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TEA BREAK

The monthly Tea Break is a series of short, fun items in What's New Magazine
that also gives jazz musicians an opportunity to update us with what they are doing.

 

Ed Parr (Trombone) - March 2019

 

Ed Parr

 

Trombonist and pianist Ed Parr grew up in Colchester, Essex. His parents are both music teachers, his father plays piano and his mother the oboe. Their music, however, is primarily classical and Ed started out playing classical music on the piano when he was eight. At twelve, Ed's mother encouraged him to try out brass instruments and he discovered the trombone. He played with various school brass and wind bands and school orchestras, but it was coming across some of his father's records of Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday and Oscar Peterson that caught an initial interest in jazz. At secondary school his music teacher was also involved with a very active orchestra at a 'rival' school and arranged for Ed to join and take the opportunity to play more and to go on tour.

With his interest in jazz growing, Ed joined the Essex Youth Jazz Orchestra where the musical director is educator and musician Martin Hathaway.

 

Here's a video of Ed back in 2010 with EYJO - the video quality is not too good, but the video shows the grounding young musicians get from being part of the orchestra

 

 

 

This was an experience that consolidated Ed's interest in jazz and big band music, and he auditioned and was accepted for Junior Guildhall, the London-based Saturday school at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. As the Junior Guildhall website says: 'Our training prepares talented musicians, singers, composers and actors to access Higher Education courses in their chosen discipline if that is their wish. Some Junior Guildhall students have gone on to reach the very peak of their chosen professions to become household names....'.

By the time Ed completed his GCSEs he knew he wanted to take Music at 'A' Level and it was not long before he joined the National Youth Orchestra. When it came to moving on to a degree course, he was accepted on the Jazz course at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London at which point he joined the National Youth Jazz Orchestra. He graduated in 2017.

Ed has continued to play with NYJO in the trombone chair, he teaches, and plays with a number of other bands in the London area.

I caught up with Ed for a Tea Break.

 

Hi Ed, good to see you, tea or coffee?

Hi Ian, black coffee please.

Sugar?

No thanks.

Who are you playing with these days?

Quite a variety of bands. I'm still with NYJO and I play with a number of other big bands - the London City Big Band, the London Jazz Orchestra ..... I am also involved in starting up a small band with two trombones.

 

Ed with James Brady's Voyagers playing Manhattan

 

 

 

 

I see you have your 25th birthday coming up in May which means your time with the National Youth Jazz Orchestra will come to an end. Have you enjoyed playing with them? What do you think the experience has given you?

Yes, I've enjoyed NYJO very much. It has been a wonderful experience. It is a great place to meet other musicians; it gives you a taste at an early age of being a professional musician - turning up on time, touring .... NYJO tours Germany every two years and Ed ParrGerman musicians return to the UK on alternate years. Professional jazz musicians have come to lead workshops and NYJO has a number of smaller groups within it too. There is a little bit of leeway in the age thing and I shall probably go on playing with them until January 2020.

 

In some ways it seems a shame that NYJO has this cut-off age. Do you think it would be a good idea if they had a follow-on band, say 25 – 35? They couldn’t call it NYJO, but I see there is a Canadian Indie band ‘Land Of Talk’ who released an album last year called ‘Life After Youth’. But I guess the NYJO organisation has to draw a line somewhere.

Actually, I think there is a band made up of ex-NYJO musicians, but it is not attached to NYJO. You are right, they do have to draw the line somewhere and in a way, that is a good thing. You have to move on to grow professionally.

 

 

I guess that's right. Here’s your coffee – how about a biscuit? I have some Hob Nobs, some chocolate digestives and a few Jammie Dodgers. Did you know that in 2009, Jammie Dodgers were the most popular children's sweet biscuit brand in the United Kingdom, with 40% of the year's sales consumed by adults?

Hmm, I still think a chocolate digestive sounds appealing, thank you.

 

 

You mentioned that you are starting up a new band - what's the plan?

At the moment we only have a working title - 'The Magic Bone Band'. It has two trombonists, myself and Joe Fenning. Matt Carter is the pianist, Eleazar Ruiz Spreafico, bass, and Robbie Ellison, drums. We had a first 'try out' gig at the Guildhall in January and it seemed to go very well.

I think The Magic Bone Band is a great name for a band with two trombones! If you could invite a past musician to play with the band, who would you invite and what tune would you play?

Probably Bob Brookmeyer. I don't play valve trombone, but Joe Fenning does sometimes. Brookmeyer was also a great arranger and composer and always melodic and rhythmically interesting. I like his work with Curtis Fuller and his arrangements for the Mel Lewis band. As for the tune - I think I'd go for Skylark, I love his arrangement for Mel Lewis.

 

Listen to Mel Lewis, Bob Brookmeyer and Clark Terry with Skylark

 

 

 

 

You graduated from the much respected Jazz course at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in 2016 – what advice would you give to people wanting to go on a Jazz course about how they might prepare for their careers after graduating?

The Guildhall Jazz course was so valuable - the contacts you make, access to jazz gigs, meeting international players. I studied with some tremendous teachers including Scott Stroman, Malcolm Edmonstone and Martin Hathaway. It would be worth finding out about the course before you apply - go to Open Days and talk to staff and other students about what to expect from the course.

You play a whole range of instruments, Ed – trombone, euphonium, trumpet, piano – do you find that now, as a teacher, there is more call for one of these in particular?

Yes, the call it is mainly for piano and guitar. Piano is a good grounding for other instruments and I guess young people have more exposure to guitar in pop music. The trombone is a bit more of an 'endangered species' as it takes longer to master.

I know you mainly as a trombone player – who would you say that your favourite trombonist is, or was?

Well, I started out liking Jack Teagarden. I have already mentioned Bob Brookmeyer, but then there is Vincent Gardner. He has a lovely sound - bebop and blues based.

 

Vincent Gardner's solo on Just In Time with his Quintet featuring Ali Jackson (drums), Mark "Ice Water" Groos (alto sax),
Joris Teepe (bass) and Lewis Porter (piano)

 

 

 

 

So – 2019 lies ahead. What would you like to be aiming for this year?

Mainly trying to gain more experience. Getting The Magic Bone Band underway, of course, and then I want to go on playing in big bands. It would also be good to get involved in playing with the bands for West End shows.

 

Another coffee, and perhaps another biscuit or two?

I'll have another chocolate digestive or two, please, and another coffee - as I have just finished 'Dry January', is there any chance of having an Irish coffee?

I'll see what I can do ........ in the meanwhile, here's a reminder of you, or at least your striped T-shirt, playing with Jonny Mansfield's band and Ellie Bignall singing Love You Madly.

 

 

 

 

[Ed Parr can be contacted through his Facebook page - click here]

 

Ed Parr

 

 

Utah Teapot

 

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