May 25 2013 Latest news:
Saturday, May 12, 2012
AWARD-WINNING trumpeter, vocalist and composer Abram Wilson will perform a personal and unique new composition in Welwyn Garden City this weekend.
The New Orleans-raised jazzman’s performance at Campus West on Sunday is part of a 20-plus date UK tour, which marks 10 years of Abram living in the UK and is inspired by the short life of Harlem-born classical piano prodigy Philippa Schuyle.
Philippa became famous in the 1930s and ‘40s as a result of her talent, mixed raced and the eccentric methods employed by her mother to bring her up.
Her parents believed that inter-marriage could “invigorate” both races and produce extra-ordinary offspring.
They also advocated that mixed race marriage could help to solve many of the social problems in the US.
There had been plans to make a movie of her life in 2004, starring Alicia Keys, but as is often the case in Hollywood the film never got beyond its development stage.
So Abram is now taking up the challenge to bring Philippa’s incredible story to a wider public.
He said: “It’s a story which means a lot to so many people.
“For black people she remains a historic figure as she was for mixed race people.
“With her unconventional and often difficult childhood, children will identify with her.
“Life was much harder for women in the 1930s and 40s. So woman will be moved by her fight for independence.”
He added: “I definitely admire her, and this is an opportunity for people to understand her life.
“Philippa was born in Harlem in 1931. She was a classical pianist who had played since the age of four and performed since six.
“She travelled the world and played music for kings and queens. But every time she came back to the States there was always the issue of racism.
“While she was embraced by black audiences, she was not accepted by whites at all.
“Eventually she left music and got into journalism.
“But while reporting from the Vietnam War in 1967, she died in a helicopter crash.”
An album dedicated to Philippa will be released later this year and a stage play of her life is planned for next year.
With trumpet playing reminiscent of Freddie Hubbard, Miles Davis and Wynton Marsalis and the vocals of Sammy Davis Jr and Chet Baker, Wilson has created a unique and captivating style of melodic compositions that swing and groove.
Charismatic on stage and off, Wilson’s musicality exudes warmth, passion, virtuosity and soul.
“Jazz has blues, swing and improvisation,” he said.
“That’s been the foundation for everyone from Count Basie to Dexter Gordon, Ella Fitzgerald to Sarah Vaughan and Bessie Smith.
“It encompasses a lot of things, from rock to funk and hip-hop, but the essence is all about those same three things.
“It can be a powerful thing which promotes so many positive aspects and happiness.”
Abram’s passion for music began at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, where both Wynton Marsalis and Harry Connick Junior studied.
Aged 17, he won a music scholarship to Ohio Wesleyan University, where he studied music education, specialising in classical trumpet.
Abram came to London in 2002 and quickly became one of the fastest rising stars on the scene, performing and touring with renowned jazz artists such as Soweto Kinch, Julian Joseph, Denys Baptiste and Gary Crosby.
He has recorded three albums to critical acclaim and won a clutch of awards and nominations, including winner of the BBC Jazz Award for Best Band in 2004, the International Songwriting Competition two years later and the British Jazz Award for best new CD in 2007.
He will be appearing at the Campus West theatre complex, in WGC, on Sunday.
Doors open at 7.30pm and the concert starts at 8pm.
Tickets cost £11 online in advance, £13 at the door on the night and £8 for Herts Jazz members. Under-21s and students pay £5.