New Focus: The Classical Connection
The audience went home royally entertained and probably a little better educated as well.
Combining jazz and classical idioms is a tricky business, but this succeeds splendidly.
Duo - Instrumental
- Euan Stevenson - Piano
- Konrad Wiszniewski - Saxophones
New Focus: The Classical Connection offers audiences a chance to hear two outstanding musicians improvising a Bach-style reinvention and an arrangement of the Duke Ellington Orchestra's theme tune, Take the A Train in the style of a Mozart Sonata. Listeners can also discover why romantic composers like Chopin, Rachmaninoff and Duke Ellington all loved the same key. They can learn why Miles Davis and Erik Satie were kindred spirits and hear brilliantly performed jazz standards and original tunes from Stevenson and Wiszniewski's widely acclaimed group's albums, New Focus and New Focus on Song.
Pianist Euan Stevenson and saxophonist Konrad Wiszniewski are two of Scotland's leading musicians. Their New Focus partnership takes its name from a project that celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of saxophone giant Stan Getz's 1961 classic album, Focus, and has developed to include The Classical Connection, a concert programme drawing together the compositions and styles of Chopin, Mozart, Duke Ellington, Erik Satie, Erroll Garner, Franz Liszt, Chick Corea, and Bela Bartok and original pieces, all presented in a very natural and entertaining way.
When the duo presented it at Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival 2019, The Herald awarded The Classical Connection five stars, praising Stevenson's easy way of imparting knowledge and both players' high-level musicality.
Euan Stevenson is an award-winning pianist and composer working in jazz, classical and pop music. He has performed in concerts and masterclasses throughout the UK and the USA and his music has been broadcast widely across BBC Radio and Jazz FM. His film and TV work includes music for the BBC’s Horizon documentary series and the 2018 feature film Voyageuse.
A former student of London-based jazz pianist Liam Noble, Euan has worked with many of the top players on the UK jazz scene including the legendary guitarist Jim Mullen, fellow pianist David Newton (in a ‘four hands, two pianos' partnership), and trumpeter Enrico Tomasso. His tasteful accompanying skills have underpinned the vocals of numerous singers, notably Tina May, Nikki King, Anita Wardell and most recently, the winner of the Best Vocalist at the Scottish Jazz Awards 2019, Georgia Cecile.
Konrad Wiszniewski was born in Glasgow in 1980 and took up tenor saxophone at the age of 13. He toured and recorded with the European Youth Jazz Orchestra before releasing his first CD, Konrad Wiszniewski, in 2005. Since 2001 Konrad has worked extensively with the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra as one of the ensemble’s star soloists and he has twice won the Best Instrumentalist title in the Scottish Jazz Awards (in 2013 and 2017).