Backstage at the 100 club, I caught up with Saxophonist Sam Barnett ahead of his evening show on Tuesday 21st August. All this week, the 100 Club are running a new Jazz/Blues Festival which features both new artists and old favourites. For more information visit https://www.the100club.co.uk/
Sophia Hall: You’ve just finished sound checking for your show this week at the 100 club, and it’s sounding great! Can you tell me a bit about tomorrow’s program?
Sam Barnett: Yep, so the Show is on Tuesday 21st August at 7.30pm. I’m actually working with Theo Travis, who is a Trevor James artist like myself, and we’re going to do a mix of modern jazz, original compositions and standards. The band is a Quartet plus Theo as a special guest – but he’s also an integral part of the group, and we’ll be swapping around lead saxophone as well as playing some stuff together. On piano we’ve got Rupert Cox, our drummer is Phelan Burgoyne who I study with in Switzerland, and Kuba Dworak who’s originally from Poland, but I also study with in Switzerland. I bought them over here for the gig to come perform with me in this fantastic venue.
SH: That’s awesome – so where are you studying in Switzerland?
SB: I’m actually in Basel, which is right on the Swiss border of France and Germany and I’m there at the Jazz Campus. It’s great because there are only about 90 of us altogether, so it really is like a family. There are some incredible teachers including Mark Turner, Domenic Landolf, Jorge Rossy and Michael Beck; you can just sign up for how much time you want with a tutor each week and really get to know them as well as learn from them. I’ve just finished my first year at the conservatoire, and after summer, I’ll be going into my second year. I auditioned for Basel when I was 16 – most places in the UK won’t take you until you’re 18.
SH: Where were you before Switzerland?
SB: So I come from a very creative family and I’m the first to be an outstanding musician specialising in the field of Jazz. I come from this wonderful artistic background and I’m so happy to have grown up in the environment I did, and I think it helped me to get where I am now. Training wise, I’ve been to various specialist schools including the Purcell School of Music and the Junior Jazz Department at the Royal Academy of Music with Gareth Lockrane. I also worked with Tomorrow’s Warriors youth programme, as well as NYJO 2 and NYJO London. When I was 14 I was selected for the Berklee Summer Program, which is a competitive specialised Jazz course at Berklee College of Music in Boston.
SH: You released an album, ‘New York – London Suite’, with your Quintet last year. What’s next on the cards for you?
SB: Yeah that was my first album and it was all original compositions and that was my first conceptual based writing. That was my first big step towards putting that kind of project together, and it was longlisted for an Unsigned Music Award! On Tuesday night, I’m going to be playing new originals that weren’t featured on my debut album, I’ve kind of put that material to bed for now. After the album was released, I did a long tour – well many, many gigs – playing the album material; it’s seen its fair share of stage time, so I’m ready to bring out some new stuff. I even wrote a few of the tunes I’ll be playing on Tuesday specifically for this gig! I’ve also arranged quite a few pieces, because now I’ve got the tenor it’s nice to write two-part harmony, which is a lot of fun. But actually, I’ve got a new project coming up in Switzerland, and that’s with the Quartet. That’s going to be the main stuff I’ll be promoting, which is the brand-new material. I’m really pushing to play these pieces at gigs and it’s what I’m most excited about.
SH: Are you part of any other events this week with the 100 club?
SB: Actually, I’m playing on the Thursday, 23rd of this week. I’m playing a short set with a trio including some musicians from Leeds College of Music and I’m really looking forward to that. It’s part of Thursday’s Youth Jazz Artist Development Programme which includes a workshop run by Leeds College of Music before the gig, and a jam afterwards!
SH: That all sounds fantastic – good luck for both of your gigs this week and I look forward to hearing you play!
SB: Thanks very much!
The Sam Barnett Quartet feat. Theo Travis will take place on Tuesday, 21st August 2018 from 7.00pm – 11.00pm at the 100 Club. Tickets are £12.00 adv + bf / £8.00 student adv + bf. For more information visit https://www.the100club.co.uk/