Young jazz musicians help commemorate WW1 centenary

Trevor Watkis

Jazz pianist Trevor Watkis leads a group of musicians from Birmingham re-creating the sounds of the time with free performances in the city.

Jazz pianist Trevor Watkis, younger brother of singer Cleveland, leads a project to commemorate the centenary of World War 1. A group of musicians from Birmingham will re-create the sounds of the time with free performances in the city. 

It’s part of a nationwide initiative called ‘Expressions Of War’ and benefits partly from Arts Council funding. The idea of Watkis’ project ‘Jazz Sounds Of WW1’ is to, “use art and creativity to explore the Great War’s 100th anniversary and to engage young hard to reach audiences around the time of Remembrance Day”. 

Watkis said, “Because it involved an unfamiliar style of jazz that I didn’t grow up listening to, it’s been a really challenging project. However, there is a clear social connection between this music and events in war-torn Europe, and you can definitely hear the foundations for what came later with pioneers such as Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and Fats Waller.”

Participants have been mentored by Watkis, trumpeter Byron Wallen, Brummie alto saxophonist and MC Soweto Kinch, and American tenor saxophonist Jean Toussaint.

Performances in Birmingham Thursday November 13th:

  • Cannon Hill Park Bandstand - 12 - 12.30pm
  • Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery - 1.30 - 2pm
  • Library of Birmingham – 3 - 3.30pm 
  • Bullring (High St busking point) – 5.30 - 6pm

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