Since 2003, London based creative movement Jazz re:freshed has has been introducing new artists to the London jazz scene at its weekly gigs. This Thursday the featured headlining artist is London Jazz Pianist, NIJI ADELEYE. Interview by Candace Oxley:
London Jazz News: For people who are unfamiliar with you, tell us about yourself in a few sentences
Niji Adeleye: Well, I am a 25 year old jazz pianist from London, and I have been playing the piano for around 14 years. I have released two albums, the first entitled Better Days Ahead and the second Late Nights, Early Mornings, which are both jazz records. Oh and I also love food!
LJN: Where did your passion for music come from, and who inspires you?
NA: I come from a very musical family, so I really have to give credit to my parents, especially my Dad. My Dad plays five instruments – the piano, the drums, the accordion, the guitar and the saxophone – and my brothers and I were able to watch my Dad play with his band called the Gospel Symbols. It was made up of him, my mum (who sang), my uncle who played the trumpet and some others from the church.
He introduced my brothers and me to music through instrumentation, and we all started on the drums. I started playing the piano afterwards, and although I’ve since gone on to have other teachers and great mentors, my Dad was my first music teacher – he is my inspiration.
LJN: Is there anything you would have liked to have known about being a professional musician before you started?
NA: The balancing act of managing the highs and lows in your career. There are great high points like performing on some of the world’s largest stages with the likes of Michelle Williams (Destiny’s Child), and equally very low points in your career too, like not being offered opportunities, especially ones you feel like you deserve.
That said, I’m continuing to learn how to celebrate every step and every success along the way, treating every gig like it’s my last, and to play my heart out every time.
LJN: How old were you when you first performed live and what do you enjoy about it now?
NA: I grew up playing in church, so every Sunday was considered a ‘performance’ of some sort, and I was playing the tambourine and the bongos at around age six or seven. In terms of playing the piano in front of an audience that wasn’t the church, I’d say around age 13. I joined a jazz band in my local music service, and playing with them was my introduction to jazz music. We were called Phoenix Jazz, and we performed shows in the borough.
I love the freedom that comes with performing live; it allows me to express any feeling in the moment, and have audience journey along with me. Through that, I’m able to capture the audience with a moment that will only happen on that night, as no two performances are ever exactly the same, and that’s another amazing thing. I cherish that.
LJN: Outside of creating music, what are some of your other interests?
NA: I have a very mathematical brain, and throughout my academics, I studied Maths at GSCE, Maths and Further Maths at A-level, and while pursuing my career as a professional musician, I studied Financial Economics with Econometrics. I also spent two years working in finance before taking the leap into pursuing music full time. Equally to music, Finance is still a very big passion of mine, and I’m still really interested in the mechanics around the economy, investments, business, generating profit, etc.
LJN: What do you like about Jazz re:freshed, and what kind of repertoire will you be performing?
NA: Jazz re:freshed really represents the UK artists and not just the older UK artists who are well established but those at the grassroots too, and I love that. It’s encouraging for me as I’m still emerging and breaking into the UK jazz scene, so I’ve always appreciated Adam (Moses) for showing me love, and reaching out to me to play Jazz re:freshed. It really gives me an opportunity to cement my name in the London jazz circuit.
I’ll be performing material from both my records, Better Days Ahead and Late Nights Early Mornings, but typically with Jazz re:freshed, I emphasise the improvisational side of things. My solos tend to be longer and more experimental; last time, I played Jazz re:freshed, I bought down an organ and played that live! I always look forward to playing Jazz re:freshed, and I intend to give the audience a better show than they expected!
Candace Oxley is Founding Editor of in OTHER NEWS
LINKS: Tickets for Niji’s headline show at Jazz re:freshed at the Mau Mau Bar on Thursday 1 March
Niji Adeleye on Twitter