Andy Panayi Interview
Saxophonist Andy Panayi has been performing for nearly forty years. Having relocated to Eastbourne he’s been appearing regularly at gigs around Sussex.
You’ve been involved in a lot of different jazz projects over the years. What ones are you working on at the moment?
“I have a few projects on the go, firstly my new trio featuring Percy Pursglove (bass) and Andrew Bain (drums), playing the music of Sonny Rollins and tunes associated with the man and his life. I am also working with Jeremy Price (trombone) and Jez Franks (guitar). It's a new band called 'Train and the River'. We will be mainly performing music from the Jimmy Giuffre/Bob Brookmeyer/Jim Hall Trio albums. I am also involved mainly as an MD for the Jazz Flute Big Band – the first of its kind in the UK. We did a launch concert back in February 2016 at The Spice of Life in London. I also teach in London Music Colleges and the Birmingham Conservatoire as well as doing commercial work/concerts and writing music for my own band and others.”
With all the different things that you’re involved in, how do find the time to practice, compose and work on your own music?
“To be honest, practice goes out of the window and most of my writing and transcribing is done on trains to work! I would like to practice more as I've had a very long stretch of not practising – I stopped regular practising back in 1983 and have only done occasional bits of practice since then.”
You’ve been living in Eastbourne for a few months now and gigging locally. What do you think of the local jazz scene in Sussex?
“I've met some excellent musicians in and around the area, some of whom I knew or had heard of so I was not surprised at the high level down here. There's a good bunch of people working tirelessly to keep jazz out there and I have been fortunate to meet and play with some of them. It's a vibrant scene and I hope that the locals accept me into it.”
You’ve been performing jazz for a long time. How have you managed to keep your interest in it and keep things fresh?
“I've been gigging now for 38 years. I think I've been lucky as I learnt classical and jazz styles at the start and have been performing both types of music as well as theatre and session work. For me, this has all contributed to what I play when I improvise – a diverse background of music and styles. I loved and listened mainly to classical music at the start but when I started listening to jazz, I began to transcribe the recordings and this has helped me develop my ear. The ear is the key; the most important part of musical development. It's my ear that helps me keep what I play fresh.”
What plans do you have for the future?
“I have a local quartet now and I hope to explore original material with them as I haven't done much in the way of my own compositions since my big band suite The Immortals (Greek Gods Suite) and a commission for the Scarborough Jazz Festival in which Alan Barnes and I wrote several big band charts each.”
For more information on Andy Panayi visit www.andypanayi.co.uk
Andy Panayi appears at the Snowdrop in Lewes with Terry Seabrook on Monday 2nd May.
[Photo of Andy Panayi with Mark Nightingale, Steve Brown and Simon Woolf by Sarah Lever]