Thursday 16th March
TIMINGS:1915-2015 – Nick Smart’s Black Eyed Dog
The following amongst musicians of Nick Drake’s music is well documented, he has been a source of inspiration for many jazz and folk musicians alike. Nick Smart’s Black Eyed Dog - Remembering Nick Drake was the debut album from trumpeter Nick Smart, and it has achieved something of a cult following in the ten years since it’s release on 33 Records. It was released to critical acclaim across Europe at the time, and has recently been used by HMV in Japan as part of a new compilation album. Among the admirers of the project was Jazzwise Magazine’s Editor in Chief, Jon Newey, who has personally included the band in this week of Jazzwise anniversary celebrations.
Featuring a brand new incarnation of the band, and featuring legendary vocalist Claire Martin, this concert is the first time the music has been performed by Nick Smart since the National Tour a decade ago. The arrangements were described by All About Jazz as “… a small masterpiece which captures perfectly the glowing Autumnal beautify of Drake’s music… a beautiful, beautiful piece of work.” And Straight No Chaser magazine described the album as “…a future classic because it really captures all that is best about British jazz….”
Showcasing many of the leading musicians on the scene, the music will include arrangements and re-workings of such tunes as “River Man”, “Black Eyed Dog”, “One of These Things First”, “Way to Blue”, “Saturday Sun” and “Know/From The Morning”.
“…some truly wonderful stuff, including an epic version of River Man…the iconically English, rainy-day charm of the originals is evident throughout.” The Independent on Sunday
“…Smart himself is just magisterial, Nick Drake left a wonderful legacy of songs. Smart has found inspiration in that aspect of his life rather than dwell morbidly on his death.” Jazzwise
“…strong improvising on indelible themes.” John Fordham – The Guardian
“…fascinating music devoted to a fascinating inspiration.” John Fordham – Jazz UKSee below for more info about Nick.
JULIAN SIEGEL is an in-demand saxophonist on the UK and European Jazz scene who has worked with many of the top figures in the music. He was awarded the 2007 BBC Jazz Award for Best Instrumentalist and the 2011 London Jazz Award. With tonight's concert at Ronnie Scotts Club, Julian, described by The Guardian as “One of Europe's leading jazz player-composers” brings the brand new Julian Siegel Jazz Orchestra to Ronnie Scott's for the first time. This 'handpicked' and stellar line-up features some of Julian's favourite players on the UK and European scene and represents a fulfillment of a long standing wish to bring this line up together, it promises to be a big party and celebration. This date is the bands' first ever London date and is part of a major UK tour March 2017 supported by the Arts Council of England...Not to be missed!
The Jazz Orchestra, conducted by Nick Smart includes Saxophonists Stan Sulzmann, Jason Yarde and Tori Freestone, Trumpeters Henry Lowther and Claus Stoetter (invited over from the NDR Big Band, Hamburg), Trombonist Mark Nightingale and Guitarist Mike Outram, all based around the dynamic and creative rhythm section of his long standing group the Julian Siegel Quartet featuring Liam Noble, Oli Hayhurst and Gene Calderazzo.
FURTHER BACKGROUND TO THE MUSIC
The music the Julian Siegel Jazz Orchestra will play on its first UK Tour will feature Julian's new music for Jazz Orchestra, from re-imaginings and expansions of Julian's music for small band to a specially commissioned piece by EMJAZZ for this tour 'Tales from the Jacquard', the piece drawing inspiration from the lacemaking process and the Jacquard card (Julian's parents and family ran a lace manufacturing business in Nottingham's lace market for 50 years). In recent years Julian has been commissioned by NYJO and the Voice of the North Orchestra and he wrote a set of music for a concert in the Guildhall Jazz Festival with the Guildhall Jazz Band directed by Scott Stroman. In November 2015 NYJO released their latest Album 'NYJO 50' (Whirlwind) with Julian's 'Mama Badgers' for Jazz Orchestra being the first piece on the new double album, with Julian as featured soloist on the piece, the performance receiving much critical attention and airplay. NYJO regularly perform 'Mama Badgers' in their live shows, most recently at their sold out concerts in the London Jazz Festival November 2015 and Ronnie Scotts Club in January 2016 and it continues to be a favourite with the band on the road.
Mark Armstrong (NYJO MD) writes: “Julian Siegel’s piece for NYJO has successfully synthesised his unique personal voice as a writer with a strong feeling for and extension of the big band tradition. Julian’s piece 'Mama Badgers' is an innovative extension of the funk genre with a tightly controlled form that allows solo space for improvising musicians as well as colourful harmony and bold melodic contours.”
"A world class saxophonist" - Jazz UK.
