Nigel Kennedy and Jaz Coleman
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Nigel Kennedy has played a part in making classical music popular, particularly among young people. He has also performed and recorded most of the major violin concerti.Read More...
Aged 16, Stéphane Grappelli invited the prodigy to appear alongside him at New York's Carnegie Hall, under the threat from his teachers at the Juilliard that it would ruin his classical career. He made his recording debut in 1984 with the Elgar Violin Concerto, but most know Kennedy through his interpretation of Vivaldi's "The Four Seasons" recorded in 1989, sold over 2 million copies and earned a place in the Guinness Book of Records as the then best-selling classical work of all time. The album remained top of the UK classical charts for over a year with sales equivalent to one copy sold every 30 seconds of every day.
After numerous performances including The Princes Trust, the Royal Variety Performance and private performances at St James Palace and Buckingham Palace, he released his biography "Always Playing" in 1991 He then took the controversial and highly publicised decision to withdraw completely from public performance, but made a triumphant return to the international concert platform to critical acclaim five years later. In 1997, Kennedy received an award for Outstanding Contribution to British Music at the BRIT Awards, and in 2001 received the 'Male Artist of the Year' award.
In 1999 Sony Classical released a recording entitled The Kennedy Experience, which featured improvisational recordings of Jimi Hendrix compositions. According to a BBC interview with Kennedy, the violinist stated that this recording is "an album of music inspired by Jimi Hendrix. It is an extended instrumental work in six movements - each movement a classical interpretation of a Hendrix song." On the recording, Kennedy is accompanied by seven other musicians, and the lineup includes two cellos, an oboe, two guitars, a dobro, flute, and double bass. With cellist Lynn Harrell, he has recorded an album of duets.
In late 2005, Kennedy went to New York to record his first proper jazz album for the traditional jazz and bebop label Blue Note Records. Kennedy's recording musicians on the album included Miles Davis alumnus Ron Carter on double bass, Jack DeJohnette on drums; and saxophonist Joe Lovano. Kennedy has since stated that "from now on, at least 50 per cent of my endeavour is going to be in the jazz field." He has also recorded The Doors Concerto (with Jaz Coleman), a violin based orchestral version of many Doors songs, including Strange Days, LA Woman, The End, and Riders On The Storm. He has recently been exploring Polish music with the Polish jazz band Kroke.
On November 27, 2000, Kennedy joined rock group The Who at the Royal Albert Hall to play the violin solo on the classic song Baba O'Riley. The recording can be found on the album Live at the Royal Albert Hall, which was released three years later. Kennedy has played on several tracks by British singer/songwriter Kate Bush, who was a guest on Kennedy's episode of This Is Your Life.
Jaz Coleman was born in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England to an English father and an Indian mother who are both school teachers. He began piano and violin lessons at the age of six, and was a member of several cathedral choirs in England. He won prizes for violin throughout his teens, and in adulthood has studied opera, composition, and orchestration. According to his own account, Coleman also studied international banking for three years in Switzerland.