What triggered your interest in music?
I have always loved music and working in various venues over the last 19 years I have met some fantastic musicians and heard all different types of fantastic music. I have always had a special love of Jazz, Blues and Swing which has been fed by some great local bands and events over the years.
Why did you decide to open The Embassy Jazz Club last December?
With the loss of the annual Isle of Man Jazz Festival in 2008 after 24 years there was no regular local Jazz event and I felt that there was room to put on a small, intimate event. I had been thinking of trying to put something together for a number of months. My partner Sam and I had been chatting and we were discussing some ideas of how we could make it happen - I just had to find a venue.
Luckily our good friends Lee and Teri Anne had taken over the British Hotel on the Quay. They mentioned that there was a small function room upstairs that we could use if it was suitable and it all began there…..So far there have been 3 Embassy Jazz Club evenings and one of which had a lovely southern themed food menu, all of which have sold out in a matter of weeks of the tickets being available.
If you could have anyone play at the club (dead or alive), who would it be and why?
As a lover of the saxophone it would have to be Theodore Walter "Sonny" Rollins (Alive). Sonny Rollins is a very well known tenor saxophone player. One of the first Jazz albums I ever had was Tenor Madness which was released by Sonny in about 1956. Collaborating with some of, if not most of the Davis' group including John Coltrane.
Just to chat with him and hear the stories about touring and playing with some of the best Jazz musicians of all time and to hear about his influences would be fantastic. I'd also like to ask what he personally thought was the best Jazz Club in the world so I could pay it a visit.
How much local jazz talent is there on the island?
There is a colossal amount of talent on the Isle of Man. We are lucky to have some fantastic musicians on the island and we are very privileged to have some of the islands best in the Embassy house band in the forms of Steve Gray (keys), Nigel Johnson (Drums), Sammy J (Alto Sax), Alan Presford (Double Bass), Ken Mitchell (Guitar), Rosy Johnson (Congas and Percussion) and more recently Jack Divers (Trumpet and Vocals).
We have had some fabulous guests joins us too like Mark Burrows, Rachel Wild, Steve Farrell and Jerry Carter not to mention the great Indigo Blues who did a fantastic 1940's swing set for us. We did have a great vocalist in the form of Jim Ainsworth but unfortunately due to an acute health issue Jim has had to step down from the Embassy Jazz Band and we would like to say that it is a great loss and we will all miss him greatly. We would love to hear from other Jazz musicians if they would be interested in a solo or band spot during one of our events in the future.
What are your top three favourite songs (any genre)?
There are so many to choose from but 3 of my favourites are:
- Stevie Wonder, Superstition
- Louis Armstrong, What a Wonderful World
- Sonny Rollins, Saxophone Colossus.
What can people expect from an Embassy Jazz night?
The Embassy Jazz Club was designed with one thing in mind: I wanted people that like, love or are just interested in Jazz to have somewhere to go on a regular basis. Somewhere where they could relax in an intimate venue and enjoy some fantastic live Jazz. There is no pretence, we are a small local Jazz Club that in time we hope can expand slightly and offer a wider range of music and guests as time goes on and we receive more interest.
Can you play any instruments yourself?
Well, not exactly haha! I have been told I have a great ear for music and I have had a few saxophone lessons from my partner Sam and some drum lessons from her dad Nigel and I love it. I just wish I had more time in the day to do more. I am happy to leave it to the professionals and just enjoy the music.
Do you have any plans for the future of the club?
Yes, most definitely. I have been talking to Sam and a few friends about possibly finding a venue that we can call our own, somewhere we can customise our own space as 'The Embassy Jazz Club'. We would love to be in the position in the next year or so to look at holding a small festival of Jazz and building it into something like the annual Jazz Festival used to be. It was great and we can only try and recreate something that might be close to what we as an island once had.
The Embassy Jazz Club's upcoming dates are:
August 2014 - only a few tickets left5 October 2014 - tickets on sale beginning of September
7 December 2014 - tickets on sale beginning of November
1 February 2015 - tickets on sale beginning of January
(However bear in mind that these could change closer to the time)