Hubert Laws for London with the Smithsonian

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Flautist Hubert Laws, perhaps best known to modern jazz audiences for his virtuoso showing on “Used To Be A (Cha Cha)” from Jaco Pastorius’s eponymous 1975 debut, is to play London on 6 April with the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra.

Brother of saxophonist Ronnie Laws, famed for his funk anthem “Always There”, Hubert arrives in London a few months short of his 80th birthday to play a programme ranging from original Duke Ellington arrangements from the Smithsonian archives to contemporary music for big band, as well as historic arrangements done for Ella Fitzgerald.

Laws was an early member of the Jazz Crusaders in the 1950s, before it adopted an electrified funk sound. In the early 60s he played with Mongo Santamaria while a scholarship student at Juilliard. His study there was predominantly classical and alongside jazz he has worked extensively in the classical world, performing with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic. His 1971 CTI album Rite of Spring, including Jack DeJohnette and Ron Carter, brought a jazz tinge to a programme including Debussy’s “Syrinx”.

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Laws’ London date is part of a 10-city international tour by the Washington D.C based Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra. The orchestra was formed in 1990 in recognition by US Congress of the importance of jazz in American culture and became the orchestra-in-residence at the Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of American History.

Today the orchestra performs as a 17-member big band, quartet, septet, or small group, according to venue and programme. The London gig will feature an eight-piece band led by saxophonist and artistic director Charlie Young, since 1988 also conductor and lead saxophonist for the Duke Ellington Orchestra.

The concert takes place at Milton Court, The Barbican, on Saturday 6 April, 7.30pm. For booking go to serious.org.uk/smithsonian