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Django Bates (born October 2, 1960), is a composer, multi-instrumentalist and band leader. He plays the piano, keyboards and the tenor horn.

Career

Django Bates was born in Beckenhammarker, Kentmarker, United Kingdommarker. He rose to prominence in Loose Tubes, a jazz orchestra which was considered one of the UK's most exciting and inspirational groups of the 1980s.

He founded his small group Human Chain in 1979. In 1991, he started his own 19-piece jazz orchestra Delightful Precipice. He also put together the Powder Room Collapse Orchestra, which recorded Music for the Third Policeman, and created Circus Umbilicus, a musical circus show.

In recent years, Bates has concentrated on writing large scale compositions on commission (see list below). These include Dream Kitchen for percussionist Evelyn Glennie, Fine Frenzy for the Shobhana Jeyasingh Dance Company, and a piano concerto for Joanna MacGregor and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra entitled What It's Like to be Alive. He also wrote the first ever concerto for electric keyboard entitled 2000 Years Beyond UNDO, which was performed at the millennium Barbican Festival.

He has worked closely with director Lucy Bailey on several theatre projects, including Gobbledegook for The Gogmagogs, Baby Doll, (Birmingham Repmarker, National Theatremarker, Albery Theatremarker), Stairs to the Roof (Chichester Festival Theatremarker), The Postman Always Rings Twice (West Yorkshire Playhousemarker, Albery Theatremarker) and Titus Andronicus (The Globe Theatremarker). They also worked on a short film You Can Run. Other theatre work includes Greg Doran’s production of As You Like It (RSC), and Campbell Graham’s Out There!.

Django was the inaugural Artistic Director of FuseLeeds in 2004. He used this opportunity to initiate the first orchestral commission for Jonny Greenwood (Radiohead). Django also commissioned sixty composers including Laurie Anderson, Gavin Bryars, Sir Patrick Moore and John Zorn, to write one bar each. He then quilted these bars into the piece Premature Celebration which was performed by Evan Parker and the London Sinfonietta to celebrate Evan’s 60th Birthday.

The Wire voted Django Best UK Jazz Composer in 1987 and 1990. In 1997, he won the Jazzpar Prize, the world's only international award for jazz.

In addition to his work as a leader, Bates has been prominently featured as a sideman as a member of Dudu Pukwana's Zila, Tim Whitehead's Borderline, Ken Stubbs' First House, Bill Bruford's Earthworks, Sidsel Endresen and in the bands of George Russell and George Gruntz. He has performed alongside Michael Brecker, Tim Berne, Christian Jarvi, Vince Mendoza, David Sanborn, Kate Rusby and Don Alias.

In 2008, he was nominated for the PRS New Music Award

Education

Django Bates attended Sedgehillmarker Secondary School. Whilst at this school, he also attended the Centre for Young Musicians in London (1971–77) where he learned trumpet, piano, and violin. In 1977-78 he studied at Morley Collegemarker. He then went to the Royal College of Musicmarker but left after only two weeks. There were notices on the pianos reading “Not to be used for the playing of Jazz music.”

He was awarded a fellowship by the Leeds College of Musicmarker in 1995.

In 2002, he was a tutor at the renowned Banff Centremarker jazz programme alongside Jim Black and Dave Douglas.

In July 2005 Django Bates was appointed Professor of Rhythmic Music at the Rhythmic Music Conservatorymarker (RMC) in Copenhagen. The new professor's role is to raise the international profile of the RMC, cultivate excellence within it, whilst further developing their own work in ways that inspire and energise.

Musical style

Django Bates' music draws on a vast range of stylistic influences. It is driven by a philosophy that places a high value on being at the forefront of creativity and innovation. In this respect, he aligns himself with the avant garde and Post Modern movements (also see avant-garde jazz and postmodern music ).

On piano, his style is influenced by players such as Bill Evans, Keith Jarrett, and John Taylor. The qualities which carry through to his playing include a highly lyrical approach with an emphasis on harmony and sophisticated chord voicings.

