Monday, November 20, 2006


The "MISTERIOSO" piece went really well.The 2 nights that I appeared in the play were hillarious with some fantastic visuals provided by A great italian artiste by the name of Valentina.The piece was written by Italian playright / Journalist Stefano Benni.Who had came over to london for the occasion tieing in some book signing at the Italian Institute and an interview with Jonathan Coe for his new book "Margherita Dolce Vita" with watching this adaptation of his play.Filomena had done a good job pulling together a tight team.Fortunately both nights were sold out which always helps.Hopefully we will get to tour "Misterioso" next year in Italy.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

200 saxophones done.

Wow!! finally finished the Sax Massive project last night.What a Gas!!
The day started with a shortened version of the piece played by Andy Sheppard and 12 Saxophone players including Tony Kofi and James Morton.This was a sort of mini fanfare for the official speeches etc from london Mayor Ken Livingstone and the Hackney Mayor.There was also a peaceful demonstration by local Anarchist during the speeches.Compere for the day was Adisa the Poet Laureate for Hackney who delivered a sterling Job as he always does.I was then given the nod and we launched into the piece it went really well and audience response was great.This was a great way to set us up ready for the main event.In the square and in the Vortex there were lots of creative activity from latin musicians,African Dance ensembles,Capoeira and family entertainers of all descriptions.Vocalist Christine Tobin was roaming and interviewing people in the square plus Andy and Myself for BBC Radio 3.
Meanwhile the 200 Saxophonist were also arriving,certainly not exclusive to london they were arriving from all over the country.I know of Some that had come down from Bristol plus I had also been introduced to a couple from Aberdeen who had made the trip down for the occasion.We did a sort of pep talk to fill in the last few details and then everyone set off for their start positions inside and outside of the square.
I had originally been installed on the roof of the Vortex but I really didn't feel comfortable at all up there,plus the centre of attention would of shifted from the saxes and the great lighting that had been designed around them. So I moved position to the centre of the square on a sort of makeshift podium that was surrounded by the 5000 people who had now gathered in the square.The police and stewards moved into place around the podium just in case and wags in the crowd had decided to do there own impromptu conducting while I was directing the piece.The piece starts with a three pronged call and response from Andy,Tony and James with an ambient soundtrack underneath.The moody lighting provided by the lovely Jo adding to an atmosphere of anticipation.It then moves into some chords played by the sax players placed outside the square.This is then picked up Sax players coming out of concealed places i.e in this case coming out of offices and two lenghty balconies.
There follows sections played by the two groups alternatively Group 1 being those on the ground and group 2 those on Balconies etc. finally the players outside the square walk in playing a motif that is picked up by all saxes with the added bonus of Tony Kofi and James Morton soloing and swapping riffs over the top.
Then we go into the main body of the piece which is really full on with a mammoth Soprano solo from Andy Sheppard played over a some sustained cued chords from all 200 saxes the piece finally ends in a free blowout from all 200 saxes soloing that had the crowd screaming in excitement.This is followed by conducted stabs from Andy and Myself ending on a cadenza from Andy.The crowd really dug the piece and were really enthusiastic to all its shifts and moods.Clapping wildly for a few minutes as the the Saxes took an extended Bow.Visually it was a stunner.Congrats to all involved it did take some carefull organising.The day passed off peacefully and the Rain even let us finish before the skies opened up fortunately we could go off into the Vortex to catch the Robert Mitchell/Omar Ouente Concert with Deborah Jordan guesting on Vocals.
This was absolute magic as you would expect from such fantastic musicians.
This was my first time experiencing the wonderful voice and musiciality of Deborah and I am really looking forward to working together next year on something.
I then had to make my way to the Pizza Express in Dean Street for the Live BBC Radio 3 broadcast I arrived to see The Randy Weston trio tearing up a storm followed by Mike Westbrook's Village Band and Gwilim Simcock anew pianist receiving a lot of attention.The night ended with Evan Parker/Roy Campbell/Henry Grimes band which held the audience rivited to their seats with some wonderful interplay and musical conversations.
All in all a busy day now followed by an intense script reading morning for me to learn the script for tonight's MISTERIOSO show adapted by Filomena Campus Written by The Italian Political Satirist Stefano Beni and featuring musicians Pat Thomas,
Rowland Sutherland and Dudley Phillips that has been running for last two days at the Camden Peoples Theatre with Drama/Visuals and the music of Thelonious monk. The first two nights also had Cleveland Watkiss acting and Vocalising with the text. Tonight I am playing in the place of Cleveland.His text has been recorded and will still feature around the Actors.Should be great fun. Tomorrow nights show will be filmed by Italian TV Broadcaster RAI for transmission at a later date.

