Time for Jazz on the Road as Students Leave Conservatoire for a Tour of Wales; Student Musicians Are Taking Their Jazz Sounds to Various Welsh Towns. Karen Price Meets the Woman Behind the Project
IT'S Friday evening and the sound of jazz is echoing around the bright and airy foyer of Cardiff's conservatoire. The student musicians are treating visitors to the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama to one of their weekly free performances.
The Amser Jazz Time concerts have been an integral part of the college programme for more than a year and, during that time, audiences have grown.
"We've definitely seen new audiences to jazz in Cardiff," says Paula Gardiner, the college's head of jazz. "Not only are we attracting the regular jazz audience but also people who don't go to the jazz clubs. Very often we also get children coming along too so they are introduced to the music at a young age."
The performances take place in the recently-renovated college's new-look foyer which overlooks the city's Bute Park.
"People enjoy it because they are in beautiful surroundings and it's very inspiring for them to hear the students play."
Now, thanks to support from the Arts Council of Wales, the musicians are taking their music on the road for the first time. They launched the first Amser Jazz Time tour with a concert at Theatr Brycheiniog in Brecon last night. There will be further performances next week in Caernarfon, Neath and Holyhead. The concerts will also feature headline performances by professional musicians.
"Amser Jazz Time offers the students of the jazz department at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama the unique opportunity to experience life on the road, offering their music to the audiences of Wales alongside professional bands," says Gardiner.
"They will be travelling, eating and performing alongside their experienced mentors, understanding the realities of bringing music performance to life in the challenging reality that faces professionals all the time."
The pilot scheme will see the college coordinate and deliver six tours between now and autumn 2014. The programme will cover a wide range of jazz styles - from contemporary jazz to latino. While Gardiner's own Paula Gardiner Trio is playing during this leg of the tour, in May there will be appearances from a Neil Yates Five and Neon Quartet double bill.
The jazz students won't only be touring - they will be staging a three-day jazz festival at the conservatoire from May 10 to 12. It will feature Norma Winstone, the Kit Downes Quintet, the James Taylor Quartet and Mark Lockheart's Ellington in Anticipation among others. …