Get tickets for Bryan Ferry’s upcoming JAZZ AGE TOUR 2013
'This is just about the most surprising album in recent memory, and a complete joy.' – NPR (USA)
'The Jazz Age is Ferry's most radical work yet.' – Pitchfork
'As fascinating as it is perplexing ... to be applauded.' – BBC Music
'The Jazz Age is an intoxicating collection of timeless songs.' – Rise
'Fresh, authentic and impossibly chic.' – The Sun ★★★★★
'Testament to Ferry's enduring and creatively plentiful career.' – musicOMH.com
'Something wholly different and rewarding.' – AllMusic
'The great Gatsby of pop ... It is bang-on trend' – Mail on Sunday
'Every note is perfectly placed' – The Observer ★★★★★
'The Jazz Age is splendid' - Uncut
'A very different melodic and harmonic spin' – The Guardian
'The playing and arranging is so immaculate' – Evening Standard
'The Jazz Age oozes style, elegance and charm' – Sunday Express ★★★★★
'Enjoyable transformation' – The Independent
'Lovely, surprising and entertaining' – Daily Telegraph
'Nostalgic, dazzling and very fun.' – Italian Vanity Fair
'All is right with the world.' – Louder Than War
'...Wittily unbuttoned showcase.' – Q Magazine ★★★★
'A genius move in combining jazz with songs that fit the genre.' - Electric Banana
If there was ever a musical icon and a decade destined to come together it is Bryan Ferry and the Roaring Twenties. The artist as creative powerhouse with a dazzling career of endless surprise, delight and innovation, and the decade - a time of modernity, decadence and bright young things - all driven on by the thrill of it all.
So what better way to celebrate and mark the 40th year anniversary of Ferry's incredible career as a singer and songwriter, than by rearranging his own compositions and have them performed in a 1920's style by his very own Jazz Orchestra?
It began as an idea, fuelled by Ferry's fascination of that time between the wars known as "The Jazz Age". He decided the songs were to be all completely instrumental reinterpretations.
‘A lot of the music I listen to nowadays is instrumental," he explains "and I wanted to let my songs have a different life, a life without words’.
He put together his very own jazz orchestra comprised of many of the great British jazz players from his past tribute to the 1930’s’, the album ‘As Time Goes By - including his long-term musical director Colin Good, with whom Ferry worked closely on these new arrangements.
The 13 songs have been chosen from 11 albums, from his very first release ‘Roxy Music’ (1972) to his recent solo record ‘Olympia’ (2010)
“I started my musical journey listening to a fair bit of jazz, mainly instrumental, and from diverse and contrasting periods” explains Ferry.
“I loved the way the great soloists would pick up a tune and shake it up - go somewhere completely different - and then return gracefully back to the melody, as if nothing had happened. This seemed to me to reach a sublime peak with the music of Charlie Parker, and later Ornette Coleman. More recently, I have been drawn back to the roots, to the weird and wonderful music of the 1920s – the decade that became known as The Jazz Age.
After forty years of making records, both in and out of Roxy Music, I thought now might be an interesting moment to revisit some of these songs, and approach them as instrumentals in the style of that magical period - bringing a new and different life to these songs – a life without words.”
Colin Good studied music at Queen’s College, Oxford, and since then has forged a career as a pianist and arranger in the London swing and jazz scene. Influenced by Earl Hines and Teddy Wilson, Colin has toured with the Inkspots and has composed regularly for theatre, television and film. Colin was the pianist, arranger and musical director on Bryan Ferry’s album of 1930’s songs ‘As Time Goes By’. Colin was the pianist and musical director on the subsequent world tour and has been touring and recording with Bryan ever since.
Enrico Tomasso has been exposed to the best of jazz from when he was born and started playing the trumpet at age five. His father, fine jazz clarinettist Ernie Tomasso, passed on a lifetime of jazz-study and took him to meet many of the jazz greats when they toured Europe and in America. His biggest inspiration was Louis Armstrong who he met and played for during Louis’ visit to England in 1968 which led to a friendship and correspondence that lasted until Louis’ death. Nowadays Enrico is considered one of the top jazz trumpeters on the jazz scene. Having a wide stylistic range he is a specialist in the recording field but live performance is his mainstay as he has an exciting presence and a lively personality on stage with his command of the instrument and stylistic invention placing him among the best. He spent twelve years with the Pasadena Roof Orchestra and has played with many famous names including Soft Cell, Marc Almond, Bryan Ferry, Clare Teal and John Altman’s film music. He has also been winner and runner up in the British Jazz Awards in recent years.
