Trevor Tomkins Tribute Concert at Guildhall School Studio Theatre

Trevor Tomkins Tribute Concert
(Guildhall School Studio Theatre. 4 October 2023. Report by Sebastian Scotney)

Norma Winstone, Henry Lowther and Art Themen re-creating the Garrick Sextet. Photo by Sisi Burn

There are special evenings when you can both hear and feel the heartbeat of a community. The room is full of admiration, gratitude, respect and love, and the right people are centre-stage.

Last Thursday’s ‘Trevor Tomkins Tribute Concert’ – brilliantly put together by Matt Skelton and Adam Williams and the team at Guildhall School of Music and Drama – was one of them. It was a rail strike day, so there had even been a bus arranged to bring people from another of Trevor Tomkins’ spiritual homes, the Milford Arms in Isleworth, to Guildhall.

As the introduction to the programme stated:

“His generosity of spirit and his sense that music is an expression of community will continue to resonate with generations of musicians to come. Here’s to Trev.”

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The roll call of musicians who played (full list below) was phenomenal. The second of the three bands playing was a re-creation of the Garrick Sextet, including no fewer than four very great octogenarians: Norma Winstone, Henry Lowther, Art Themen (picture above) and Dave Green.

Art Themen and Tom Jarvis. Photo by Sisi Burn

This memorable evening had many such special moments. Art Themen channeling Ben Webster uncannily vividly, but also showing generous appreciation of the next generation, particularly when making sure young alto player Tom Jarvis could enjoy his moment of glory, as caught brilliantly here by photographer Sisi Burn.

Scott Stroman (with Ed Rice and Dave Green). Photo by Sisi Burn

Scott Stroman MC’d the evening gracefully and hugely informatively, explaining the context of Trevor Tomkins’ role as drummer in bands such as the Rendell/Carr Quintet and the Michael Garrick sextet, but also – of equal weight – the influence he has had on generations of younger musicians as a teacher at Guildhall School.

Rendell/Carr Group. L-R Ed Rice, Gabriel Garrick, Flo Edmonds, Dave Green, Martin Hathaway, Daniel Harding.
Photo by Pete Woodman

The first group had its strongest direct connection to the past in the form of trumpeter Gabriel Garrick. He played part of the set on a flugelhorn handed down to him by Ian Carr, allowing him to disclaim all responsibility for wrong notes because “he left them in there”.

Trevor Tomkins Sextet re-created: L-R: John Horler (partially hidden), Dave O’Higgins, Jakub Klimiuk, Oli Rath. Out of shot: Tim Wells, Dave Ingamells. Photo by Sisi Burn

There were current and recent students in the limelight, as here with Jakub Klimiuk and Oli Rath. This was on occasion to remember, but also one brimming with hope for the future.

Rendell/Carr Group
Martin Hathaway alto sax
Flo Redmonds tenor sax
Gabriel Garrick trumpet
Ed Rice piano
Dave Green double bass
Daniel Harding drums

Garrick Sextet featuring NormaWinstone
Norma Winstone vocals
Tom Jarvis alto sax
Art Themen tenor sax
Henry Lowther trumpet
Vicente Magalhaes piano
Dave Green bass
Winston Clifford drums

Trevor Tomkins Sextet
Dave O’Higgins tenor & soprano sax
Oli Rath trombone
Jakub Klimiuk guitar
John Horler piano
Tim Wells bass
David Ingamells drums

LINKS: RIP Trevor Tomkins – LJN news story with 12 Tributes
Double CD “For Future Reference” from Jazz in Britain

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