PREVIEW: Royal Academy of Music International Jazz Festival (Sun 12th – Thurs 16th Feb)

Nicl Smart directing the Royal Academy Big Band
in the Queen Elizabeth Hall 

Nick Smart, Head of Jazz at the Royal Academy of Music, writes:

As the weekend approaches we get ready for a busy week in and around the Academy. It is the third annual Academy Jazz Festival and this year has a particularly international theme.

The regular timetable is given over to the ensemble projects and all the different year groups are mixed up and collaborate together, added to which, each of the special guests plays in the bands with the students. 

This year we welcome US vibes legend Joe Locke, a keen follower of the scene over here and a regular visitor to the Academy. We welcome back the leading French Jazz musicians Andre Charlier and Benoit Sourisse, who were last here for their incredible big band project when they performed to a packed Clore Ballroom in the 2015 London Jazz Festival.

The celebrated Brazilian guitarist Lupa Santiago makes his first visit to the Academy which we are very excited about, he is from Sao Paolo and has worked with a huge range of International artists. Last but not least are our own Jim Hart and Michael Janisch, fresh from their recent successful “Cloudmakers” tour.

In addition to the Academy concerts, I will join Lupa Santiago (guitar), Benoit Sourisse (organ), Andre Charlier (drums) and the astonishingly good young tenor saxophonist Alex Hitchcock, to make a quintet for two concerts – at the Green Note in Camden, Sunday 12th and at the 606 on Monday 13th.

It is great to be able to bring these kinds of artists into London and celebrate in the talent of our students and, now more than ever, the unifying nature of what we are lucky enough to be able to do.


Sunday 12th Feb – Green Note, Camden – Nick Smart International Quintet featuring Lupa Santiago, Benoit Sourisse, Andre Charlier, Alex Hitchcock (Booking)

Mon 13th Feb – 606 Club, Lots Road, Nick Smart International Quintet (as above – 606club.co.uk)

Wednesday 15th Feb – Royal Academy Jazz Festival, 6.30pm in the David Josefowitz Recital Hall at RAM – ensembles led by and featuring Lupa Santiago, Jim Hart and Andre Charlier (free, no tickets required)

Thursday 16th Feb – Royal Academy Jazz Festival, 6.30pm in David Josefowitz Recital Hall  at RAM – ensembles led by and featuring Benoit Sourisse, Joe Locke and Michael Janisch (free, no tickets required)

And a note about the music playing in the background behind the video below: when Andre Charlier and Benoit Sourisse were over for the Festival we commissioned Stan Sulzmann to arrange and play on one of their tunes. The recording ended up on their album with Perico Sambeat and myself as the soloists. The tune is La Femme du Petit Soldat Unijambiste (The little one-legged soldier’s wife).

Categories: miscellaneous

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