Premieres in London by the celebrated Canadian-born composer-arranger John Warren are a rare thing indeed.
John Warren came to the Europe from his native Canada in 1962. His work has been perfomed by the Danish Radio Big Band, John Surman Octet, WDR Big Band, Cologne, BBC Big Band, Norma Winstone, Alan Skidmore Quintet, Georgie Fame & NDR Big Band, NOS Hilversum, NDR Symphony Orchestra, Karin Krog, Oslo Radio Orchestra, The Dedication Orchestra and Tim Garland’s Northern Underground Jazz Orchestra. He is based in York. There is a biography at JazzCDs
On Thursday 28th January his new work “Awhereabout” performed by a nonet. This is the first ever new commission by the enterprising team who run the Jazz Nursery series at the Golden Hinde. Sebastian found out more about the background:
LondonJazz News: What made you seek out a commission from John Warren?
Sam Braysher: John is a fantastic composer and someone whose work is not heard that often in London these days as he lives in York. He’s also a rare example of a specialist jazz composer, rather than an instrumentalist who also composes. Miguel Gorodi, who is part of the Jazz Nursery team and a great trumpeter, actually came up with the initial idea of asking John. Miguel is a massive fan of Warren’s Tales of the Algonquin, a classic British jazz album from the early ’70s which features people like Kenny Wheeler, John Surman, Harry Beckett and Stan Sulzmann.
LJN: John Warren, what was your reaction when the Jazz Nursery people approached you?
John Warren: I was surprised and delighted to have the opportunity to work with the large pool of talented younger musicians at the Nursery.
LJN: Was it already a particular brief or did you discuss it a lot?
JW: There was no particular brief. Dom and I discussed the players who were available and wanted to be involved. Once I knew the line-up I started work on the commission. It developed into a four part suite in which I hoped to feature each of the players.
LJN: What is the piece / does it tell a story ?
JW: Not so much a story as an evocation of place. As I was writing, the music suggested to me several moods that reflect the enormous spaces of the forests, lakes and rivers of Canada. The overall title “Awhereabout” is a made up word that represents that evocation. The sections are named after Algonquin folk tales: 1. Story of the Drum – 2. The Fox and the Bear – 3. Colours of the Sunset – 4. Land of Deep Water
LJN: Are there parts written with particular players in mind ?
JW: Not really. I knew most of them by reputation but not personally. But I try to shape the music to feature each player in a specific setting.
LJN: We hope it won’t get just one performance…..
JW: I am hoping we can find another outlet for the work. The players might know of someone interested in presenting the piece again.
SB: I hope so! The music John has written really is fantastic and it would be a shame if this were the only performance of it.
With thanks to Dom James for lining up the interview
Jazz Nursery Website. 28th January Start time 8pm, doors 7 30pm