Photograph @ Andy Sheppard All Rights Reserved
Written and led by UK saxophonist and composer Andy Sheppard, this large scale participation project provides the opportunity for saxophonists of all ages and abilities to perform en masse in public spaces and unusual places.
The project was originally created in 2006 as The Living Bridge to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Brunel and launched the new lighting for the Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol. Since then, Saxophone Massive has evolved to include performances in the EFG London Jazz Festival, Leeds Fuse Festival and Norwich and Norfolk Festival. Internationally, the project has been staged at Jazz sous les Pommiers in Coutances, France and in Stavanger, Norway, as part of its European Capital of Culture programme and has had two outings in Switzerland in Stans and Coully.
In the summer of 2012 the biggest ever Saxophone Massive took place in the stunning surroundings of London’s Somerset House. 200 saxophonists, aged 7 – 77, from across Europe performed alongside Andy at BT River of Music.
Most recently, Saxophone Massive performed at Gateshead International Jazz Festival.
This is what some of the past participants thought about the project:
“Playing with Andy Sheppard and the other professionals was an amazing opportunity. The performance itself was a huge buzz, seeing all those people watching!” Katrina Brown
“I have loved spending time with fellow musicians of all ages and abilities. It has reminded me how much I love performing” Rosie Weatherley
Interview excerpt All About Jazz
Sheppard is very much a musician who sees music-making as a responsibility. He believes we have a responsibility to look after musicians and music and make sure everyone can take part. Improvisation is the key for Sheppard in making good music, and it acts as a catalyst, creating a common ground and communication link between people. When speaking to Sheppard, you realize he takes jazz improvisation as a communication tool very seriously.
Sheppard says, “The process from first rehearsal to the final gig is a very different experience from performing with a band. It is a very valid and worthwhile thing to do for the community. Music transcends difference of any sort and unites people.”
Since Sheppard started playing, he has come to believe that the essence of jazz is improvisation. “People get hung up trying to define what is ‘jazz’ but improvisation is the most important ingredient in music and is more essential than swings and changes. It is about the communication between listeners and players,” says Sheppard with a passion discernible even on the ‘phone. “Saxophone Massive takes improvisation to a new level and it is a wonderful thing for people to come together through music.”
Listen here to Saxophone Massive performance at Jazz Sous Les Pommiers in Coutances
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