Commissions

  • Loose Tubes. (2009) Big band work commissioned by HESSISCHER RUNDFUNK HR Big Band
  • Midnight Roundabout. (2009) Big band work commissioned by HESSISCHER RUNDFUNK HR Big Band
  • Gaza. (2009) Big band work commissioned by HESSISCHER RUNDFUNK HR Big Band
  • Julius Caesar . (2009) Theatre score:RSC director Lucy Bailey.
  • Timon of Athens. (2008) Theatre score Shakespeares Globe: director Lucy Bailey.
  • Titus Andronicus. (2006) Theatre score Shakespeares Globe: director Lucy Bailey.
  • Alison in Space, a BBC Radio 3 and Royal Philharmonic Society commission for Alison Balsom (2006) Trumpet and keyboards
  • You Can Run Short film score: director Lucy Bailey.
  • The Postman Always Rings Twice (2004) Theatre score: director Lucy Bailey.
  • Umpteenth Violin Concerto Ernst Kovacic (2004)
  • Premature Celebration for Evan Parker. London Sinfonietta (2004)
  • Jazz from Hell orchestration for London Sinfonietta (2003)
  • How the String Quartet Came to Exist Brodsky Quartet (2003)
  • Priceless BBC National Orchestra of Wales (2002)
  • Stairs to the Roof (2001) Theatre score: director Lucy Bailey.
  • M.A.W.B. (Man Alone With Bottle) James Crabb (2001) Accordion
  • 2000 Years Beyond Undo, (2000) electric keyboard concerto,
  • Pond Life Smith Quartet (2000). String quartet.
  • Baby Doll (2000) Theatre score: director Lucy Bailey.
  • As You Like It (2000) Theatre score: director Greg Doran.
  • Bird Tableau (Feasibility Studies), (1999) 3 flutes.
  • Circus Umbilicus (1999) large jazz orchestra
  • Necessity Matthew Barley (1999) Cello.
  • A Fine Frenzy, Shobana Jeyasingh Dance Company and Apollo Saxophone Quartet (1999). Saxophone quartet and tape.
  • Gobbledygook The Gogmagogs (Patrick Barlow) (1999) String quintet
  • Travel Cartoons for the Blind Apollo Saxophone Quartet (1998)
  • One in a Million (BBC 2 and the Arts Council) (1997) Short film score.
  • Some More Upsets Human Chain with London Sinfonietta (1997)
  • The Catering Trade Ensemble Bash (1997)
  • What it's like to be alive (piano concerto for Joanna MacGregor) (1996)
  • The Loneliness of Being Right Joanna MacGregor and Human Chain (1996)
  • My Dream Kitchen Evelyn Glennie (1996)
  • Lullaby for Megan (1993)
  • Out There (1993) music theatre production with Campbell Graham
  • Midnight Oil Jane Chapman (1993)
  • Three English Scenes: Good Evening … Here is the News, Abandoned Railway Station, Forms of Escape. (1992) symphony orchestra
  • Candles Still Flicker in Romania's Dark (1991) orchestra
  • Tentle Morments (1989) orchestra
  • Köln WDR Orch


Discography

Albums as a leader

  • Spring is Here ( Shall we Dance?) (June 2008) Lost Marble Records LM003
  • You Live and Learn...(Apparently) (2004) Lost Marble Records LM001
  • Quiet Nights (1998) Screwgun NY 70007
  • Like Life (1997) STCD 4221
  • Good Evening...Here is the News (1995) ARGO 452099-2
  • Winter Truce (and Homes Blaze) (1995) JMT 514 023-2
  • Autumn Fires (and Green Shots) (1994)
  • Summer Fruits (and Unrest) (1993) JMT 514 008-2
  • Music for The Third Policeman (1990) AhUm CD 003
  • Cashin' In (1988) Editions EG EEGCD 57
  • Human Chain (1986) AH-UM 002


Albums as a sideman



Reviews of recorded work



Reviews of live work



Articles





  • 100 most talented young people in Britain. Tatler magazine 1999.


  • Re Bates, J. Fordham: Jazz UK, no.25 1999, 8.


  • Catalytic Subverter, J. Fordham: Jazz Express, no.214 1998, 28.


  • Jazz - Django's got a new keyboard, Independent On Sunday, 30 November 1997.


  • Young Jazz Musicians 1997 The London Studios, The Guardian, 10 September 1997.


  • Balanced on a precipice, feature from The Herald, 4 July 1997.


  • Get Rid of the Goatee, The Guardian, 25 July 1997.


  • Briton wins Danish jazz award - Jazzpar Prize, The Times. 4 October 1996.


  • British Jazz Musician Wins Top International Award, The Guardian. 4 October 1996.


  • Interview mit Django Bates, H. Haubold: Neue Musikzeitung, xliii (1994), Oct–Nov, 38.


  • Delightful Precipice - Jazz, Financial Times. 22 October 1993.


  • Turned Loose to Play Around, J. Fordham: The Guardian. 15 October 1993.


  • Django Bates: Big Band Dreamer, W. Montgomery: Wire, no.116 1993, 16.


  • Django Bates, H. J. Schaal: JP, xlii/11 1993, 14.


  • Big Band Piano: We’re not in Kansas City any More, B. McCullough: Keyboard, xv/11 1989, 76.


  • Synthesize, improvise, satirise; Jazz, The Times. 10 September 988.


