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Way into the Way Out - Pianist Alexander Hawkins spills the beans

Posted on 5 April 2013

With the Gateshead International Jazz Festival kicking off imminently, I’m really excited about coming along with my friend, the wonderful vibraphonist Corey Mwamba, not only to play on Sunday night (details here), but to share our own ‘Way In To The Way Out’.

What we’ll be doing is chatting for 90 minutes, and sharing some of our thoughts about the music we love. What it won’t be is an attempt at ‘the’ history of jazz – we’re both all for ambition, but in 90 (or indeed, 900 or 9000) minutes, that would be crazy. Instead, what we’ll be doing is pulling at some particular threads in the fabric of the music, and thinking about why, as musicians, we now make the music we do. And if you want to know what that sounds like – we’ll be armed with a piano and a vibraphone on the night for some of that too.

We’re not abandoning an historical perspective, though. Far from it: we’re both passionate about the history of our music (however we define it), and so we’ll be playing some favourite and personally significant recorded extracts from the ‘pre-history’ of jazz right up until the present day, taking in all the intervening decades, as we attempt to tease out some themes. We promise: there won’t be an all-American, all-male, all ‘on the 2 and 4’ dogma in sight. Our one warning is that if Corey has his way, the ‘f[usion]’ word may be uttered.

We’re really hoping for anyone and everyone to turn up. The show will be completely accessible for people who are absolutely new to the music (and perhaps even those who don’t really like it, although we take it there won’t be too many of these around over this great weekend); but by the same token, we’ll be armed with some real musical rarities which we hope will be of interest to even the most seasoned of listeners. And how about some guaranteed unseen pictures of Ellington thrown in for good measure?

In short, it would be great to see you on Sunday afternoon. And, even though we both essentially hit things for a living, we are nevertheless an internet-savvy double act: so if you’d like to be in touch with us before or after the show – whether about our (or your own) ways in to the way out, or indeed anything else to do with this great music, we’d love to hear from you. Corey can be found on Twitter at @coreymwamba, and I’m there at @hawkinsmusic: and the Way In To The Way Out hashtag is (wait for it – we’re especially proud of this one) #twittwo – so please drop us a line!

Tickets available from here.

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