A question of taste - Jason Yarde

LONDON-BASED composer and saxophonist Jason Yarde teams up with Music Generation Cork City for a performance of his work, ‘Bold as Brass’, by 100 musicians on June 21 as part of Cork Midsummer Festival.

A question of taste - Jason Yarde

Best recent book:

I’d probably have to say Stick Man. With two small children, Julia Donaldson’s work forms the lion’s share of my book reading.

Best recent exhibition/gig:

ESKA’s album launch gig at RichMix in London. It was always going to be a special night, but there was something magical about witnessing a friend finally, officially, release her musical baby live to a home crowd.

What formats do you access music?

All sorts of formats, but I’m largely old-school, in terms of CDs and even vinyl now and then. I do like the physical.

Best piece of music you’ve been listening to lately:

I’m not sure I could pick one, but I played a concert recently at the QEH at Southbank Centre with the London Sinfonietta, curated by Matthew Herbert. Several composers from various backgrounds (including Matthew, Colin Matthews, Shabaka Hutchings, Gwyneth Herbert, Emma-Ruth Richards and myself) were asked to write ‘Notes To A New Government’. Various topics were covered and it amounted to a most beautiful and varied body of work, and debate, about the state of play in the UK right now.

Name three of your musical heroes:

It’s an ever-expanding list, but I’d have to say Duke Ellington, Wayne Shorter and Quincy Jones.

First ever piece of music or art that really moved you:

‘Oh Geno’, by Dexy’s Midnight Runners! It was certainly the first single I remember buying.

The best gig you’ve ever seen:

The Pat Metheny Group at the Royal Albert Hall. It was the 2002 ‘Speaking of Now’ tour. Of course, the group is always great, but, on this occasion, the fantastic Cameroonian bassist, Richard Bona, was singing and playing percussion. He picked up the electric bass to play the classic Metheny composition ‘Bright Size Life’ and then, come the encore(s), they played half of my favourite Metheny album, Still Life Taking, with all the hardcore fans now down at the front singing along to all this instrumental music! Fantastic!

Radio listening:

It’s very patchy, to be honest, a bit of BBC radio, usually online via the app. Anything form 1Xtra to 2,3,4 and 6, JazzFM online now and then.

Best recent holiday or weekend break:

A break right now, for me, is hopping on a plane to Cork and meeting and playing with everyone involved in Bold as Brass. Thankfully, although it’s work, it’s great fun and everyone is up for the crack.

Your best celebrity encounter:

I’m not usually starstruck, but that would have to be Sir Quincy Jones! I meet him post the now-defunct BBC Jazz Awards. I was nominated for Jazz Innovation and he was receiving a ‘lifetime achievement’. I knew I wasn’t going to win and only really went with the intention of meeting him. We sat for hours in the bar, post the awards, as people came and went and he recounted stories and charmed all around him. I even met [Jones’s keyboardist of choice] Rod Temperton, too — I was in heaven!

Most expensive item of clothing you’ve ever bough:

Probably my wedding suit. I just wanted a nice blue suit that I knew I could wear again. After hunting around, it was still under £200.

Tech habits:

I’m seldom without my laptop. Besides the really useful general apps and social media, there is Setlist and iRealbook and 4Track that are great musicians tools, and Dub Siren.

Unsung heroes:

Teachers. I only teach occasionally and I’m pretty much able to dip in and out, but the folks doing it day in, day out, teaching, then marking, then teaching again, dealing with constantly changing goal posts... hats off!

You are king for a day — what’s your first decree?

If it’s just a day, I guess we’d have to have a feast and party... a holiday! I’d make sure everyone in the land eats well that day and, hopefully, put in place stronger measures to reduce (if not eradicate) food waste.

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