Saxophonist duo, father and son Stan and Matt Sulzmann will play with their quintet at Vortex Jazz Club this Saturday 4 March. The set features some never-before-heard newly commissioned music, as well as their own compositions. Preview by Charles Rees
London-based tenor/soprano saxophonist, flautist, composer and arranger Stan Sulzmann is in his 75th year. His illustrious career has seen him perform and record with dozens of musical icons over the past fifty-plus years: Stan Getz, Barbra Streisand, Joni Mitchell, Gil Evans, Michael Brecker… the list goes on.
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As an arranger, Sulzmann has contributed charts to the pads of the big bands of Nikki Iles and Gwilym Simcock, as well as the London Jazz Orchestra and others. Not to mention his own projects with Kenny Wheeler, John Taylor and Marc Copland. He is a pivotally influential figure on the UK jazz scene.
In recent years, and in addition to his role as an educator, Sulzmann has focused primarily on the saxophone and on writing. One of the primary outlets for both is his quintet which he co-leads with his son, alto saxophonist Matt Sulzmann. Although the two have been playing together for over a decade, their quintet was officially established last year to celebrate their shared musical bond. Their next gig is set to take place at the Vortex on 4 March, featuring an exciting set of new music from several of the UK’s finest jazz composers.
The arranging of music by UK composers has been a major theme in Stan’s work of the past decade. LJN first wrote about this project in 2011 HERE
Nikki Iles, recently appointed as composer-in-residence with the NDR Bigband in Hamburg, is one of the featured composers. Her contribution to the set is a piece entitled “Words Fail Me”, which she dedicates to the struggles of the people of Ukraine. The compositional flair of award-winning pianist Gwilym Simcock was also commissioned for this project: the result is a piece called “Dune”, inspired by one of Stan’s older tunes written for the first edition of ABRSM Jazz syllabus ensemble fake books, “A Warm Rocky Place”; which was later recorded on the album Ordesa with Kenny Wheeler and John Parricelli.
Stan and Matt Sulzmann have also contributed their own music to the set, some of which has yet to be performed publicly. The latter Sulzmann explains his approach was to “pick stuff I wrote with my dad’s sound and playing in mind, and thinking about the two “voices” of the two-saxophone front line”. They are joined by Will Barry on piano, Will Sach on bass, and Dave Storey on drums.
The full performance will be videoed by Vortex and released at a later date, but this is a performance that will be best experienced live at the Vortex this Saturday 4 March.