Jazz performer focus: Guido Spannocchi
When I arrived in London, I didn’t know anyone and was shocked by the size and tempo of the city.
Yet I was thrilled – I felt like I was jumping out of a plane without a parachute. I was lonely - and loneliness in a city with a population in the multimillions was both strange and intriguing. Musically, I knew the scales and had a decent repertoire under my belt – but no one at University or Conservatoire teaches you how to meet people. But it’s easily solved – just go to where the sessions are.
In the daytime, I would practise, go to museums or parks to get to know the city and look for jobs. Once the sun set I was out, attending gigs or joining jazz sessions. It took me a while to find out which ones suited my repertoire and style, especially as the scene is constantly changing. People move on, venues shut. But I found like-minded musicians and tagged along and soon discovered some good spots to go and perform.
The beauty of Jazz is that it’s a family. The genre itself demands technique and knowledge of theory - as much as one might ‘burn licks’ in every solo, the history, the technique and the theory teaches you modesty. It’s good to remember that you are competing with great artists who play way beyond your capability. But the scene in London is generally supportive - once you’re making headway in making your mark, people start to remember you, greet you and ultimately call you, be that for work or play. Yes, they are competitive but there’s beauty in that itself.
In London, there is an incredible number of great musicians. There are many jazz groups around and I try to play with as many as possible. There is a thrill in getting on stage with musicians you’ve only just met moments before, playing the first chord of a tune you don’t know. You can support friends at gigs which are free or cost little around £5-£25. As with freelancing, there are ups and downs - I can be playing every day or not at all – but when it’s good, it’s brilliant.