In June of 2005, I was introduced to the American jazz singer Jay Clayton by my friend of many years, Zurich pianist Adrian Frey. The occasion was a concert at Zurich’s Tonhalle that featured the Zurich Chamber Orchestra together with jazz saxophonist Phil Woods.
Jay loved the Phil Woods concert and was particularly taken by the string section of the Zurich Chamber Ensemble that included concert master Jens Lohmann. This caused me to suggest spontaneously: “letʼs put a crossover-project together.” It was only months later that it became clear what I had initiated with this remark. Jay was mesmerized by the idea. She began organizing workshops and concerts in Europe, always reserving at the same time a 3 to 4 day period for our rehearsals in Zurich, at which time we developed the current program.
I am very pleased that, after many rehearsals, discussions, phone calls and e-mails, we were able to premier the Jay Clayton Project on Sept. 22nd, 2008 at Kulturhaus Helferie in Zurich with trombonist Nils Wogram, the Adrian Frey Trio and the string orchestra Stringendo, conducted by Jens Lohmann. The program included original compositions and jazz standards arranged by notable American and Swiss composers and arrangers including: Jim Knapp, Gary Thomas, Peggy Stern, Michael Formanek, Marcel Saurer,Ed Neumeister, Martin Streule, Christian Schlumpf, Cecil Bridgewater, and yours truly.