Clarinettist Adrian Cox heads back to his home county to continue his Profoundly Blue tour in celebration of his hero, Louisiana-born clarinettist Edmond Hall.
He will be at Steyning Jazz Club on Friday, January 4; at The Ark, Turners Hill, on Saturday, January 5; and at St John’s Church, Burgess Hill, on Saturday, February 23.
“I was born in Cuckfield and grew up in Burgess Hill and went to Oakmeeds, but I left school when I was 15. It was just after my GCSE exams, and I went down to Devon and went professional as a musician, and I have been doing it for the past 20 years.
“I had been learning the clarinet since I was six. I had lessons from a clarinettist who lived in Burgess Hill called Jumpin’ Jack Gilbert. He was my favourite player on the British scene. He made it so exciting. He was in a navy band in the Royal Navy and he had all the theory behind the music, but he also had tremendous feel. He did a lot for a lot of young people playing jazz, and from him, I got the excitement.
“I asked him to teach me exactly how he was taught. I told him ‘I would love to play like you.’ I started with him when I was 12. I used to go and see him once a week. His lessons would be 30 minutes, but I would always have the last lesson of the week and I would stay with him for three hours!
“He was the person who really got me going. I was doing gigs from age 12, playing pubs around Worthing, so by the time I was 15, I must have done 200 gigs.”
As for Edmond Hall, whose music Adrian is currently celebrating, he was born in 1901 and died in 1967: “He worked in New Orleans and wanted to go to New York. He worked with a lot of big bands, and when he was in New York, he was playing with people like Billie Holiday. He got offered a job with the Duke Ellington Orchestra but turned it down because he wanted to play with smaller groups. He got to play with some amazing musicians.
“He has got an incredible sound. His sound was really unique. He can make it sound so gravelly. It was also really powerful. He had a warm sound but he was also cutting edge. He was a huge influence on me, not just the excitement but also the tone. It is something that I have not tried to emulate, but something that I have tried to continue in my own fashion. He was one of the greats who just sailed over the top.
“Profoundly Blue is a track name from a recording in 1941. We start there and the whole concert goes through his life. He wrote some incredible, original music, which I just discovered by chance. The concert is the whole story. His music and his life story. It’s a nice piece. Last year we released Profoundly Blue part one and now we have got Profoundly Blue part two that comes out in January.”
For the Sussex dates, Adrian will be accompanied by pianist Joe Webb, double-bassist Simon Read and drummer Gethin Jones for a show that has been performed in front of sell-out audiences, including at Ronnie Scott’s.
Adrian has performed with artists including Wynton Marsalis, The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, Dr John, Maceo Parker, Ronnie Wood and Guy Barker and at countless sell-out shows including The Barbican.