The South African composer and musician has often worked with Wonderbrass on musical projects and workshops in the past. Their friendship goes way back to 1990 when Claude worked with SWICA and The Welsh Jazz Society on Cardiff Carnival, of which Wonderbrass, formed 2 years later, have always been a big part. Claude’s experience of African rhythm, street and carnival music and deep understanding of jazz and improvisation have been formative influences on Wonderbrass’s celebratory style.
Now, as the New Orleans-esque band mark their quarter century, they are welcoming back anyone who has ever played in the band to join them for a series of musical storytelling workshops with composers, like Claude, who have built up a strong relationship with the band over the years. Tenor sax player and ex-Wonderbrasser Nick Briggs, Wonderbrass leader Dr Robert Smith and jazz drummer Mark O’Connor are also contributing to the project.
The workshops will culminate in a free performance at The Gate in October 2018 and a series of videos exploring the band’s history, music and story.
Claude spent the weekend gigging with the band and working with members past and present on creating a musical arrangement to be recorded and performed at the October performance. The workshops also provided an opportunity for the players to share their Wonderbrass stories, which will be made available online as part of the People’s Collection Wales’ Oral History collection and on the documentary video that’s being made as part of the project.
Wonderbrass also launched their music video for Dr Rob Smith’s composition Santes Dwynwen’s Shuffle at Friday night’s gig.
Wonderbrass operates in a thoroughly unique way for a jazz collective; simultaneously a professional band and a community group. Anyone with a basic understanding of their instrument and musical theory is allowed to join the band at rehearsals. When players reach performance standard they are welcomed into the performing band. If you are interested in getting involved with the work that Wonderbrass does you can get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org.
More details about the #WB25 project are available on www.wonderbrass.org.uk