Monday 6th April 2020
- Saturday 11th April 2020
Guy Barker joins forces with Kansas Smitty's frontman Giacomo Smith to present a new jazz orchestra featuring saxophonist Lakecia Benjamin, vocalist Vanessa Hynes and Kansas Smittys. Hear a variety of music all played by an exceptional live band.
ABOUT GUY BARKER
Guy Barker's career has moved through several distinct phases, travelling along a linear course from jazz soloist and sideman, through bandleader, composer and latterly one of the most in-demand arrangers in Europe, while at the same time shooting off into fascinating tangents, with forays into theatre and movies. The late Anthony Minghella, a long-time admirer, asked Guy to arrange music for two of his films, The Talented Mr Ripley and The No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. He said of Guy: “Guy Barker is that rare thing - a brilliant soloist, a born leader and a generous accompanist. He can play so your heart breaks or your head swivels.”
A staggeringly accomplished musician with an affinity for all styles of music, Guy’s distinctive trumpet sound can be heard across a wide range of genres. In the instrumental jazz field, he has worked with Gil Evans, Ornette Coleman, Quincy Jones, Wynton Marsalis, Nat Adderley, Hermeto Pascal, Joe Henderson, Carla Bley, John Dankworth, Stan Tracey, Billy Cobham and many others. The world of the Great American Song Book led him to tour with Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr, Lena Horne, Liza Minnelli, and Mel Tormé. Guy has also recorded eight solo albums, two of which were nominated for the Mercury Music Prize.
During the eighties and nineties London’s studio scene was buzzing. As a result, Guy, like many British jazz musicians, found himself playing sessions for the country’s top rock and pop performers. The list is a who's who of hit-makers and includes Paul Weller, Sting, Van Morrison, Elvis Costello, Phil Collins, Grace Jones, Peter Gabriel, and George Michael.
Since 2008 he has been the Musical Director and arranger for the annual Jazz Voice concert at the Barbican, which opens the London Jazz Festival. This involves arrangements for a 42-piece orchestra and collaborating and arranging for renowned singers, including Kurt Elling, Jamie Cullum, Gregory Porter, Paloma Faith, Melody Gardot, Ian Shaw, Patti Austin, Lizz Wright, Kandace Springs, as well as many up-and coming vocalists. He performs a similar function at the Cheltenham Jazz Festival every year and Guy has formed long-lasting working relationships with many of the singers from both events.
He worked with Kurt Elling on a jazz radio play, The Big Blind, which was performed at New York’s Lincoln Centre in 2019. Two more concertos are in development plus there is a big band collaboration with Kansas Smitty’s House Band in prospect and a long-cherished project that will see the Soho Symphony turned into a film.
ABOUT GIACOMO SMITH
Giacomo Smith was born in Italy and grew up in upstate New York. He picked up on jazz very early from his mother’s great affinity for Dave Brubeck. Giacomo began piano lessons at 5, clarinet at 10, and saxophone at 12. At each stage along the way, he developed a deeper interest in classical and jazz music.
At university, Giacomo followed the classical performance path. He completed a Bachelor’s of Music at Boston University in 2009 and a Master’s Degree at McGill University in 2011, both in classical clarinet performance. From there, he moved to London to work in Boston University London Programmes’ administrative office. His days were spent at the computer and nights learning the London scene at places like Ronnie Scott’s, the Quecumbar, the Nightjar, and The Haggerston. In 2013, Giacomo left his office job to pursue a full time career in music. In his time in the UK, he has performed at London’s major jazz venues (Ronnie Scott’s, 606 Club, Vortex), the Hackney Empire, Waterloo Vaults, and the Royal Albert Hall Elgar Room.
Giacomo is part of the Kansas Smitty’s House Band, a group of jazz-addicted twenty-somethings who gained their name from being proprietors of their own bar. Between sessions and shows at their place, a sweaty weekly party in an old railway arch in Bethnal Green, and monthly shows at Ronnie Scott’s, the Band composed the original jazz music to create an album that’s an instant classic. This embodiment of the Band’s original approach appeals not only to jazz fans, but to a genre-blind audience who can relate to the accessible way in which these young virtuosos perform their unique material.
