Occasionally a gig comes along which makes all the hard work over the years, worth it- and for me, I was lucky enough to experience exactly that on Sunday. I had a gig with the great, British saxophonist Stan Sulzmann along with Nick Smart (trp), Buster Birch (drms), Pete Ringrose (bass) with myself (Jim Treweek) on piano. For me, it was one of those rare nights where everything comes together and playing is just a sheer joy. The prospect of playing with such fine musicians is rather daunting but I’ve found over the years that when great musicians have nothing to prove, then they’re the nicest people you could hope to meet.
It was also a real pleasure to meet Helen Mayhew, who was in the audience, and is certainly one of the UK’s top Jazz broadcasters and has interviewed Jazz giants such as McCoy Tyner, Branford and Wynton Marsalis, Freddie Hubbard, Abdullah Ibrahim, Geri Allen, Michael Brecker, Eddie Harris, Dianne Reeves, Chick Corea, Stanley Turrentine, Quincy Jones and Shirley Horn.
In my opinion Stan Sulzmann really is the best of British Jazz, with a wonderful tone and a never ending stream of thoughtful, inventive ideas.
Stan Sulzmann is constantly in demand as a guest soloist and has appeared with bands across Europe, including the Hilversum Radio Orchestra, NDR Big Band (alongside Chet Baker), Hanover Radio Symphony Orchestra and the New York Composers Orchestra. His career stretches back to the 60’s, where he drew critical acclaim playing alongside Graham Collier, John Taylor, Kenny Wheeler, Gordon Beck, as well as leading many groups of his own. Since that time Stan has been at the forefront of European contemporary jazz, and has been in demand by musicians such as Gil Evans, Mike Gibbs, Kenny Clarke/Francy Boland and Michael Brecker.
Nick Smart (trp) is another musician who constructs intelligent, swinging solos with a beautiful tone. Nick has performed with numerous groups including the Stan Sulzmann Big Band, London Jazz Orchestra, Michael Garrick Big Band, BBC Big Band and is the regular soloist with the James Taylor Quartet.
Nick has been increasingly sought after in jazz education. Currently Jazz Co-ordinator and Bmus Tutor at the Royal Academy, he teaches the Jazz LRAM pedagogical diploma and directs the Big Band. Under Nick’s direction recent Big Band projects have included performances with Peter Erskine, John Taylor, Stan Sulzmann and Kenny Wheeler. Nick is also currently on the faculty at the Guildhall School of Music and Middlesex University, as well as a regular tutor on various Jazz summer schools including Glamorgan, Wavendon, Burnley and Trinity.
If you get a chance to see either (or both) of these great British Jazz musicians you really won’t be disappointed.