Andra Sparks Jazz Singer - About me - page 2
Wavendon Jazz Summer school in 1992 was a formative experience. I just KNEW that this was the musical area where I could grow and develop. The tutors were passionate about their teaching and their playing was inspiring. I started to recognise the quality of individual vocal instruments - Keely Smith, Ella, Nancy Wilson, Sarah Vaughan, the haunting Shirley Horn... and discovered the wonderful Norma Winstone and the music of Kenny Wheeler. So I went to workshops with teachers like Anton Brown, Lee Gibson, Anita Wardell, Mark Murphy, Sheila Jordan and many others. eventually started doing gigs and singing with the Mid Herts Rehearsal and Bedford Contemporary Big Bands.
Through workshops with the inspiring Canadian trombonist and composer, Hugh Fraser, I met and worked with Keith Copeland, Kenny Wheeler and Norma Winstone in N Ireland and then at the Banff Arts Centre in Canada. Tutors there included Don Thompson, Kenny Werner, Ray Drummond and Dave Liebmann. We performed Wheeler's 'Sweet Sister Suite'. It was a joy to sing as part of the band.
In 1998 I recorded my first quintet album 'People We Once Knew' with the superb rhythm section of: Nick Weldon, Jeff Clyne and Trevor Tomkins - and the amazing Iain Dixon on saxes. We got great reviews, regular air-play, gigs around the country and at four Festivals.
My second album 'Your Time' was released in 2004, with the same wonderful rhythm section and this time the incredible Russell van den Berg was on saxes with his haunting soprano sound. Nick Weldon has been arranger and band leader on both albums. Again, good reviews and gigs around the UK - including the Cork International Jazz Festival in 2005. The band have been gigging regularly together since.