PREVIEW: Nick Smart (Royal Academy of Music Autumn programme and other events)

Nick Smart


As an internationally-acclaimed trumpeter and head of Jazz at the Royal Academy, NICK SMART naturally has a busy schedule over the forthcoming months. Yet, Gail Tasker writes, even he seems excited about what's in store:


- The Academy big band have a concert on 11 October featuring Gordon Campbell, exploring the swing bands of the 1930s/40s. They are also appearing in the EFG London Jazz Festival. Pete Churchill will be leading the band at the Duke’s Hall on 19 November, including a new piece that has been especially commissioned for the occasion. The brass players from the Jazz department are also playing in a John Warren/John Surman project that involves Chris Laurence and John Marshall at King’s Place on the 12th of November. 


- On 14 October the 14th, there is a one-off collaboration with the Wellcome Trust and BBC Radio 3 “Jazz Line-Up”, with a jazz programme dedicated to the theme of ‘memory’. A faculty quartet and small group of students will be playing, including Smart, Martin France, Kit Downes, and Tom Herbert. Downes has also been commissioned to write a new piece for it.

- A new Creative Technology course is starting at the Academy, with a focus on live electronics in music-making. Smart notes: ‘The students are already exploring these areas so naturally it’s important we embrace that and provide an environment where that can flourish.’

Nick Smart conducting the Royal Academy Big Band at the Queen Elizabeth Hall


- A series of masterclasses and concerts are taking place at the Academy over the coming academic term. New combinations, such as Richie Beirach with Dave Liebman, and Michael Janisch’s Quintet (including Clarence Penn, John O’Gallagher and Jason Palmer) are making their inaugural visit. Other bands, such as Kneebody, are making a return. Smart points out: ‘It’s great to have people return. The first time they come, there’s inevitably a sense of getting to know the students and finding out what the dynamic is all about within the department. When they come back again it feels like you’re able to hit the ground running a bit more, and guests get to know the students individually, so I really like finding these ongoing relationships.’

- In terms of more personal projects, Smart is playing with Dave Holland in the upcoming Ambleside Days festival on September the 3rd, in Gareth Lockrane’s album launch on the 11th at King’s Place (he conducted the album but is in the trumpet section for the launch), as part of the big band for Mike Gibbs’ 80th Birthday tour, and is also playing at the on 30 September at National Concert Hall in Dublin with Dave Liebman and Richie Beirach, as part of a new commission (“Allies”) by Irish bassist and composer Ronan Guilfoyle, written to mark Liebman and Beirach’s 70th birthdays.

LINK: Bookings for the RAM Big Band / Pete Churchill 19 Nov in the LJF

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