Wednesday May 9th Alex Merritt/ Steve Fishwick Quintet
Alex was lucky to have grown up in Cambridge, home to a very strong musical education system and to have had some very inspiring teachers – Janet Mcleod, Trevor Barlow, David Gordon and Kevin Flanagan that supported and encouraged his growing interest in jazz. There was a strong jazz scene in the city when Alex was a teenager and lots of opportunities for a young player to sit in and learn on the bandstand, something he is happy to see returning to the city at Hot Numbers Cafe – a vital experience for any young musician. Alex keeps strong ties with the city, has ran jazz nights here (notably at The Geldart) and intends to keep such connections going for the future.
After meeting and being inspired by many london jazz musicians in Cambridge at the the jazz nights John Turville ran at La Raza, Alex went to Birmingham Conservatoire to study jazz performance. He had a great experience there studying and meeting many brilliant musicians and thinkers, many of whom remain good friends. Saxophonists Mike Williams, Julian Seigel, Jean Toussaint and composer and pianist Hans Koller and Mike Gibbs amongst others.
For his final performance at Birmingham and for the year following Alex performed with Kit Downes, Calum Gourlay and James Maddren (the Kit Downes trio) and at this time also formed an early incarnation of the Alex Merritt Quartet, (building on the connection Alex had made with Jeff Williams in his last two years in Birmingham) who have been developing their group sound over the last five years of playing together.
Alex has been freelancing in London since graduating and has been fortunate to perform with many of the top players on the UK jazz scene. He is very excited about his current performance projects which have seen him playing at Ronnie Scotts Jazz club, the London Jazz Festival and Brecon Jazz Festival. Likewise, Alex is consistently developing his skills as a composer and is pleased to be asked back to Birmingham Conservatoire to lecture on his compositional approach this term.
Musical education is something Alex is deeply involved with and finds both his positions as a visiting saxophone teacher at the RWCMD and his private teaching endeavours constantly fulfilling, stimulating and mutually complementary with his experiences as a Vipassana meditator.
his Quintet are set to record their debut album in summer 2018. This project sees Alex and Steve joining forces to create their own brand of sophisticated contemporary jazz that draws on the strength of both leaders as accomplished players but also as very individual composers. The rhythm section of John Turville (piano) Mick Coady (bass) and Matt Fishwick/James Maddren(drums) adds even more fire and elegance to the proceedings! The band is set to play numerous dates around the UK in the run-up to their recording building on previous successes at venues such as Ronnie Scotts, where they return in May of this year, (See/hear extracts from previous shows below)- and will follow the album recording with a UK tour in 2019.
The band traditionally has played arrangements of jazz standards and the music of Kenny Dorham/ Joe Henderson, John Coltrane and Lennie Tristano/ Warne Marsh over its 5 year tenure but on upcoming shows will feature more and more of Alex, Steve and also John’s music written for the band.
This is a very exciting project and there is a fantastic synergy amongst all members of the band which makes for very entertaining, stylish and nuanced modern jazz that will appeal equally to jazz afficianados and more mainstream audiences.
Steve Fishwick is widely considered to be one of the best jazz trumpet players ever to come from the UK, and is rapidly gaining a global reputation thanks to his flawless technique, and his beautifully flowing, harmonically rich improvisations. He is one of an increasing number of trumpeters who have been heavily influenced by the melodic approach of the late great Kenny Dorham, a figure often overlooked (and undeservedly so) in the pantheon of Jazz Trumpet Legends. As well as “K.D.”, Steve cites Art Farmer, Miles Davis and Woody Shaw among his favourite players, but his style is very much his own. Trumpet great Wynton Marsalis recently said about him “Steve has his own style. He plays from the bottom to the top of the horn whilst maintaining the integrity of the chords. I can’t think of another trumpet player that can do what he does.” Legendary Jazz critic Ira Gitler had this to say ‘My question is where has Fishwick been hiding? Hip middle register melodious bebop, but when Steve lights his wick he becomes a flying fish, soaring above the waves, totally in control!’
Admission £12.30 : Jazzland Members £10 : Students £6