the blues and in an hour learnt a tune together through singing and dancing! Then, on stage, we were proud to present the young musicians from the Jazzlines Ensemble who have grown in confidence and ability and were tackling some advanced jazz tunes learnt by ear including Nostalgia in Time Square and Monk tune Played Twice.

We also had fantastic fusion funk jazz band REED which features some great players from the Birmingham gospel and jazz scene.

The focus for us this year was on new projects which included Ben Markland’s Ortet, Sara Colman’s Brazilian Project and a highlight of the day new band TROPE. Led by pianist Andy Bunting this new super group of young Birmingham players includes Jonathan Silk (BBC Performing Arts Fellow 2013 and Young Scottish Jazz Musician 2014), Nick Jurd (Soweto Kinch), Sam Wooster (UUOO Music) and London based vocalist Cherise Adams-Burnett.

TROPE’s re-working of Stevie Wonder tunes are sophisticated re-harmonisations blending a jazz sensibility, a gutsy rhythm section and the unique and beautiful trumpet playing of Sam alongside the powerful vocals of Cherise. Headlining the stage on Sunday evening was the ever vibrant Young Pilgrims, delighted to return following their premiere as a band at last year’s festival it was a fantastic homecoming for them to play to around 2000 people on the start of their UK tour.

This was the first gig of their Jazzlines supported mini-tour this July, which will also include festival sets in Manchester and Glasgow. We’re really pleased to see this band, which started as a Jazzlines commission for Mostly Jazz in 2013, returning for a headline slot and developing a national profile with slots as some great festivals across the UK. This certainly isn’t the last you’ll hear from them!

Then after a busy start to July, we’ve got a quiet few weeks to prepare for next month’s Jazzlines Summer School to which we’ve had a great response, receiving lots of great applications.

Working in partnership with Birmingham Conservatoire, we’re really looking forward to welcoming these young musicians next month for what promises to be a really enjoyable week of workshops and performances.

The course is led by our highly experienced lead tutors Percy Pursglove and Sara Colman and alongside a strong team of support musicians they’re going to be joined by Head of the Conservatoire’s Jazz Course Jeremy Price and guest tutors Shabaka Hutchings, Nikki Illes, Nick Smart, Emilia Martensson and Jean Toussaint throughout the week. We’re really pleased to have such a great team of tutors this year and the young musicians will really benefit from working with such an experienced group.

We can’t wait to hear the results in the final showcase concert which will take place in Symphony Hall Cafe Bar between 4pm and 5pm on Friday 8 August. It’s a free performance so please do come along to hear Birmingham’s next generation of jazz musicians.

– Mary Wakelam Sloan, Jazzlines Programme Manager and Phil Woods, Project Manager (Jazzlines Education)

Images: Mary Wakelam Sloan, Phil Woods and Lyle Bignon