Morley Jazz Series (starts Friday 28 February 2020)

After a highly successful inaugural series of jazz concerts in 2019, Morley College has announced a new programme of five concerts to take place at the end of each month from 28 February 2020, starting with the duo of Alice Zawadzki and Rob Luft. Leah Williams takes a first look at the exciting line-up and talks to Morley’s Head of Jazz Flavio Li Vigni about what’s coming up.

Collage: Rebecca Cresta Photography

This year’s gigs were carefully curated by drummer Flavio Li Vigni in collaboration with saxophonist Tori Freestone – who also performed as part of last year’s series – and young trumpeter Mark Kavuma. Their main aim was to try and capture the massive breadth and diversity of talent out on the London scene.

“We really wanted to make sure we were presenting as many corners of jazz and as many players as we could in this short series. It’s why it was so important for me to work on this with Tori and Mark, who themselves represent two very different aspects of jazz playing,” said Flavio.

The first two gigs are double bills. Opening the series are young innovators Alice Zawadzki and Rob Luft followed by seasoned duo Andrew McCormack and Jason Yarde. The second double bill on Friday 24 April features celebrated pairing Nikki Iles and Stan Sulzmann, then long-term collaborators Ivo Neame and Jim Hart present their debut album Multiverse.

“We wanted to pack as much as we could into this mini series, and also to offer concerts where a real range of distinct yet complementary music could be heard in one evening,” Flavio explains.

The line-up for the final three concerts is:

Friday 22 May, Sara Dowling Quartet  (featuring Sara Dowling, voice, Gabriel Latchin, piano, Dario Di Lecce, bass and Steve Brown, drums). Sara, voted best vocalist in the British Jazz Awards 2019, is deeply inspired by the repertoire of the American songbook, putting her own fresh spin on the classics.

Thursday 25 June, London Jazz Orchestra led by Scott Stroman. One of the most established jazz ensembles in the UK, the London Jazz Orchestra is Morley’s artist-in-residence for 2020 and will also be involved in an array of other music projects throughout the year.

Friday 26 June, Julian Siegel Quartet (featuring Julian Siegel on tenor & soprano sax and bass clarinet, Liam Noble on piano, Oli Hayhurst on double bass and Gene Calderazzo on drums). BBC Jazz Award winning saxophonist and composer Julian plays alongside some of this generation’s most distinctive voices to create one of the UK’s most exciting and powerful quartets.

The London Jazz Orchestra has a special connection to Morley College. When it was first founded over 60 years ago, it was actually the Morley Jazz Orchestra and was a mix of professionals, semi-professionals and students with the likes of Kenny Wheeler and John Taylor involved. Morley has always had strong ties to the London jazz community and part of the reasoning behind these new annual concert series is to revive and strengthen these links.

“Jazz is really thriving in London at the moment, and we have a really strong jazz programme at Morley that reflects this. Part of our aim at the College is to be a part of the community of musicians of London and to bring all the exciting playing and music happening out there back to the College,” Flavio enthuses.

Each concert will be preceded by a chat with the musicians, where they will discuss an album that had an impact on their musical journey and career, followed by an audience Q&A. Part of Morley’s educational outreach, these talks are free events open to all and will also be released as a podcast on Morley Radio.

Tickets are being sold at a very reasonable £12 per gig or £50 for the entire series. “We were really mindful of trying to make these as affordable as possible. We want as many people as possible to have access to this great music and to get a chance to see how diverse and exciting jazz can be.” (pp)

LINK: Booking details

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