In order to make sure more money went into production of the music on the album – I decided to publish the Liner Notes here….
Martin Luther King opened the 1964 Berlin Jazz Festival with these immortal words,
‘Jazz speaks for life. The Blues tell the story of life’s difficulties, and if you think for a moment, you will realize that they take the hardest realities of life and put them into music, only to come out with some new hope or sense of triumph.
In October 2015 I was invited to lead a Jazz Vespers service at Methodist Central Hall where, coincidentally, Dr King had spoken on ‘Colour prejudice MUST go’ a few weeks before his Berlin Jazz Festival address. Dr King’s speech, which explores themes of suffering, lament and a new hope through jazz music formed the basis of the Jazz Vespers event at Central Hall, and this ‘Jazz Vespers’ album.
From the opening bars of the spiritual ‘Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen’ to Duke Ellington’s prayer of invocation in ‘Come Sunday’ we aim to take you, the listener, on a musical journey akin to the one Dr King expressed,
‘And now, Jazz is exported to the world. For in a particular struggle of the Negro in America, there is something akin to the universal struggle of modern man. Everybody has the Blues. Everybody longs for meaning. Everybody needs to clap hands and be happy. Everybody longs for faith.’
As with my previous two albums, What if Rupert Murdoch liked Jazz? and #JazzTrio the album would not have been possible without the generous support of friends who gave so generously to our Kickstarter campaign – the full list is on the following pages, but I want to pay particular thanks to our co-producers, Tim Drye and Sarah & Bjarne Thelin and to the amazing Les Ross who not only supported our project but documented the session with his camera. Max Openshaw is one of the most talented young film makers I’ve ever known and I’m so grateful that he has been a part of this project. I also wish to thank, Judith & David Bolton, Judith Mitchell, Paulette Tedd, Duncan Blake, David Galloway, Simon, Cindy Kelly, Jeremy Bye, Tony Kyriakides, David Hopkinson, Davina Shore, Sheila Murray, Alex van Rose, David Sheen, Danny Godfrey, Joanne Cox-Darling, Malcolm Guite, Mark Nixon, Catherine Rouse, Ollie McEwan, Roy Dowsett, Alan Fox, Hamish Bruce, Mark Clowes, Paul Neeley, John Blandford, Gareth Hughes, John Sheldon, Judith Hall, Janine Hamilton, Jeremy Perigo, Sam Guille, Rachel Winton and Alastair McCollum.
The musicians on this album were chosen not only for their incredible musicianship but for their ability to truly understand the nature of this album. They have exceeded my lofty expectations and brought their gifts to bear on this humble offering.
Finally, I’d like to thank my amazing family, my musical family, Tom Bacon and everyone at D’Addario, Kerry Long and Yanagisawa Saxophones, my mentor Branford Marsalis, my teachers, Eric Alexander, Dave O’Higgins, Tim Price and the amazing Rob ‘Wacko’ Hunter.
This album is dedicated to Ray Wilkes, my first saxophone teacher whose influence will be eternal. Ray left us in May 2015 and the world is diminished by his absence.