Django Bates celebrates Bird's birthday

Keyboard wizard Django Bates is set to celebrate Charlie "Bird" Parker’s birthday with a performance alongside drummer Steve Davis and electric bassist Michael Mondesir at the Vortex club in London tonight. Bird would have been 86 today and Bates promises to salute the jazz legend with “a tableau created through extrapolation, deviation, variation and veneration.” Django Bates celebrates Bird's birthday
The spirit of Bird’s own iconoclastic approach to musical creation and composition lives on in Bates’ musical anarchy. Just as with Parker, Bates’ music inspires widely different reactions in his listeners, indeed he seems to revel in what he terms the “battle of the critics.” He has been rated consistently among the leading British jazz innovators since the early 1980s, most recently with his quartet Human Chain and 19-piece jazz orchestra Delightful Precipice.

Bates has also found himself working in a diverse range of settings, from a score for the Globe theatre’s production of Titus Andronicus, to a composition for the Shobana Jeyasingh Dance Company and has future plans for a circus project called Circus Umbilicus. In 1997, he won the Danish Jazzpar prize, dubbed the Nobel prize of jazz, for creating music the awards panel described as “grotesque and fulsome, kaleidoscopic and unpredictable.” He remains only the second Briton to have won the prestigious award, following on from saxophonist Tony Coe.

Django Bates’ UK appearances have become less frequent since he relocated to Denmark last year to become the inaugural professor at the Rhythmic Music Conservatory, making tonight’s Vortex gig a truly special event. Bates will be joined on stage for his second set by saxophonist Evan Parker, bringing his own brand of improvisation and composition to the birthday celebrations. For more information and booking details go to www.vortexjazz.co.uk or phone 020 7254 4097. Report: Nick Spearing

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