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Special commission to mark 5th Ilkley Jazz Festival

Ilkley Jazz Festival is in its 5th year and to mark this special occasion the festival commissioned Jamil Sheriff, one of the UK’s leading jazz pianists and composer who is also the head of jazz at Leeds College of Music, to write a piece of music about Ilkley, it’s landscape and it’s mythologies. 

'The Ilkley  Suite has taken me on fascinating journey of the town and surroundings, giving me an excuse to research the richness of it's history and try to make sense of the mysteries and fables that tell the story of the moors. This is a truly magical place.’  Says Jamil.  ‘The compositions focus on two main areas; stones and water.  The sanctuary of the river, it's Darwin-related healing properties and of course the mythical goddess Verbeia (The Wharfe Goddess) - watching over us all. The stones are split into different musical pieces about the wondrous Cup and Ring markings, our current carvings (perhaps an attempt at cheating mortality), the druid stone circle known as the Twelve Apostles and of course the legend of Rombald the giant himself, who we all know still inhabits the moors, hiding in the shadows of the rocks and woodland.  I'm pretty sure I caught a glimpse!’

Jamil found himself enthralled with the the early stages of the research around Ilkley, ‘ I found out all about the legend of Rombald the Giant, who stamped on the Cow and Calf rocks, splitting them when fleeing his angry wife.... well, we've all been there! I love this story, and can immediately see the potential of bringing it out in the music. But the more I read about the town and surrounding countryside, the more I realise how vast the history is. I had no idea, for example, that the moor has the second highest concentration of Neolithic and Bronze Age rock carvings in Europe - how brilliant is that. I was also (I'm ashamed to say) pretty clueless with regards to the Roman Fort that was the foundation of Ilkley town.’

The Ilkley Suite was recorded last week during an intensive 2 day recording session, Jamil says,  ‘The commission was focused around the exquisitely talented vocalist Beverley Beirne and I've added to this with an ensemble made up of creative and sensitive musicians, Nadim Teimoori (Tenor Saxophone), Dave Walsh (Drums) and Garry Jackson (Double Bass) and I complete the rhythm section on piano.'

Jamil has recorded and collaborated with many artists and recorded four albums of his own music, each of which have received national and international accolades.  As a composer, arranger and pianist he has toured extensively throughout the UK and performed at national and international jazz festivals. 

Jazz UK writes about Jamil: ‘ His music is both swinging and sophisticated, Sheriff showing himself to be a constantly inventive arranger. Just when you think you’ve heard it all, he’ll come up with something fresh.’

Don’t miss this exciting and unique chance to see The Ilkley Suite live for the first time on Saturday 18th August, 6-7pm at the Winter Garden where a limited edition first run of cd’s will also be available.

Ilkley Jazz Festival runs between 15-19 August, the full schedule and ticket information can be found on the website.

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