LOCAL musician Fliss Gorst is all set for a warm homecoming when she brings her six-piece swing band to play at Lyme Regis’ Jazz Jurassica festival.
Hot on the heels of her sell out show at Seaton’s Gateway last year, Fliss will be pulling out all the stops for her local fans. As a former Woodroffe School student, she’ll play in the town which did so much to nurture her early musical talent.
She returns with a top-class band of musicians and a couple of vocal powerhouses in tow – and as one of the few female bandleaders in the country. And with a debut album in the iTunes jazz chart.
Fliss was born and brought up in Axminster but now lives in London. Acquiring her first saxophone at the tender age of 14, she soon found herself playing in local jazz bands including the Woodroffe Jazz Band.
She studied at Exeter College and then the Birmingham Conservatoire where the jazz bug seriously began to bite.
“I worked on cruise ships for three and half years, playing every day with a variety of musicians, and then I made the big move to London,” she said.
Initially Fliss set up Jivestar, a jive and rock and roll band.
“But I guess my tastes have changed somewhat since then,” she added.
“I don’t want to be pigeonholed by a band title”.
The move from Jivestar to the Fliss Gorst Band signals more than just a name change. It’s a sign of a growing confidence in her own arrangements and compositions that has led to a successful debut album, ‘The Place for Me’, released in March.
“The title represents my inner struggle with my love for London and my home county of Devon,” she said.
“I wouldn’t be able to live the life I live without my connection to either of these places. I regularly visit my parents in Axminster, as well as Lyme Regis, to escape city life.”
The pressure-cooker life in London where Fliss combines playing and teaching leave little time for rest and recuperation. She’s one of the few successful female bandleaders in a male-dominated profession.
She said: “You have to balance being assertive and someone musicians want to be around. You need to earn their respect as well as their friendship.”
Fliss acknowledges the support of some fantastic musicians – including Dave Borazon on trumpet (“my right-hand man”) and Liam Dunachie on piano (“one of the best”). And two vocalists in the shape of Lauren Bush and Shane Hampsheir, who are outstanding performers in their own right.
“Lauren’s a highly acclaimed Canadian jazz singer, who brings pizzaz to every song she sings. And swing’s in Shane’s DNA – his recent solo gig at Ronnie Scott’s sold out. He’s our swing supremo!”
Julie Sheppard of Jazz Jurassica said: “It’ll be a potent cocktail of sparky swing standards, jumping jives and dazzling dance numbers – it’ll be slick, hugely entertaining and fun, with lots of onstage banter amongst eight friends who obviously love playing together.”
The Fliss Gorst Band will plays on Friday, May 25 from 8pm at the Marine Theatre in Lyme Regis as part of Jazz Jurassica, which runs from May 24 to 28. For tickets call 01297 442138 or visit www.jazzjurassica.co.uk