September 30th at Ronnie Scott’s. Mark the date. To hear one of the unflinching unfailing impeccable greats of British jazz, Trumpeter Henry Lowther, in a nice context.
He is playing in Chris Biscoe ‘s Mingus Moves band , performing a 50th anniversary re-imagining of the album Mingus Ah-Um.
First I’ll go for a few bonus points by copy-pasting the origins of the album title from Wikipedia, probably courtesy of the massive knowledge of Brian Priestley:
The title of Mingus Ah Um is derived from a Latin study form. It is common for Latin students to memorize Latin adjectives of the first and second declensions by first saying the masculine nominative singular form (usually ending in “-us”), then the feminine nominative singular ending (“-a”), and finally the neuter nominative singular ending (“-um”). Thus the adjective “magnus” (big, great) is memorized as “magnus”, “-a”, “-um”; this would be pronounced like “magnus ah um”.
But back to Henry Lowther. What is remarkable about him is that his attitude to life, to playing. As one fellow musician put it to me:
“His approach to any musical situation is youthful and extremely open- minded. He never excludes himself stylistically. None of this “Oh yeah, such and such is my thing, that’s what I do” nonsense. As if it is superior to another kind of music. Plays with all sorts of bands, all ages as well as orchestras, chamber groups etc. He’s completely unclassifiable.”
Another said to me that his capacity to absorb and nail the trickiest of tunes, every time, is what keeps absolutely everyone around him on their toes. You could call that lifting a performance….
There’s a quiet adagio grace about his personality, and astonishing modesty. For myself, I cannot imagine Henry Lowther ever needing, or seeing the point of a second take.
In music, live or recorded.
Or in life.
There’s a link here to a site with a good biography, but it hasn’t been updated for a while.
Belatedly into the recommended list. It will be a great evening.
Brian Priestley has written in:
What you quote is quite true (as I can confirm from my days in secondary school), but I don't think the info comes from anything I've written.
I also have a very distant connection with Henry, courtesy of the Alan Cohen band's recording of Black, Brown and Beige (reissued on Vocalion), and more recently having asked him to do a couple of guest lectures at Trinity College when I was teaching there.
I should also have pointed out that Brian Priestley's critical biography of Mingus is available in the US
I thought the bit about latin actually came from Mingus himself – isn't it on the liner notes? Unfortunately all my LPs and CDs are in storage, so I can't check…!
Mingus Ah Um was the first jazz LPs I got – together with a Miles two-fer (Workin' & Steamin') – thrity years ago! It remains a brilliant record, and omne of my all time favourites.