In August 2017, composer Michael J. McEvoy assembled some of London’s best jazz musicians at Air Edel Studios for a couple of days of wonderful recordings. Back row from left to right: Paul Booth (sax, clarinet), Patrick Clahar (sax), Dennis Rollins (tenor trombone), Karl Rasheed Abel (bass), Mark Mondesir (drums), Fayyaz Virji (bass trombone), Kevin Robinson (trumpet), Freddie Gavita (trumpet, flugelhorn). Front row left to right, Michael McEvoy (soundtrack composer) and Hugo Berkeley (director). Additional session musicians not in this picture are: Tom Walsh (trumpet), Graeme Blevins (sax), and Jane Fenton (cello).
One of London’s most storied recording studios, Air-Edel was founded by Sir George Martin and Herman Edel 45 years ago.
Originally built as a theatre to serve as the meeting hall for the Theosophical Society, the studio building was converted into Star Sound Studios in 1937 and became the first independently owned recording studio in the UK. Star Sound specialised in recording live performances in front of audiences to wax disc that were to be later broadcast on Radio Luxembourg. Star Sound were also the first studio in the UK to record a full-length radio programme to magnetic tape in 1949.
In the late 1960s, Star Sound became a rock and roll recording studio under the name Audio International and throughout the 1970s and 1980s recorded numerous hit records by artists including Pink Floyd, Tom Jones, Harry Nilsson, The Sweet and Suzi Quatro. When it was acquired by Air-Edel Associates in 1990, the studio also began to record and mix music synchronised to picture for commercials, television, and films such as ‘The Escape’, ‘David Brent: Life on the Road’, ‘Virunga’, ‘Mr Turner’, ‘Thor’, ‘My Week With Marilyn’, ‘Gosford Park’ and ‘Pride and Prejudice’.
Click here to see PBS Spring 2018 Schedule
PBS have announced their Spring 2018 schedule, and the Jazz Ambassadors will go out nationally across the US at 10pm on Friday May 4th.
Click here to read “How the U.S. Used Jazz as a Cold War Secret Weapon”
London-based Time Magazine journalist Billy Perrigo tracked me down in Soho while we were mixing the film, and interviewed me for his excellent article about Dave Brubeck’s role as a Jazz Ambassador to Poland, and his subsequent collaboration with Louis Armstrong on “The Real Ambassadors” jazz opera, that debuted at Monterey Jazz Festival in 1962. The article came out in December 2017, and is a terrific read: /
Leslie Odom Jr. is an American actor and singer. He has performed on Broadway and in television and film, and has released two solo jazz albums. He is known for originating the role of Aaron Burr in the Broadway musical Hamilton, a performance for which he won the 2016 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical and the Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album as a principal vocalist. His television roles included Sam Strickland in the musical series Smash (2012–2013). He is also the author of the forthcoming 2018 book Failing Up.
Over his 20-year career, Hugo has worked extensively as a writer, director, producer and editor of documentaries, TV shows and music films. Prior to “The Jazz Ambassadors,” Hugo recently directed a 4-part tru-crime series for Sky Italy and the BBC, in which he unravelled one of the most complex DNA murder investigations ever undertaken. He won a Peabody Award in 2012 for “Land Rush” (one of 7 Why Poverty? films), about land grabbing in Africa. And he received the Tribeca Film Festival Best Documentary Award in 2003 for “A Normal Life” about post-war Kosovo. Hugo is half-American, half-English and lives in London with his half-Italian family.
Mick has produced and directed more than 100 and executive produced more than 600 documentary films for the cinema, television and DVD, covering areas including biography, history, science, politics, economics, religion, music and arts. His programs have won numerous international awards, including both US National and International Emmys. In 1998 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Television Society “In recognition of an outstanding contribution to the furtherance of television.” He has been the Chief Executive & Creative Director of Antelope since 1990. Mick’s films include: “Sister Rosetta Tharpe: The Godmother of Rock & Roll” for American Masters, about one of gospel’s greatest innovators; “Africa Life: The Roll Back Malaria Concert,” a star-studded concert in West Africa to raise awareness and funds for malaria prevention; and “Chasing a Rainbow: The Life of Josephine Baker” (as Exec Producer), which won numerous awards including an International Emmy.
Adriane Lentz-Smith is Associate Professor of History, African & African-American Studies and Gender, Sexaulity, & Feminist Studies at Duke University . The author of ‘Freedom Struggles: African Americans and World War I’ (Harvard 2009), she writes about modern U. S. history at the nexus of African-American history and the history of the U. S. and the world. She is currently writing a book on state violence and the remaking of white supremacy in the Reagan-Era Cold War. Lentz-Smith holds a BA in History from Harvard-Radcliffe and a PhD in History from Yale University.