Your relationship with Turner Sims goes back a long way… I’ve been fortunate enough to perform at Turner Sims quite a few times over the years as part of Tomorrow’s Warriors ensembles, with the Nu Civilisation Orchestra and with my own trio playing music from my first album Safe and Sound. I enjoy performing at Turner Sims and always get a good reception from the audience.
Tell us a little bit about this commission… A Journey with the Giants of Jazz will be celebrating 100 years since the birth of some of the most influential jazz musicians of all time – singer Ella Fitzgerald, drummer Buddy Rich, pianist Theolonius Monk, trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie, percussionist Mongo Santamaria and composer/arranger Tadd Dameron. I will be deconstructing themes from works associated with those artists and using them as inspiration for my composition. It’s going to have swing, bebop, Cuban music, dazzling drum and percussion solos and elegant vocal features throughout.
How have you researched for this project? I’ve spent time listening to lots of recordings and read about the careers of the artist to whom we will be paying tribute. I’ve also watched lots of videos, interviews and documentaries online. It’s amazing what you can find out. For example did you know that Dizzy Gillespie ran for president of the USA?
Can you tell us a bit about the New Music Biennial weekend showcases on 30 June – 2 July in Hull, and 7 – 9 July IN London? The PRS Foundation’s New Music Biennial weekends will showcase 20 compositions from many different genres written by UK composers. The performances will be heard all over the city of Hull as part of its UK City of Culture 2017 celebrations. London showcases will be on stages within Southbank Centre. It’s tremendously exciting to be involved and to have my composition featured at such a prestigious event. The concerts will be free and many of the compositions will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3.
How important is it for you to work with, and provide a platform for young people? It’s very important to share the stage with young musicians and give them opportunities to showcase their talent. I’ve delivered workshops in Southampton in the past through programmes developed by Turner Sims and have been very impressed with the level of musicianship and the enthusiasm that young musicians have for playing jazz.
Tell us about some of your jazz greats… Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Fletcher Henderson for me are some of the greatest composers of the 20th Century and were such a huge influence on all the musicians who came after them. I recently had a wonderful experience performing duo (piano and bass clarinet) with Courtney Pine who is without doubt one of the greats in Jazz today.