Seven Ages of Man is a large scale 70-minute work scored for Jazz Sextet and String Orchestra which explores the intersection between the worlds of classical music and jazz. It features sections underpinned by jazz grooves and improvisation but woven into a tight thematically developed classical structure. It was written for the acclaimed jazz musicians Tim Garland (soprano/tenor sax and bass clarinet) who performs as the principal soloist with Jason Rebello on piano and Jonny Mansfield on vibraphone.
The idea and title of the album come from the ‘Seven Ages of Man’, a concept popular in art and literature during the Middle Ages, which forms the basis of the ‘All the World’s a Stage’ speech performed in Shakespeare’s play ‘As You Like It’. Shakespeare depicts these seven stages as the howling, crying Infant, the whining, complaining Schoolboy, the emotional Lover, the fiery-tempered Soldier, the wise, contented Judge, the ageing man (Pantaloon), still in control of his faculties but becoming painfully aware of their decline, and the extremely aged man (Old Age) who returns to a second childlike state of helplessness, echoing Infant.
I also included two introductory prologue movements (Origins and Gestation) which explore the beginning of life itself, both in the conception and growth of an embryo which emerges from a cluster of cells, and more philosophical musings on the evolution of life on our planet which echoes this journey. These set the stage for the start of ‘Seven Ages of Man’ proper upon Infant.
The framework of the ‘Seven Ages’ provided a clear conceptual arch to the album and the opportunity to musically characterise each stage of life, although not necessarily by conforming to the Shakespeare and shaped by my own reflections. Featuring the soprano and tenor saxophone (and bass clarinet in Pantaloon) also seemed to give a sense of personal voice to the individual travelling through the ‘Seven Ages of Man’.
There is also a feature/interview by John Bungey on London Jazz News