Yesterday was apparently the first day of spring, and what better way to herald the change into the new season with the first Jazz @ 5 on the Gulbenkian Theatre’s foyer stage.
Featuring the robust pianistic skills of second-year Economic student, Niji Adeleye, and saxophonist with the Concert and Big Bands, Tim Pickering, both of whom were making their debut, and Jazz @ 5 stalwart Andrew Kitchin on guitar, the programme kicked off with a lively blues.
Over the course of set the stage was graced with songstresses Steph Richardson (who, when not singing jazz or studying Drama, can also be found performing and conducting with the Chamber Choir), Ruby Mutlow (familiar as singer with the Big Band), and Jo Gray. A deft rendition of Too Darn Hot from Steph, a French version of I Go Sailing from Jo and a vibrant I Wish I Knew (How It Feels To Be Free) were just some of the standards in the programme, alongside some instrumental pieces showing Niji’s immense creativity, Andrew’s skilful solo-ing and some robust melodic improvisation from Tim.
Well received by an enthusiastic (and numerous) crowd, the event was a great success: well done to all the performers.
The ever-popular Jazz @ 5 series returns for a one-off special this Wednesday, on the Gulbenkian Theatre’s foyer stage.
University musicians will gather at 5pm to provide an informal gig, including jazz standards, showtunes and songs. Appearing at the gig will be Jazz @ 5 regulars Andrew Kitchin (guitar), Steph Richardson and Jo Gray (voice), along with this year’s Big Band singer, Ruby Mutlow.
Making their Jazz @ 5 debut will be saxophonist with the Concert and Big Bands, Tim Pickering, and pianist with the London Community Gospel Choir and second-year Economics student, Niji Adeleye.
The gig starts at 5pm, and admission is free: come and enjoy some laid-back mid-week jazz at the end of the day.
Looking at the new concert diary over the next four months, I think it’s fair to say this is one of the busiest I’ve seen here at the University.
Events kick off in a few week’s time with the award-winning St James Quintet opening the Lunchtime Concert series for the term with an eclectic programme for wind quintet. February begins with a bang as the Concert and Big Bands storm back to the Gulbenkian in ‘Nice ‘n’ Easy,’ with a selection including classic Duke Ellington and pieces fromWicked, to name but a few; the Chamber Choir will take you on an evocative journey ‘From Morn to Midnight‘ in the intimacy of Canterbury Cathedral Crypt towards the end of the month.
March promises to be an epic month; there’s the glory of the Colyer-Fergusson Cathedral Concert as the Chorus and Symphony Orchestra unite in Haydn’s Creation; student and staff musicians in Jazz @ 5; the exciting prospect of Korngold’s lyrical second string quartet with the Brodskys; exoticism from the Bamboo and Silk Ensemble; not one – not two – but three bands as the Concert and Big Bands team up with St. Edmund’s School for Big Bands3, before the term finishes with a valedictory lunchtime concert at St Peter’s Church in Canterbury from the newly-founded University Mistral Ensemble and the Chamber Choir.
Click here to view online, and get the dates in your diaries now, or download a copy of the brochure as a PDF. Something for everyone…
Continuing the series profiling musical alumni of the University of Kent. This week, Siobhan Harper.
When were you at Kent?
I was at Kent from September 2006 until July 2009.
What subject did you study?
English Literature and Film Studies.
What occupation are you now engaged in?
I’m doing a Masters degree in English at the University of Exeter.
If music is not your profession, do you participate in any musical experiences now?
I’m not sure I’d cope if I wasn’t doing something musical! After I graduated I was in the City of Birmingham Symphony Chorus for a year, which was fantastic; we did loads of amazing pieces with some renowned conductors, and went on tour to Kuala Lumpur! Currently I’m in the Exeter University Singers, which is basically like a larger chamber choir. In fact, we’ve done a few of the same pieces that we did at Kent!
How were you involved in music whilst at Kent?
I was in the Chamber Choir and Chorus for the whole of my three years, in the society committee for the last two, and I had a singing scholarship and a music lesson scholarship. I also performed at Jazz @ 5, and at ArtsFest as part of Three Divas and a Piano. I think I had more contact hours with the music department than with my course!
