Tag: Cambridge jazz

Autumn Gig Dates Announced

Having started my Masters studies at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama this month, I have a raft of gig dates to announce in London and Cambridge. I’ll be performing alongside other post-graduate students in a pair of free concerts, as well as with the award-winning big band at the London Jazz Festival and the Vortex Jazz Club. I’ll also be appearing as a guest with EM and Vesperados will be returning to Hot Numbers in Cambridge for another evening of Latin Jazz.

06/10/14, 6pm, FREE – Guildhall Small Band Jazz Evening
17/10/14, 7.30pm, FREE – Guildhall Jazz Band, Milton Court
19/10/14, 3.00pm, £8 – London Jazz Orchestra/Guildhall Jazz Band @ Vortex
07/11/14, 7.30pm, FREE – EM, Cambridge
08/11/14, 11am, £10 – Cambridge Jazz Co-op
17/11/14, 6pm, FREE – Guildhall Small Band Jazz Evening
19/11/14, 7.30pm, £15/10 – Guildhall Jazz Band at the London Jazz Festival
05/12/14, 7.30pm, FREE – Vesperados, Cambridge

Guildhall Small Band Jazz Evening
Monday 6th October, 6pm
Monday 17th November, 6pm
Lecture Recital Room, Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Silk Street, London
Performances from groups of postgraduate and final-year jazz students from the Guildhall. Three bands a night for nothing!

Guildhall Jazz Band
Friday 17th October, 7.30pm
Silk Street Music Hall, Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Silk Street, London
The year’s first performance from the Guildhall’s award-winning big band.

Sunday 19th October, 3.00pm
Vortex Jazz Club, 11 Gillett Square, London
The Guildhall Jazz Band join top pro big band the London Jazz Orchestra for an afternoon of big band music.

Friday 7th November, 7.30pm
Hot Numbers Coffee, Gwydir Street, Cambridge
Led by pianist/accordionist/composer Dan Ecclestone, this Cambridge-based group plays original music bringing together rock and jazz in a groovy, infectious blend.

Cambridge Jazz Co-operative
Saturday 8th November, 11am-1.30pm
Meadows Community Centre, Cambridge
I will be returning for my third session with the co-op, leading a workshop for amateur jazz musicians exploring ideas and strategies for improvisation.
£10 (members); non members must pay an additional £10 for annual membership.

Guildhall Jazz Band at the London Jazz Festival
Wednesday 19th November, 7.30pm
Milton Court, Silk Street, London
The Guildhall’s big band performs as part of the world-class London Jazz Festival.

Vesperados at Hot Numbers
Friday 5th December, 7.30pm
Hot Numbers Coffee, Gwydir Street, Cambridge
My band Vesperados return to Hot Numbers in a new format for an evening of Latin-influenced music.

Cambridge Jazz Co-op Session this Saturday

Following last year’s successful session at the Cambridge Jazz Co-op, I’ll be running another this Saturday, 17th May.  We’ll look at various strategies, melodic and harmonic, for improvising over vamps and other harmonically static settings.  There’ll be two tunes we use for this:

Dolores in a Shoestand (Esbjorn Svensson Trio):
Wights Waits for Weights (Steve Coleman):

The session starts at 11:00 and runs to 13:30, at the Blue Moon Pub, Cambridge, and costs £10 for members (non-members must purchase annual membership for an additional £10).  Full details can be found at the Co-op website.

I’ll endeavor to post some info about what we covered after the session.

Vesperados at the Cambridge Modern Jazz Club 8th May 2014

Vesperados’ next outing will be at the Cambridge Modern Jazz Club @ The Hidden Rooms, Jesus Lane, Cambridge, on Thursday 8th May at 20:00.  We’re delighted to have the opportunity to play for the Club, which has been putting on concerts since 1972, and honoured to join the roster of musicians who have performed there, which covers top UK and international artists.  Tickets are £10, available via www.cambridgejazz.org.  Here’s something to whet your appetite:

Later in the month, we’re heading down to the Performing Arts Technology Studios in Guildford for our first studio recording sessions, for material to be released later in the year!  Keep an eye out here for more info later in the summer.


Gig with Liane Carroll

Wow.  That was amazing.  Last Friday (31st January 2014) I had the privilege to lead Cambridge University Jazz Orchestra (CUJO) in a performance with multi award-winning jazz vocalist Liane Carroll at West Road Concert Hall in Cambridge.  The house was packed, Liane was incredible and we got a standing ovation!

Credit: Johannes Hjorth.
Credit: Johannes Hjorth.

My co-director Chris McMurran and I had first thought to invite Liane to guest with us back in August of 2013, as we prepared for a new year of CUJO.  Every year, CUJO works with one top UK jazz musician for a special gig at West Road in January/February.  Previously we’ve had the likes of bassist Laurence Cottle (see previous posts here and here), Stan Sulzmann (sax), Gareth Lockrane (flute) and Steve Waterman (trumpet), so inviting a vocalist was a departure for us, but one which really paid off!  As well as her immense abilities as a vocal performer and improviser, Liane brought her skill as an entertainer, her sense of humour and her great energy, to everyone’s great delight, not least the band!  We were also able to perform pieces written by her, or in versions she has recorded, arranged for big band by Malcolm Edmonstone, Jorg Achim Keller, myself and Chris.

