BBC Prom 28 - A night to remember with NYJOS
The Pepper Street Orchestra: Iain Ballamy saxophones | Emilia Mårtensson voice | Kit Downes piano | Stian Carstensen accordion, banjo, pedal steel | Matthew Sharpe cello
Commissioned to celebrate the 20th Manchester Jazz Festival and the 10th Manchester Literature Festival, the festivals have joined forces to commission a unique, multi-media performance. Combining words, music and visual art/film to mesmerising effect, created by three established and critically acclaimed artists: musician Iain Ballamy, poet Matthew Sweeney and artist and film maker Dave McKean
Irish poet and storyteller, Sweeney’s poems for this piece are inspired by time spent in Manchester absorbing and reflecting on its people and places. McKean is an illustrator, photographer, comic book artist and filmmaker. Past collaborators have included Richard Dawkins, Alice Cooper, Neil Gaiman, Tori Amos and Michael Nyman.
Words and music are brought to life by an exceptional international group of musicians, including the dazzling Norwegian virtuoso Stian Carstensen, the pure-toned Swedish vocalist Emilia Mårtensson and the British Mercury contender and keyboard maestro Kit Downes playing against a stunning visual backdrop created by McKean.
Supported by The Foyle Foundation, The Granada Foundation and Arts Council England. Presented in association with Manchester Jazz Festival, Manchester Literature Festival and RNCM.
Manchester Jazz Festival - 6th August, Royal Northern College of Music
Manchester Literature Festival - 22nd October, Whitworth Gallery
Iain will be the soloist for Richard Rodney Bennett's 'Concerto for Stan Getz' with the BBC Concert Orchestra, conducted by Keith Lockhart, on Sunday 22nd March, 2015, at the Queen Elizabeth Hall.
Bennett's 1990 Concerto was never performed by Stan Getz who sadly died shortly after it was completed.
Read Sebastian Scotney's interview with Iain, in London Jazz News, about the piece and when, as a lad, he met Stan Getz at Ronnie Scott's.
BBC Radio 3 commissioned new pieces from the band's composers Chris Batchelor, Steve Berry, Eddie Parker and Django Bates. These new commissions were recorded at Ronnie Scott's alongside a selection of old favourites. If you missed the broadcast for Jazz on 3 along with an interview by Jez Nelson you can listen again here.
Catch Loose Tubes on 8th August, 2014 for a final get together at Brecon Jazz Festival.
Iain celebrated his 50th birthday at Kings Place, London, with his acclaimed quartet 'Anorak' and the premiere performance of his new supersized septet 'Anorak XL'. Presented by Julian Joseph the event was recorded for BBC Radio 3's Jazz Line-Up and broadcast on 17th May listen here.
The repertoire included Iain's latest original works and some recent arrangements of his past classics. Kings Place advised:
"Expect to hear imaginative re-workings of classic jazz standards, occasional folk and classical themes plus original compositions with a strongly English pastoral feel."
'Anorak XL' features three of the very brightest graduates of the Royal Academy of Music where Iain acts as a tutor and mentor - Nathanial Facey alto saxophone, Freddie Gavita trumpet and Kieran Mcleod trombone. For more info on Anorak click here.
I was reunited with Hungarian violinist, Zoltan Lantos, last week at The 606 Club's Anglo-Hungarian Festival. It brought back happy memories of Iwalewa-Haus in Bayreuth, where we met back the 90's at a meeting of musicians curated by the renowned anthropologist and scholar Ulli Beier.
Ulli had lived and worked for many years in Nigeria, Australia and Papua New Guinea where he studied, documented and celebrated indiginous art. Later in life Ulli set up Iwalewa Haus as a gallery and work space for contemporary artists from Africa and beyond. It was in this space that Ulli initiated the 'Grenzüberschreitungen' (Border Crossings) Festivals in the 1990s bringing together musicians from all continents for a week's residency. On the last day we played to a full house at the magnificent, baroque Margravean Opera House.
I attended six or seven of the festivals and they helped to expand my musical world. I forged great relationships many of which still continue today. The music was always a challenge, bringing together such diverse characters and disciplines, but the concerts were fantastically received.