What did you gain from your University music experience, and has this helped you in any way since leaving Kent?
Definitely most importantly, I made some of my best friends through the music society, friends that I still can’t seem to get rid of! Every crypt concert we’re reunited as a big group and it’s always one of the best nights of the year.
Knowing that I can handle doing a university course and being an active part of a society is fantastic. Both required so much organisation and time management, and it’s great to know that I am capable of handling those two disparate things. The knowledge that I wanted to be doing all things musical alongside all my work was also fantastic; music has always been such a big part of my life and I loved being able to continue with it at university.
And, of course, my balloon-blowing skills have come along in leaps and bounds, thanks to ArtsFest.
What was your most memorable musical experience at Kent?
One particularly wonderful memory is of Jacob Barnes, Chamber Choir’s accompanist for my first two years of university. In our first crypt concert in 2007, Jacob performed, and it was the highlight of the concert; he was an extraordinary musician and we were all blown away by his performance. I wasn’t lucky enough to know him as well as others did, but I have the deepest sympathy for his friends and family. Rest in peace, Jacob.
My musical experience at Kent was so rich, it’s far too difficult to pick just one memory. So I won’t:
Every Chamber Choir crypt concert, and every post-concert trip to the Buttermarket. Paris Tour 2008. African drums in the cathedral crypt. All of Sue’s quotes that we noted down gleefully in every Chorus rehearsal. Sop Central. Tippett Spirituals. Every committee handover meal. Chili con Carne. Sneaking into the VIP tent at ArtsFest. Every chamber choir rehearsal in the OTE. Eric Whitacre’s Sleep. When my party popper didn’t go off during the ‘Champagne Polka’. Here Come The Girls. Having the chorus sing me ‘Happy Birthday’ on my 21st. Howard Skempton, and the signed photographs. Boozy Ss. Staying up to watch the sunrise after ArtsFest 2008.
Congratulations to all the performers who brought the term’s jazz-making to a fine conclusion this evening, in the last of the current season of Jazz @ 5 gigs. A packed audience in the Gulbenkian Foyer gave an enthusiastic and supportive reception to all the players, and were clearly enjoying themselves at the end of the day.
An adventurous programme saw a mixture of groove-based tunes mixed with straight-ahead swing and some folk-inflected music: Grover Washington Jnr’s funky Mr Magic and EST’s Good Morning, Suzie Soho sat next to Hallelujah, I Love Him So and The Best Is Yet To Come, whilst Bad Moon Rising and songs by Fairground Attraction added a folky element to the evening.
Some fine performing from Alanya Holder, Steph Richardson and Jo Gray at the microphone, whilst newcomer Marina Ivanova made her Jazz @ 5 debut with great assurety, accompanied by guitarist Martin Lestra.
The regular quintet, led by Dan Harding on piano, saw Will Rathbone (sax), Andrew Kitchin (guitar) and Sophie Meikle changing with Melissa Hicks on bass, backed up by Matt Bardrick on drums. Andrew borrowed a new gadget for the occasion, an effects box, which added new elements to his improvised solos.
Well done to all: a fine way to bring the term’s jazz to a conclusion. Hopefully, there’ll be some more next term: watch this space…
And a belated Happy New Year! With various technical issues resolved, it’s back to work, and we start the new blog-year with an album of photos from the last Jazz @ 5 in December – the snow-and-ice-ridden gig that defied the weather to go ahead.
There’s lots of musical events to look forward to in the coming months; the new on-line calendar and downloadable brochure will be published to the website soon. With not one, but two concerts featuring Stravinsky (always the sign of a good term!), contemporary choral music from the Chamber Choir, the usual roof-raising Gulbenkian gig with the Concert and Big Bands, European sacred music from the Cecilian Choir, and the small matter of a Mozart Requiem in the Cathedral: it promises to be a packed several months.
Snow ? Ice ? Freezing temperatures ? Events being cancelled at the fall of a flake ? Jazz @ 5 laughs at such things!
