RWCMD Big Band @ Swansea Int'l Jazz Fest

RWCMD Big Band @ Swansea Int'l Jazz Fest

RWCMD Big Band @ Swansea Int'l Jazz Fest

Great working with the students of Royal Welsh Collage of Music & Drama at the Swansea Jazz Festival in June. I wish them well on their way at end of their studies...

Quercus' latest release 'Nightfall'

Quercus' latest release 'Nightfall'

NIGHTFALL by QUERCUS  Release date: 28.04.2017 ECM 2522


Release date: 28.04.2017
ECM 2522

An album of spine-tingling conviction
— The Irish Times *****
The sparkling stillness of this nocturnal set is uplifting
— The Times ****
Another Quercus set with not a sound out of place, but a wealth of quiet surprises just the same.
— The Guardian ****

Nightfall by Quercus

ECM 2522    28.04.2017

June Tabor - voice
Iain Ballamy - tenor & soprano saxophones
Huw Warren - piano

Quercus’s self-titled ECM debut won the album-of-the-year award of the German Record Critics in 2013, was widely praised by the international press, and especially celebrated in Britain where June Tabor has long reigned as “the dark voiced queen of English folk music” (to quote The Times).  Folk and jazz and chamber music become one in Quercus’s world, where recontextualizing of material is part of the process, prompting listeners to pay heightened attention even to familiar songs.  Nightfall opens with the most famous of farewells in “Auld Lang Syne”, and gently breathes new life into it, leading us into a programme that includes Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice”, the jazz standard “You Don’t Know What Love Is” and the West Side Story ballad “Somewhere”, as well as original compositions by Huw Warren and Iain Ballamy and songs from British folk tradition, in stark and moving new arrangements.      

ECM Records.

Track List
(Huw Warren)
(Don Raye, Gene De Paul)
(Bob Dylan)
(Iain Ballamy)
(Leonard Bernstein)

Visit ECM Records for more information and track samples

...taking songs that have stood the test of time... and stripping them back to their essential truth.
— The Irish Times *****

BBC Prom 28

BBC Prom 28

BBC Prom 28 - A night to remember with NYJOS

The Pepper Street Orchestra - ‘An Ape’s Progress’

The Pepper Street Orchestra - ‘An Ape’s Progress’

Matthew Sweeney poetry | Dave McKean film/visuals | Iain Ballamy music - 22nd October, Whitworth Gallery

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

Concerto for Stan Getz

Concerto for Stan Getz

Richard Rodney Bennett's Concerto for Stan Getz.

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.

Broadcast live from London's Southbank Centre, the 'Conflict and Healing' concert is part of the ongoing Changing Britain series. Listen live on BBC R3 at 19:30.

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.

Loose Tubes reunion   "a triumph"

Loose Tubes reunion "a triumph"

Loose Tubes Reunion

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

Loose tubes....sprayed sparks straight through to a standing ovation.
— The Guardian

Loose tubes....sprayed sparks straight through to a standing ovation.

The Guardian

...a triumph, with the multi-coloured maverick monstrosity back in force.
— Jazzwise strong, and as challenging, as ever... It was a tremendous gig.
— LondonJazz News

The Guardian

Loose tubes....sprayed sparks straight through to a standing ovation.


...a triumph, with the multi-coloured maverick monstrosity back in force.

LondonJazz News strong, and as challenging, as ever... It was a tremendous gig.  


Ballamy celebrates 50th @ Kings Place with BBC R3

Ballamy celebrates 50th @ Kings Place with BBC R3

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.

Photo: Dave McKean

Photo: Dave McKean

Remembering Ulli Beier and Grenzüberschreitungen

Remembering Ulli Beier and Grenzüberschreitungen

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!


Quercus @ LSO St Luke's

Quercus @ LSO St Luke's

Thank you to Dave McKean for this beautiful photo of Quercus at LSO St Luke's, London.

The 606 Club - celebrating 25 years at Lots Road

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.

Thanks to the generosity of Mr Rubie it was in this hallowed space of the 606 that I road-tested my first band with Django Bates, jammed with Hugh Masekela and sat in with auntie (Don Weller). 

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.

I still owe John Dankworth £1

I still owe John Dankworth £1

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....

Little Radio is on the road

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.