One of the specialities of the Copasetic Foundation is the creation and production of words-and-music shows about great musicians and episodes of jazz and popular music history. The first production of this kind was ‘Old, New Borrowed and Blue’, a show which explored jazz and blues songwriting with the help of leading UK vocalists Ian Shaw, Liane Carroll and Tammy Weis. It was performed at the Royal Opera House Paul Hamlyn Hall and the Blackheath Halls in 2009.
For the 2010 London Jazz Festival, Alex Webb and arranger Frank Griffith created a words and music show about Duke Ellington’s co-composer Billy Strayhorn. It featured Griffith’s nine-piece band and the vocalists China Moses and Alexander Stewart. In 2015, for Strayhorn’s centenary year, the show was revived for the London Jazz Festival; ‘Lush Life: the Songs of Billy Strayhorn’ was staged at the Cadogan Hall with a ten-piece band and the participation of vocalists David McAlmont, Sandra Nkake and Allan Harris.
David McAlmont, Allan Harris and Sandra Nkake. (David McAlmont image credit: Anthony Elvy Photography)
In 2013 Alex Webb created a multi-media show with the film workshop Bebop Productions about the life of jazz musician Charlie Parker, which played at the Purcell Room as part of the London Jazz Festival. ‘Charlie Parker on Dial’ used projections of archive photographs as well as bespoke abstract imagery and a spoken narrative by Sirena Riley to tell the story of the two years Parker was with the Dial record label. Alto saxophonist Nathaniel Facey fronted the show, along with trumpeter Freddie Gavita; Webb wrote the arrangements. Once again it received excellent reviews (and a simplified version of the show is available for club and festival work).
Alex Webb, Alex Davis, Nat Facey, Andy Chapman and Steve Fishwick in ‘Charlie Parker on Dial’ (photo by Karen Kodish).
Details of other Copasetic words-and-music shows, including Billie Holiday Live At Carnegie Hall, Cafe Society Swing, Fever: Jo Harrop sings Peggy Lee and Stormy: The Life of Lena Horne can be found in the drop down menu above.
Currently in preparation for 2018 is the show ‘A Portrait of Cannonball’ with alto saxophonist Tony Kofi, for what would have been the altoist’s 90th birthday.