INTERVIEW / PREVIEW: Close To You: Sinatra and the Hollywood Quartet’ (Cadogan Hall, 16th May)

Back row L-R:Callum Au, Jeremy Brown, Jeremy Isaac, Bozidar Vukotic
Middle row: Johns Mills, Lydia Lowndes-Northcott, Matthew Ford, Matt Skelton
Front: James Pearson


On 16th May at Cadogan Hall  ‘Close To You: Sinatra and the Hollywood Quartet’, will present a reinvention of the Sinatra recording ‘Close to You’ which had arrangements by Nelson Riddle. The concert features the Tippett String Quartet. Héloïse Werner interviewed two of their members, Jeremy Isaac (violin) and Bozidar Vukotic (cello):

LondonJazz News: How did this project come about?

Bozidar Vukotic: Our fantastic drummer, Matt Skelton, originally came up with the idea of recreating the Close To You album. He's an old friend whom we've all worked with in the John Wilson Orchestra over the years.  He loves chamber music and he felt Close To You was the obvious musical project for a string quartet that loves Sinatra, jazz and the great American Songbook. The Tippett Quartet has made a name for itself by pushing the boundaries of the quartet repertoire so it feels a natural project for us to be involved in. 

LJN: How do you go about rehearsing? Is one member of the ensemble considered the Musical Director or is it a more collaborative process?

Jeremy Isaac: Rehearsing is slightly different as there are many people to coordinate. It is still a collaborative process as we all have a say in how things are done. The rehearsal usually consists of making sure the logistics of starting (and ending!) are agreed upon - and negotiating any tricky transitions so we all feel comfortable. We (TQ) simply lock in and make sure our 'string' administration is taken care of in house so we don't waste time! Other things we have to consider is how the vocalist wants to shape each song in order to convey the right mood. We also make sure whoever has arranged the chart is happy with all the parts.

LJN: As a classical string quartet, do you feel that performing as part of such an ensemble is any different from your more usual classical concerts?

JI: So long as we are making a great sound and having fun it doesn't matter whether it is Schubert or Sinatra. The only difference being you don't get a James Pearson improvised piano solo in Death and the Maiden to enjoy mid movement!

 LJN: Looking at your recent CD releases, you seem to have a strong interest in Hollywood composers – can you tell us why?  

 BV: Many of the most successful composers of the golden period of Hollywood were already well-established and successful concert composers in their own right before they started writing film scores. Eric Korngold in particular was lauded as a child prodigy in his native Austria and he had his first opera produced by the Vienna State Opera at the age of 18. The string quartets of Korngold, Rozsa and Herrmann have been largely overlooked by performers and critics but we think they are full of passionate and inventive music and we love playing them. 

LJN: On 16th May you’ll also be playing Ravel’s Introduction & Allegro – why did you choose to programme that particular piece?

BV: Nelson Riddle, the arranger for the 'Close To You' Album was a big fan of Ravel and he based his arrangements on the instrumentation of Ravel's Introduction and Allegro. Ravel is considered to be one of the greatest, if not the greatest, orchestrator in classical music so it's no coincidence his music had a huge influence on the composers and arrangers in Hollywood. 

LJN: If you were to describe the project in five words, what would they be?

JI: Unique, exciting, intimate, inspiring, fun.

LINKS: Interview with Callum Au about Close To You
Cadogan Hall tickets

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