Ulli's son Tunji studied percussion in India and Nigeria and we performed many concerts together. Each year we would visit the Staffelstein Therme Baths near the Czech border - I can still picture Randy Weston and John Parricelli sitting in the sauna receiving instructions from a spa matron with a clip board!
Thank you to Dave McKean for this beautiful photo of Quercus at LSO St Luke's, London.
As Spike Milligan might well have said of Steve Rubie "he's either mad or both" to have run a Jazz club for 37 years!
Steve took over running the original 606 club in 1976 in a cellar the size of a shoebox below Christopher Wray's lighting shop in the Kings Road. It was a quintessential Jazz club, a hub frequented by freaks, dandies, gangsters, artists and of course musicians of all ages. The old place was a health and safety nightmare and the club eventually outgrew its space so Steve moved it to the larger and now legendary current address in Lots Road 25 years ago.
It was at the 606 that I beheld the first and most camp cabaret pianist (Larry) I have ever seen and learned to stay up all night.
Once at about 2am I got up to play a duo with John Taylor and I asked him what he wanted to play? "lets start in D and see where we end up" he replied. I woke up in my bedsit in Clapham the following lunchtime to see something I'll never forget - a jazz legend crashed out on my floor!
The scene of so many memorable musical occasions, 'the 6' grew from strength to strength to become the most important, well loved and welcoming club of its kind for musicians and listeners, bar none.
And on Wednesday 29th May I'll be playing with my quartet 'Anorak' as part 12 days of celebrations to mark 25 years at the current address.
This all-star night presents four fantastic bands on the same bill (also appearing are groups led or co-led by Gwilym Simcock, Kit Downes, Mark Lockheart and John Parricelli).
It is going to be an unforgettable night - so please come and join us! More details on The 606 website.
Like I said - he's either mad or both!
Thank you to Steve and everyone who works so hard to make The 606 so special.
Opening the Quercus tour on Sunday at The Stables brought back some good memories of my Wavendon Summer Schools in the early 80s. There were some great teachers and some of the students are still friends such as Nikki Iles, Phil & Tom Bancroft, Mark Lockheart and Guy Chambers.
For the following 30 years, whenever we met, John Dankworth teased me about owing him £1. He had leant it to me so I could get the bus home after my pocket money ran out! I tried repay the pound with interest many times over the years but he always refused, so he could bring it up next time we met!
We dedicated a tune to John on Sunday night.
Thanks to the person who stole my wallet on Monday morning and thanks to the person who handed it in on Monday afternoon, minus the pound....
Enjoying a bit of Old England with Stian. Had some great gigs so far starting with Watermill Jazz at Dorking then up through the snow to Wakefield Jazz and swinging down to Uppingham yesterday to the Goldmark Gallery. All great audiences inspite of the weather.
Tonight its Ronnie Scott's opening for Michel Legrand then flying up to Glasgow for Celtic Connections festival.
Back again in April at The Sage for Gateshead International Jazz Festival if you missed us this time.
Last week I popped over to Jason Rebello's place for a play. After walking the dogs and some coffee we recorded a few Chrismas songs.
Here's some MP3 pressies from us, hope you like them. Thanks for following and Happy New Year 2012 to you!
Feeling glad to be in Naples in one piece as I nearly missed the plane yesterday.... icy English motorways.
Last night we had wonderful Neapolitan cuisine and my hotel looks across the bay to Vesuvius and to the right I can see Pompei. It doesn't get better than this!
Food's second album for ECM Records, 'Mercurial Balm', is released today (Nov 5th) in UK - I can hear the firework celebrations all around me, amazing!
Mastered in January 2012 at the Rainbow Studio, Oslo, with improvisations drawn from live performances in Norway, England and Germany and studio sessions.
The album features the core group of Iain Ballamy and Thomas Stronen with guitarists Christian Fennesz and Eivind Aarset, trumpeter Nils Petter Molvær and the unique singer and slide guitarist from South India, Prakash Sontakke.