Though still only 17, trumpet player ALEXANDRA RIDOUT has been attracting a lot of attention since winning the BBC Young Musician Jazz Award earlier this year. She is a student at the Purcell School, a specialist music school, where she studies jazz and classical trumpet, as well as piano and voice.
Julian Joseph, chair of the Award jury said, "we were enchanted by Alexandra’s presence as a musician…but I think most importantly there was a relationship with the blues and swinging that sounds important in her playing" (source of this quote HERE). Laura Thorne interviewed her:
LondonJazz News: Your father Mark is a professional guitarist, your brother Tom plays saxophone and recorder, and your mum Leigh plays saxophone as well. What were your early experiences of music? What sparked your interest in the trumpet?
Alex Ridout: Yes music has definitely played a big part in my life growing up, having constantly been surrounded by it! I went to my local music centre from the age of about 2 or 3 and we always had all sorts of music playing in the house or in the car, lots of jazz included in that. When I was about 8 I went to a concert my brother was playing in and I saw the trumpets playing the tune really loud and that made me want to play really.
LJN: Who are your favourite trumpet players?
AR: My favourite jazz trumpeters would be Freddie Hubbard, his playing with Herbie is some of my favourite jazz ever, he's the only person who could really do what he does on the instrument! Also Miles Davis of course, such a unique sound and he was a massive innovator as well as a beautiful player. Also Woody Shaw is an amazing player and also very unique but with so much energy and his lines are great! There are many many other trumpet players I love, including Kenny Wheeler and Clifford Brown to name a couple.
LJN: You recently won the BBC Young Musician Jazz Award. Has winning made a difference to you personally, say for example made you feel more confident?
AR: The competition definitely gave me a confidence boost as it did feel like a lot of hard work had paid off! I also feel like people respect me a bit more because of it. However it's nice in that most people haven't treated me any differently because I personally don't feel any different. It’s just down to a matter of opinion after all, so I'm glad it hasn't drastically changed people's opinion of me.
LJN: Women are still relatively few-and-far-between in the professional jazz world.....
AR: Yes it is definitely the case there is a gender imbalance in jazz, though it probably is changing to some extent. However it's such a small collection of people in jazz anyway, that it's probably quite hard to balance out gender before bringing jazz to a wider audience (if that makes sense). I think being female won't do that much to my career, but if anything it's likely to do it good because I'd be slightly more unique, although I don't think of it in that way at all. At the end of the day it's about the music and there may be some issues I'll have to deal with, but if you're a good musician people who really care about the music will respect you for that I'm sure.
LJN: If you were to teaching someone to play an instrument, what would be the most important piece of advice or information that you could give them?
AR: My main piece of advice for someone learning any instrument for any genre would probably be to make sure you enjoy what you're doing. Of course you have to practise and to become to the level you want to be it may become tedious at times, but you'll know if it's worth it so just enjoy it! My best advice for anyone who wants to learn jazz is just to listen to loads of your favourite musicians over and over. THE most important thing for jazz is listening.
LJN: You are playing at the 606 Club on Tuesday the 28th with your father Mark & your brother Tom. Tell us a bit about what we can expect to hear at the show.
AR: Yes really looking forward to this gig! We will be doing a big variety of tunes, featuring originals from all of us! Mostly expect a very diverse programme.
LJN: What are your plans for the future?
AR: I'm in year 12, so I have auditions for music college coming up in October. I'm hoping to go to music college and do a jazz degree, but I'd also like to carry on with my classical playing as much as I can. I love playing loads of types of music so I want to be gigging lots, playing all sorts of things, jazz, pop, classical or anything really!
Laura Thorne runs marketing for the 606 Club
LINKS: Video of Alexandra’s BBC Young Musician Jazz Award competition performance
Jon Turney's Report on the BBC Competition final