Trumpeter Alexandra Ridout won the BBC Young Jazz Musician of the Year in 2016.
Currently studying at The Royal Academy of Music, she spoke to SJM editor Charlie Anderson.
You won the Young Jazz Musician of the Year in 2016. How’s it been going since then?
“Really good. That whole competition opened up loads of doors for me, of course. It enabled me to do lots more gigs and be a bit of a name and since then I’ve just started at the Royal Academy of Music as well, so a lot of things have happened since then.”
How are you finding music college?
“It’s amazing. I’ve just been there for a term but it’s such a good course with amazing teachers. I’m just looking forward to the rest of it.”
You also play in Clark Tracey’s Quintet. How did you get that gig?
“I think Clark looked me up on YouTube or heard my name around. He got me to ‘dep’ for a gig with his quintet at the time. I did that one gig and since then I’ve been involved with his Hexad group, which is a tribute to his dad, playing all of his dad’s music. I don’t know exactly how he found me but he vaguely knows my dad as well.”
What sort of material do you normally play with Clark Tracey’s Quintet ?
“With that band we haven’t done a gig yet. It’s very new. We’ve had one rehearsal and it’s a lot of hard bop with alto and trumpet front-lining. So it’ll be straight-ahead hard bop style jazz.”
Tell us about your composing.
“I would love to do more composition because I really enjoy it. Having started at the Royal Academy of Music there’s a big emphasis on composition, so I’m learning more things as I go along. I’ve always done a bit of composition but I’d love to do more.”
Where do you get your ideas from when you’re composing?
“Maybe you get inspired by somebody that you really like, there are loads of musicians that I love. Also, the Academy has masterclasses. Pete Churchill is a really great composition teacher so that’s very helpful. It’s just really fun to play stuff that you’ve written, with your own band. You can write especially for the people in the band.”
What plans do you have for next year? are you planning on doing an album?
“I wouldn’t want to do an album, not until I’m out of college. Just because I’d rather be developed as a player as much as I can. I’ve got a lot of gigs lined up and with my quintet we’re going to record a bit, not an album but to have a good recording of ourselves. There are a lot of these Clark Tracey gigs lined up and stuff like that. I don’t really know. We’ll see what happens.”
“I really enjoy doing Clark’s band and I’ve really enjoyed doing Clark’s Hexad as well. It’s cool to be able to play with an established person like Clark because he’s a different generation to all of us. He’s just amazing. It’s not like playing with a student, it’s like playing with someone who knows everything. I’ve had a great time doing the Hexad as well and it’s a good way into the profession because it forces you to grow up.”
You’ve got quite a lot of experience already in terms of performing.
“I guess so, I’ve done a lot of it in my life but I still get nervous. It depends what it is. Some things seem more important than others.”
When you were learning did you have any key moments in your development, similar to an epiphany?
“There were a few little stand out moments. It’s quite hard to pinpoint, but my playing definitely improved when I started the Junior Academy on a Saturday. I started on the classical course when I was about 15. At that point I was taking it a lot more seriously, having lessons and it was all a bit more formal and serious, and I wanted to do it more. So I upped my practice amount at that point. I was at the Purcell School for sixth form, I had a lot more time to practice and more input because I was having more amazing tuition. There were lots of inspiring people and teachers that really made me want to do it a lot more. And then I guess it was starting at the Royal Academy. That’s inspired me as well.”
“It’s quite hard to say whether it was an epiphany or not. There was definitely a point where I decided that music was what I wanted to do. When I was 15 or 16, that’s when I knew. I was playing with people my own age and really enjoying myself and thinking ‘there’s nothing else that I want to do more than this’.”
Alexandra Ridout performs with the Clark Tracey Quintet at the South Coast Jazz Festival on Thursday 25th January, 2018 at The Ropetackle Arts Centre, Shoreham-by-Sea.
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