Malcolm EarleSmith has been a well-established name on the London Jazz scene for over 20 years. After graduating from the Guildhall School of Music in 1989, he joined the National Youth Jazz Orchestra, becoming lead trombone in 1993. Since then, he hasgone on towork with a variety of jazz and pop artists including Kenny Baker, Jack Parnell, Digby Fairweather, Henry Lowther, Frank Griffith, Martin Speake, Martha Reeves and Ronnie Spector. In 1999 - 2001 Malcolm recorded and toured extensively with Bryan Ferry. He appears on Ferry’s album, ‘As Time Goes By’. In 2008-9 Malcolm appeared at Shakespeare’s Globe as onstage trombonist in Che Walker’s play The Frontline.
Richard White taught himself clarinet while at school on the Isle of Wight. A multi-instrumentalist and a respected crooner, he was early influenced by the records of the original Temperance Seven, and has long nurtured a love of all varieties of vintage jazz. He has toured extensively, especially as a performer with musical cabaret outfits, mixing jazz with comedy and allied “British rubbish”! When not lugging the unwieldy bass saxophone around London, he is at his happiest peddling his distinctive clarinet style in several eclectic small groups - which is how he happened to meet Colin Good...
Robert Fowler was a member of The Pasadena Roof Orchestra for ten years. This band is recognised as probably the leading exponent of dance band era music, having toured the world, recorded 19 albums and appeared on television and radio numerous times in Britain and Europe.
Robert followed his time with the PRO with stints playing for Chris Dean’s Syd Lawrence Orchestra (re-creating the music of Glenn Miller), as well as appearances with the BBC Big Band and Humphrey Lyttelton’s band, and two years touring with Bryan Ferry’s Roxy Music. He also played on Bryan Ferry’s ‘As Time Goes By’ album.
Alan Barnes studied saxophones, woodwinds and arranging at the Leeds College of Music, before moving to London and playing with the Midnight Follies Orchestra. His versatility on the saxophones in addition to flute, clarinet and bass clarinet has seen him enjoy a prolific recording career and has collaborated with the cream of London’s best jazz players. An in demand session player Alan has appeared on Bryan Ferry’s As Time Goes By, as well as albums by artists such as Bjork and Van Morrison. Over a ten-year period Alan broadcasted regularly for the BBC Big Band and Radio Orchestra and has recorded and toured with Big Band leaders Kenny Backer, Dom Weller and Sam Tracey to name a few. He has performed on numerous film and television soundtracks, including Chicago. Alan toured with Bryan Ferry’s band in America and Europe in 1999.
Martin Wheatley specializes in musical styles of the 20s, 30s and 40s-Jazz, Blues and especially in recent years Hawaiian. He has played with most of the top Vintage Jazz stylists in the UK including Keith Nichols, the Charleston Chasers and Matthias Seuffert. He has toured the USA extensively, including a trip to Hawaii. He recently returned to America to record with violinist Andy Stein and trumpeter John Erik Kelso.
John Sutton began his career with the London Vintage Jazz Orchestra led by Dave Burman in 1976. He then joined the Pasadena Roof Orchestra in 1980. For the past few years John has been the leader of the PRO as well as playing with other bands such as Enrico Tomasso’s small bands, the Louise Cookman Quartet, Blue Devils. He played on Bryan Ferry’s ‘As Time Goes By’ album and toured with Alan Barnes, Robert Fowler, Enrico Tomasso, and Malcolm Earle Smith in 2000.
Dear, doomed F. Scott Fitzgerald found a phrase to describe the sounds that accompanied the party scenes in The Great Gatsby, his most celebrated novel. He called it “yellow cocktail music”, and if you have an ounce of music in your soul then you will know exactly what he meant. And here it is, that very thing, emerging from an unexpected source to evoke the charm of a vanished but still compelling time.
