The Jazzlines Month - September 2014

Talent development plays a huge part in our work at Jazzlines and creates a synergy between our programming and our education work.

This month we look back to a very successful first tour for Young Pilgrims, who over 6 dates across the UK including major jazz festival dates reached audiences of over 5000, are now set to perform at a three day residency at London Jazz Festival in November.

Following their debut on the Jazzlines stage at Mostly Jazz Funk & Soul Festival pianist and arranger Andy Bunting leads his band TROPE supporting Kris Bowers at the Hare & Hounds on Monday 17 November.

Read about Kris Bowers, Partisans, Takuya Kuroda and Strobes at the Hare & Hounds

It was a complete pleasure to watch and listen to the young musicians at the Jazzlines Summer School in August. The next generation of jazz musicians, audiences, producers and teachers were introduced to the life affirming delight of the music through some expert tuition from the Jazzlines creative team. This continued last week when many of those participants joined us again for the first Jazzlines Ensemble session in the café bar area of Symphony Hall.

Plans are set to further expand this free provision for the young jazz musicians of the city with the addition of a vocal group led by tutor Sara Colman.

We launched a new season of the ever popular Jazzlines Free Gigs last week with the Tim Amann XTet which enjoyed a huge and very welcoming audience. The gig was made extra special by an impromptu guest performance by much loved local saxophonist Chris Bowden. From all of us – it’s great to see you back Chris!

We look forward to a vocal weekend, beginning on Friday 17 October with two concerts. First up is Birmingham based vocalist Anthony Marsden at the Jazzlines Free Sessions in Symphony Hall Cafe Bar at 5pm, followed immediately after by the premiere of outgoing Jazzlines FellowPercy Pursglove’s new work Far Reaching Dreams of Mortal Souls featuring jazz octet and choir at the CBSO Centre (8pm).

On Saturday 18 October, vocalist Nia Lynn performs at the morning Musical Picnic event in Symphony Hall Café Bar and following that a Jazzlines Ensemble workshop with Roger Treece and Nikki Franklin. On Saturday evening we present a double bill: Sara Colman Quintet and the London Vocal Project with Roger Treece at the CBSO Centre (8pm).

– Mary Wakelam Sloan, Jazzlines Programme Manager

Kenny Wheeler, 14 January 1930 – 18 September 2014

We were very sad to hear of the passing of Kenny Wheeler last week; we had heard that he was unwell but his actual death came as a great shock.

Kenny came originally from Canada, but made London his home in the 1950s. He rapidly became a major figure in British jazz, working with various groups led by John Dankworth, in free jazz settings with John Stevens, Evan Parker and Derek Bailey and with the Azimuth trio with John Taylor and Norma Winstone. He also toured internationally with groups led by Anthony Braxton, the free jazz big band The Globe Unity Orchestra and the jazz rock big band The United Jazz and Rock Ensemble. It was, however, with his own groups, both small and large, that he began to lead from the late 1960s that he made his greatest impact. Albums such as Windmill Tilter, Song for Someone, Gnu High, Deer Wa, Music for Large and Small Ensembles and Angel Song rank amongst the finest jazz albums of the last 50 years.

Kenny Wheeler, performing as part of the United Jazz + Rock Ensemble in 1992. Image: Krajazz

There was something very distinctive about both Kenny’s writing for the groups and his solos on trumpet and flugelhorn; there was a gentleness and a lyricism that somehow reflected his character. His style was always clear and relaxed, and avoided the pyrotechnics that are sometimes associated with the trumpet in jazz. In this he acknowledged an influence from the American trumpeter Booker Little, a player who had a more introspective approach to soloing.

One of my greatest and warmest memories of Kenny Wheeler is the concert in which we matched him up with the American trumpeter Dave Douglas, who also acknowledges an interest in and influence from Booker Little. This was on Dave Douglas’ first tour of UK and took place at the Custard Factory in Birmingham in the mid-Nineties.

Needless to say, it was a very special event with Kenny and Dave gradually getting to know each other, both musically and socially, and producing one of those great one-off and unique occasions that remain in the memory forever.

– Tony Dudley-Evans, Jazzlines Adviser