Soul jazz legend Roy Ayers chats ahead of his Ipswich Corn Exchange gig

Roy Ayers plays Ipswich this weekend

Roy Ayers plays Ipswich this weekend - Credit: Archant

Soul jazz legend Royer Ayers is coming to the Ipswich Corn Exchange this Saturday to perform some of his classic tunes. A lifelong fan, Ross Bentley puts Ayers’ musical achievements into perspective and speaks to him ahead of the show.

His back catalogue of tunes was and remains up there with the best

His back catalogue of tunes was and remains up there with the best - Credit: Archant

Back in the mid-1990s at the height of what was known as the Acid Jazz scene, I was a (relatively) young aficionado of black music, such as soul, rare groove, R&B and more latterly hip-hop.

For us there was a pantheon of great American artists who had set the bar high for others to follow: James Brown, Marvin Gaye and Donald Byrd all fell into this category along with a funky vibraphone player and singer called Roy Ayers whose back catalogue of tunes was and remains up there with the best. These include the disco floor-filler Running Away, the groovy upbeat Evolution to more jazz-funk inspired vibes such as Searchin’, Liquid Love and We Live in Brooklyn, Baby. Ayers’ collaborations with African funk firebrand Fela Kuti are another high point.

But Ayers’ signature tune – the one that lifts him to the top of the pile - is the all-time classic Everybody Loves the Sunshine – a four-minute, jazzy, soulful piece of brilliance, complete with sassy backing singers, that wonderfully evokes the headiness of a perfect sunny day, transporting you to Ayers’ native Los Angeles and the West Coast vibe.

I was lucky to see Ayers play a number of times during that period as he was regular on the Brighton and London Acid Jazz scene - taking centre stage behind his vibraphone – a type of xylophone but with more a vibrato, jazz effect.

His signature tune is the all-time classic Everybody Loves the Sunshine

His signature tune is the all-time classic Everybody Loves the Sunshine - Credit: Archant


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It goes without saying, then, that I am looking forward to reliving those days when Ayers comes to Ipswich on Saturday May 21 to perform with his band at the Corn Exchange as part of a month long tour of the UK.

And, at 75 years young, it would seem the jazz funk great is as keen as ever to bring the music to the people.

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“I’ve always had a wonderful reception from British audiences,” he says in a laid-back tone.

“I just keep coming back for more because the people motivate me and give me a wonderful feeling. I want the audience to just loosen up and feel the feeling, and enjoy all the classics I’ve made so popular from the 1960s through to today.”

It’s a mark of Ayers’ brilliance and longevity - he’s been producing music for more than 50 years - that he remains one of the most sampled musicians of all-time – loved by hip hop and soul artists alike - and continues to produce new music with some of the biggest names in the business.

“He continues: “It’s a compliment when people want to take music that I’ve made and play it – it’s a wonderful thing. And I also love creating new music and keeping it fresh with spontaneous vibrations. I have recently recorded with artists like Erika Badu and Alicia Keys.”

So, I ask, what can people expect on Saturday night?

“It will be a wonderful night where I will connect with the strength and belief of the people to create a highly enjoyable and positive vibe,” he adds.

That’s all I need to know Mr Ayers - I’ll be there to get down and pay homage.

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