The Jay Phelps Big Band featuring special guest vocalist Clare Teal

The Jay Phelps Big Band featuring special guest vocalist Clare Teal

The Jay Phelps Big Band featuring special guest vocalist Clare Teal

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 Young trumpeter and band leader Phelps knows his history. One time co-band leader of hell-raising jazz radicals Empirical, his debut solo album ‘Jay Walkin’ displays a thorough knowledge and love of the golden age of big band jazz. Award winning jazz vocalist Clare Teal will join his all-star 17-piece band to present some of the great jazz classics from legendary leaders Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Jimmy Lunceford, Dizzy Gillespie and Lionel Hampton in an extravagant night of swing, blues and be-bop.   One of the pioneering creative forces in UK contemporary jazz, his new band and some iconic jazz landmarks recreated afresh - expect sparks to fly!

‘The young bandleader shows great maturity in his choice of music, his arrangements and his ability to control 17 different jazz musicians while also delivering some exceptional solos of his own’. Bruce Lindsay – All About Jazz

Clare Teal

JAY PHELPS BIOGRAPHY

Jay Phelps Biography

Trumpeter Jay Phelps is at the forefront of the young and creative generation of jazz musicians in the UK, with an instantly recognizable warm and projecting tone. A Vancouver-born Canadian, Jay was tutored by the city’s top jazz and classical trumpeters and distinguished himself early on as the youngest band-leader in the Vancouver International Jazz Festival's history.

At 17, Jay moved to London, determined to immerse himself in the jazz scene and immediately attracted the notice of Gary Crosby who offered him work with Jazz Jamaica, Nu Troop and, in 2002, the opportunity to be a Tomorrow’s Warrior. Citing Louis Armstrong, Fats Navarro, Clifford Brown and Miles Davis as his main influences, Jay went on to create and co-lead the young and hip jazz sensation Empirical, where he spent two years touring major festivals and events, while garnishing worldwide media attention that UK jazz musicians haven't enjoyed for years. Jay has performed and recorded with a veritable who's who of both UK and international jazz artists such as Courtney Pine, Andrew Hill, Wynton Marsalis, Ray Brown, John Hendricks, Nasheet Waits, George Benson, Jamie Cullum, Sir John Dankworth, Dennis Rollins, Guy Barker, Amy Winehouse, Charlotte Church, Hugh Masakela and Jazz Jamaica. Still only 28, Jay is determined to educate the next generation of jazz musicians with a local project entitled Jazz Youth.

In Jay Walking' - his solo-debut - Jay departs from the current trend of experimental modernism, occasionally evoking the spirit of the 1940's New York Bird land scene with playful vocals by showman-vocalist Michael Mensa. Set out to honour the integrity and capture what is the traditional spirit of Jazz music, Phelps has composed and arranged songs with this in his vision. Phelps has chosen a stellar line-up consisting of a generational mix of London’s top Jazz musicians. Jay Walking', recorded on Proper's Specific Label, is released in November 2010.

CLARE TEAL BIOGRAPHY

The UK’s finest jazz singer and much loved performer Clare Teal makes a welcome return to songwriting and recording with her tenth album ‘HEY HO’, a quote from the stunning opening track If Love Were All – a beautifully reflective song written by the grand master of song Noël Coward in 1929.  To those familiar with Clare’s tongue-in-cheek down-to-earth northern charm the title will come as no surprise, “Hey Ho is more than a Miss Marple aside or a hey nonny-esque quip with a whiff of the morris dancers about it.  It’s a state of mind, a useful ‘mustn’t grumble’ type tool which can be deployed to deal with the grimness of the recession, the decline of the music industry or the running out of kitchen roll.  It’s been a part of our language, heritage and attitude since the 15th Century and is of course, without doubt, quintessentially British.”

Teal is a recognised knowledge and enthusiast of the history of jazz and popular song and has been working on this project for nearly two years.  “I sat down with my producer and Musical Director Grant Windsor and over excessive cups of coffee and too many custard creams compiled a list of nearly 1000 songs.  Songs that had been written by British people, inspired by British people or merely sounded Brit-ish. This was further whittled down to 200 using an ancient process involving various single malt whiskies (not the peaty ones).  From there the very serious deliberation began, it’s easy to sing a song you love, it’s a different matter entirely to attempt to bring something new to a song other people love.”

