Guildhall chronicles the birth of the modern big band

The London music school has a summer jazz festival and two standalone concerts, one tracking the advent of the modern big band through music associated with Gerald Wilson, Gil Evans, Nelson Riddle and others

Callum Au. Photo by Kenny McCracken

The Guildhall School of Music has a three-day summer jazz festival 4-6 May featuring “four of the most creative and exciting artists on the UK jazz scene”, namely Fini Bearman, Trish Clowes, Ruth Goller and Brigitte Beraha.

The school also presents “A History Of Big Band: The Dawn Of Modernism” (14 May)  featuring the Guildhall Big Band with guest director and trombonist Callum Au playing music associated with Nancy Wilson, Ella Fitzgerald, Astrud Gilberto, Dizzy Gillespie, Billy May, Nelson Riddle, Gil Evans, Gerald Wilson and Oliver Nelson.

The school says “Dizzy Gillespie’s Manteca will provide the overture for this exciting journey through this multi-faceted age: the dawn of modernism, bebop and the golden age of the star vocalist, their arrangers and the great studio orchestras of Capital (sic) Records.”

This fourth concert in the Guildhall Big Band’s History of Big Band series also features special guest vocal Emma Smith and will be available to view for free for a week.

It doesn’t end there. On 19 May the Guildhall Jazz Orchestra and Jazz Choir with ECM artist Iain Ballamy will play Ballamy’s 21st Century Pastoral suite and big band arrangements of some of Ballamy’s work from the last thirty years. The concert will feature arrangements by Malcolm Edmonstone, the school’s head of jazz, and direction from Scott Stroman and Kevin Fox.