Duo Introduction / Biography The duo format is one the most challenging and rewarding for jazz musicians. It is a very intimate ‘dialogue’ that requires moment-by-moment awareness, sensitivity and responsiveness from both players in equal measure. A shared emotional landscape is essential in creating, shaping and sustaining the different character of each piece and, bearing in mind their forty year age difference, James and Bradley ‘commune’ with the music completely. At the heart of this communication is the love of the repertoire that has been handed down from the giants of jazz improvisation. James and Bradley hope you enjoy listening to the results of their first recordings together as much as they enjoyed creating them. (foreword from their first CD entitled Together, which can be purchased at their concerts, or purchased through this website by request through the 'Contact / Bookings' page.
James and Bradley present a programme of music by some of the most influential players and composers of the last hundred years — taking you on a musical journey which moves from early jazz and blues, through swing and bebop, to cool and contemporary.
James Birkett (guitar) is one the country’s most acclaimed guitarists. He developed and led one of the UK’s first B.Mus. degree programmes in jazz and related music. Now retired from full time Higher Education, he continues to teach at the Centre for Advanced Training, Sage Gateshead and delivers masterclasses and short courses in jazz related studies. His specialist teaching interests include performance and improvisation — his Doctorate being awarded for research into new approaches to learning and teaching the art of jazz improvisation. Publications include the two-volume work Jazz Guitar, published by I.M.P.
James has worked with many major jazz soloists from the UK (incl. Guy Barker, Alan Barnes and Chris ‘Snake’ Davis) and the USA (incl. Peanuts Hucko, Kenny Davern and Scott Hamilton), and continues to perform with a variety of jazz ensembles, regularly undertaking concert, festival and broadcast work. For more information regarding James' work, please visit his website: www.jamesbirkettmusic.com
Bradley Johnston has become firmly established on the North East jazz scene. He has studied jazz guitar with Dr. James Birkett at Sage Gateshead since the age of 14, and graduated from the B.Mus. degree programme in 2016 at Sage Gateshead with a First Class Honours classification. Furthermore, Bradley has just recently completed a PGCE at Newcastle College.
In his role as featured soloist in Jambone (the Regional Youth Jazz Ensemble) he has also performed alongside numerous jazz artists from the UK, USA, Cuba and Brazil. Brad has also performed at some major jazz festivals in the UK, including: Gateshead International Jazz Festival; Manchester Jazz Festival; Isle of Skye Swing Jazz Festival, Callander Jazz Festival. He has also performed at the Parliamentary Jazz Awards at the Portcullis House (Houses of Parliament) with Jambone, led by Rick Taylor.
For several years he has been presenting duo concerts with James, and their first CD (entitled Together) presents a variety of jazz repertoire for two guitars. Brad also works regularly with the duo Hand To Mouth, presenting repertoire sung and performed by Ella and Joe Pass. He works regularly as a sideman and session musician throughout the region.