Blog of Nick Smart

Head of Jazz Nick Smart introduces Royal Academy of Music at the 2017 EFG London Jazz Festival

Nick Smart - Posted on 03.11.2017

As we approach the annual excitement of the EFG London Jazz Festival, it felt like a timely moment to release two exclusive videos from the final rehearsal of last year’s memorable project, celebrating the 75th birthday of the legendary jazz vocalist Norma Winstone. It was an Academy first for us back in November 2016 when we collaborated with the orchestral departments to present a ‘radio’ type of orchestra, on the European model of the Metropole or NDR, merging strings and woodwinds with big band and rhythm section. That project also featured a brand new commission by one of the greatest contemporary composer and arrangers working today, Vince Mendoza. His piece House of Reflections is featured in one of the videos below, featuring Norma’s European ECM trio, with pianist Glauco Venier and saxophonist Klaus Gesing.

The spirit of collaboration is writ large again in both of our EFG London Jazz Festival ‘Sunday’ events this year. On 12 November at Kings Place, as part of our ongoing commitment to feature the best of British Jazz throughout the years, the jazz brass players collaborate with the inimitable saxophonist John Surman and composer John Warren to present their The Traveller’s Tale brass project, alongside bassist Chris Laurence and drummer John Marshall.

On 19 November in our own Duke’s Hall, we salute our own Professor of Jazz Composition, Pete Churchill. Pete is a revered figure throughout the jazz world, having held major posts in leading jazz institutions for the last 25 years. He has taught a staggering proportion of the current scene, inspiring them to pursue their own musical directions through their writing and composing. For this concert he takes the helm of the formidable Academy Big Band, and alongside guest soloists Mark Lockheart, Nikki Iles and Mishka Adams, we welcome Pete’s acclaimed ‘London Vocal Project’ to join us on stage. The evening will feature a new commission by Pete especially for the occasion, as well as a varied selection of his works from over the years.

We are privileged to be able to continue to present collaborations with world-class jazz artists on these such events, and hope to see many of our friends and followers at the concerts. Stay tuned for next year’s events as we mark our 30th anniversary with an Alumni Jazz Festival, welcome back trumpeter Dave Douglas to work with the big band, and showcase the best in new music and young composers as we host the Dankworth and Harvey composition awards.

Enjoy the rehearsal videos below, and we hope to see you at this year’s EFG London Jazz Festival!

Exclusive rehearsal footage from the 2016 EFG London Jazz Festival

Norma Winstone and students from the Royal Academy of Music perform Life in the Modern World by Ivan Lins and Brock Walsh, arranged by Steve Gray.

Norma Winstone and students from the Royal Academy of Music perform House of Reflections, composed and arranged by Vince Mendoza, with lyrics by Norma Winstone.

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