REVIEW: Royal Academy of Music Big Band with Dave Douglas and Evan Parker at Duke’s Hall

Dave Douglas ‘clearly enjoying himself enormously’
Photo credit: © Simon Jay Price

Royal Academy of Music Big Band with Evan Parker and Dave Douglas
(Duke’s Hall, RAM, Tuesday 16 January. Review by Peter Slavid)

The entire Royal Academy Jazz Department took to the stage for this special concert put together by its Head of Jazz, Nick Smart.

The concert was in two sections. The first part comprised a single piece called Eight Elements of Change. It divided the 45 musicians into seven smaller ensembles plus Evan Parker, who was introduced as an ensemble in his own right, to make up the eighth element. This piece has been used by Dave Douglas as an “ice-breaker” on the influential Banff jazz course but not normally performed in public. If the audience expected a conventional big-band sound they will have had something of a shock. This was a long complex swirling cinematic sound out of which each of the small ensembles and some of the individuals got a chance to feature – with Douglas enthusiastically conducting and encouraging.

The concert in the Duke’s Hall
Photo credit: © Simon Jay Price

In the second half the band was reduced to the more conventionally-sized Academy Band of about 18-pieces (members listed below), and Douglas picked up his trumpet to play alongside Evan Parker. Douglas also shared the conducting with Nick Smart, and there were excellent solos from a number of the students as well as some blistering trumpet from Douglas. Parker played a typically ferocious soprano sax as well as a fairly restrained tenor.

Through all this Dave Douglas was clearly enjoying himself enormously. He loved the venue, was delighted by it’s connection to Kenny Wheeler, made a few negative comments about the American President, called out to Norma Winstone and others who were in the audience, and generally had a great time playing his compositions with the band.

Some of the students are already well known performers, and I have no doubt that others will soon become successful. If I winced a little at the relatively low number of women, and the even smaller number of non-white faces, it didn’t change the quality of the musicians on display. This was a very enjoyable concert which would have graced a major concert hall, and there’s definitely a new generation of terrific musicians on the way.

Peter Slavid broadcasts a programme of European Jazz on thejazz.co.uk and mixcloud.com/ukjazz

Evan Parker and Dave Douglas
Photo credit: © Simon Jay Price


Saxes: Quinn Oulton, Robin Porter, Dan Smith, Chris Williams and Tom Smith

Trumpets: Tom Gardner, Luke Vice-Coles, Alistair Martin and Alex Ridout

Trombones: Nabou Calerhout, Joel Knee, Harry Maund and Rory Ingham on bass tbn

Piano: Albert Palau
Guitar: Oli Mason
Bass: Will Richardson/Will Sach
Drums: Oren McLoughlin/Luke Tomlinson
Directed by Nick Smart

Categories: miscellaneous

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