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A Month of Jazz

Oxford House is certainly keeping busy this month – throughout May we are playing host to four of London’s top jazz groups! They are performing on each consecutive Friday throughout May and whilst we have already seen two performances, there are still two to come on the 15th and 22nd May. This project – Bethnal Green in Jazz – has been organised by Aldevis Tibaldi. He is a professional musician, music teacher, and resident of Bethnal Green. Aldevis has certainly been the busiest out of everyone; not only is he organising the whole project, but is also performing with his own ensemble here on the 15th. I managed to catch up with him and ask a few questions about what he’s up to:

Hello Aldevis, tell me a little bit about yourself
Nice to meet you! Ok, so… I am a professional musician and music teacher. I am originally from Italy, but have been living in the East End for ten years. More recently I moved to Bethnal Green.
As a musician, I specialise in jazz music. I am at my happiest when playing jazz and listen to it more than any other genre. In the past I have experimented with other genres – I have worked quite a lot with house music – and many years ago I collaborated on a song that was in the top ten! But given the choice in life, I would play jazz music all day long.

How do you find Bethnal Green?
I love it here! I’ve been walking around with fliers to promote Bethnal Green in Jazz – true artists have to keep up with the hard stuff you know– and everyone has just been so supportive. My butcher was especially enthusiastic. And The Star of Bethnal Green is giving discounts to people with tickets after the performances.

I was worried when I moved to London that it would be a very dehumanised place since Italy is just so small. But Bethnal Green feels like a real community. It’s like living in a small village in the middle of London – it’s the best of both worlds really! Well… except from the weather.

Why do you think jazz music appeals to you so much?
With jazz, I never feel as though I’m playing the same thing twice. And this still applies after all my years as a jazz musician! The genre is constantly changing and this constant development gives me a feeling of being alive. It keeps me alive; it keeps music alive. I understand sometimes jazz can be boring, but mostly it is not like that. I find it very important in both my life and career to try and never repeat myself, and so I feel that jazz is perfect for me.

And now you’re organising Bethnal Green in Jazz! Why have you created this project?
By organising four shows throughout the month, I want to show everyone just how various and eclectic jazz music can be!

As to why I chose OH! to host it… well, it’s an interesting story. I actually performed here six or seven years ago (with Erollyn Warren). When I moved to Bethnal Green more recently, it took me a long time to realise that OH! was the same theatre! I am glad that I finally realised because I always remembered the beautiful theatre here – I love this space. When I finally made the connection I got all these ideas about performing here again. Now there are four different groups playing!

What different Jazz styles can we expect to hear over this month?
Oh, I do not think that I could give an answer to that! The two bands that have already played are the Rebel Yell Orchestra and The Liam Dunachie Quartet; up next is my own ensemble and finishing the month is The Frank Griffith Sextet. I couldn’t tell you what to expect however – it’s just so diverse! I don’t have a vision of a unique style, kind of unified… Because each performance is going to be so different, I think Bethnal Green in Jazz will be very exciting! All the groups and their composers are just so talented.

Unless people decide to focus on one particular style and roll deep into that language, I tend to prefer people that take ideas from all different languages. All the groups performing here will be like this. For example, in my album there is stuff that I wrote originally as house music – just fragments of it – which I have since readapted into jazz.

Are the people you work with as diverse as your musical influences?
Oh yes! Here I must mention John Eacott. Unfortunately he cannot perform here at OH!, but he did play a lot of stuff for my album. He is currently doing a project called ‘Tidal Music’ and has placed a device in the Thames that records the tidal/stream movements. He then translates these movements into musical notation and performs them. More recently, he has sold his house and now lives on a boat as a professional sailor. I tried to contact him for this performance, but he’s currently on the coast of Spain! These are the type of people I work with – very creative.

Sounds interesting! One last thing – can you recommend a jazz song for us to listen to?
Peggy’s Blue Skylight by Charles Mingus.

Thank you, and Good luck!
There are still two bands yet to play at OH! Aldevis’ own ensemble is playing on 15th May and The Frank Griffith Quartet is playing on May 22nd. These performances are certainly ones not to be missed!

Hayley D.