INTERVIEW: Ed Rice (Four Profs and a Piano at Milton Court Studio, 4th May)

Pianist/arranger Ed Rice
Photo credit: Ben Weatherill

The closing event of this year's Guildhall Jazz Showcase is a concert tonight at 7 30pm in Milton Court Studio under the headline "Four Profs and a Piano". The four Profs are Liane Carroll,  Guildhall School Head of Jazz Malcolm Edmonstone, bassist Jules Jackson and drummer Ralph Salmins. The piano - and arranger of a significant part of the concert - is ED RICE. Sebastian interviewed him:  

LondonJazz News: For people who don't know about you, please tell us a few facts....

Ed Rice: I'm originally from Reigate in Surrey and really started thinking about pursuing a career in music in my early teens. I did my first degree in Music at Leeds University and played piano in various bands and percussion in orchestras for fun outside of lectures. I had always enjoyed playing jazz the most but after graduating from Leeds really decided to pursue performing as a career, so moved to London and started my Masters at Guildhall in Autumn 2015.

LJN: Was there a lightbulb moment or particular discovery that made you passionate about jazz or was it gradual ?

ER: I think it was a pretty gradual process - I was really lucky to have some amazing music teachers at school that first got me into playing jazz and around the same time I started going to gigs fairly regularly at Watermill Jazz in Dorking, so was able to see lots of fantastic London-based artists close to where my family live. Funnily enough one of the first jazz gigs I remember going to was actually seeing Liane Carroll perform a solo show in Norfolk whilst I was on holiday with my parents, so it's extra special for me to be performing with her now I'm in my final year at music college!

LJN:  The concert with Liane Carroll is tonight! You've done five arrangements - what are they ?

ER: In the spirit of the wide range of music Liane performs at her concerts, there's a couple of classic standards, one of Liane's originals, a track from her latest album and a lovely ballad by Tom Waits.

1) The Best is Yet to Come - I really like the Tony Bennett recording from the early 60s so hope to capture some of that magic in this arrangement.

2) Bring Me Sunshine - this version of the famous song comes from Liane's latest album Seaside.

3) You Can't Slow My Heart Down - this is an original by Liane from her album Slow Down. That recording is a solo performance, so I've expanded her piano accompaniment to include bass guitar and drum parts.

4) Picture in a Frame - this song is by Tom Waits and I believe it's one of Liane's favourites to perform!

5) Love for Sale - I've arranged this with a New Orleans-style twist which will feature Ralph Salmins on drums - I can't wait to hear him playing it!

LJN: You also write arrangements for big band? 

ER: Yes, I have written for big band whilst at Guildhall and have really enjoyed studying writing for the different sections, although this concert is much more in my comfort zone of arranging for the traditional vocalist + piano trio format.

LJN:  And what will the rest of the concert consist of ?

ER: As well as performing my arrangements the band will play an all-Guildhall Professors set featuring Liane, Malcolm Edmonstone (Piano), Jules Jackson (Bass) and Ralph Salmins (Drums) - the audience are in for a treat!

Ed Rice in 2015
Photo credit: Oliver Bowring / Musicarta


LJN:   Do you have one or two heroes as arrangers?

ER: I'm a big fan of Laurence Hobgood, especially his work with Kurt Elling – The Gate, 1619 Broadway and their Coltrane & Hartman tribute are three of my all-time favourite albums. On those albums they rework some familiar songs in really interesting ways that give the lyric a completely new character.

LJN:   As jazz pianists??

ER: My favourite piano players change frequently, although Herbie Hancock and Keith Jarrett are always near the top of the list! I’m always keen to absorb a wide range of music all the time, and at the moment am particularly enjoying listening to John Taylor and Eliane Elias.

LJN:   You are about to head out from full time education into the big wide world. Are you excited or trepidatious about that?

ER: I’m excited to begin my career as a full-time musician, based in London for the foreseeable future – as the Masters course is a very intense learning environment I’m looking forward to going back over everything I’ve been taught and really getting the most out of the teaching. I will be sad to leave Guildhall, though, as I’ve had an incredible experience there and it’s a great community of students, plus two years at college goes by extremely quickly!

LJN:  And same question about tonight's concert ?

ER: I’m feeling a bit nervous as the concert’s sold out but am mainly really excited to play with this amazing band – I’m in incredibly safe hands! It’s such an amazing opportunity to play with them I can’t wait to enjoy listening to them at the concert.

LJN:  GOOD LUCK FOR TONIGHT!!

ER: Thank you!

LINKS: Four Profs and a Piano at Milton Court Studio
Ed Rice's Yotube Channel with solo piano compositions by Bill Withers and Kenny Kirkland
Review of Liane Carroll and the Guildhall Jazz Band and Singers in 2016 

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