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DAVID MOWAT

Composer, band leader, trumpeter, part Swiss, part English, played in political street bands (Fallout Marching Band, Sheffield Street Band) when Jazz Warrior Gail Thompson noticed him busking in Brixton market and included him in some London gigs. In Bristol from 1989 to 1993 he played in Keith Tippett’s Seedbed Jazz Workshop Orchestra, local bands (including with Kevin Figes, Pete Rosser (Tango Siempre), Tony Orrell, FNAAZ, Talisman.

He was in the forefront of the klezmer revival with The Klezmernauts which included the later-to-be bandonean master Julian Rowlands; their many UK gigs included the Purcell Rooms. In 1995 he set up The Timshel Quintet with singer Sammy Hurden, saxophonist Harrison Smith and drummer Brian Abrahams (District Six) before going to Nepal for international development work-which involved tuition to Nepali Hindi music wedding bands.

Returning in 1999 he co-founded and hosted the East Bristol Jazz Club (hosting Gilad Atzmon amongst others who acclaimed Mowat as a ‘unique voice and on the right side’), gigged around Europe with Bollywood Brass Band, wrote and produced a community musical ‘King Cotton’ (featuring blues harpist Johnny Mars and trombonist Dennis Rollins), collaborating with Alphonse Touna (Helele) in a ‘text book example of how to combine schools with professional musicians’ (Tony Benjamin Venue mag). Since 2000 he’s developed klezmer and Middle Eastern music in the Chai For All Ensemble with guitarist and rising oud star Knud Stuwe and in 2004-5 he walked alone to Jerusalem with his trumpet, picking up tunes on the way and turning his experiences into material now performed by Bristol European Jazz Ensemble or BEJE.

The BEJE concept is to include mainland  European jazz musicians based in Bristol in a jazz quintet playing Mowat’s compositions. The most recent outing was the Bristol jazz and blues fest 2018 which featured to spoken word-jazz suite ‘EUrip’, a political dig at Brexit. (video forthcoming). They have 2 albums out to date.

Mowat’s ambition is to take BEJE on the European jazz circuit and to that end he attended Jazzahead Festival in Bremen in April 2015 where he met jazz singer Anne Chris (annechris.nl) and formed a collaborative project. She sang her songs and Mowat’s compositions with BEJE in Bristol in November 2015 and they’ve played together at a popular Amsterdam venue, Café Nel, twice.

In the last 2 years Mowat has focused on Chai For All, getting Arts Council and British Council grants to create two projects: a multi-narrative spoken word/music portrayal of the Balfour Declaration history and a show portraying Palestinian connection to land, researched in Palestine and featuring singer Zaid Hilal. The tours’ first phases  have recently ended. See www.facebook.com/ChaiForAll. Whilst being based on yiddish and Middle Eastern song there is much improvisation and a jazz sensibility throughout.

How will this history influence his workshop style? Mowat likes to listen to workshop members and give supportive and constructive feedback to each person, especially around expressing their unique voice. He hopes we’ll be risk taking, inventive, collaborative in our approaches. He’ll bring some of his own compositions for the group to work with. Don’t expect a detailed analysis of ‘turn arounds’ and bebop standards, but something fresh, in the moment and fun. There will be attention to how players in small ensembles work together to create a band sound.