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Today Monday June 17

Afternoon

Jazz

Jazz in the Afternoon - Cullercoats Crescent Club, 1 Hudleston, Cullercoats NE30 4QS. Tel: 0191 253 0242. 1:00pm. Free.

Evening

Tenement Jazz Band - Prohibition Bar, Pink Lane, Newcastle NE1 5DW. 8:30pm (doors). Free (donations).

To the best of our knowledge, details of the above events are correct but may be subject to alteration.

Friday, November 01, 2013

Interview with Arun Ghosh by Russell.

Hi Arun, You’re nearing the end of your Jazz Services’ supported tour – how’s it been going?
It’s been a fantastic tour so far.  We’ve had wonderful performances across the country, in Manchester, London, Leeds, Totnes, Poole. We also got across to Europe to perform in Mannheim at the Enjoy Jazz Festival and now we’re heading up for the last leg of the tour, for Nottingham and of course, Sage Gateshead.
It’s been really, really enjoyable to take this music on the road, audiences have been great, really enthusiastic, the album has been very well received. Lots of people are loving A South Asian Suite live and so I’ve definitely enjoyed playing.
Are you playing the new album – A South Asian Suite – in full on the tour?
In general, we’ve been presenting A South Asian Suite in the first half of the concert and then in the second half, performing some of my favourites from my 1st two albums, Northern Namaste and Primal Odyssey.
We play the majority of A South Asian Suite. On the actual album, there’s a few segues and intros to particular pieces that we’ve not necessarily been doing all the time but the main body of the Suite, the core six movements, have always been performed.
Is there scope for extended improvisations in concert and have you heard – and perhaps been surprised by – new things from the band?     
With A South Asian Suite, it’s been quite important to me to stick to the general structure of the album. So much thought went into the arrangement of the work, that it’s very much a part of the music. However, we still improvise, each band member has the opportunity to improvise and to express how they are feeling, that evening, at that moment.
In the second half, it’s been a lot more fluid, with more interesting surprises. For example, hearing Zoe performing some of the material she hasn’t played before and seeing what her new input brings to those pieces.
Gem Arts, one of the co-promoters of the Gateshead concert, produces and programmes culturally diverse arts. Have you attracted a multi-cultural audience on the tour?
Yes, over the course of our performances in the major cities we have attracted a multi-cultural audience that reflects the nature of those cities and also reflects the nature of the band and this band’s appeal. Also,  we’ve attracted audiences across a broad range of ages, a good showing from both genders, lots of new faces…we have definitely appealed beyond a ‘typical’ jazz audience. In places that are less culturally diverse, such as Corby, Totnes and Poole, the audiences again reflect the local demographic, so perhaps, less multi-cultural but still a very varied crowd.
Zoe Rahman has appeared on Tyneside many times and Geordie audiences loved her piano playing from the beginning. How did you meet?
I’ve been performing with Zoe’s brother, Idris for a long time. He’s appeared on all my albums, playing tenor saxophone primarily, sometimes joining me on clarinet and, on A South Asian Suite, also flute. He’s been a real stalwart of the band.
Separately I’d been aware of and enjoyed Zoe’s music from my listening to jazz.  We were booked to do a double bill with our respective bands at Ronnie Scott’s Brit Jazz Fest in 2009, that led to Zoe, Idris and I all playing together for one tune.
So the connections were made organically.
With A South Asian Suite, it was important to use piano, a vital musical element in the work and so having always loved Zoe’s playing, I knew she would be perfect for it.
You have performed at Sage Gateshead in the past. What do you make of the place and as a northerner yourself, the people?
It’s a fantastic venue to perform at, Hall Two has that wonderful combination of feeling quite intimate but it’s a large venue. It has a wonderful sound, a great place to be. The Sage is the place to play in the North East so it’s a real honour to be returning there. I first played The Sage as part of the Gateshead International Jazz Festival in 2010. I found that audiences were extremely warm, receptive and people that I met after the concert were lovely.
In these difficult economic times audience numbers have been down across the north east and as you know, Jazz North East, one of the co-promoters of your Sage gig, have hit hard times. Do you remain optimistic for the future of British jazz?
I do remain optimistic for the future of British Jazz. It is very sad what has happened to Jazz North East, however, I also believe they can and will galvanise support and make their crowd funding campaign successful. I have contributed to it and I think if, for example, all musicians who have ever been booked through Jazz North East contributed a little something, that would really help them out. I would really encourage musicians to do that. I think Jazz North East have historically programmed such a diverse range of music - from free improvisation through to better known Stateside jazz acts to up and coming artists, leftfield artists, slightly different artists such as myself. They work really hard, tirelessly, to keep things going and I think that’s not going to die. I feel there’s always going to be an audience for jazz, there’s always going to be musicians who are keen to play. I think we just need to keep on persevering. Live music now is stronger than it’s ever been and I believe we’re going to turn the corner.
I hope you enjoy Sage Gateshead. I know many people are looking forward to hearing you and the band.
Thank you, I am really looking forward to sharing A South Asian Suite with as many people as possible and can’t wait to get on stage tonight. 

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