PREVIEW INTERVIEW: Tom Syson (Bedford Jazz Festival feat. Ambrose Akinmusire, Bedford, March 19th-20th)

Tom Syson

Tom Syson is a trumpeter and creative musician. Following graduation from Birmingham Conservatoire, he has embarked on jazz promotion in Bedford where he lives. His most ambitious project to date is the Bedford Jazz Festival this weekend. He explained the background to Sebastian: 

LondonJazz News: You ran a festival last year what is different about this second one?

Tom Syson: Last year I ran ‘The Bedford and Milton Keynes Jazz Festival 2015’ which was 7 different events at 7 different venues. It was a lot of fun with some great musicians, and I learnt a lot of lessons.

This year’s festival, now called ‘Conscia Jazz Presents: The Bedford Jazz Festival 2016’, is very different. Being just in Bedford all the events are really close to each other, meaning people can go to more of the festival. This is helped by the introduction of a ‘Main Stage’ at The Quarry Theatre running from 12-4.45, with 4 acts each day, and also a ‘Community Stage’. It is also worth mentioning that the addition of an international act is a difference from last year.

LJN: How many concerts?

TS: There are 18 acts over the weekend as well as the film ‘High Society’ in partnership with Bedford Film Festival. These are taking place at a total of 5 different venues in the town centre.

LJN: What are the venues?

TS: The ‘Main Stage’ of the festival is based at The Quarry Theatre as well as ‘High Society’ and The Ambrose Akinmusire Quartet. The ‘Community Stage’ is based at The Ent Shed on the Saturday and the Bedford Arms on Sunday and the Bedford Corn Exchange is the home of our amazing Sunday headline event featuring the ‘Jacqui Dankworth & Charlie Wood: Just You, Just Me’ and ‘The London Vocal Project’. We also have ‘Emilia Martensson & Luca Boscagin’ at The Pavilion Cafe with a curry buffet!

LJN: How did you get involved?

TS: As a jazz musician, I strive to be able to create new music with my friends and to contribute to the scene in whatever way I can. In my second year at Birmingham Conservatoire I ran a school big band reunion night, and enjoyed the organisational side of things. It got me thinking, why don’t I try and promote a night in Bedford, my home town. So in January 2014 I started running a monthly night at The Ent Shed in Bedford, and it has kind of snowballed from there.

LJN: I bet you are thrilled to have landed Ambrose Akinmusire what group is he bringing and when is it?

TS:  Yes you are right, I am extremely thrilled. His music is very inspiring to me as a musician and trumpeter, and when I first started promoting it was my goal to one day bring him and his group to Bedford, so I am very pleased to be able to do that. He is bringing his quartet featuring Sam Harris on Piano, Harish Raghavan on Double Bass and Rodney Green on Drums, and it is taking place at The Quarry Theatre on Saturday the 19th at 8pm. Tickets are £15 for adults and £12 for students.

LJN: Any other events you would like to flag up?

TS:  Im very lucky to have such great musicians performing on the festival and so it is hard to pick another event to flag up, so I am going to highlight the ‘Main Stage’ as a whole. As i mentioned before, on both days of the festival from 12 to 4.45, there will be 4 acts at The Quarry Theatre making up our ‘Main Stage’. These acts are:

Stuart McCallum & Mike Walker,
The Frank Griffith Quartet: ‘
Kind of Getz’,
The Karen Sharp Quartet’

The Kansas Smitty’s House Band’,
Huw Warren: ‘Trio Brazil’
‘Pigfoot’ and ‘
The Pete Churchill Quartet

There are ‘Main Stage Passes’ available for each day as well at the price of £29 for adults and £21 for students, which will get you into all events on the ‘Main Stage’ on that day with just one ticket. (LINK BELOW)

LJN: Are there any young players in Bedford and are you able to give them a showcase at some point?

TS:  We have a really great community of musicians in and around the Bedfordshire area at the moment, and as well as some older more established musicians, we have a hub of young musicians also. To name a few, there are Jessica Bullen, a recent alto sax graduate of The Royal Welsh College of Music, Mark Hale, young drummer who runs a very successful night at The Bedford Arms, Vittorio Mura, Tenor Sax player who is currently at Birmingham Conservatoire, and two bass players, Edwin Ireland and Antonio Mura, who are also both currently studying at music college.

An aim for the festival next time around is to incorporate more opportunities for younger musicians like myself, so I hope to be able to showcase musicians such as these at some point in the future.



The Ambrose Akinmusire Quartet
8pm – The Quarry Theatre – £15(£12)


Main Stage – The Quarry Theatre

Stuart McCallum & Mike Walker
12.00 – £10(£7)

The Frank Griffith Quartet Kind of Getz
13.15 – £12.50(£8)

14.30 – £10(£7)

The Karen Sharp Quartet
15.45 – £12.50(£8)


Fringe Event

Emilia Martensson & Luca Boscagin
The Pavilion Cafe – £21.50
Curry buffet included – food starts at 17.30, music starts at 18.00.

Community Stage – The Ent Shed – Free

Orchestral Manoeuvres in Jazz

All ’bout Jazz

The Ian Bufton Big Band


Jacqui Dankworth & Charlie Wood: Just You, Just Me
Support by The London Vocal Project
8pm – The Corn Exchange – £19


Main Stage – The Quarry Theatre

The Kansas Smitty’s House Band
12.00 – £12.50(£8)

Huw Warren: Trio Brazil
13.15 – £10(£7)

14.30 – £10(£7)

The Pete Churchill Quartet
15.45 – £12.50(£8)

Sunday  STAGE PASS LINK £29(£21)

Fringe Event

The film ‘High Society’ in partnership with Bedford Film Festival
The Quarry Theatre -17.30 – £7.50(£5)

Community Stage – The Bedford Arms – Free

Rachel & Friends
JP Jazz
The Cool jazz Collective

All tickets available at www.conscia.org

Categories: miscellaneous

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