7 minutes with...Jazz at the Palace founder Quentin Curtis
The stunning Emirates Palace is the place to be for all hip cats tomorrow with the inaugural ‘Jazz At The Palace’ night taking place at the venue’s auditorium.
Local trio ‘Cool’s The Rule’ will provide the tunes, a mix of straight-ahead and modern jazz with a sprinkling of R‘n’B, jazz rock and fusion. We caught up with organiser Quentin Curtis to find out more about the new event.
Jazz at the Palace? Sounds cool.
I’ve organised a few events over the years at Emirates Palace but the idea for a jazz night, bizarrely, came after listening to these guys at their residency in the Mercure Hotel. This one is the baby, the first one, and it all came about because these guys were just playing in the corner and I thought ‘these guys are incredible, they should be headlining something’. I approached them and they were delighted.
So who’s in the spotlight?
The resident trio are local musicians, Titus Earle on piano, Dennis Mercado on bass and Douglas Caskie on drums and percussion. But ‘Cool’s The Rule’ will also become a bit of a collective - they’ll be joined by guests Vladimir Ossipenko on saxophone and Kamal Musallam on the guitar and oud. That will be something special. In the future I hope we can bring different artists for guest slots too, from the local, regional and international scene.
Organising something like this must be pretty full on.
This isn’t my real job - I’m involved in my own business here, which is in sustainable transport. But I’ve a real passion for music, I was brought up with music around me. I’m a lousy musician myself but I’m married to a pro cellist so that balances things out.
I play piano pretty badly, I’ve hardly touched guitar for 10 years and I also try and blow a sax now and again - I keep trying! You can’t beat live music. We brought over a group of seven artists in May for a flamenco event, that was a fabulous night and we've also done work with the UAE Philharmonic Orchestra too - this is probably the sixth or seventh event we’ve done at Emirates Palace.
So what’s your all-time favourite concert?
I’ve plenty. When I was growing up in England we used to travel to the Royal Albert Hall at least once a month. Granny made sure we were introduced to the classics, Tchaikovsky and Beethoven, we loved that as a family. I was also lucky to get tickets for Jose Carreras (Spanish tenor) when he sang at the same venue, when I was much older. We were sitting on the stage, what a magical night.
What’s your top event locally?
We’ve often had to pinch ourselves that we’ve been living in Abu Dhabi. If we were in Europe, to be perfectly honest, you wouldn’t even get in the queue to see some of the acts. Abu Dhabi Classics have brought Mischa Maisky (cello), Yo-Yo Ma (cellist) and Lang Lang (piano) to the emirate and these have all been truly great events.
What’s your advice for jazz novices?
I would ask that you don’t analyze jazz. With any other concert, you just go and sit down and enjoy it, try the same with jazz. If it works for you then great, it might not work for everyone. Some might feel a little lost with some of it but you should give it a try. Just sit back in a great venue and enjoy the show.