The jazz concert series at Morley College has now enjoyed two very successful seasons featuring the likes of Stan Sulzmann, Tori Freestone, Nikki Iles, Ivo Neame, Sara Dowling and Julian Siegel.
Under the direction of Morley College head of jazz Flavio Li Vigni and jazz artist in residence Josephine Davies, this spring will see the continuation of that theme with three concerts including two double bills. Preview by Charles Rees:
Founded in 1889, Morley College is an institution that specialises in adult education across various campuses and locations around London. A sizeable music department primarily runs courses from the campus in Waterloo.
As the college’s brochure says, it was “one of the first adult learning Colleges in the UK to acknowledge the importance of Jazz and Afro-Cuban music as art forms.” In recent years a department specialising in jazz has been prospering under the direction of drummer Flavio Li Vigni. Part of this push for more jazz has seen residencies from Bill Laurence, the London Jazz Orchestra and saxophonist Josephine Davies, as well as a series of jazz concerts from internationally acclaimed artists. This series now enters its third season with three concerts…
Friday 28 April. The opening concert this season will be a very special set from vocalist Brigitte Beraha, joined by acclaimed saxophonist Iain Ballamy and pianist Matt Robinson. The trio will perform takes on some of their favourites from jazz and latin music in their characteristically creative manner. A solo set from Robert Mitchell will then follow. Mitchell, known for his talents across many artistic disciplines, will highlight music from his 2020 record The Rainbow Mountain/Can We Care and narrate some poetry from his upcoming second book.
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Friday 12 May. An evening with trumpeter Robbie Robson’s Quintet will then take place the following month. Joining Robson in the frontline will be alto saxophonist and composer Martin Hathaway, a member of the London Jazz Orchestra since its founding 31 years ago. The rhythm section – comprised of pianist John Turville, bassist Johnny Brierley and drummer Tim Giles – are all founding members of Robson’s group Dog Soup, and it was with this trio that Robson re-imagined music from Miles Davis’ “Lost Quintet”. All five players have plenty of experience working together over the past two decades and have formed a musical chemistry that separates them from the many other quintets on the scene.
Friday 9 June. Closing out the season is another double billing starting off with a duo from Morley College jazz artist-in-residence Josephine Davies on tenor sax, and Elliot Galvin on piano. As composers, the two have superb musical instincts that will combine with the openness and spontaneity of the duo setting into a unique performance. Following them will be another duo, this time piano and voice performed by Fini Bearman and Tom Cawley respectively. Both Bearman and Cawley have worked extensively across genres outside of jazz – working with the likes of Peter Gabriel, Charlie Watts and Bobby McFerrin – and will undoubtedly bring elements of those experiences to this performance.
All three concerts will take place at Emma Cons Hall (Morley College Waterloo Centre) at 19:30.
Li Vigni, discussing his hopes for these concerts, explains: “The aim of the series is to represent jazz in its diversity, create a new jazz venue on the London scene, build links between our students and the artists performing this music in London, and give some of our music students the opportunity to get work experience in the music sector as they will be helping with logistics and sound under the supervision of a professional live sound engineer.”
In order to further that effort, he will hold pre-concert interviews with the performers, discussing the recordings that influenced them. This is a tradition that carries over from previous seasons which included interviews with speakers such as Jason Rebello, Tori Freestone, Julian Siegel, Nikki Iles, Bill Laurance and Henry Lowther. All interviews will take place an hour before the performances start and are free to the public. The aforementioned previous interviews can be streamed on Morley Radio.