“The Music of Kenny Wheeler and Friends” with Nick Smart and the Royal Academy of Music staff and students


Date: 11 June 2024
End Date: 11 June 2024
Type: open

TIME: 8.00 – 11.00PM


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Nick Smart – trumpet/flugel
Rachael Cohen – alto saxophone
John Parricelli – guitar
Scottie Thompson – piano
Niklas Lukassen – bass
Luke McCarthy – drums
The repertoire will be music of long time Leytonstone resident Kenny Wheeler plus music from his long time collaborators John Taylor , Dave Holland etc.
The players
Nick Smart is Head of Jazz at the Royal Academy of Music. He was a friend of Kenney Wheeler and a great admirer of his work.  Nick was a member of the late Kenny Wheeler’s Big Band and is currently co-writing Wheeler’s biography.
Rachael Cohen is Professor of Saxophone at the RAM . She has been on the London jazz scene for many years and has played at the East Side a number of times leading her quartet
John Parricelli began his career as a guitarist in 1982 and was one of the founding members of the British big band Loose Tubes, with whom he recorded three albums. He has worked with Annie Whitehead, Kenny Wheeler, Norma Winstone, Lee Konitz, Paul Motian, Tim Whitehead, Chris Laurence, Eddie Parker, Peter Erskine, Vince Mendoza, Mark Lockheart, Julian Argüelles, Iain Ballamy’s Acme, Mark Lockheart Quartet, Andy Sheppard, Gerard Presencer, Colin Towns, Martin Speake Quintet and Jazz singer Stacey Kent among others. He can often be heard on Strictly Come Dancing and is a Professor of Guitar at the RAM

Scottie Thompson is a pianist and composer from Portsmouth. He has performed music in a wide range of styles with an exciting array of musicians at venues such as Ronnie Scott’s and Buckingham Palace. He has also won various composition awards, some of his arrangements having been played on BBC Radio 3 and Classic FM in recent years.

Scottie is currently studying at the Royal Academy of Music in London; here he has been honing his skills in performance, composition and production, and has had the opportunity to play with like-minded musicians.

Niklas Lukassen is an award winning bassist and composer, who ventured from an inconspicuous village somewhere in the Southern German Black Forest out into a life of ample opportunity through his personal musical journey. Soon after discovering his love for the bass and particularly improvisation, he moved to Berlin, aged 16, to study at the Jazz Instituteand to cut his teeth in the capital’s music scene. 

A formative part of his career lies in New York where he lived for three years and obtained a Masters’s Degree from Manhattan School of Music on a full scholarship under the mentorship of  Ron Carter.

Today he pursues his doctoral degree as a practice performance researcher at the Royal Academy of Music in London, exploring innovative bass playing concepts. Unorthodox features of his personal playing style are e.g. the further artistic development of the bass cello, pick playing on the upright bass and use of gut strings on the bass guitar.

Immersed in different musical worlds, he has had the privilege of accompanying performances with luminaries such as Mike Stern, Jorge Rossy, Oz Noy, Sean Wayland, Valerie Simpsonand most recentlyKurt RosenwinkelandGwilym Simcock.Furthermore, Lukassen expands beyond his position as a bass playing sideman through composition/arranging work and his singing voice. As a vocalist he was a member of the German National Jazz Orchestra (BuJazzO).

On his band leader debut album Still Waters Run Deep(soon to be released), Niklas Lukassen merges his talents as a composer, bassist and vocalist. Alongside his band with Ben van GelderKit DownesFrancesco Ciniglio and guests Kurt Rosenwinkel, Céline Rudolph, Wanja Slavin & Geoffroy De Masure, he reveals striking musical depths.

Through his musical collaborations he has been fortunate to tour extensively throughout Europe, the UK, North America, Asia and North Africa. Notable stages he performed on include the Lincoln Center, the Beacon Theatre, the John F. Kennedy Center and the Berlin Philharmonie.

A passionate educator, Niklas Lukassen holds teaching positions at the Carl Maria von Weber College of Musicin Dresden and at the BIMM Music Institute in Berlin. He is currently doing a PhD at the RAM

Luke McCarthy is a drummer and a vibes player currently in his second year at the RAM . He also plays with Johnny Mansfield’s band and Mali Sheard