|Stan Sulzmann and the Neon Orchestra at the CBSO Centre, Birmingham in 2013|
Photo: © John Watson/jazzcamera.co.uk
Audiences at five concerts around the land have the opportunity to celebrate not only Stan Sulzmann’s big seven-oh – the actual date is 30 November, he shares it with Winston Churchill – but also the immense contribution this saxophonist, composer and arranger has made to jazz in the UK over the last half-century.
One jazz writer told me, “There is possibly no figure on the UK jazz scene more central and influential”, and one need not go far to find accolades from other journalists and musicians alike for this man who has achieved the rare balance of being both elder statesman and up-to-the-minute player.
Guardian reviewer John Fordham has written: “UK saxophonist Stan Sulzmann could have lost his own musical personality in a three-decade career of showing he could play anything for anybody, at any tempo, with preparation you could write on a postage stamp. Instead, he found an authoritative voice late in the game, and became one of the British scene’s real interpretative individuals. “
Here’s pianist Gwilym Simcock: “I know that if I just had to walk out and make music with someone, he’d be at the top of the list, the music is so heartfelt, it’s such a natural thing.”
And saxophonist Julian Siegel: “Great writing, great playing, a great musician. He’s a fine example of a saxophonist who’s worked in many different spheres, an example to musicians on any instrument. It’s all about the music and his sound, and also about how much support he’s given to all us other musicians.”
At the end of this month Stan is taking his Neon Orchestra on the road, with support from Arts Council England. It’s a truly inter-generational band (age range: 22 all the way up to 80) packed with interesting players, many of whom go back a long way with their leader. The concerts will feature brand new compositions and arrangements alongside the established Sulzmann repertoire.
Stan Sulzmann’s Neon Orchestra plays:
30 September: Scarborough Jazz Festival
22 November: Purcell Room, South Bank Centre (EFG London Jazz Festival)
23 November: Sheffield Jazz
24 November: Eastside Jazz Club, Royal Birmingham Conservatoire
27 November: Watermill Jazz
The Neon Orchestra’s personnel will be:
Saxophones: Stan Sulzmann, Matt Sulzmann, Pete Hurt, Josh Arcoleo (not Watermill), Martin Hathaway, Alex Hitchcock (Watermill only), James Allsop;
Trumpets: Henry Lowther, Tom Walsh, James Copus, Noel Langley;
Trombones: Mark Nightingale (not Scarborough), Mark Bassey, Olli Martin (Scarborough only), Gordon Campbell, Sarah Williams;
Piano: Nikki Iles
Vibraphone: Johnny Mansfield
Guitar: Alex Munk
Bass: Dave Whitford
Drums: Tim Giles
LINK: Stan Sulzmann’s website