During one of his final interviews in 1970, Jimi Hendrix mused on what the new decade might hold for him artistically – “I would like a big band that I can write and conduct for” was his tantalising answer. Even more tantalising is the fact that he had been in negotiations with the great Gil Evans; a collaboration that would have happened had Jimi not passed away so tragically in September 1970.
For his part, Evans did eventually, in 1974, record an album of Hendrix compositions with his own big band and regularly performed his re-workings of Jimi in concert for the rest of his life.
Fast forward to 2018 when the Electric Lady Big Band was formed to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Hendrix’s 1968 masterpiece Electric Ladyland. Commissioned by Bristol Jazz and Blues festival guitarist, vocalist, arranger and Hendrix devotee Denny Ilett assembled a 16-piece orchestra of leading UK jazz musicians and set about crafting new arrangements on the whole album. The band then recorded and released their take on Electric Ladyland later that year.Since then, sold out shows at Bristol Jazz and Blues festival, Ronnie Scott’s, Cheltenham Jazz festival and Leeds Jazz festival culminated in the bands second release Up From The Skies in 2022. Jimi Hendrix’s revolutionary mix of rock, blues, jazz, funk, soul and psychedelia remains as potent today as it was in the late 60’s when he exploded onto the scene.
Electric Lady Big Band aim to expand that soundscape for a large ensemble; all with love and respect for Jimi’s genius.
Denny Ilett – guitar/vocal
Craig Wild, Jonny Bruce, Tom Gardner, Gary Alesbrook – trumpets
Winston Rollins, Dan Higham, Raph Clarkson, Justin Pavey – trombones
Ben Waghorn, Iain Ballamy, Ruth Hammond, Kevin Figes – saxophones
Laurence Cottle – bass
Dan Moore – keys
Daisy Palmer – drums