" One of Europe's leading jazz player-composers, his ability to turn demanding structures into expressive, direct music shows why he’s in the limelight" John Fordham, The Guardian June 2015
“It takes only two tracks of this celebratory double album NYJO 50 to establish the breadth, maturity and technical excellence of this long-established proving ground of UK jazz talent.The intricate patchwork of riffs and dramatic tempo changes of “Mama Badgers” leads into the supple sonorities of the aptly-titled “Dreams”... fresh-minted arrangements, full-on blare with gentle balladry and contemporary funk.“ - Mike Hobart Financial Times, November , 2015
''Beyond the cut and thrust dynamics of his tenor playing, the swirling shapes of his soprano or the aquatic breathing of his bass clarinet, it's the strength of Siegel's voice as a conceptualist and composer that really makes “Close-Up” work. Interfacing between the worlds of straight-ahead, free improv and dance grooves, Siegel posits his sonic world with a coherence and strength of character that reflects the lucidity of a man who knows exactly who he is. No matter what he plays.' Kevin Le Gendre, Echoes review of Julian's debut solo album “Close Up” (2002)
“Kept an awestruck audience on tenterhooks” Jazz UK on the Julian Siegel Trio, Vortex
“Siegel’s tunes are a mix of fiendish, time-twisting grooves, building riffs and brightly hummable melodies, never mere blowing exercises, their through-composed nature gives them real drama and momentum.” Edward Randell on the Julian Siegel Quartet– MusicOMH
"Fast becoming a national treasure of the reeds" Jez Nelson Jazz on 3, QEH London Jazz Festival
"Approaches the depth and sensitivity of a Wayne Shorter or Stan Getz." Straight No Chaser ,1997
" That lissom, free - wheeling saxophonist, Siegel's wailing, swerving lines burst with character" John Fordham, The Guardian
Head of Jazz at the Royal Academy of Music in London, Nick Smart is an internationally renowned jazz educator, trumpeter and musical director who has given guest masterclasses and performances around the world. In 2013 he was awarded the prestigious UK Parliamentary Award for Jazz Education, and in 2015 awarded Honorary Membership of the Royal Academy of Music. At home he is recognised as one of the leading musicians on the UK jazz scene, where as well as being in regular demand as a sideman to players of all generations, he continues to record and tour with his own projects.
In 2005 Nick released his debut album as leader “Remembering Nick Drake” to critical acclaim throughout Europe. The album, described by Straight No Chaser magazine as “…a future classic because it really captures all that is best about British jazz….”, featured Smart’s arrangements of Nick Drake’s music played by an all star line-up including John Parricelli, Paul Clarvis, Christine Tobin and Stan Sulzmann amongst others. In December 2008 the Nick Smart Trio released a highly praised follow-up album, “Remembering Louis Armstrong”, featuring Hans Koller and Paul Clarvis. His latest band, Nick Smart’s Trogon, merges contemporary jazz sounds with Afro Cuban concepts and released their album "Tower Casa" on Babel Records in November 2013. It received 4 star reviews in Jazzwise and the Guardian, who described it as "an undemonstratively idiosyncratic fusion, and Smart plays with brightness, tight timing and subtle intonation throughout."
His versatility as a trumpet player and his work at the upper echelons of Jazz Education has allowed him to perform alongside many international jazz stars in a variety of contexts, from Jazz Festival appearances to summer school concerts. These have included George Russell, Dave Holland, Bob Brookmeyer, John Hollenbeck, the New York Voices, Mike Gibbs and Dave Douglas, as well as most of the leading names on the UK jazz scene. Amongst other things, Nick was a member of the late Kenny Wheeler's Big Band with whom he had a long association and is currently co-writing Wheeler's biography. He plays in a new quartet from saxophonist Stan Sulzmann and has recorded on the most recent album of vocalist Christine Tobin in her interpretations of Leonard Cohen songs. He also performs and records internationally as the regular soloist with the famous James Taylor Quartet, “JTQ”.
Outside of Jazz, Nick has been invited to work as a session musician in a variety of pop and rock bands. Amongst other things he recorded two albums for the band “Spiritualized” and undertook a World tour performing on “Later with Jools Holland”, “Top of the Pops” and the “Tonight Show with Jay Leno”. He also recorded on the Mercury winning album “The Seldom Seen Kid” by the band “Elbow”.
As an educator Nick was invited to establish the Junior Academy Jazz programme in 2003, it is now one of the UK’s most successful pathways into further jazz education. And in July 2010 he was appointed to his position as Head of the Jazz department. In this role he has further cemented the Academy’s position as the leading place to study Jazz, he was responsible for the founding of the Jazz BMus as an independent programme and established some highly successful initiatives including the Kenny Wheeler Prize and the International Jazz Artist in Residence scheme. As well as giving guest masterclasses at institutions throughout Europe, the USA and further, Nick remains committed to youth education through his work with the National Youth Jazz Collective and as a consultant to NYJO London.
As an acclaimed musical director of large ensembles, Nick has been invited to lead projects with big bands all over the world. He has been a guest director of European Big Band projects in Paris, Tallin and the Jazz Institute Berlin, and last year was the guest director of the Grahamstown Festival Big Band in South Africa. And at home he conducts the Stan Sulzmann “Neon Orchestra” and the award winning Troyka large ensemble, “Troykestra”.
Nick is currently co-writing the biography of Kenny Wheeler for Equinox Publications and is enrolled on the PhD programme at the Royal Academy of Music.