the importance of live music and music education …

For the last twenty years or so, Vince Mendoza has been top of the list for major artists and ensembles in the market for fantastic sophisticated and expensive sounding orchestral arrangements.  From Joni Mitchell, Sting, Melody Gardot, Elvis Costello, Robbie Williams and Björk to Joe Zawinul, John Schofield, Kurt Elling and Randy Brecker he’s worked with the best.  Not only a gifted arranger but a great composer and conductor too, creating wonderful music with The Netherland’s Metropole Orkest and Germany’s WDR Big Band.

Though he can write in virtually any style his sound is completely his own and immediately identifiable and I had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing this incredible musician a few weeks ago.

Our meeting was unexpectedly brought forward due to Vince’s rehearsal schedule, conducting The London Symphony Orchestra to accompany Gregory Porter at The Albert Hall, performing songs, from Gregory’s tribute to Nat King Cole album as arranged by Mr Mendoza, this meant instead of having two clear days to prep for such an important interview it came hot on the heels of one of our busiest touring weekends but then having to make time to listen to hours of painfully beautiful music is absolutely no hardship.

I very much enjoyed our chat about the world of Mendoza and felt so heartened to hear Vince’s views on the importance of live music and music education.  Views shared by another visitor to the radio show this week, trumpeter, arranger, educator and director of The Count Basie Orchestra Scotty Barnhart. He and the chaps were over as part of their European tour.  Here’s a chap who has worked with the CBO for the last couple of decades as a star soloist before taking over as leader, a man who has had the privilege of sitting on a tour bus with some of the greatest names in big band history, people like Clark Terry, Frank Foster and Freddie Green.  He spoke passionately about the history of this legendary ensemble now in it’s 83rd year and about meeting Count Basie himself when he was just seventeen. Scotty talked about his childhood growing up in Atlanta, Georgia where he was christened by non-other than Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Scotty Barnhart and Vince Mendoza have a mantle shelf full of Grammys between them but you couldn’t wish to meet two more down to earth people who just love what they do.