Their self-titled debut album was recorded, mixed and mastered in less than a week, from November 17-23, 2014. It was recorded by Lewis Durham of Kitty, Daisy and Lewis straight to tape and without a computer in sight. The ten tracks contained within illustrate the Band’s full sour mash of genres: Kansas City Jazz, New Orleans Funk, Trad, Swing, Blues and even Avant-Garde. Highlights from the album are ‘Black Paddy’, a surefire party-starter co-written by Giacomo Smith and Theon Cross (Sons of Kemet) that features the infectious beat of Pedro Segundo (Ronnie Scott’s House Band, Judith Owen) and Warm Embrace, an Armstrong-esque ballad by Ruben Fox (Kinetica Bloco) that features the other-worldly vocals of ‘Sweet’ Pete Horsfall (Basin Street Brawlers).
Kansas Smitty’s House Band was released on September 25th, 2015.
In 2014, the Band’s self-released 7″ single received air play on BBC Radio 2, 3, London and Jazz FM and this album is set to take the band to a new level.
ABOUT LAKECIA BENJAMIN
Charismatic and dynamic saxophonist/bandleader Lakecia Benjamin's electric stage presence and fiery sax work, has shared stages with Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys, The Roots, Macy Gray and many others, brings the soul and funk up to a fever pitch in a show that's guaranteed to keep crowds dancing day or night. Though her own music with her band Lakecia Benjamin and Soul Squad is immersed in the vintage sounds of James Brown, Maceo Parker, Sly and the Family Stone and the Meters as well as classic jazz, Benjamin's soaring, dance floor-friendly grooves take the classic vibe to a whole new level. The constant throughout it all is Benjamin's summery, sultry alto saxophone, adding something special on every cut - be it a smoldering late-night ambience, an erudite, forceful jazz intensity or the tight funk multi-horn harmony sections that pepper the proceedings throughout.
A streetwise New York City native born and raised in Washington Heights, Lakecia Benjamin has become one of the most highly sought-after players in soul and funk music. She first picked up the saxophone at Fiorello LaGuardia High School for the Performing Arts, after which she joined the renowned jazz program at New York's New School University. By that time, she was already playing with renowned jazz figures like Clark Terry and Reggie Workman, which led to gigs and tours with a wide array of artists such as Rashied Ali, the David Murray Big Band, Vanessa Rubin and James "Blood" Ulmer. With her deep jazz roots, she was soon in demand as an arranger and horn section leader, landing stints with such acclaimed artists as Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys, Macy Gray, the Roots, and Anita Baker.
Currently, Benjamin is a featured musician for Gregory Porter as well as a featured musician and arranger for comedy star Craig Robinson and the Nasty Delicious. (Robinson, best known for his work on TV's The Office as well as such popular films as Pineapple Express and Hot Tub Time Machine, tours regularly with the Nasty Delicious band serving as the main foil in his popular comedy act). Benjamin has also had the honor of performing at the White House at President Obama's inaugural ball. She's performed on four continents and her extensive recording credits include saxophone and arrangements for Santigold, Maurice Brown, the Clark Terry Big Band, Krystle Warren and TalibKweli, among others.
ABOUT VANESSA HAYES
Vanessa Haynes is a Singer based in London, UK. In 2008 she joined Van Morrison on tour and from late 2008 became one of the lead singers of British Jazz/funk band incognito, with Jocelyn Brown. She works as a solo artist, and since then has worked with Dave Stewart, Daryl Hall, Anastacia, Lulu, Chaka Khan, Billy Ocean, Mario Biondi, Leon Ware and others. She lends her voice to the The New INCOGNITO album, Amplified Soul, with a sparkling cover of the Atlantic Star’s song Silver Shadows.
ABOUT KANSAS SMITTY'S
From the moment they played their first note five years ago, Kansas Smitty's have set out to reinvent how audiences experience jazz. The band is a tight-knit outfit that make jazz inclusive with an emphasis on camaraderie, spontaneity, and joy. 2018 was a landmark year with members of the band appearing at the Royal Albert Hall, Barbican, Friday Night is Music Night, Boiler room and The Rose Hall at Jazz at Lincoln Centre at the request of Wynton Marsalis.
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