Although rooted in the jazz traditions of the 1930’s and 40’s this record covers a huge spectrum of sounds and genres but focuses simply on highlighting the beauty of well-written songs using honest open soundscapes and textures.  The oldest song is Herbert Hughes’ musical setting of W.B. Yeats 1889 poem Down By The Sally Gardens. The album proceeds to wend its way through thirteen decades, right up to the 2005 song Chasing Cars Snow Patrol.  It’s the ballads including Why (Annie Lennox) that allow the listener to appreciate the full yet understated tones of a singer of whom the Observer said, “when she sings a ballad, she trusts the song to tell its own story without emoting all over it.”  As a lifelong fan of Jazz icon Dame Cleo Laine, Clare was keen to include the song Cleo co-wrote with Stanley Myers in the 70’s “Cleo is the best, not content with being one of the finest singers on the planet, she has to go and write incredible songs too!  Singing He Was Beautiful in front of the great lady was terrifying. She didn’t run away screaming – but then Cleo does have a bad hip.”

The two songs that started the whole project were Try A Little Tenderness (Woods, Connelly & Campbell) and A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square (Maschwitz, Sherwin & Strachey), “I had always assumed these to be American songs and was fascinated to learn that both were written by Americans and Brits working together in the 30’s, a time when transatlantic journeys weren’t exactly cheap and easy.” Add to the mix an uplifting New Orleans take on Ray Noble’s Love Is The Sweetest Thing featuring Clare’s dear friend and demon sax player Pee Wee Ellis (MD to James Brown and Van Morrison), a blistering samba arrangement of Moloko’s Sing It Back with Latin percussion king Bosco De Oliveira and the most heartbreaking yet optimistic version of Ivor Novello’s 1945 song We’ll Gather Lilacs and you start to get a feel for the sheer variety Hey Ho contains. It is to Clare’s credit that all these songs from such wide-ranging eras sit alongside each other so comfortably. “It was important the album open with Noël Coward and close with Ivor Novello as to me these guys are our equivalent to my other heroes Cole Porter and Irving Berlin.”

As well as a collection of some of her favourite songs, Hey Ho also includes two original compositions. One More (Baby Be Good To Me) and Whole (It Isn’t Like Me) nestle easily amongst the more famous songs on the album’s tracklisting. One More is an uplifting tribute to the old motown sound, written by Clare, partner Muddy Field and Grant Windsor MD and Producer of Hey Ho. Meanwhile Whole was inspired by a recent trip to the USA’s West Coast where Clare and Muddy drove 600 miles from San Diego to San Francisco in ‘a big tank.’ Both songs were written and recorded this year and their seamless inclusion on Hey Ho is a welcome one.

Hey Ho shows a new depth to Clare’s work. It is more reflective and mature yet confident and self-assured, ably assisted by her brilliant band led and arranged by the vibrant Windsor. The exceptional musicianship and musicality provide a majestic and luxurious platform to showcase Clare’s effortless ability to sing this collection of world class songs. On reflection she notes “I’m very proud of this record. It’s taken a long time to make and research and whilst Hey Ho celebrates these great songs, by intention it isn’t quintessentially British but it is quintessentially me!”

Clare has twice been voted British Jazz Singer of the year and also the BBC’s Jazz Singer of the year. Away from her singing work, Clare is becoming increasingly well known to radio listeners for her two weekly big band shows on BBC Radio 2, whether it be Clare Teal Sunday Night at 10pm or Big Band Special on Mondays at 11pm. Passionate about the music she plays on her shows, Clare is on a one woman mission to introduce younger audiences to the joys of big band music.  Clare has also written articles for the Times and various magazines and for the past 4 years has penned a weekly column for her beloved Yorkshire Post. Clare will be touring throughout the Spring and Summer with her trio and in some concerts the BBC Big Band.  Highlights will include Glastonbury Festival, Brecon Jazz Festival, Regents Park Open Air Theatre and London’s Cadogan Hall. Clare will also be Artist in Residence at the Harrogate International Festival later in the summer.

“Brilliant!” – Woman Magazine

“Delightful, delovely and delicious!” – g3 Magazine

 

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