#MiddayMusic presents James Davison (jazz trumpet): Full interview

A few weeks ago we premiered James Davison’s #MiddayMusic video on our YouTube channel.  It has become one of the most popular videos to date, so we thought that we’d ask James to share with us a little more about his lockdown experiences so far …

James Davison: Keeping the music playing

“I started lockdown by getting some home recording equipment and seeing how it all works. I then began recording my parts for the Patchwork Jazz Orchestra lockdown EP “The Light That Shines” that we remotely recorded separately from our own homes.

A barrage of different home recordings followed which kept me busy for a while. A particular favourite was recording all four trumpet parts for a big band arrangement of some of the movements from Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, re-orchestrated by the talented Pete Long in the style of Duke Ellington. It was so much fun to play and the tracks can be found on YouTube by typing in “Pete Long Swans Of Paradise”.

I had a fortnight’s break from the trumpet and spent a lot of time doing outdoorsy things. One of the highlights was hanging out with my grandad when restrictions lifted who has been teaching me how to grow vegetables. We’ve grown all sorts and have been reaping the benefits recently, which I’ve absolutely loved.

Then came the era of the livestream gigs…! I did one with Misha Mullov-Abbado’s band for the Harrogate Festival, then a livestream gig with my and Callum Au’s quintet: “Quintet-a-tete”. That was super fun and we had great feedback and even made a bit of money from people’s kind donations. I then had some recording sessions in an actual studio with other musicians, which was really amazing but kind of strange with the masks and all.

Since then I’ve had two live audience gigs, the first of which was with the Len Phillips Big Band. Playing in a trumpet section again for the first time in six months was totally and utterly amazing. I can’t put into words how much I’ve missed playing with other people and bouncing off their ideas and energy. Then Quintet-a-tete did a gig at the 606 club in Chelsea. Again, it was really amazing to perform to a live albeit socially distanced audience. I have a couple of gigs in the diary for autumn and I’m keeping my fingers crossed they happen. Quintet-a-tete are also hoping to get in the studio and record a debut album.

When the Musicians’ Company asked me to put something together for the #MiddayMusic concerts I thought it would be a good excuse to kickstart an idea I’ve had for a while. I’ve been wanting to get hold of some arrangements for trombone quartet plus flugelhorn as a lot of my friends are trombone players. Pre-Covid they often met up for trombone quartet get-togethers where they’d spend the afternoon playing music, drinking, eating and having a good old knees up!

I initially asked Callum to arrange something and he suggested Stardust, an arrangement he’d done for a much larger jazz ensemble a little while ago. However, he ended up with a load of arranging work and didn’t have the time, so I thought I’d give it a go myself. I took what Callum had done and adapted it slightly for this line up. I think it works really well and I’m planning on doing some more arrangements like this in the next few months specifically so I can gatecrash the next trombone quartet jolly!”

You can find out more about the Patchwork Jazz Orchestra at patchworkjazzorchestra.com