This year sees a series of events to mark the 10th anniversary of the Embroidery Gallery. Hopefully most residents will have visited the gallery and marvelled at the incredible Millenium Embroidery depicting our village. But how many of you know that the embroidery has been celebrated in music?

Local resident and jazzman Tony Kinsey was inspired to write a seven part jazz composition when he first saw the embroidery (in fact, wife Pat was one of the many embroiderers). Having lived in Sunbury for close to 50 years, Tony has translated the visuals from the embroidery of the village into music; river life, the pubs and buildings of note all feature.

This is the essence of the composition. Tony is not prescriptive about what you should listen out for. As with viewing a piece of art, he would rather the piece was interpreted individually, with the audience finding their own images as they listen to the music.

His Embroidery Suite has only been performed once in public and it has never been professionally recorded. On March 11th the piece will be performed again to mark the 10th anniversary of the opening of the Gallery. The performance will be with Tony’s 16 piece jazz orchestra and will be recorded live.

CD’s will then be for sale in the Gallery itself and the memories of our historic little village will be preserved for future generations in both visual and musical form.
Tony is said to be one of the most significant and influential personalities in modern British jazz. He was drawn to music when he was only 5, asking his parents for a drum kit for Christmas. His older brother was an accomplished pianist so they enjoyed creating music together.

Tony’s parents wanted a good career for their son and facilitated an introduction to a lab where Tony was to be trained as a metallurgical chemist. But science was not where Tony’s heart lay so he packed his drums and headed to Soho where the jazz scene was in its heyday.

He worked in various night clubs before being invited to work on the Queen Mary. He did 17 crossings. Britain was still in the grips of rationing, so the unlimited provisions on board were an absolute luxury. On arrival, the New York jazz scene embraced him, but London was where his heart lay so he came back to Soho.

Tony says of Soho “When I saw the lights of Soho it was as if the lights went on in my head”. He became a founder member of the John Dankworth Seven leaving after two years because an opportunity came his way to play at the 51Club, where he eventually took over leadership of the band. It was that band which was invited to take up residency of the Flamingo Club, the premier jazz club at the time.

Tony is a modest man. He could wow you by reeling off the names of all the greats he has played with (Ella Fitzgerald, Billy Holiday, Lena Horne, Oscar Peterson to name a few). Indeed Tony has been referred to as one of Britain’s finest jazz drummers and composers. His career encompasses not just playing jazz, but also as a composer of music in many genres, including works for a full symphony orchestra and chamber groups. His Big Band has been described as world class by Jazz Wise magazine.

Tony has also written for many library production albums. His compositions have been used for film, TV and theatre.
His achievements and legacies are innumerable. You have the chance to hear his legacy to Sunbury at the public performance and recording of The Embroidery Suite. Don’t hesitate to reserve tickets. I think it will be standing room only!

March 11th
The Embroidery Suite
Sunbury Cricket Club
Tickets for sale through the Embroidery Gallery