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Freddie Gavita is increasingly making a name for himself on the UK jazz scene as a trumpeter, composer, arranger and teacher. In many cases you might not have noticed him when he has performed with Will Young, Daniel Beddinglfield, Marti Pellow, Andrea Corr, Noah and the Whale, Mick Hucknall, Curtis Stigers, or Georgie Fame, but his jazz credentials are more noticeable sinceFreddie Gavita he started winning awards in 2008.

Born in Norwich in 1985, music has been around Freddie for years. His grandfather is a keen clarinettist and pianist and although he doesn’t play professionally ‘my mother cites him as the provider of the musical gene for my generation,’ Freddie says . Freddie’s sister also has her share of the gene and plays violin and piano and sings beautifully. There is also has a cousin who was an organ scholar at Oxford University and is now Director of Music at a school in Wiltshire. Busy gene!

'My dad’s Italian and my mum’s English,’ says Freddie. ‘My mother is typically proactive being a teacher herself. When I was seven I decided to take up the trumpet. Actually, it was an accident. I thought the teacher said ‘trombone’ and I rather liked the sound of that, and was slightly surprised when he presented me with a much smaller mouthpiece!

‘I’d been playing piano for a year and had already worked out the blues chord sequence from my Grade 1 piano book. My mum bought me a cassette of the Louis Armstrong Hot Fives and Sevens. Within a few months I could sing all of Louis’ solos from memory! My trumpet teacher was a successful jazz trombonist in London in the 70s, so he explained to me how it all works.’

Freddie’s school was a good launch-pad for music and Freddie played in the wind band, the orchestra and the school jazz band. ‘However, it was the Norwich Students’ Jazz Orchestra (NSJO) run by the County Music Service that really helped me,' he recalls. 'My trumpet teacher ran this band as well, and was responsible for bringing the likes of Pat White, Brad and Elliot Mason, Sam Crockatt and Dave Smith through the band. I had a quintet with George Crowley, Kit Downes, Luke Hellebronth and Paul Gregory, who all went on to study jazz in London and are still playing music for a living. We all met in the NSJO. They were great times, listening to records together, working stuff out and playing it on gigs. I feel very lucky to have been part of that, as I don’t think many people would usually come across so many other like-minded people their age.’

In 2003 and 2004, Freddie studied at the Royal Academy of Music’s Junior Academy under Nick Smart, moving on to the Undergraduate Degree and graduating in 2008 with a first class honours degree in jazz trumpet. The icing on the cake that year came when Freddie won both the BritishFreddie Gavita and Calum Gourlay Jazz Rising Star Award and the IAJE award for Outstanding Musicianship


Calum Gourlay and Freddie Gavita

It was at the Academy that Freddie met up again with Kit Downes who he known since they were ten years old, singing in Norwich Cathedral choir. Calum Gourlay and James Maddren were also at the Academy, and Calum and James now both play with the Kit Downes Trio as well as with Freddie.

Freddie plays regularly with the John Dankworth Orchestra, the Ronnie Scott's Big Band, Empirical, and the Ronnie Scott's All-Stars, and was recently a featured soloist with the BBC Big Band on Radio 2. You will also find him playing regularly around London with the Laurence Cottle Big Band, the London Jazz Orchestra, the Andy Panayi Big Band, Tom Cawley Quartet, Huw White's Neon Bedroom, Calum Gourlay Quintet, and Symbiosis. He also leads his own quartet, featuring Kit Downes (piano), Calum Gourlay (bass) and James Maddren (drums) and his own big Gourlay Gavita Big Bandband, a joint project with Calum.

The Gourlay / Gavita Big Band

‘The big band is an expensive project to undertake without some kind of financial backing, but we’d love to record at some time in the future,’ says Freddie. ‘The band includes Mike Chillingworth, George Crowley, Kit, James and Calum as well as James Alsopp, Noel Langley and Percy Pursglove. It’s designed to contain my quartet and Calum’s quintet, so the compositions evolve from a small group sound and aim to keep that identity. We’re looking at getting the band involved in the Jazz Festivals next year, as I think people would enjoy it and it contains a lot of Britain’s up and coming musicians.’

Last year Freddie won further awards with the Future Inns Jazz Award and the World Wide Award for the best Maida Vale session. As yet, he has not recorded with his quartet – ‘I’d love to make a record with the guys, it’s just a case of writing the right music and getting the guys together. I wouldn’t be interested in making something that wasn’t completely unique, so I feel it’s worth waiting to try and develop towards that. Yet again, money is an issue!’

As you can see from the names of the people Freddie plays with, there is a tsunami of talent bubbling up in the UK. We asked Freddie how he saw the current position.

‘I think the scene is musically healthy, lots of musicians are putting on their own gigs at venues, like the Oxford, North London Tavern, Con Cellar Bar, and the new SE Collective. I feel that we're all striving for new things, the scene is saturated with original music and line-ups, which can only be a good thing. Its difficult to make a living only playing jazz these days, and it’s tough for venues as well. I feel more help should be given to places that are willing to support live music, to try and encourage others to do the same and create more opportunities for musicians to get out and play!’

The Oxford

The Oxford, 256 Kentish Town Road (Click here for information)

‘Jazz is horribly under-funded compared to a lot of other art forms, and although it costs a lot less to put on a jazz gig than an opera or an orchestral concert, more could be done to give the music the exposure it needs. During the London Jazz Festival, every venue that has live jazz is full for two weeks. The audience is out there, they just need to keep coming back if they like it! Nearly everybody likes jazz when they hear it live, even if they think they don't! So many people come up to us after gigs and concerts and say "I hate jazz normally but I liked what you guys were doing."

Freddie set off on a European tour with Us3 in October 2011, but will be playing at the London Jazz Festival on Sunday 13th November with the Stan Sulzmann Big Band. He is also working with James Gardiner-Bateman, James Maddren and Pete Randall in another band called ‘All-In-One Helmet’ – ‘It’s a really fun band, we recorded six tracks in December last year and are hoping to go back to the studio soon to finish it off,’ he says.

John Walters, writing in The Guardian, called Freddie Gavita ‘a talented trumpet prodigy’, and Ivan Hewett in The Telegrah said ‘clearly one to watch’. He is, so listen out for him in the months to come.

Click here for Freddie’s MySpace site where you can listen to him play

Click here to listen to the Freddie Gavita / Calum Gourlay Big Band (Try Blue Chip).

Freddie plays regularly with the Ronnie Scott's Club houseband the Ronnie Scott's Allstars.


© Freddie Gavita and Ian Maund 2011-2015

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