Trumpets shout, trombones bray, a bass saxophone harrumphs and a banjo chinks out a steady rhythm punctuated by the ticking of woodblocks and the splash of a Chinese cymbal. Yet this is not the fictional bandleader Vladimir Tostoff’s “Jazz History of the World”, a composition invented by Fitzgerald as the soundtrack to Jay Gatsby’s lavish parties. These songs were written by Bryan Ferry fifty and more years later, initially part of the repertoire of Roxy Music but now taking a leap back in time in order to re-‐emerge as if they belonged to the brief, shining era that emerged out of the cruel shadow of the Great War and was cut short by the Wall Street Crash: the time that Fitzgerald himself christened the Jazz Age.
The first time I met Ferry, back when he had only just given up his job as a part-‐ time art teacher, we talked about the music that inspired him. He mentioned Charlie Parker and Billie Holiday, which caught my attention since these were not names that regularly came up in conversation with aspirant rock stars in 1972. With this record, which delves back even further into jazz history, Ferry reveals the true depth of his love for the music that gave cultural momentum to an entire century. With the aid of the pianist and arranger Colin Good, his musical director for the past decade, and a group of musicians thoroughly familiar with the vocabulary and the nuances of early jazz, Ferry has reimagined some of his best known songs as if they had been written in the 1920s and covered by the bands of the day. Out of the sort of collective polyphony that characterised jazz during the years of its birth in New Orleans, the modern soloists emerge to awaken the spirits of Louis Armstrong’s Hot Seven, Bix Beiderbecke’s Wolverines and the Original Dixieland Jazz Band. Ferry’s “The Bogus Man”, which made its debut on 1973′s For Your Pleasure, revives the jungle sounds of Duke Ellington’s Cotton Club band, while the arrangement of “Don’t Stop the Dance” might have come from the pen of the great Don Redman.
This performance of “Virginia Plain”, Roxy’s first hit single back in 1972, summons the spirit of the group of British dance-‐band musicians who pioneered an appreciation of jazz on this side of the Atlantic: adventurous chaps like Billy Cotton and Buddy Featherstonhaugh who combined playing a frantic kind of jazz for dancers at the Savoy Hotel or the Embassy Club with racing highly tuned automobiles at Brooklands. It’s easy to imagine this piece, and its companions, being played on a gramophone in a Mayfair apartment by the characters of Michael Arlen’s The Green Hat, another hit novel of the mid-‐Twenties, a succes de scandale in which the heroine, the sexual adventurous Iris Storm, pilots a rakish yellow Hispano-‐Suiza and drives men wild. Like Fitzgerald’s Jordan Baker, Iris Storm is a woman with a dark secret.
Yet this is not music to be enjoyed merely as a charming period piece. The briefest exposure should be enough for a modern listener to recognise its enduring virtues and to fall under the spell of its cunning melodic interplay, glorious instrumental textures and elegant syncopations, and its variety of mood, from the blatantly euphoric to the delicately sinister. This is yesterday calling, its message loud and clear: “yellow cocktail music” lives.
The artwork for The Jazz Age album is comprised of illustrations by the renowned French poster artist Paul Colin. Born in 1892, Colin enjoyed a career spanning over 40 years.
Breathing new life into the art of the poster – Colin’s work brilliantly evokes the music, dance and reckless energy of the Jazz Age. Seeking to re-embrace life, Parisians saw African-American music and dance as a regenerative force, and Colin brought the Jazz Age visually alive with his bold posters of the performers at the Theatre des Champs-Elysees. Influenced by cubism, Colin’s images arrest attention with their appearance of movement and strong, exaggerated lines; they capture, perhaps more than any other works of art, the wild, carefree mood of the Roaring Twenties.
In 1925 a cast of musicians and dancers known as La Revue Nègre exploded onto the stage of the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, captivating audiences with the wild movement of erotic new dances like the Charleston. Inspired by their popularity, Colin celebrated these dancers in a portfolio of 45 hand-coloured lithographs entitled Le Tumulte Noir, portraying the Parisian infatuation with these performers. It was here that Colin first encountered the bewitching Josephine Baker during a rehearsal in which she performed wearing little more than a string of feathers around her waist and neck. They became lovers, life-long friends, and she his muse.
Colin’s strong, dynamic images still transport us back into the heady swing of the Jazz Age.
The Vinyl Factory is pleased to unveil a luxurious 10" hardback folio limited edition of Bryan Ferry's new album, The Jazz Age. Fitting of the era, this bespoke hand-crafted release consists of six 10" vinyl records, housed in a hardback folio with exclusive screen printed artwork - each of the 500 copies hand-signed and numbered by Bryan Ferry.