A performance by cellist Shirley Smart and pianist Robert Mitchell, ahead of the launch of their forthcoming duo album, Zeitgeist2 (Discus Records, 2022).
Please note, audience numbers at this event are limited to comply with City's COVID policies, so please do sign up to attend, via the 'register now' button above.
Shirley Smart and Robert Mitchell met while working on Robert’s Invocation project in 2014, and their duo project developed out of their conversations about improvisation, genre and musical education.
Their discussions explored the varied paths of their respective backgrounds, and different relationships of all aspects of those musical paths to improvisation. Both have a shared classical training, in which the absence of an improvisation became both a frustration and source of inspiration. Part of the story of this album lies in their different forms of searching for this lost aspect of the classical tradition, and also the journey of embracing it in other musical forms.
Robert is long established as one of the UK's finest jazz pianists and composers, and finds expression also through the medium of poetry to explore themes of his background. He also debuts here as a narrator of his own poetry, focussing on a response to the Windrush scandal, a tribute to his mother and the search for global peace.
Shirley spent many years in the Middle East, where she also became involved with both jazz and Middle Eastern regional traditions and their forms of improvisation. Since returning to the UK, she has established a formidable reputation as one of the most versatile and creative cellists on the scene, drawing on her various influences as a root and basis for her musical work.
Both artists are also highly involved in music education. Shirley is Head of Performance at City, University of London, and teaches improvisation and musicianship at the RCM Junior Department. Robert is Jazz Piano Professor at the Guildhall School Of Music and Drama.
Their first album Zeitgeist² brings together these different strands in each musicians journey, linked through the dialogic act of improvisation, to explore and re-explore their pasts and present. It will be released in early 2022 on Discus Records.