Monday, November 06, 2006


This week see's the official opening of the Gillet Street Square in front of the New Vortex Jazz club.The Gillet Street Square is one of the London Mayors new Open spaces initiative projects.The opening also co-incides with the opening events of the London Jazz Festival they have put them both together and come up with the Andy Sheppard Saxophone Massive. A commissioned piece for 200 saxphonist for the occasion.This really does have 200 Saxophonist of all age and description involved.Coming from all over the country.I am conducting the whole thing which has been a really different experience.fortunately we are on course for the show as The rehearsals have been going well,we only have a dress rehearsal left then the show this Friday 10th November at 6pm so come down if your free,you will not be disappointed.It's well worth seeing that's for sure!!!

Andy Sheppard’s Dalston Saxophone Massive - Friday 10 November 2006 at 6pm Gillet Square, Dalston, London, N16 FREE EVENT

Andy Sheppard’s Dalston Saxophone Massive is an exciting live event, which provides the opportunity for 200 saxophonists of all ages and abilities to play with the legendary UK saxophonist and composer Andy Sheppard, as well as his collaborators - conductor and multi-instrumentalist Orphy Robinson, alto saxophonist James Morton and baritone saxophonist Tony Kofi.

This performance is the culmination of a wide search to recruit saxophonists from all over London and beyond to rehearse and perform this spectacular fanfare by Andy Sheppard.

The Dalston Saxophone Massive has been developed by Serious International Music Producers, Hackney Co-operative Developments and The Vortex Jazz Club. Each partner is joined by their vision for live music presentation in the fields of jazz, world and new music, and a commitment to artistic excellence that is accompanied by the desire to make our music and projects accessible to the widest possible audience.

If you have any queries regarding the project, please do not hesitate to contact Tamanna Verma on 0207 324 1880 or via:

The Dalston Saxophone Massive was premiered as The Living Bridge, at the launch of the Brunel 200 celebrations in Bristol on 8 April 2006. The piece was performed by 200 local players and was commissioned with funding from Arts Council England South West, the Millennium Commission and the Heritage Lottery Fund. Brunel 200 is a partnership initiative created and managed by the Bristol Cultural Development Partnership.

Part of the London Jazz Festival in association with BBC Radio 3

The Final L.I.O of the year

Last night was the final concert of the year by the london Improvisors Orchestra's at their first sunday of the month series held at the Red Rose club.It was a full house of both musicians and audience.This included Vibes Player Jackie Walduck playing a set of Viscount Vibes.A lovely player and person.It was lovely to hear all the colours that each conductor brought out of the ensemble each employing fantastic use of tones frequencies,instrumentation etc.Stand up David Leahy,Steve Beresford,
Alison Blount,Phil Wachmann,Dave Tucker and Pat Thomas and take a bow.The next L.I.O concert will be held on the first sunday of february 2007.I can't wait.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Electric Proms

Saturday I hung out at Dingwalls in Camden Town.To see "DESCENDENTS OF A QUEST"the young band formed by some of my students from The Hackney Empire ADP programmes.They Had been invited to play a short set by the Camden Roundhouse who have been instrumental in organising the BBC week of gigs etc Featuring James Brown,Damon Albarn and other big Headliners.The "QUEST" went down really well and are definitely a band to watch.I am sure next year should see them grow and hopefully be invited onto into the festival circuit.