Preview : New York Standards Quartet – tour kicks off at Oxford Jazz Festival

Pianist David Berkman ( he has played with EVERYBODY and has a great BLOG !) writes about the forthcoming UK tour of Michael Janisch’s New York Standards Quartet which kicks off at the Oxford Jazz Festival this Friday April 7th

Sometimes things come together in fortuitous ways. A chance meeting leads to a love affair, a passing comment leads to an idea for a brilliant life-saving invention—an email from a dying Nigerian prince gives you 40 million pounds and all you have to do is mail your credit card information and wait! (Although I would have thought I’d have heard SOMETHING by now…)

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Anyway, just such a fortuitous coming together of elements is occurring. Michael Janisch, a phenomenal young talented bassist is joining forces with the New York Standards Quartet for an English tour of unprecedented proportions. I’m really thrilled to be a part of all of this. I’ve been quite close in recent years, performing in Edinburgh at the Jazz and Blues Festival, the Dundee festival, the Glasgow International Jazz Festival, the Brecon Festival, the Belfast Festival, the Islay Festival, the Guinness Festival (Cork)—although the details of those last two are a bit fuzzy due to a rather unabashed consumption of spirits— but England has eluded my grasp. No more. As Joyce says quoting someone or other: “No more turn aside and brood upon love’s bitter memory” and I intend to take up that good advice and run with it, whatever the heck it means.

The New York Standards Quartet is a group that has been working together for seven years and in that time, we’ve grown pretty damn close to one another. Gene Jackson, everyone’s favorite drummer and tech guru (he’s appeared with Herbie Hancock, Dave Holland, and the Mingus Big Band to name a few) Tim Armacost (a monstrous tenor player who has worked with Ray Drummond, Billy Hart, Bob Hurst and many others) and David Berkman (an astoundingly good-looking pianist who has played with the likes of Tom Harrell, Dave Douglas, Cecil McBee and the Vanguard Orchestra to mention a mere fraction of the jazz star power that he’s graced bandstands with) have forged a kind of unstoppable link that…well, just won’t allow itself to be stopped, I guess it would be fair to say. Ah…but bassists. Bassists are to the New York Standards Quartet what drummers are to Spinal Tap. And while no bassists have actually spontaneously combusted, a few did combust albeit in a rather pre-planned dry sort of way. So for that reason, and about 100 others, we are especially excited to be joining forces with Michael Janisch, who has graciously invited us to his adopted land, for the highly enjoyable purpose of making music together.

But I kid. Actually, I really AM thrilled to be coming to England to perform with these old and new friends. Please join us for one or more of these gigs if you can attend. I am also extremely gratified to be doing some clinics and workshops for younger players. I enjoy these immensely and I always learn a lot from what the other members of the band have to say about their musical beliefs and practice tips (when they can get a word in—I’m a bit of a talker, actually.) I understand that we will be working with over 400 students during these few weeks so please come out and join us with your questions and your energy. Thanks to the Oxford Jazz Festival for kicking off this tour in grand style and having us over—they’re a great bunch I understand, supporting music for the sheer love of it and they could use everyone’s support in return. Thanks also to Arts Council England for their generous support. I can hardly wait!


7: Oxford Jazz Festival, Oxford,
8: Herts Jazz Club, Welwyn Garden City,

9: 606 Club, London
11: Colston Hall, Bristol,
12: Grimsby Jazz Club, Grimsby
14: Porthcawl International Jazz Festival + Daytime Masterclass, Porthcawl, Wales
15: The Drum, Birmingham + Daytime Masterclass
16: Southampton Jazz Club, Southampton
18: Hull University Daytime Masterclass, Hull Jazz Club Nightime, Hull
19: Seven Arts, Leeds Jazz Society, (workshop in the afternoon) Leeds

20: Sheffield Jazz Society, Sheffield
21: Leicester Jazz Society, Leicester
22: Southport Melodic Jazz Club, Southport

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