Drummer/promoter Richard Pite writes about next month’s tribute concert to Jazz at the Philharmonic (Cadogan Hall, Sunday September 14th):
This year is the 70th anniversary of the first ever Jazz At The Philharmonic. In 1944, jazz impresario Norman Granz hired the Philharmonic Auditorium in Los Angeles and booked a dozen or so jazz luminaries such as Nat “King” Cole, Les Paul, Illinois Jacquet and Buddy Rich. The debut was a great success and for the next 40 years Granz took his entourage around the world whilst also selling millions of live and studio recordings featuring many of his star performers including Lester Young, Charlie Parker, Oscar Peterson, Gene Krupa, Ben Webster, Benny Carter, Stan Getz and Dizzy Gillespie.
Around 18 months ago Pete Long and I, unbeknownst to each other, started up our own gigs based on the Jazz At The Philharmonic concept (his in an upstairs room of a Croydon boozer and mine at Boisdale Canary Wharf). The concept’s quite simple – get a bunch of young turks, pitch the trumpet players against each other, likewise with the saxes, limit the number of choruses they can all take to two or three maximum and get them to generate as much excitement as they can. We were both surprised by the fact that we’d been doing the same thing at opposite ends of London and amazed at the great reaction it got from the audiences. So we teamed up to bring it to Cadogan Hall.
Granz booked tremendous virtuosos and showmen – JATP was no place for shrinking violets. We’ve brought along some marvellous talents (young and not so young) to our Sunday afternoon tribute – including saxophonists Ray Gelato and Dean Masser, young trumpet demons Tommy Walsh and George Hogg, the great guitarist Nigel Price, piano maestro Nick Dawson and Buddy Rich disciple Elliot Henshaw on drums.
We’re following the JATP format of small bands in the first half and featuring singers Georgina Jackson and Nicola Emmanuelle in the respective roles of Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald. In the second half it’s the JATP inspired jam session and cutting contest. Should be great fun – hope you can make it.