Interview de Steve Walker

Steve Walker est un trompettiste Britannique , arrangeur et chef d’orchestre d’un big band, à la carrière impressionnante. Il publie toutes les semaines sur son site, un podcast mettant en valeur tout ce que la planète compte de compositeurs et arrangeurs de big bands actuels ! Quelle bonne idée ! J’ai moi même pu découvrir nombre d’orchestres étrangers totalement inconnus ! (le lien pour écouter ces podcasts en fin d’article).

Docteur Jazz avait envie d’en savoir un peu plus sur le parcours, les activités et les projets de Steve, et vous en faire profiter bien sûr !

steve walker

DJ : Hi Steve, can you tell us a bit about you and your musical background ?

SW : Born in Middlesbrough, Steve, the son of bandleader Arnie Walker began his professional musical career at the tender age of 14 after becoming a full time member of the Musicians Union. After serving his apprenticeship in the tough north east clubland and dance band scene he went on to study trumpet with Arthur Butterworth and David James at Huddersfield and graduated with a BA (Hons) Degree in Music in 1983.

During the 1980s and 90s Steve lead his own successful band regularly performing at Butlins and all the major UK holiday companies and all the well known London hotels. His band also played on some of the world’s most famous cruise liners, QE2, Canberra, Oriana and the prestigious 1998 world cruise on board Arcadia. During that period he was bandleader on board the majestic Ocean Princess, the first cruise liner to sail to Antarctica and Manaus, a thousand miles up the Amazon River. Steve appeared alongside many household names and his band appeared at Peoples Jazz Club in Rio de Janeiro and in a private show for the president of Argentina Carlos Menem in Buenos Aires.

Since then Steve has enjoyed a long, varied and successful career as a freelance musician, conductor, arranger and Musical Director appearing all over the world with recording artists such as The Commodores, Martha Reeves and The Vandellas, The Miracles, The British Philharmonic Orchestra and The Nelson Riddle Orchestra. Steve can still be spotted regularly in the trumpet section of the Syd Lawrence and Joe Loss Orchestras.

Much in demand as a session musician, Steve recently in association with Elvis Presley Enterprises Graceland USA, played with Elvis In Concert, a European Arena Tour that included the O2 and Wembley on the UK leg of the tour. He can also be heard on the new Rock School syllabus and appeared on the BBC Proms In The Park in front of 45000 people at London’s Hyde Park. 

Steve is a published music arranger, brass band adjudicator and also works part-time as a peripatetic brass teacher for the Lincolnshire Music Service. He is also the Musical Director of Skegness Silver Band and hosts his own radio programme, Steve Walker’s Big Band Bash every week on Coastal Sound Radio. 

DJ : How did you come into Jazz music ?

SW : I like all kinds of music. My father was a fine trombonist and arranger and so I was surrounded by music from the day I was born. We also used to listen to Bix Beiderbecke, Bunny Berigan and of course Louis Armstrong. He was quite an authority on Glenn Miller and all the great big bands. My father also took me to see concerts by Oscar Peterson, Dizzy Gillespie, Clark Terry and Lionel Hampton plus the Woody Herman, Buddy Rich and Stan Kenton Big Bands and also took me backstage to meet my heroes. 

DJ : How and why did you get the idea of those Big band podcasts ? And why only Big bands ?

SW : A friend of mine who runs a small Community radio station run entirely by volunteers here in Skegness asked me if I would be interested in presenting a weekly big band radio programme. Although I have fronted many bands throughout my career the medium of radio wasn’t something I was familiar with but after much persuasion I agreed to present six programs in February 2020. Of course we all know what happened after that and overnight all my professional gigs disappeared. The programme was such a success that I was keen to carry on and since then it has afforded me the opportunity to connect with many musicians and music lovers all over the world. We have been on air every Wednesday evening ever since and have just celebrated our second birthday. It really is a labour of love.

DJ : How do you make the composer/arranger selection ?

SW : We tend to focus on purely contemporary instrumental big-band music and steer away from the more traditional Glen Miller and Frank Sinatra styles. There are plenty of other big band radio shows that play this type of music. I wanted to present a programme of current and topical big band music, one that I would like to listen to! I think it was Duke Ellington who said that we must also keep an eye in a forward direction. These days and due to the success of the programme band leaders, composers and arrangers are happy to send their music to me to play on the radio and it is a real pleasure to be able to showcase big band music from all over the world. 

DJ : What are your projects ?

Since the easing of restrictions here in the UK I’m pleased to say that my trumpet playing career is starting to resume again and I have lots of exciting projects and gigs coming up both in the UK and in Europe. I also run my own big band, Steve Walker’s Big Swing Band. We rehearse every week and it’s great fun. We released our first album a couple of years ago, it’s called On The Record and it’s available to download and stream from all the usual places. Our next concerts are with Matt Ford in June. Matt is an award-winning vocalist who is regarded as one of the finest big-band singers in the UK and so it’s something we are really looking forward to. 

You can find out more by visiting my website www.stevewalkermusic.org where you’ll also be able to subscribe to my monthly newsletter Steve Walker’s Big News.

big band bash

DJ : Thanks so much Steve to share all this fantastic music with us !

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