Keynote Presenter 2020: Django Bates

We are pleased to announce that the keynote presentation will be by
celebrated composer and instrumentalist DJANGO BATES (djangobates.co.uk)

b.1960 in Beckenham, Kent. 

Django Bates is a pianist, Eb horn player, and composer, who credits the variety of musical influences in his work to his childhood. His father is a collector of Jazz, Romanian, and African folk music. 

A founder member of Loose Tubes, Django was a leading light in the 1980s European jazz renaissance. The Brodsky Quartet, Joanna MacGregor, Britten Sinfonia, Royal Shakespeare Company, and Duisburg Philharmonic are some of the many groups that have commissioned new works from Django. As an internationally respected musician he has appeared alongside Bill Bruford, Dudu Pukwana, Sidsel Endresen, Wynton Marsalis, Michael Brecker, Evan Parker, Ronnie Scott. In 1997 Django was awarded the prestigious Danish Jazzpar prize, dubbed the ‘Nobel Prize of Jazz’. 

Django was the inaugural artistic director of FuseLeeds04: UK’s biennial new music festival. For the opening concert he composed ‘Umpteenth Violin Concerto’ for violinist Ernst Kovacic and, in honour of improvising saxophonist Evan Parker’s 60th birthday, Django commissioned sixty composers including Gavin Bryars, Laurie Anderson, Sir Patrick Moore and John Zorn to write one bar each. He then quilted these bars into the piece ‘Premature Celebration’ which was performed by The London Sinfonietta with Evan Parker and Paul Lytton improvising to music they had never previously heard. 

In 2010 Django released Belovèd Bird; a celebration of his childhood hero Charlie Parker, for which he used the classic acoustic piano trio constellation, beloved of jazz listeners and players throughout the world. Django continued the exploration of Parker’s work with the release of the album Confirmation. This time Django included original pieces which stand in their own right but also serve to recontextualise Parker’s lines, using the same rhythmic and harmonic signature that is brought to bear in the re-workings of Donna Lee, Confirmation, et al. 

When Django was commissioned to write The Study Of Touch for a BBC Proms concert in 2013, the work inspired Manfred Eicher to produce a new Belovèd album, this time focusing on Django’s own compositions. This rekindling of Django’s relationship with the ECM label has led on to the project Blue Maqams in which he plays with Oud player Anouar Brahem, Dave Holland and Jack Dejohnette. The Study Of Touch was honoured with a British Composers Award for Contemporary Jazz Composition in December 2014. The album The Study Of Touch was released in November 2017. 

Django Bates is currently a professor of jazz at University of the Arts, Bern, Switzerland.