All the world’s a stage. And so is the year-round London jazz scene.There are many great individual characters in jazz in London,and they come from all over the world to live and perform here.
Italian dramatist Pirandello wrote: “They will live for ever because – living seeds – they had the luck to find a fruitful soil, an imagination which knew how to grow them and feed them.”
Some might question the “fruitful”, but you get the drift. Among the most compelling characters are quite a few Americans. There’s Bob Martin from New Jersey with his wonderful unmistakeable soaring killer alto sound. There’s Frank Griffith from Oregon, as completely steeped in the history and the harmony of this music as it is possible to be, there’s the unique life-giving bass playing and promoting of Michael Janisch from Wisconsin (check out the fascinating new album Purpose Built.)
And then there’s London’s very own New Orleans trumpeter, Abram Wilson. Trumpeter is, in fact, the first of seven professions/roles on Wilson’s website, the others being:
” vocalist, composer, music arranger, producer,educator, actor. “
That last profession. Actor. A practitioner of the art of mimesis. (Whoops, quick detour to Plato and Aristotle…) the art of representing, embodying, transforming oneself, of knowing only a continuous present. Having listened to Wilson’s latest CD I will gladly tickbox all of those. Yes indeed, actor.
Life Paintings is Wilson’s third CD. While his voice is the trumpet (on his previous album he also sang) , the parts he plays are many and varied. All the compostions are his own, and there is an fascinating range. There’s hipster, there’s gruff daddy bear, there’s model jazz student nailing every one of the changes, there’s a committed citizen marching in step (on Obama), there’s romantic balladeer….
To my ears the most convincing track is one where he absolutely lets rip: the rhythmically angular Breaking Point. Wilson seems to get an energy lift from the insistent rat-a-tat ride cymbal of drummer Graham Godfrey. If I get to Saturday’s gig, and I hope I do, that’s what I’ll be listening out for.