A veritable plethora of musicians have come forward to support SPEAR and entertain guests at our 30th Anniversary event on 11th July!
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Helena April is a 22 year old Jazz singer from London. She has recently graduated with a First Class BA (Hons) Jazz Music Degree from Leeds College Of Music under the tutelage of Kari Breivik and Lauren Kinsella. Whilst at college Helena was President of the SU Big Band and it was in her second year of college when she began to write her own music. Shortly after graduating, Helena released her debut EP with her Quintet. The music takes inspiration from Ella Fitzgerald, Amy Winehouse and Gretchen Parlato. They perform a mixture of originals and Jazz standards. The sound is driven by lyricism, using the words as a plateau for emotionally driven and compelling musical colours. The EP has already been aired by Alan Raw for BBC Introducing West Yorkshire and by Mark Dezzani on Radio Caroline, describing the music as ‘Absolutely Beautiful’ and ‘Something Special’. Gigging regularly around Leeds with this project, she is in the process of writing for her next EP/Album. Helena also collaborates with many bands and is the vocalist and co-writer for up and coming Neo-Soul/Jazz Collective ‘allcaps’. Having recently visited New York, Helena had the opportunity to work with some amazing musicians including Kate Baker and Theo Bleckmann. Whilst in NY she participated in a vocal masterclass at Smalls Jazz Club led by Marion Cowings. The quality and maturity of her voice belies her young age and is reminiscent of the traditional jazz idiom.
Manontroppo Clarinet Quartet was formed five years ago and, as a musical entity, is diverse, versatile and a force to be reckoned with. The band plays a range of music from Classical to Jazz via Contemporary pieces. They are as likely to play Tango as Tea Dance music and can turn their hands to everything from Folk to Disco. Their recent album demonstrates the sheer talent and versatility of this quartet – with tracks ranging from Summertime to Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy with Black Velvet thrown in for good measure. All four members – Claire, Mary, Eli and Deanna – play in the Richmond Symphonic Concert Band. Ask Manontroppo what is their motivation for performing music, the band members will answer as one with a resounding: ‘the sheer joy of it’!