Leading international jazz saxophonist Andy Sheppard is in town this month, for one night only with Bristol Symphony Orchestra
An ECM recording artist, bandleader and prolific composer – author of over 350 works featuring strong lyricism together with a personal use of rhythms from Asia, Africa and South America – Andy Sheppard is one of Europe’s leading saxophonists and one of few British musicians to have made a significant impact on the international jazz scene, playing and writing for settings from solo to big band and chamber orchestra.
Originally from the South West, Andy took up the saxophone at 19, finding himself highly motivated after encountering the music of John Coltrane and, three weeks after getting his first instrument, he was playing in public with the Bristol-based quartet Sphere.
Often invited to compose for ensembles performing jazz and contemporary music, Andy’s big-band writing includes work with the renowned UMO Orchestra of Finland and the Bergen Big Band (Norway). He has collaborated with classical saxophonist John Harle and composed a concerto for saxophone and piano for the Bournemouth Sinfonietta, as well as music for two feats of UK engineering – the first a collaboration with piper Kathryn Tickell to celebrate the opening of the Gateshead Millennium Bridge in 2001 and the second, in 2006, a piece to mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Entitled The Living Bridge it featured a fanfare using prepared electronics incorporating the sounds of Clifton Suspension Bridge and utilising the talents of 200 local saxophonists.
This month Andy is back in the city with the 70-piece Bristol Symphony Orchestra for a midsummer’s evening concert at Clifton Cathedral. He will perform, along with the orchestra and rhythm section, a special arrangement of Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess Suite – arranged by conductor and composer William Goodchild as part of an exciting all-American programme entitled ‘Jazz meets Bristol Symphony’.
Other pieces to be performed on the night include Terry Riley’s seminal minimalist work, In C, and Fanfare for the Common Man by American composer Aaron Copland, who was inspired by vice-president Henry A Wallace’s famous 1942 speech which proclaimed the dawning of the ‘Century of the Common Man’ as Americans debated wartime strategy and their role in the post-World War II order. In addition, with West Side Story remaining an essential part of the history of American theatre, expect a dynamic orchestral concert piece courtesy of late composer Leonard Bernstein, who assembled nine sections from his musical to make a work capturing all the energy, drama and excitement of the original stage production including a portrayal of the chaotic pace of New York life in the 1950s.
Tickets for the Andy Sheppard and Bristol Symphony Orchestra concert, which takes place on 24 June, are £8-£20 and available online or on the night from 6pm at Clifton Cathedral. To buy tickets visit bristolsymphonyorchestra.com