Open your ears to jazz, asks pianist

Canonbury musician is set to launch his first album

Friday, 18th March — By Charlotte Chambers

Alex Bryson_3104

Alex Bryson: ‘I think generally everybody likes jazz from what I can tell – it’s enjoying a sort of resurgence’

MAYBE it had its booming heyday in the 1950s and 1960s – and certainly more avant garde versions of the genre are enough to strike fear into the hearts of some listeners.

But one man is here to say jazz is ready for a revival and finding popularity among a younger audience.

Canonbury pianist Alex Bryson this week urged people to give it a try and open their ears with an open mind.

Mr Bryson said: “I think generally everybody likes jazz from what I can tell – it’s enjoying a sort of resurgence. It’s a very immediate enjoyable music, and now because we have gotten so far away from when it was white hot and popular in the 50s and 60s, people don’t have enough knowledge to have any preconceptions.”

The former Canonbury Primary School student who once played the organ at Union Chapel in Upper Street learned classical music as a child but had always listened to jazz through his father’s extensive record collection, including luminaries such as Fats Waller and Thelonius Monk.

In his 20s he travelled to New York to study at the prestigious New School, but ended up getting his jazz education at the hands of legendary pianist Barry Harris, who regularly sat down in his 80s with Mr Bryson to give him one-to-one lessons.

On Monday Mr Bryson – who has performed at iconic jazz venues Cotton Club in New York and Ronnie Scott’s in Soho – launches his first album, The Alexander Bryson Trio, with drummer Matt Fishwick and bassist Jeremy Brown, at Pizza Express Jazz Club in Dean Street, Soho.

Asked about the famous “niiiiice” skit about jazz on The Fast Show in the 1990s, Mr Bryson said: “I think though that sketch is very funny and perhaps there might be a time in any art form where there’s a pitfall of pretension that one can fall into, I don’t think jazz is pretentious.”

Instead, he said working as a jazz musician is a “beautiful thing” whereby a “community of musicians” play together.

While Mr Bryson has become a well-known as someone who features in other people’s bands, this is the first time he has branched out and become “a band leader in my own right”.

Related Articles