Jazz Legends in College
On Thursday 21st October, Alton College was visited by jazz legends Kenny Wheeler, John Taylor and singer Diana Torto. All three musicians were just starting out on a UK tour with the Kenny Wheeler Big Band - celebrating Kenny's 80th birthday, and playing a lot of new music by Kenny.
At the start of the morning workshop, the three musicians performed Kenny's 'Canter No.1' before listening to the College's massed jazz musicians of the Big Band & Jazz Band play the first two movements of Kenny's 'The Sweet Time Suite' - from his legendary 1990's recording 'Music for Large and Small Ensembles'. The Jazz Factory then spend some time working on 'Mark Time' - a fiendish little number from 'Double Double You' - released in 1983. After a question and answer session, John & Diana ended the session with a wonderful rendition of 'Jigsaw'.
Later that evening, a party of over thirty students & staff went to the Anvil to see the first night of the Kenny Wheeler Big Band's UK tour. The band was stuffed full of 20 of the country's very best musicians - Chris Lawrence on bass, Martin France on kit, John Parricelli on guitar, trombonists included Mark Nightingale and Barnaby Dickinson, the entire saxophone section of Stan Sulzman, Evan Parker, Julian Arguelles, Ray Warleigh & Duncan Lamont appeared on the legendary 'Music for Large and Small Ensembles' album, as did trumpeters Henry Lowther and Derek Watkins - who has the unique distinction of having played on every one of the James Bond films. It was great to see such an array of talent - many of these guys teaching at college's of music as does trumpeter Nick Smart [Head of Jazz at the Royal Academy] and conductor Pete Churchill - who not only teaches at Trinity College of Music, but wrote one of the ACJB's favourite tunes 'Dishwasher'. And not forgetting the three musicians that visited the College in the morning.
It is always interesting to see who is in an audience, and this audience was no different. As well as a big 'press contingent' [first night of a UK tour], there were many jazzers for London colleges including a number of ex Alton College students, all of whom - after leaving Alton College, went on to study jazz - Richard Shepherd [Royal Academy of Music], Chloe Potter [Guildhall School of Music & Drama], Tim Ower [Leeds College of Music] and Conor Chaplin [Trinity College of Music].
This was truly an amazing day - and one that will live in the memory for a long, long time!