  • Worldview: England’s Django Bates: Multi-striped Keyboardist who Escapes behind a Horn, Freff: Keyboard, xiii/12 1987, 22.




  • Simply prodigious talent, The Times. 2 December 1985.


Film and Television



  • "Jazz Britannia Live at the Barbican". Solo piano performance of Freely. BBC FOUR 12/02/2005




  • "Here's a piano I prepared earlier: Experimental music in the 1960s". Contributor. BBC FOUR.


  • "Sound on Film: One in a Million." A surreal narrative by composer Django Bates and director Terry Braun. A young composer and her daughter try to select winning lottery numbers. BBC TWO 07/01/1997


  • "Strings, Bows and Bellows". Joanna, Django Bates & Rolf Hind perform Django's "Tentle Morments" on three pianos. BBC TWO 13/05/1995






  • "[nju: yor:k]" A shortfilm by Bernd Pick, 1997. Using only the music of Django Bates. Can be seen at Youtube (Tag:Django Bates).


Radio

  • "Mixing It". Jaga Jazzist in collaboration with Django Bates. BBC RADIO 3 22/7/2005


  • "Jazz On 3" - Django Bates' Human Chain. BBC RADIO 3 15/07/2005


  • "Courtney Pine's Jazz Crusade" guest is Django Bates. BBC RADIO 2 23/8/2004


  • "Mixing It". Guest is Django Bates. BBC RADIO 3 16/7/2004


  • "Front Row". Django Bates talks about his first album in 6 years "You Live and Learn (Apparently)". BBC Radio Four 28/06/2004


  • "Hear and Now" - FUSE Festival. Pond Life, a four movement string quartet by Django Bates performed by the Smith Quartet. BBC RADIO 3 13/3/2004


  • Front Row - Django Bates on commissioning one bar from 60 composers to make a piece for the Premature Celebration of Evan Parker's 60th birthday. BBC Radio Four 01/03/2004


  • "Between the Ears": The Museum of Lost Keyboards. Armando Iannucci guides us around a museum of keyboard instruments which exist only in the mind. Music composed and performed by Django Bates. BBC Radio Three 13/12/2003


  • "Twenty Minutes". Geoffrey Smith looks at the history of the relationship between jazz and classical music. With contributions from Mark-Anthony Turnage and Django Bates. BBC RADIO 3 17/5/2002




  • "Music Matters". Django Bates discusses Priceless. BBC RADIO 3 5/5/2002


  • "Jazz on 3". Human Chain at London's Vortex Club. BBC RADIO 3 21/9/2001








  • "Mixing It". Django Bates selects some favourite tracks. BBC RADIO 3 3/4/1999


  • "Live from London". Chat show features music from Django Bates - Horses in the Rain. BBC Radio Four 27/03/1999


  • "Music Machine". In Conversation with..." Django Bates discusses Keith Jarrett's `My Song'. BBC RADIO 3 10/12/1998




  • "BBC Proms 97". Joanna MacGregor and Ensemble Bash. Programme includes Django Bates: The Catering Trade (first London performance). BBC RADIO 3 23/7/1997


  • "Hear and Now". Apollo Saxophone Quartet and the Goldberg Ensemble. Programme includes Django Bates: Travel Cartoons for the Blind. BBC RADIO 3 23/5/1997


  • "Hear and Now". Sam Hayden: Time Is Money. Django Bates: Food for Plankton; Some More Upsets; Misplaced Swans; L'Apres-Midi de M Dufy. BBC RADIO 3 4/4/1997




  • "Jazz Notes". Django Bates joins the BBC Big Band to perform a selection of his most recent compositions for his own group, Delightful Precipice, including the first UK performance of `Rest and Be Thankful'. With Iain Ballamy (saxophones). RADIO 3 16/5/1996.


  • "The World Tonight". Tentle Morments from Django Bates "Good Evening, Here is the News". Django Bates (British pianist, winner of Jazzpar prize) & John Cummings (London based music promoter). 04/10/1996


  • Joanna MacGregor. Piano recital. Includes It's Only a Paper Moon by Harold Arlen, arranged by Django Bates. BBC RADIO 3 6/1/1995


  • "Music in Our Time." Four new string quartets played by the Smith Quartet and interviews with the composers. Includes Django Bates: Pond-life (BBC commission). BBC RADIO 3 5/3/1995


  • Django Bates' Delightful Precipice. Includes interview with Bates. Tightrope, Armchair march, Eden express, Fox Across the Road, Queen of Puddings, You can't Have Everything, The Loneliness of Being Right, Candles Still Flicker, Peculiar Terms of Intimacy, Discovering Metal, Open Letter to Dave DeFries. Recorded at Adrian Boult Hallmarker, Birmingham. Radio Three 14/5/1994




