EFG London Jazz Festival 2019

Alyn Shipton's New Orleans Friends with Adrian Cox

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Last Show: Saturday 16 th November 2019

PizzaExpress Jazz Club (Soho)

Playing the music of New Orleans both secular and sacred, this band consists of musicians who have all spent time learning from the older generation of Crescent City players, and particularly those associated with clarinettist George Lewis.

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"Shipton himself writes of George Lewis that he played ‘in a manner highly charged with emotion’ and that he exuded a ‘sincerity and down-home charm’. Much the same can be said of the New Orleans Jazz Friends – this concert straddled the religious and the secular beautifully and all with great reverence for the man who inspired it."

Amelia Gabaldoni, Oxford Daily Information

This is an opportunity to hear traditional jazz in the setting of one of London’s great jazz clubs. Exactly 65 years ago from 2019, the celebrated New Orleans clarinettist George Lewis recorded his album “Jazz at Vespers” in Oxford, Ohio, and celebrating that anniversary that was the catalyst for this band to be formed. The Lewis band was the leading New Orleans revivalist group at the time, comprising veterans who had all been in on the birth of jazz. Playing in an Episcopal church, they focused on the spirituals and hymns that had been part of the music from the start.

This band, led by BBC Radio 3’s Alyn Shipton, is made up of musicians who have all spent time in New Orleans learning from those founding fathers of the music. Alyn himself first arrived in the city in 1976 and had the opportunity to play with several legendary figures including Preston Jackson and Danny Barker. Pianist Richard Simmons toured with many famous New Orleans musicians including the pioneer clarinettist Albert Nicholas while in the band led by today’s drummer Emile Martyn’s father, Barry Martyn. Emile himself lived in New Orleans for several years, and is a master of the city’s traditional drum style. Finlay Milne on trumpet has soaked up the sounds of parade and marching bands, and Simon Preston shows how to play the banjo with great swing and taste. Central to the band’s sound is the dazzling Adrian Cox on clarinet who has absorbed every nuance of George Lewis’s approach. In their concerts – launched in May 2019 in Oxford UK, and followed by a short tour of other converted church buildings – they re-explore the repertoire that Lewis made famous, from lesser known pieces such as “Sometimes My Burden Is Hard To Bear” to old favourites like “Down By The Riverside” and “Lord, Lord, Lord, You Surely Been Good To Me”. The music runs the full emotional range from soft, contemplative pieces to joyous outpourings of the infectious rhythms of the Crescent City.

Band Lineup

Finlay Milne (trumpet)

Adrian Cox (clarinet)

Simon Picton (guitar and banjo)

Alyn Shipton (bass)

Emile Martyn (drums)

Richard Simmons (piano)