The superb duo of saxophonist Iain Ballamy and pianist Jason Rebello will be streaming their now traditional Christmas show from the Cooper Hall in Frome on 9 December. Interview with Iain Ballamy by Sebastian.
LondonJazz News: You and Jason have been doing Christmassy things as a duo for some years. What started it off? When was it?
Iain Ballamy: What began in 2012 as a bit of fun has now become an unmissable feature of Christmas!
We met up, walked the dogs, drank tea, ate mince pies and then recorded a few Christmas carols and songs in Jason’s home studio to post on Soundcloud. This was just to send greetings and bring some seasonal cheer to family and friends.
Eight years later we are still going strong and have recorded nearly 30 tunes ranging from Coventry Carol to Little Donkey, from John Rutter to Wham!…
LJN: You live quite close to each other and are good friends?
IB: I live in Frome and Jason is in Bath. I first met him when he was in his early teens and played like Oscar Peterson (really!). It’s fair to say we are true friends now, sharing corny humour, musical inspirations and some deep conversations about the meaning of love, life and the universe…
LJN: Are there tunes you swear you will NEVER do? Mariah? Slade? Where do you draw the line?
IB: Ah, the line…I’d like to think nothing is off limits – after all “it’s not what you play, it’s the way that you play it!” That said, it would take some considerable feat of musical genius to transform Slade’s masterpiece into something that wouldn’t then haunt you forever like a questionable tattoo chosen in a moment of madness…
LJN: What’s the plan for 9 December?
IB: In an act of cheer, resilience and fortitude, we have booked Cooper Hall – a superb and magical small privately owned concert venue just outside Frome to film and livestream our 2020 Christmas gala concert.
It will be filmed with 3 cameras and hopefully excellent sound – the venue has an excellent Steinway piano – but sadly no live audience due to our current pandemic restrictions.
LJN: As they say on Only Connect – what have you been doing to prepare?
IB: I’ve ordered the mince pies, saddled up the reindeer, ironed the Santa outfits and – because I love a challenge (!) – gone ahead anyway and transcribed Slade’s ‘Merry Christmas everyone’ in all keys (with a “Giant Steps” turnaround) to make sure the hardcore jazzers have their Christmas fix!
LJN: Where can people book to watch it?
IB: Tickets can be booked online here. Our concert starts at 7.30pm live online on Wednesday 9 December and we are hoping as many people as possible will join us and help to counter the Brexit/Covid winter blues with some quality Christmas cheer!
LINK: Book tickets online here