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Studio Jazz presents

Byron Wallen’s Four Corners

Fri 8 Mar 2024

Byron Wallen – trumpet, conches, piano, Rob Luft – guitar, Paul Michael  – bass, Rod Youngs – drums

Multi-award winning jazz trumpeter Byron Wallen is an acclaimed composer and producer whose scores have been commissioned by the Science Museum, Warner Brothers, The BBC, Jerwood Foundation, the National Theatre, and even Game of Thrones! A seminal figure on the British jazz scene since the 1990s, his multi-talented band will be playing music from latest award-nominated album ‘Portrait: Reflections on Belonging’. The album draws inspiration from contemporary and indigenous cultures, early Renaissance music, Central and East African rhythm and polyphony and the music of Miles Davis, Wayne Shorter and Thelonious Monk.


The idea for this album was conceived in 2013, when Byron was sitting in the central square in Woolwich. He was struck by the community around him with its mixture of ages and nationalities, from Nepalese elders to young Nigerian men, and Somali mothers with young families, a new Eastern European contingent and descendants of families who used to work in the docks and at the Arsenal. A few years later, he was commissioned by PRS For Music Foundation to compose a suite of music celebrating his chosen hometown.


This suite which became known as ‘Anthem for Woolwich’ forms the nucleus of ‘Portrait’, which was nominated for Best Album at the 2021 Parliamentary Jazz Awards. Conceptually, the album is a journey on which he explores issues of ancestry, diasporic journey and cultural roots. The music draws inspiration from contemporary and indigenous cultures. Byron’s passionate musical knowledge and his fascination with the human spirit is evident in the compositions. Landmarks of blues, mode and groove are explored and re-invented.


Byron as a child studied classical piano, euphonium, trumpet, flute and drums. He received the BBC Jazz Innovation award (2003) and has been nominated several times for the MOBO award. In 2017 he received the coveted Paul Hamlyn Composition Award. In 2020 Four Corners was nominated for the best band category at the Parlimentary Jazz Awards.


Guitarist Rob Luft has been compared to six-string legends John McLaughlin, Al Di Meola & Paco De Lucia. Praised by The Times for performances with the National Youth Jazz Orchestra, who said he was destined ‘to achieve great things in the future’, Rob was subsequently the recipient of the 2016 Kenny Wheeler Prize from The Royal Academy of Music, and he also received the 2nd Prize in The 2016 Montreux Jazz Guitar Competition at Montreux Jazz Festival. His debut album, “Riser”, was released on Edition Records in 2017 to widespread
critical acclaim from the European jazz media. John Fordham wrote inThe Guardian that it’s a “very sophisticated debut, but given Luft’s old-soul achievements since his early teens, we should have heard it coming”.

Paul Michael  is a London based Electric/Upright bass player and plays music across a wide range of styles. After graduating from Trinity College of Music he has gone on to work regularly on the London music
scene and beyond. He has played with Carlos Acosta at the Royal Opera House, Julian Joseph at Ronnie Scotts, Liane Carroll and is currently working with Emily Saunders.

A native of Washington D.C., Rod Young’s formal training began in his teenage years. He attended Howard University where he received a Bachelor of Music degree in performance and was subsequently chosen to
study jazz performance at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y. under the tutelage of Keith Copland. Since those formative years Rod’s consummate musicianship has garneredim a wide variety of work from concerts and recordings to sessions for radio, TV and film. He has performed/recorded with a formidable
array of artists including, Hugh Masekela, Denys Baptiste, Lee Konitz, Natalie Cole, Bennie Maupin, Craig Handy, Jon Hendricks, Gil Scott-Heron, Mica Paris, Abdullah Ibrahim, BBC Concert Orchestra, Julian Joseph, Courtney Pine, Juliet Roberts, Ronnie Laws, Jazz Jamaica All Stars, and David Murray amongst others