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Jazzman keys in West End and Waterfront gigs

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Joe Leader

London and South Africa’s Joe Leader launches Seductive Sax album,

By James Brewer

From the waterfront in Cape Town to cool London clubs, jazz saxophonist Joe Leader is proving to be a musician to watch– although not to tangle with, as he is an expert in martial arts. His profile will scale up a good few notches on June 27 2012 when he launches, with a show at the Leicester Square Theatre, his debut solo album, Seductive Sax.

The album was recorded at the Pheasantry, the Pizza Express jazz club in Chelsea, and the nine tracks from this imaginative 32-year-old and his eight-piece backing band suffuse the best of many genres – smooth jazz, soul, Latin and rhythm and blues.

Joe told us of his close ties to South Africa and the UK. “I was born in Delft, Holland, but moved to London with the family when I was two years old. I lived and grew up in Highgate, London. My real roots and family background are in fact from South Africa (Cape Town and Durban), and I still have very strong connections with a great South African jazz pianist, Camillo Lombard, who I perform with in Cape Town, and will again in the future – at the Cape Town Jazzathon.”

The Jazzathon, which attracts audiences of 34, 000 people, is staged at the fine outdoor amphitheatre of Capetown’s Victoria & Albert Waterfront, by the working harbour close to Table Mountain. In December Joe featured there in a gospel jazz concert arranged by Camillo Lombard.

Joe grew up in a musical environment. Inspired by his mother, South African concert pianist Lucille Leader, Joe says that he learned how to communicate emotions and feelings to an audience, creating an atmosphere so that people can live in the passion of each note, each phrase and each song. From being exposed to classical music he developed his interest in saxophone and Jazz.

In north London, Joe attended King Alfred School, alongside the children of some famous people in the entertainment world. Alana, the daughter of choreographer and TV presenter Arlene Phillips, got an audition for Joe with Andrew Lloyd Webber for the 1996 Sydmonton Festival, which the composer hosts during summer at his Hampshire country house, Sydmonton Court. Other children at King Alfred School included the sons and daughters of Bob Hoskins, Cher, and Tom Conti.

With his band at school, Joe won a Daily Telegraph Young Jazz award and then studied privately with teachers at the Guildhall school of Music in London, and at the University of Cape Town, before returning to London to complete his studies in music technology, with first class honours.

There were more honours ahead, including working with Andrew Lloyd Webber, producer and rapper Pharrell Williams, Boyzone’s Stephen Gately and the Symphony Orchestra of India.

He led a 20-piece showband, the Joe Leader Collective, launching at the Café de Paris, London, on one occasion bringing in his mother on piano, and sister Serena on violin. He initiated his solo career with the concert in June 2011 at the Pheasantry giving rise to his new album. For this, his band includes Carl Hudson (keyboard), Miles Kayne (guitar), Westley Joseph (drums) and Andy Tolman (bass). Listen especially, dear readers, to Nature Boy and Isn’t She Lovely.

Good fortune is following Joe in his choice of backing vocalists.  On the CD he is supported by Ricci P Washington, Beverely Skeete and Lorenza Johnson, and he has just confirmed for his live show three West End singers with impressive backgrounds: Emma Lindars, Portia Emare and Jon Moabi.

As to those martial arts, Joe is keen on Aikido, in which he has attained a second degree black belt. He says that in the same way that the sword of a Samurai warrior was considered an extension of the soul, the saxophone is an extension of his soul.

Editor’s Note: Art, all types of art, is interwoven with the shipping world! Be it paintings, sculpture or music, art is there! So much of professional and business life is enlivened by music – from the famed Foresight Shipping winter BBQ in London to the Posidonia events in Greece! We support the arts, as shipping itself is an art; it is an art to run ships and beyond that to understand the ways of the sea!

For tickets to the Leicester Square Theatre date, go to http://www.leicestersquaretheatre.com/whats-on/music/2012-6-27

For Joe Leader’s website, please see http://www.joeleader.com

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