Ahead of his 80th Birthday Concert at Turner Sims on Sunday 5 March, Ray d’Inverno takes us on The Journey of Jazz. Delve into the roots of jazz at Turner Sims in this 10-part blog series written by one of Southampton’s best-known musicians.
Although I ran many groups over the years from duos to big bands, the piano trio has always been my favourite vehicle.
The First Lunchtime Jazz Concert
According to my rather incomplete records, the first lunchtime jazz concert was given on Friday 18th February, 1984 and it was termed a ‘workshop given by the Ray d’Inverno Trio’. We played some trio numbers and then we spoke about jazz, improvisation and the respective roles of our instruments. I was very experienced in talking about this because at the time I was running a Jazz Workshop for the then Department of Adult and Continuing Education (and I ran it for some 15 years).
In addition, my drummer John Bell was also an experienced teacher and was headmaster of a local primary school at the time. I remember him talking about the different colourations that drums and percussion added to the jazz sound spectrum. My bass player was a young Paul Morgan who went on to achieve considerable success on the London and international jazz scene. But Paul was no teacher and was somewhat shy and only managed a few words about the role of the bass in jazz, something like, ‘well you’ve got roots, and you’ve got fifths and you can play triplets like this – and that’s about it.’
Although I ran many groups over the years from duos to big bands, the piano trio has always been my favourite vehicle. I have had many trios, but the one with John and Paul was particularly important to me. We played together in clubs and festivals and appeared on Radio 2’s Jazz Club. In 1977 we won the modern section of the prestigious Dunkirk International Jazz Competition and appeared in concert on French TV opposite the Count Basie Orchestra.
Book your tickets for Ray d’Inverno’s 80th Birthday Concert on Sunday 5 March, featuring Ray himself with his quintet Quintessential Groove, his pianist son Mark, a number of special guests – and plenty of cake!