Rob Edgar spoke to Nick Smart about this year's International Jazz Artist in Residence at the Royal Academy of Music, Dave Holland.
Rob Edgar: Tell us first about the two events people from outside the Royal Academy can go to...
Nick Smart: The public events are on the Wednesday the 22nd of January when we are playing a concert with Dave Holland at the Academy, 7:30pm in the Sir Jack Lyons Theatre. The first half features some of his sextet music and the second half will be with the Academy big band. Dave himself is playing in both ensembles which is obviously very exciting for us.
And then the next day on Thursday the 23rd, there's a public Masterclass (free entry, unticketed) with Dave at 6:30pm. He will be working with some of the ensembles that students lead themselves, workshopping and coaching them on their own musical projects and sharing ideas about how to develop a band sound.
RE: What's the background to this residency?
NS: Two years ago, we launched our International Jazz Artist in Residence scheme and Dave Douglas was the first artist in that role, he did two years and which finished in January 2013. Dave Holland is the new International Jazz Artist in Residence for the next two years.
RE: The public events are only part of the story?
NS: Oh yes, he is going to be with us for five days (Mon-Fri) teaching classes and rehearsing, plus Dave is visiting the Junior Academy Jazz course on the Saturday morning which is brilliant. It ties in because Dave is the president of the National Youth Jazz Collective, he really cares about encouraging the next generations younger students as well as the slightly older degree age musicians. Some of the NYJC students are also on the Junior Jazz course so it's a good chance for them to reconnect with Dave too.
RE: What's going on during the days leading up to the concert?
NS: Well of course with the concert on the Wednesday there'll be a necessary amount of rehearsals in the mix, but alongside there will be a mixture of workshops, seminars and Masterclasses too. I know that Dave will focus on some of the rhythmic work that he's done so much work on: obviously he is famous for it in his own music and he has great ideas about how to really practice and develop it. We will also have some time looking at the composition side of things and he wants to play with the students too which is lovely; he's always been very proactive and supportive about that. Dave also felt strongly that he wanted to see each of the bass players which is an amazing opportunity for them, all the non-bass players are jealous of course!
RE: Do you notice a difference in the way that students play, when artists like Dave are there?
NS: Absolutely yes, I think there is, sometimes explicitly so and sometimes more subtly, but certainly with experiences like this there's an increased intensity of relationship and focus between the students following the visit - it's like a kind of lingering energy left behind. The students are all fantastically motivated and proactive anyway so it's not like they need firing up for their own sakes, but following the visits from the likes of Dave Douglas and more recently John Hollenbeck and the Claudia Quintet, there is definitely a renewed sense of determination in the air. It is just such a privilege to be up close with musicians working at that sort of World class level.
Rob Edgar: Do you think maybe he'll be talking to, and helping students with the more entrepreneurial side?
Nick Smart: Yes, that is another area Dave was very keen to try to include whilst we were planning his week. As an example to the students he's a pretty formidable character in the way he's managed his career; Dave always looked after things like the publishing rights of his compositions, his website and online presence, making sheet music available for purchase before it was a common thing to do, all aspects of managing the business side of your life..... I mean, just look at what he's achieved, you can't really argue with a career like that can you!
More information HERE
January 22nd tickets HERE
January 23rd Masterclass information HERE