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Hejira – Celebrating Joni Mitchell

Mackintosh Queen’s Cross | Thursday 20 June 2024 at 7.30pm (Doors open 6.30pm)

Tickets £19.50 +booking fee (available from Eventbrite or Universe)

‘Hejira’ is a 7-piece band set up to celebrate and honour the masterpiece works of Joni Mitchell, mostly from the late ‘70s. Having released the albums ‘The Hissing of Summer Lawns’, ‘Hejira’, ‘Don Juan’s Reckless Daughter’ and ‘Mingus’  (regarded as her ‘jazz period’), Joni then toured briefly with a band formed from the crème de la crème of contemporaneous jazz musicians (Metheny, Mays, Brecker, Pastorius and Alias). The tour was recorded, producing the outstanding live album, ‘Shadows And Light’; it is from this album that the band Hejira is drawing the body of its repertoire. Comprising highly experienced jazz musicians, this band is fronted by the brilliant Hattie Whitehead who not only has – in her own way – assimilated the poise, power and beauty of Joni’s vocals, but also plays guitar with Joni’s stylistic mannerisms. Expect an evening of the ‘great’ songs from Mitchell’s back catalogue, such as ‘Amelia’, ‘Woodstock’, ‘A Case Of You’, ’Song For Sharon’, ‘Edith And The Kingpin’ etc.!

Hattie Whitehead – vocals and guitar
Pete Oxley – guitar
Ollie Weston – tenor and soprano sax
Chris Eldred – piano & keyboards
Dave Jones – electric basses
Rick Finlay – drums
Marc Cecil – percussion

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Personnel

Hattie Whitehead: vocals and guitars

The band is fronted by the extraordinarily talented Hattie Whitehead, who not only sings masterfully with Joni’s pitch-accuracy, poise and dignity, but she also plays guitar much with the mannerisms of Mitchell (incorporating various open tunings – which lend an instant authenticity to the colour of the songs). Hattie grew up surrounded by music and musicians – her father is the outstanding saxophonist, Tim Whitehead – and has a career as a singer/songwriter outside of this band. In 2016, she won the ‘Emerging Talent’ competition at Glastonbury Festival. Her original songs have been listened to hundreds of thousands of times on various streaming platforms.

Pete Oxley: guitar

Pete grew up in a family of classical musicians, fell for jazz in his late teens, went on to study jazz at the Leeds College of Music, then moved to Paris in his mid twenties. It was there that he began gigging intensively and developing his career as a guitarist, composer and bandleader. He has produced 16 albums of critically acclaimed original music (including 7 with the Swiss guitar virtuoso, Nicolas Meier) and is one of only a handful of British composers to have their works included in the ‘European Real Book’ (Sher Publications). The Oxley-Meier Guitar Project continues to record and tour extensively throughout the UK and Europe.

Ollie Weston: saxophones

Since graduating from Leeds College of Music, Ollie has had a diverse career which has included education, session work and live performance. In the former of these, Ollie teaches at the Guildhall (London) and has major tutorial books published by Schott Music under the heading, ‘Exploring Jazz’. In the latter, Ollie has toured all over the world with such outfits as Amy Winehouse, Tim Minchin, Bonobo and the Nelson Riddle Orchestra. He has also worked extensively in the West End, performing in Chicago, Dream Girls and in two critically acclaimed seasons at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.

Chris Eldred: piano and keyboards

Chris first came to prominence while playing in the National Youth Jazz Orchestra (NYJO), from 2008 to 2014. In the midst of that period, he was winner of the 2011 Yamaha Scholarship Award for Outstanding Jazz Musicians and graduated in the same year from Trinity College of Music with first class honours. With NYJO, he performed many high-profile gigs (such as at the Albert Hall Proms) and came to the attention of such established masters as Mark Lockheart, Jean Toussaint and Salena Jones, with whom he subsequently worked. He is now a regular performer at Ronnie Scott’s and is one of London’s most in-demand pianists.

Dave Jones: electric basses

Dave is one of the most brilliant bass players – on both electric and acoustic basses that the UK has produced! His deep musicianship has led him to work with, amongst others, John Etheridge, Bill Bruford, the BBC Big Band, Jacqui Dankworth, Willard White and Scott Hamilton. He is bandleader, arranger and composer of the ‘Dave Jones Nonet’, comprising the creme de la creme of UK jazz musicians. Dave is continually active in jazz education leading many courses at Richmond Jazz School where he also previously led the faculty and he is also regularly invited to teach on a number of international jazz summer schools.

Rick Finlay: drums

Rick’s career has seen him being perpetually occupied, dividing his time between London’s West End, education and performing as a jazz musician. In the former, Rick held the drum chair at Blood Brothers for twenty years and also played for The Little Shop of Horrors and Chess Time. As a freelancer, Rick has performed on many prestigious TV shows, including Parkinson, Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway and The Late Show.  Rick has, for several years, been hosting the ‘Just East Jazz Club’ in North London, where he has accompanied most of the UK’s jazz glitterati!

Marc Cecil: percussion

Marc Cecil is a musician whose career has seen him work in myriad styles, performing at all sorts of premier venues, such as The Royal Opera House, Wembley Arena, The 02, Glastonbury Festival, The Jazz Cafe – Camden and Ronnie Scott’s. He was a member of  “King Salsa”, the UK’s premier 12 piece salsa band for 17years. His extensive theatre work includes seasons with: Blood Brothers (west end), Billy Elliot (west end), Saturday Night Fever (west end), Footloose (tour), Streisand The Story (tour), The Chicago Blues Brothers (tour), Million Dollar Quartet (west end) and The Carpenter’s Story (tour). In the jazz arena, Marc has worked with a ‘who’s who’ top UK musicians, including: Jason Rebello, Neil Angilly, Nigel Price, Art Themen, Jim Mullen, Picante, Jacqui Hicks, Snowboy, Noel McCalla, Liane Carol, Lily Dior, Geoff Gascoyne, Laurence Cottle, Alan Barns, Henry Lowther, and the Derek Nash Quartet.

Marc’s extraordinary drive, groove and use of sonic colours is an essential element of the whole Hejira soundscape.