February 22, 2022
Oxford House's Friday Music performances are back, including monthly jazz performances by a group of young musicians. We spoke to Harry Toulson from the Oxford House Jazz Ensemble to find out more.
Friday Music: In Conversation with Saxophonist Harry Toulson
When did you first start playing the saxophone?
I started playing the saxophone at the age of nine which aided my piano playing since the age of six.
What made you choose to learn the saxophone over any other instrument?
Firstly I started playing piano from the age of six and at the age of nine I discovered the saxophone and improvised jazz music. Although I adore the piano, I loved the fact that with the saxophone you can have the freedom to explore harmony and to produce your own melody on the spot. The saxophone has such a wonderful tone lyrical ability and people say it is the closest instrument to the voice.
Can you tell us about the Jazz Ensemble?
We are four young musicians based in London who thrive off creating original music based on a diverse collection of genres and inspirations. Our influences include Michael Brecker, John Coltrane, Brad Mehldau, Chris Thille and others with genres of folk, jazz and classical.
How did you meet and start working together?
In 2018 we started studying at the Guildhall School of Music where we immediately had a strong bond as friends and as musicians. Having each composed our own material, we rehearsed and investigated the best way that we could display our compositions. Throughout that first year and before covid we performed at various venues including the well-established jazz venue, Kansas Smitty’s.
What other instruments are played by the ensemble?
We each play the piano to a strong ability and the bass player Rory Hudson plays the Bazouki with the piano player William Hobson playing percussion such as marimba and vibraphone and I play clarinet and flute also. I teach piano, clarinet, flute and saxophone at Harris academy Peckham which is a fantastic experience and is something that I can give back to others.
What is it that you like about playing live music to an audience?
The thrill and the danger that anything could happen, the fact that they are listening and are on this journey with you makes it very exciting indeed.
How long have you been playing at Oxford House?
We have been playing at Oxford House for around eight months following contact through the guildhall. As we lived together in Whitechapel the idea came about of setting up a monthly performance there and we have enjoyed every single one. The chance to play music to an audience in such a relaxed environment is somewhere that you can’t get elsewhere.
What do you enjoy outside of music?
I enjoy painting and climbing in the North East of England. All four of us are members of the Guildhall Bouldering society which our bass player Rory Hudson set up.
Any song recommendations?
Blue Bossa – Michael Brecker 1985
After the Rain – John Coltrane
Ropes – Mike Walker
It Could Have Been a Simple Goodbye – The Impossible Gentlemen
Estate – Joao Gilberto
Dear Lord – John Coltrane
Transition – John Coltrane
Almost Blue – Chet Baker
Upcoming Oxford House Jazz music performances:
Friday 25 March, 5pm
Friday 29 April, all 5pm