We caught up with Helena Kay, Peter Whittingham Jazz Award winner of 2017
Helena Kay
2017 Peter Whittingham Jazz Award
17th September 2018
We caught up with Helena Kay, Peter Whittingham Jazz Award winner of 2017

“I'm really grateful to Help Musicians UK for their support, without which none of this would have been possible.”

Hear from Helena below on what she’s been up to since receiving the Peter Whittingham Jazz Award of £5,000.

It's been a busy, sometimes stressful, but exciting year since I was lucky enough to win the Peter Whittingham Award from Help Musicians UK. I used the award to record my debut album Moon Palace with my band KIM Trio, featuring Ferg Ireland on double bass and David Ingamells on drums. We recorded on 11 and 12 February at Eastcote Studios, and the fantastic Alex Bonney and Peter Beckmann did the mixing and mastering respectively. The album is going to be released in December on Ubuntu Music and I've been putting together a tour for the launch. One of the nicer parts of all the behind-the scenes album/tour work (amongst hundreds of emails to venues who don't reply) was getting the album artwork. Tallulah Pomeroy did a fantastic job of the illustration which you can see below.

Helena Kay album artwork

Between tour hustling, I've done some amazing gigs this year, most recently with Paul Towndrow's Keywork Orchestra in Glasgow. He was commissioned to write an epic one-hour piece featuring full big band plus bagpipes, two fiddles, vibraphone and tabla! It was great to play the incredible music with an amazing group of musicians, and to see some old friends and meet new people.

Helena Kay PT Orchestra Glasgow

I also played in Glasgow earlier in the year, at the Glasgow Jazz Festival in June, this time with my trio. We played at Glasgow's new jazz club The Blue Arrow, and also played in a beautiful little village about 40 minutes from Glasgow called Torphichen.

In July, Calum Gourlay joined us for a gig at Manchester Jazz Festival and kindly drove us all the way to Manchester and back in a day for an afternoon gig in the Salon Perdu Spiegeltent.

Adrian Pallant at London Jazz News took photos and gave us a really nice review:

“What shone out so well, alongside Kay’s obvious improvisational prowess and balmy tone/vibrato, was the strength of her compositions. With Charlie Parker named as her hero, and a clear leaning towards Sonny Rollins, there was a restrained feel-good about these performances – yet the picturesque writing held the attention, its richness and interest never waning.”

 Helena Kay photo by adrian pallant

Photo by Adrian Pallant

I'm really looking forward to getting the album finished and doing the tour in December. After spending so long organising it all, I can't wait to play with Ferg (double bass) and Dave (drums) on an extended run of gigs, and I'm really grateful to Help Musicians UK for their support, without which none of this would have been possible.

For anyone interested, our London album launch is on 12th December at The Vortex, and you can find out about the album and more tour dates on my website: www.helena-kay.com.

The Peter Whittingham Jazz Award is an award for emerging jazz musicians or groups, to undertake a creative project of their choice. Applications for this year’s Peter Whittingham Jazz Award are open now until Friday 12 October 2018 – find out more here.

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