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Through the Lens: Changing Standards

On Friday 18 Nov the London Sinfonietta once again performed as part of the EFG London Jazz Festival. This time we headed to the Southbank Centre's Purcell Room with a programme of jazz standards re-composed by some of the brightest and best British jazz composers, Trish ClowesElliot GalvinLaura JurdRobert Mitchell and Alex Paxton. 

On the basis of this concert, it seems fair to claim that if the future of British jazz composition is in the hands of composer/performers like these five musicians, then we have a lot of very interesting evenings ahead. Planet Hugill

World Premiere and London Sinfonietta Commission

Trish Clowes' piece Carousel Trees is a reworking of I'll be seeing you, a standard written by Sammy Fain and Irving Kahal. After its creation, it was used in a rather unsuccessful Broadway show called Right This Way. Despite this, the standard became so popular in its own right that director Dore Schary named a film after it, and included it in the soundtrack. Trish recalled a fond memory, "I was in a pub in Marylebone, and there was a group of men singing this whilst enjoying their pints of London Pride, accompanied by another man at an upright piano in the corner - it turns out this pub was one of the few piano singalong pubs left in London."

Elliot Galvin's piece God Bless The Free Market takes Billie Holiday's God Bless the Child as its inspiration. It forms a similarly biting critique of economic inequality, its perpetuation throughout human history and its current incarnation as the invisible hand of the free market. 

Watch Elliot's performance at our concert at EFG Jazz Festival last year here:

A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing is one of jazz’s more enigmatic and alluring melodies - characteristic of the brilliant melodist and Duke Ellington sidekick, Billy Strayhorn. Laura Jurd's A Lovesome Thing is an architectural re-imagining of the tune, beginning with its initial notes but ending up on new sonic planes, with new rhythmic territory and in this case, springboards for improvisation.

Watch Laura's performance at our concert at EFG Jazz Festival last year here:

Robert Mitchell's Multitudes II is a response to the tune Stratusphunk by the legendary musician, theorist and philosopher George Russell. It is also a tribute to the man and his overlooked but immense contribution to the future of music in the shape of the Lydian Chromatic Concept of Tonal Gravity.

Alex Paxton said about his piece Meany "for me, score-making composition feels like a mini world-building, 8 mins of vibrator-sensation and then it’s gone". Meany is just that, an exciting and wonderful expression of what a trombone, and a trombone player, can be and how emotional, sensory and loud the relationship between player and instrument can be. 

Photos by Sisi Burn

Published: 22 Nov 2022