INTERVIEW: Paul Pace (Celebration of 20 Years of Spice Jazz, 7 November)

Paul Pace (right) with Shu Ishikawa’s Trio
Photo credit: Yuko Yokoi

PAUL PACE will be hosting a celebration of twenty years of live jazz at the Spice of Life on Wednesday 7 November. There will be three vocal-led sets featuring:

– ANTON BROWNE evoking soul-jazz greats Joe Williams and Lou Rawls
– RACHAEL CALLADINE – who performed at the very first night in 1998
– Paul Pace himself, with his ‘ Sinatraesque bluesy baritone’ …

…plus a band of David Swan,Alex Western-King
, Adam King and David Ingamells. Here Paul remembers some highlights of the twenty years since 1998:

This first week of November 2018 is a personal milestone: I have been promoting live jazz in its myriad of forms, from traditional, swing, contemporary, funk and occasionally ‘improv’ at the Spice of Life pub in Soho for twenty years.

We have presented a huge variety of musical outfits from solo performers to 20-piece big bands! Countless musicians have passed through the ‘Spicejazz’ portals encompassing those at the beginning of their careers and others more established with a fair sprinkling of British jazz legends such as Jim Mullen, Mike Garrick, Frank Holder, Kenny Wheeler, Peter King, Stan Sulzmann, Tommy Whittle, Barbara Jay, Art Themen, Don Weller, Mike and Kate Westbrook, Evan Parker and Harry Beckett along with US sax heavyweights Seamus Blake and Jim Snidero, masterful pianist Darius Brubeck, and a taste of New York jazz cabaret with Marlene Verplanck and Daryl Sherman. A number of performers such as Jamie Cullum, Soweto Kinch, the Puppini Sisters and James Hunter played some of their early gigs at the Spice and are now well established on the world circuit.

A crowning moment was the visit in 2012 of Wynton Marsalis. The Jazz at the Lincoln Center Orchestra were in residence at the Barbican and a handful of his musicians including trumpeter Terell Stafford were guesting with the Guildhall Big Band directed by Martin Hathaway at the Spice. This was a heady enough atmosphere for a jazz fan to contemplate prior to Mr Marsalis dropping by and gently leading his quorum of JLCO musicians through a brace of standards before soloing with the Guildhall Big Band on Ellington’s ‘A Drum Is A Woman’ suite.

Paul Pace in 2011
Photo credit: Benjamin Amure

Collaborations have abounded with the likes of Gary Crosby and Janine Irons of Dune Music – regular Tomorrow’s Warriors sessions over a five-year period where the burgeoning talents of Shabaka Hutchins, Nathanial Facey, Zara McFarlane and Charlie Stacey were mentored by Gary and the much-missed New Orleans trumpeter Abram Wilson.

Chaos Collective with founder members Laura Jurd, Elliot Galvin, Conor Chaplin and Corrie Dick made a tremendous impact on the scene with a variety of ‘genre-bending’ ensembles during their two-year tenure as did the regular performances of the mighty Mimika Orchestra led by Croatian composer Mak Murtic and featuring singer Maja Rivić, saxophonist Nubya Garcia, trumpeter Sheila Maurice-Grey and trombonist Rosie Turton.

European jazz has been significant in developing a stimulating programme which has included landmark performances by the popular young Oslo-based group Pixel led by bassist Ellen Andrea-Wang as well as a couple of Czech Jazz Night seasons often presented as part of the annual ‘Made in Prague’ festival. I would like to acknowledge the support of the Spice of Life team led by current manager Patrick Pittard who was open to an upgrade of the room including the purchase of the Yamaha C3 grand piano Thanks also to Kerry Long of Barnes & Mullins and saxophonist Matt Telfer of our monthly Vando Jam as well as trumpeter Barney Lowe who leads the magnificent London City Big Band – they wow us on the last Wednesday of each month.

With me in the ‘SpiceJazz’ team is the legendary Jackie Docherty on the door and ‘magic tricks’ plus the rock solid and gentle Matt Brewer on sound who makes every performer sound amazing. Of course, where would we be without the talents of all the excellent musicians and our lovely audiences – a big thanks to them all! Looking forward, I have recently started working with the very talented young saxophonist Alex Western-King. We are now programming together and looking to see how we can maintain this now respected venue for live jazz whilst keeping the musical offering, fresh and exciting.

We hope you are able to join us to celebrate…

The Spice Jazz stage
Photo by Paul Pace

LINK: BOOK TICKETS FOR Wednesday, 7 November – SpiceJazz : 20th Anniversary Part

Categories: Features/Interviews

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