Credit: Johannes Hjorth
Credit: Johannes Hjorth

The gig was packed with memorable moments, from the funny to the tender.  Highlights for me included hearing my brand new arrangement of Liane’s beautiful composition “Dublin Morning” performed live for the first time, witnessing a concert hall full of people sing Carole King’s “You’ve Got a Friend” and playing an impromptu duet version of “My Funny Valentine” with Liane.  Not to mention Ben Jones’ (alto sax) comedy entrance, Liane’s jokes and taking pictures on stage, some fantastic soloing from members of CUJO…  All in all it’s an experience that will linger long in my memory.

So thanks to everyone who came to see the concert (especially as the weather was horrible), to CUJO for playing their hearts out and to Liane for being an inspiration and a pleasure to work with.  I’ll leave you with a few more excellent shots by Johannes Hjorth.



Vesperados performing tonight and tomorrow

Just a quick note to say that my Latin/chamber jazz quartet Vesperados is performing tonight (6/11/13) at St Philip’s Church, Mill Road, Cambridge in the launch of Off Centre Collective, a new platform for creative and original jazz music in Cambridge.  Doors open at 7pm and we’re playing from 7:30pm.  £5 and BYOB.  Here’s the event page:


We’re also performing in the second-ever Ely Jazz Night at The King’s Arms, St Mary’s Street, Ely tomorrow (7/11/13) from 9pm.  Here’s the event page:


We’ll be debuting quite a bit of original material over the two gigs.  Hope to see a good crowd in for both!  Here’s a bit of a teaser:

Off Centre Collective: a new night for creative jazz in Cambridge

OCC PosterSome months back my friend Dan Ecclestone, frustrated by the lack of opportunities for local jazz musicians to play original music (as opposed to standards and old repertoire) outside of a couple of good but infrequent student-led nights, came up with the concept of the Off Centre Collective, a group of local creative jazz-based bands who could perform on a semi-regular basis in Cambridge.  Fast forward to today and we’re eagerly anticipating the first OCC event which is taking place next Wednesday 6 November with my quartet Vesperados and Dan’s band EM.

The event will be at St Philip’s Church on Mill Road, which has recently been completely refurbished with a quality PA system, video projection and more put in.  As a result, it looks like being a cracking medium-sized music venue (i.e. not a drafty pew-filled church).Doors are at 19:00 with the Vesperados kicking off at 19:30, followed by a short break then EM to close the night, finishing at about 22:00.  Entry is £5 on the door and we’re having a BYOB policy.  There’s a lovely cafe area in which to have a drink and a nibble in the break and we’re happy for people to sip through the music too.

Both our groups will be showcasing our original material.  For Vesperados that means a heady mix of Latin American rhythms, cool, sophisticated dialogue between trumpet and sax and plaintive melodies.  EM will be bringing their brand of film soundtrack-influenced prog-jazz and are packing a string section to boot.

For the Facebook-types among you, see here for the event page.  Hope to see a good crowd in as the future of the night depends on this being a success!

Vesperados public debut coming soon!

(c) Sarah Allbrook
(c) Sarah Allbrook

Vesperados, my newish jazz quartet (listen here), will make its public debut this month at Hot Numbers Coffee in Cambridge, and entry is free!  Although we’ve played several private engagements so far, including one attended by HRH Prince Charles, we’ve yet to perform in public.  The intimate but relaxed atmosphere of Hot Numbers should give us a chance to test out our material and get instant reaction from a hopefully appreciative audience.  There might not be too many more chances to see us for free so do come along to listen!  The coffee is also superb (really superb), but if you fancy a tipple that’ll also be available.

You can find details of the gig on the Hot Numbers website, but if you plan on coming down do show your support by clicking ‘attend’ on our Facebook event.

One last thing – a basket will get passed around at some point during the evening.  Should you be moved to drop something in, that’ll go straight to the band – there’s no venue cut!

Guest Spot with Andy Bowie Quartet this Sunday

Tenor sax man Andy Bowie (right)Andy Bowie is leading the charge of straight-ahead jazz in Cambridge by establishing a new regular gig at the Tram Depot on East Road.  Andy’s long-running Sunday evening gig at the Clarendon Arms sadly recently came to an end, but fortunately the manager of the Tram Depot agreed to give him a month’s trial.  Things got off to a good start, with decent audiences for weeks 1 and 2, but last week wasn’t so hot.  Andy needs a good attendance this Sunday, the last of the trial weeks, to seal the deal and get the gig to continue, so please come on down at 20:30 if you’re in favour of live jazz in Cambridge.  It won’t cost you more than a drink from the bar.  I’ll be on towards the end of the first set and in the second set.  For Facebooky-types, here’s the event:


P.S. East Road will be closed to vehicles over the weekend.  Please approach the pub on foot or by cycle.  The nearest accessible parking is likely to be Queen Anne (Gonville Place) or the streets off Parkside.