  • "Impressions" 9/10/1993




  • "Midnight Oil". Django Bates' songs for Jane Chapman. BBC RADIO 3 19/3/1993


  • "Jazz Parade". BBC Big Band, conducted by Django Bates. BBC RADIO 2 22/1/1993


  • "Outside In Festival". 11/02/1992




  • "Magnum Opus". Loose Tubes perform at the Logan Hall, London. Sad Africa - 6'35" BATES, Sunny - 5'34" EACOTT, Delightful Precipice - 7'50" BATES, Blue - 7'17" BERRY We Are, Are You? 5'01" HARBORNE, Eden Express - 8'52" BATES, Mo mhuirnin ban - 4'12" TRAD arr. BATCHELOR, Sosbun Brakk 5'43" PARKER Hermeto's Giant Breakfast - 12'24" DEFRIES, Psycopath-a-go-go - 4'48" BERRY, Accepting suites from strangers - 8'25" BATES, Arriving - 4'40" BATCHELOR, Mister Zee - 7'44" BERRY. 01/05/1987


  • The Proms 1987: Loose Tubes (1) BERRY, Steve "Mister Zee" (2) Eddie PARKER "Sosbun Brakk" (3) CREWE/GAUDIO "Can't take my eyes off you" (4) BATES, Django: "Sweet Williams" (5) BERRY, Steve: "Blue" (6) BATES, Django: "Accepting suites from strangers" (7) Chris BATCHELOR "Sticklebacks" (8) Dave DEFRIES "Open letter to Dudu Pukwana" (9) Chris BATCHELOR "Arriving" (10) BATES, Django: "Yellow hill". Radio 3 30/8/87


  • BBC Peel Session - Scritti Politti featuring Django Bates and Jamie Talbot. September 1982.


Quotes

"the brain of classical music with the groin of jazz"

"When I'm not writing or rehearsing my own music, I tend to find other ways of filling that time than listening to music I already know," 2005

"My earliest memory of performing was a James Taylor composition, from a Stephane Grappelli album I noticed my dad liked. It was quite simple, so I worked it out. Every time he walked into the room I would play it to see if I could get him to pay me any attention. A sad little aim, but it was probably the whole cause of me becoming a musician." 2005

"Being outside the establishment has always seemed important to me. There are always promoters and producers who want to meddle with your music . . . More and more I find myself wanting to speak up about these things. Ah, the wonderful smell of burning bridges!" 2005

"England at the moment is a cause for concern. It is a difficult place to be, artistically. But I'm not going to whinge about it. To go to another country - have the opportunity to carry on what I want to do, but in a helpful environment - means that hopefully I can come back and help this situation. Ironic, isn't it, but the only way I might be able to play a proper gig in London is if I get money from the Danish government." 2005

"I know what I want to do with an improvising band; I've been really strict about getting what I want, not accepting long stretches of music that I'm not remotely in control about, jams; I'm not interested in that. I want there to be special character to each piece and the only way you can get that is to define the roles quite clearly of the different musicians. But they still have massive input. I write certain basslines because I know that Michael Mondesir can play them. I also know that he can turn them into his own. I really like playing with that. It's the same with Iain (Ballamy). I write very specific lines for him, and that's good because they're not things that a saxophonist would naturally go for. They're probably very tricky but they're what I want to hear. I just make sure I leave him space to be Iain Ballamy, which is what he's fantastic at. Martin France - again I give him quite detailed percussion parts, but I know that he's always going to add more to what I write." 2005

"The arts improve everyone's quality of life, so invest in them with pride. Lose the snobbery that places some genres on a false pedestal: invest fairly in our huge range of artistic talent. While arts education programmes proliferate, there are fewer and fewer places for graduating musicians, dancers and actors to perform. Support centres of excellence like Gateshead's Sage, but let's not forget smaller, creative venues. Protect these from speculators, and rescue those promoters who struggle to present well-crafted, cutting-edge new work on a local level. This policy won't generate financial profit, but will create confident, self-respecting communities and will enrich this country infinitely." 2005

"Being outside the establishment has always seemed important to me. Not just because I'm an awkward git, but because creatively it's where you have to be." 2005

"Evan [Parker] is the proof that during shallow times, musicians can still exist on their own terms." 2004

"And now there's this issue, about Wynton Marsalis's view of jazz - that it's not to be taken lightly, or experimented with. I think that's very negative and very sad." 2000

"Being a musician is incompatible with self-importance because it is surreal in itself. Selling vibrations in the air. What's more surreal than that?"

"Oh, you've heard of jazz."

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