Cornwall Life meets jazz pianist Simon Latarche

PUBLISHED: 00:16 22 December 2010 | UPDATED: 18:19 20 February 2013

Cornwall Life meets jazz pianist Simon Latarche

Cornwall Life meets jazz pianist Simon Latarche

Jazz pianist Simon Latarche has launched a new album, Cornish Preludes. He tells Cornwall Life about his musical career

Jazz pianist Simon Latarche has launched a new album, Cornish Preludes. He tells Cornwall Life about his musical career

The peace and beauty of the Helford Passage on a summers evening is an experience that would be difficult to match anywhere in the world. It was here that Simon Latarche first had the idea that would lead to one of the most complex compositions on his new album Cornish Preludes.

I was taking a break from my regular session at the Budock Vean Hotel and walked down to the foreshore, explains Simon, when it occurred to me that 65 years before, the area would have been filled with troops waiting to depart for the D-Day landings. Just around the corner at Polgwidden beach in Trebah Gardens, the US 29th Infantry division left a virtual paradise for the hell of Omaha beach. The contrast of the two areas really affected me and the next day I began work on The Boys from Trebah, which eventually became Prelude number 8 on the album.

Having lived in Cornwall for the past 27 years, the county has been a major influence on Simons compositions, but his musical foundations were formed in Isleworth, West London, were he was raised in a three-bedroom semi-detached house that contained five pianos. It is little wonder that both he and his sister pursued careers in music; not only did his mother teach piano but Simon composes on a piano that was restored for him by his grandfather.

After graduating, Simon, who is also an Associate of the Royal College of Music, applied for the position of a classroom music teacher in both Nova Scotia and Cornwall. It was after an interview with Headmaster Derek Burrell on Paddington Station that Truro Schools gain was Canadas loss! I cannot imagine living anywhere other than Cornwall now. I have been here for most of my life, and the vibrancy of the musical community is second to none, Simon says.

A classically trained musician, Simons interest in jazz began as a way of inspiring many of his young tutees. It obviously worked: a number have since gone on to careers in the music world and Truro School has for many years boasted an accomplished jazz orchestra and jazz ensembles regularly playing to full houses at both the Hall for Cornwall and Burrell Theatres in Truro. Along the way, there have also been performances throughout the county and beyond. The school also inspired Preludes 2, 5 and 9 on the album.

So what are the preludes? Simon explains: Originally, preludes were pieces of music, often improvised, that allowed early keyboard players and lutenists to check their tuning. Composers began to collect these together the most famous being Bach and Chopin, both of whom wrote in sets of 12 one for each key. Other composers followed the tradition, so I thought why not me?

Cornish Preludes, Simons second album, evokes various emotions from the mystic of the eclipse, the threat of war or the excitement of flying down a zip wire! Every piece has a Cornish connection. Simons first album, Introduction to New Memories, a collection of standards and original tunes, was released in 2008. Cornish Preludes has allowed him to bring friends who are major players in the Cornish jazz scene into the studio. I regularly play with musicians Paul Haywood, Terry Rodd and Steve Turner in venues such as The Carlyon Bay Hotel and The Hotel Tresanton, but I brought in Gareth Churcher, Sarah McDonagh and Robin Pengilley. The sounds they produced at the Speed of Sound Studios in Falmouth exceeded my greatest expectations, Simon says.

So what next? Simon plays regularly as a solo at a number of venues around the county, and his trio is often found at the White Hart Hotel in St Austell on a Sunday lunchtime and he is currently in negotiation with a jazz festivals across the South West for live performances of the complete album. He will continue to use the scenery and history of Cornwall to inspire his compositions and he intends to return to the recording studio in the near future.

The CD of Cornish Preludes is available through Simons website:

Most Read

Latest from the Cornwall Life