|Fliss Gorst. Photo credit: Paul Torode|
Saxophonist, bandleader and arranger FLISS (Felicity) GORST is from Devon, from where her musical journey took her to Birmingham Conservatoire and then to playing on cruise ships. She has been in London since 2012, and leads the band Jivestar. In this interview with Sebastian she explains the concept behind the band, and looks forward to the band’s next London gig open to the public, at Pizza Express Dean Street on 15th October:
LondonJazz News: Who are Jivestar and how long have you been together as a band?
Fliss Gorst: Jivestar are a six piece swing/jive band which I formed in 2012 when I moved to London from Axminster in Devon (via studying in Birmingham and some worldwide cruise ship contracts). My idea was to form a band that was fun and energetic and had a featured guest vocalist on each gig. We play my arrangements/transcriptions and original compositions. We aim to appeal to a wide audience and have had a residency at Poppies Camden for over three years. We’ve also played Ronnie Scott’s, theatre shows, and a variety of venues across the country.
LJN: What led you to choose the musicians? How long have know them?
FG: I met our featured male vocalist Shane Hampsheir on New Year’s Day 2012 and have not managed to shake him off since! He has a really versatile voice but swing is undoubtedly his thing. Our sibling-esque relationship leads to a lot of unavoidable banter on stage. He will be performing alongside female vocalist Lauren Bush who I met at the Spice Of Life where I occasionally host the Vandoren Jazz Jam. Lauren sang in my originals project (The Fliss Gorst Quartet) and sounded great so it was a natural progression for her to come and sing with Jivestar too. Dave Boraston’s huge trumpet sound immediately blew me away when I played alongside him on a cruise ship in 2010. I was thrilled he could join Jivestar. I met bassist Matt Miles teaching in a primary school in Finsbury Park and I eventually caught wind of the fact that he is a highly reputable bass player (and also very modest).
The rest of the band are all Jivestar regulars I have met along the way! The wonderful Gunther Kurmayr on piano, Ben Mcdonnell on guitar and Dave Ingamells on drums
LJN: What’s been the fun along the way?
FG: I love being able to arrange the music the way I want it. I suppose that’s what drew me to have my own band. I love swing, and I enjoy the challenge of making it sound fresh and vibrant. Our repertoire is ever changing. At the moment I’m composing for the band as we aim to record our debut album over the next year.
Being at the front of the stage is new for me (as oppose to being a side man on gigs). I have a habit of vocalizing whatever is in my head so we’ve had a few interesting moments on stage! Audiences are what make Jivestar fun. If everyone in the room is having a good time on and off stage, then I’m happy.
LJN: Musical inspirations?
FG: Jivestar are heavily inspired by the music of Louis Prima, Brian Setzer, Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra to name a few. Personally my favourite saxophonists are Dexter Gordon and Stan Getz but it’s heaps of fun trying to recreate the raucous sound of Sam Butera playing in the band.
LJN: Best gig so far?
FG: Playing the main stage at Ronnie Scott’s was a real joy. Not just the history of the place but also because we had such a fantastic audience. I also love taking the band back to Devon to perform- Axminster Young Farmers are an audience to be reckoned with.
LJN: Where’s the next London gig?
FG: It is at Pizza Express which is such an intimate venue. I’m looking forward to that. The sound is good and it’s always nice to play to a listening audience – not that you can’t dance of course! I hope that the lunchtime set will welcome in people of all ages to come and have some fun with us.
DETAILS: Fliss Gorst’s JIVESTAR feat. Shane Hampsheir and Lauren Bush
Pizza Express Jazz Club, Soho on Saturday 15th October 1.30pm