With temperatures plummeting and snow and ice everywhere, the last Jazz @ 5 of the term warmed a suitably appreciative audience on Wednesday night, with a sprinkling of jazz-infused carols and popular Christmas favourites, a dash of funk and a slice of soul.
Making her debut at Kent, and beginning the evening in fine style, Ruby Mutlow gave a robust rendition of Macy Gray’s funk-laden Why Didn’t You Call Me, and Marvin Gaye’s soul classic What’s Goin’ On. Also one of the Big Band singers this year, as well as singing with Chorus and Sing!, Ruby has a vibrant vocal presence on-stage, and will be one to watch this year.
In contrast, the Music Department’s very own Sophie Meikle stepped away from upright bass in the previous gig and stepped up to the microphone to sing White Christmas and Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, the latter holding the attention of a rapt audience so closely that it felt like no-one breathed for the duration of the song.
Returning to the Gulbenkian Foyer stage was the classy Steph Richardson, with a poised reading of Peggy Lee’s Black Coffee, a coquettish Santa, Baby and a deft Let It Snow! There’s a real sense of accomplishment whenever Steph performs, she is completely at ease on the stage and with the other musicians. With Ruby and Jo as well, it’s an exciting year for jazz singers at Kent!
Also stepping onto the stage for the first time was first-year pianist Kirstie Robbie, who played Winter Wonderland with the ensemble, and also Wagglestick Walkabout as a solo item, the latter with a firm boogie-woogie feel to the left-hand.
Regulars Dan Harding on piano, Andrew Kitchin on guitar, Will Rathbone on sax and Matt Bardrick on drums, were joined by Alastair Disley, a member of the Music and Audio Department of the School of Arts based in Medway, on electric bass, who heroically sat in at a few hours’ notice for his first Jazz @ 5. The group played a spirited performance of Herbie Hancock’s funky Canteloupe Island.
Thanks to all those who performed and especially to those making their debut on the University jazz scene. Jazz @ 5 returns in January: watch this space…
A lively Gulbenkian Theatre foyer was abuzz with anticipation on Wednesday evening, in expectation of the first gig in the new season. Regulars Will Rathbone (sax) and Andrew Kitchin (guitar) fronted the band, with Dan Harding on piano and Sophie Meikle on bass – drafted in for the occasion, and making his Jazz @ 5 debut, was drummer Matt Bardrick.
The gig opened with a welcome return to jazz at Kent for Jo Turner, who sang last year and opened the gig with I Wish I Knew How It Feels To Be Free, delivered in a bravura style; she followed this with These Foolish Things. Hot on the heels of her performance at the Scholars’ Festival Lunchtime Concert last Friday was Lena Younes, who sang Lullaby of Birdland and then Fats Waller’s Ain’t Misbehavin’ in a reading that opened slowly and lyrically, and then moved into a brisk swing tempo.
Also making their jazz debut was Steph Richardson, who showed great presence in her confident performances of In A Mellow Tone and Route 66; she held the attention of a rapt audience, and you could have heard a pin drop – in fact, we heard a glass tumble to the floor, but it didn’t dispel the mood.
Next came a duo, newcomers Martin Lestra on guitar and vocalist Camille, who played Edith Piaf’s La Vie en Rose in a lively swing style.
After an instrumental version of Blue Bossa lent the evening a Latin air, with some robust solos from Will on tenor sax and dexterous lines from Andrew on guitar, Jo Gray gave a lulling rendition of Blue Moon. Steph Richardson ended her set with a slow exploration of Cry Me A River that was sure-footed and well crafted, and Jo Gray then brought the evening to a close with a delicate Baby, I’m A Fool of which even Melody Gardot herself would have been proud.
A confident opening gig from everyone involved, and a sign of some great jazz music-making to come in the year ahead. Catch Jazz @ 5 next month, Wednesday December 1, when there’ll be a seasonal flavour and one or two surprises. And if you can’t wait that long, we’ll be appearing at the Music Society Showcase on Saturday 20 November, alongside the Big Band, Concert Band, Chamber Choir and other entertainment. Don’t miss either gig!