Born: September 2, 1975 Primary Instrument: Bass, acoustic
GEMMA'S CAREER AS A MUSICIAN SO FAR...
In school assembly one day, a teacher asked if anyone would be interested in playing the double bass. At the time, Gemma didn't have a clue what this was, and thought it was a big drum. She was intrigued, and so volunteered: It was love at first sight! It was so huge, and Gemma liked it because it was different. In spite of the double bass being her third instrument, Gemma took to it like a duck to water, and with the help of her teacher, Jean Graham, she achieved her Grade 8 (classical). At this time, she played with the Walsall Youth Orchestra and the Midland Youth Jazz Orchestra.
Throughout her time at university, Gemma did paid pit orchestra work with the Chichester Amateur Operatic Society and played on 'The Merry Widow' with the Littlehampton Player's Operatic Society. She also performed in big choral works such as Verdi's 'Requiem' at Chichester Cathedral.
More recently, apart from doing concerts with Lewes Concert Orchestra, playing in John Rutter's 'Birthday Madrigals' with Brighton Chamber Choir as part of the 2008 Brighton Festival, in the orchestra for Simon Gray and Carole Todd's 2009 'Music Theatre 2000' production of 'The Mikado' at the Barn Theatre, Southwick, and playing in the pit orchestra for Brighton Theatre Group's stunning production of 'Beauty And The Beast' (conducted by Simon Gray) at the Theatre Royal, Brighton, in June 2010, Gemma has focused largely on jazz since moving to Brighton & Hove about nine years ago.
Gemma became a member of the Brighton Jazz Co-op and things grew from there: She plays in a successful 1930s and '40s swing jazz and blues five-piece band called The Priory Street Stardusters (featuring herself on double bass, Piers Clark on guitar, Annie Schutt on vocals, Daniel Rehahn on trombone and John Pargeter on alto and tenor saxophones and clarinet) which has been going for approximately four years, and she has done a lot of duo gigs with Mike the Mic who is a unique guitarist and vocalist (including being the support band for Earl Okin).
Gemma's time on the jazz course at Chichester College brought her into contact with the amazingly talented pianist / vocalist Ann Odell, who she gigged with and learnt loads from. She teaches double bass and tries to use her skills as a jazz / classical pianist and violinist whenever possible. She enjoys playing with the Sussex Jazz Orchestra big band, Southwick Opera ('The Merry Widow', 'The Magic Flute' and 'Titanic - The Musical', conducted and directed by Simon Gray), Straight No Chaser big band, Bass, Bone & Blue (with Piers Clark on guitar and Daniel Rehahn on trombone), The Pete Godfrey and Pals Trio (with Pete Godfrey on piano and Roy Leith on tenor saxophone), The Brighton Jazz Apples / Remember April bossa nova band (with Matt Wall on guitar, Ela Southgate on vocals and Robin Watt on saxophone), Just Friends Trio (with Terry Whitney on piano and Norman Evans on tenor saxophone), Gemma's Jazz (with Piers Clark on guitar and George N. Paterson on trumpet and vocals), The Swing Thing duo (with Matt Wall on guitar), The Vintage Hot Five authenitic 1920s and '30s jazz quintet (with Andy Woon on trumpet and George Levy on clarinet), and towards the end of 2009, she played for four months with Classycool (a classical / experimental string ensemble) based at Covent Garden Courtyard in London. Other great local jazz musicians Gemma has played with include Nils Solberg, Charlotte Glasson, Cath Couper, Sam Arts, Lawrence Jones, Renee Ansell, Jo Hunter, Dave Lacey, Jason Henson, Diego Parada, and she has just done a songwriting course with Heidi Berry.
Reggae, funk, western swing, gypsy swing, bluegrass, singer-songwriter material and country music are all styles of music that Gemma has experience in playing, and she works as a volunteer at the National Jazz Archive in Loughton.
Gemma is able to put bands of musicians together to tailor for hirers' needs: Please contact her via this website to book her or the bands she plays with for gigs, lessons, concerts or recording sessions.
Willing to teach:
I have my Grade 8 classical double bass, and a 'Double Distinction' Edexcel Level 3 BTEC National Certificate in Music Practice (Jazz) from Chichester College.